What Is a CFU? How Many You Need in Probiotics and the Best Strains
6 minute read
With the popularity of probiotic supplements for digestive health these days, you have likely come across the term CFU, meaning Colony-Forming Unit. You may see this on labels next to some large number but are not sure what it means or what the best number is. CFUs are a measure of how many bacteria are present in any given amount of cells.
When it comes to choosing a multi strain probiotic supplement, the CFU tells you just how many of the beneficial flora you will get with that supplement.
Understanding CFUs and Probiotics
The best probiotics will offer larger CFUs, which means you get more live microorganisms with each capsule. The amount of CFUs in any supplement is important because it indicates just how effective the probiotic will be.
The ideal amount of CFUs to look for is between 10 and 15 million, and the label may break this down further according to each individual strain in the mix.
When it comes to which specific bacterial strains you want in a multi strain probiotic, there are some that are proven to benefit gut health more than others.
Certain strains are more adapted for surviving the journey through your digestive tract, which is essential. The top prebiotic and probiotic strains to look for in a supplement are:
♦ Bacillus coagulans: These are spore-forming probiotics that can survive your stomach acid and become active in the gut. They quickly increase the population of the bacteria in your gut and increase the production of short-chain fatty acids. These compounds help to maintain the gut wall.
♦ Lactobacillus gasseri: This bacterium is naturally found in your body, but because of poor diet and antibiotics their numbers are often depleted. These are particularly useful at keeping harmful bacteria numbers reduced, and they work to promote weight loss.
♦ Bifidobacterium bifidum: This strain lives in your large intestine and develops when you are an infant. This strain helps to inhibit harmful strains and also works to support your immune system function. By increasing the production of essential vitamins in the gut, this strain also helps to prevent digestive issues, such as diarrhea and constipation.
♦ Bifidobacterium longum: This strain helps to produce acetic acid in the gut, which reduces the growth of harmful molds and yeasts. Studies have also found that this strain s essential for gut health as it reduces inflammation and allows the balance to be restored to the gut microbiome. An additional benefit of this strain is the protection it provides your gut wall.
When it comes to choosing a probiotic supplement, it is essential to look for these four bacterial strains. Pay close attention to the CFUs of each one as well as the total CFU count for the probiotic you are getting.
How Probiotics Help You
A high-quality pre and probiotic supplement will help to maintain optimal gut health and the high CFU will ensure you get the variety you need. As part of your regular routine, a high potency probiotic supplement can help your digestive health and overall health in a number of ways.
♦ Improve IBS symptoms: If you are suffering from irritable bowel syndrome, then you likely have a disrupted gut balance. By restoring balance with probiotics, these uncomfortable symptoms can be reduced if not eliminated. Regular probiotic use has been found to reduce inflammation, gas, bloating, diarrhea, and constipation.
♦ Lose weight: Certain bacterial strains have been found to help promote weight loss. They work by reducing the amount of fat and calories absorbed and reducing belly fat. The most effective strains to promote weight loss include Lactobacillus gasseri and Bifidobacterium lactis.
♦ Boost brain health: Probiotics allow beneficial bacteria to flourish, and the strains discussed earlier help to increase the production of short-chain fatty acids. These compounds support and nourish the brain and nervous system function.
♦ Healthier heart: Probiotics have been found to improve heart health by way of reducing the levels of bad cholesterol in your body. The top four strains listed earlier work to lower both cholesterol and triglyceride levels, which protects your heart from disease. They act by reducing cholesterol absorption in the gut and by changing fat metabolism processes.
It is important to get a probiotic that contains multiple bacterial strains. Some provide benefits that others do not so the more you have the better your gut health will be.
Paying attention to the CFU matters because some probiotics require different quantities to be effective. Some are effective in doses of 1 or 2 billion whereas others need close to 20 billion CFU to work effectively. Generally higher CFU doses ensure that you get exactly what you need.
The Bottom Line
You may find that you need a probiotic supplement should you notice digestive troubles. They are also important to take if you need to take a course of antibiotics. While these medications help to treat and kill bacterial infections, they also target the friendly bacteria in your gut.
As a result, your microbiome becomes unbalanced and unhealthy, but probiotics can help restore balance. The more variety your probiotic has and the higher the CFU, the more efficient it will be at restoring gut health.