Who deals with numbers like 10 Billion, 50 Billion, and even 150 Billion on a daily basis? You can go years without using numbers with three commas in them! Yet, when it comes to understanding how many CFUs you need in your probiotic, you’re presented with these numbers as if you are supposed to understand what they mean. Do you need 10 Billion, or 30 Billion…or, gulp, 150 Billion CFUs in your probiotic?!? Is more really better? Let’s take a closer look.
For a refresher, CFUs stands for “colony forming units.” They denote how many bacteria in probiotics are able to divide and form colonies. If probiotic bacteria is able to colonize, we know that it is alive. And getting live bacteria into your gut is what probiotics strive to do.
Remember your body has about 100 trillion naturally occurring bacteria living in you at any time. That’s about five pounds of bacteria in your body. Yeesh! All the more reason to make sure it is supported by healthy, live bacteria.
But how many CFUs do I need to supplement my existing internal bacteria?
Is a Higher CFU Count Better?
First, let’s remind ourselves of some uncomfortable truths about the probiotic industry. In our recent 2-part series about the journey of the probiotic, we first learned about the harrowing trip from the manufacturer to your health food store or your home. We then learned about the journey from your mouth to your gut.
We learned that some probiotics do not even survive the trip to your health food store. That is because of near oven-like temperatures in the back of delivery trucks. For those that do survive, their capsules or pearls may not be of sufficient structure and consistency to keep stomach acid from destroying most of the bacteria before it even gets to your gut.
The result? We are led to believe the 50 Billion, 100 Billion and even 150 Billion CFUs are appropriate for your daily health. The reality is some products have this many probiotics in order to deliver 1, 2 or maybe 3 billion live cultures into your digestive tract. And that’s even if they survived the first part of the journey to the store! Bacteria are not cheap to cultivate. As the consumer, you don’t want to pay extra for what may be an inefficient delivery system and ineffective product design.
So when talking about the appropriate amount of CFUs, we cannot have the discussion without understanding how important the delivery system is to our discussion. The point: understand and choose a probiotic that, among its qualities, has a tested delivery system to the store – like Probulin’s iced-packed delivery system. And choose one that has a studied ability to transport live cultures from your mouth to your gut – like Probulin’s MAKTrek™ 3-D Probiotic Delivery System.
(Probulin is the only company that utilizes the tested MAKTrek™ 3-D Probiotic Delivery System)
Why Do Some Companies Offer 50 or 100 Billion?
Most professionals in the digestive health space will advise you to consume 10 billion CFUs daily to maintain digestive and immune health. If that is the case, why do some manufactures offer much larger CFU counts in their products?
There are three reasons:
- An inefficient delivery system requires many more cultures to deliver a minimum acceptable amount.
- From a marketing perspective, we humans often believe that more is better. The fact is that this isn’t always true.
- We may require additional support, but only a higher amount for short periods.
What if you need additional support? If you have confidence in your delivery system, i.e., one that consistently delivers a vast majority of the noted CFUs into your gut, for more support many professionals advise around 20 Billion cultures a day. Gene Bruno, MS, MHS, Provost and Chief Academic Officer of the Huntington College of Health Sciences notes that “higher doses may be indicated for shorter periods of time…”
For major health problems, consult your healthcare professional.
Until next time, “Be Well and Stay Healthy”!