No matter where you are on your journey towards better gut health, learning about the science of the gut can help you better understand how your body functions. Here, we look into colony forming units (CFUs), the different kinds of probiotic strains as well as the benefits they can provide.
What are colony forming units?
A colony forming units – or CFU – is a unit of measurement used to refer to the amount of active micro-organisms in a single serving of a probiotic supplement. Generally, this number is calculated in CFUs per gram or CFUs per millilitre.
You may have seen the term CFU when you are shopping for probiotic supplements. The CFU measurement is typically indicated on the back label that breaks down the ingredients of the supplement.
What CFU count really means for you
Products with probiotics tend to endorse the good bacteria that can help to balance your gut health. While the average CFU count may be between one and 10 billion CFUs per serving, some products advertise their CFU counts in excess of 100 billion.
This is where it’s important to point out that the number isn’t the be-all, end-all for CFUs. You’ll often find that products with higher CFUs per serving come with a higher price tag – giving you the impression that it must be better for you. This isn’t the case, because the potency of a product isn’t just about the CFU count.
Instead, it’s about matching the right strains and probiotic blends with your individual needs. Looking only at the CFU numbers is actually very distracting when it comes to your specific health needs. A higher CFU count – for example, one that is in excess of 10 billion units – may offer very few actual benefits compared to others.
Different strains of CFUs and their benefits to your gut health
Here are some of the different kinds of probiotic strains as well as their potential benefits for your gut health.
This bacteria is an important member of your gut microbiome, and it can work to protect your body against chronic disease, as well as thwarting pathogens as they attempt to colonise the gut. If you suffer from IBD or IBS, the benefits of this key strain are substantial, so using an everyday product like Meluka’s P3 Gut Builder, which contains lactobacillus, will help build digestive wellbeing.
Also referred to as B. bifidum, bifidobacterium has shown promise in treating a range of conditions – including IBS, lung infections, ulcerative colitis and more. Research shows it may also improve immunity, with one study revealing different strains of bifidobacterium “have the ability to influence the immune system”.
This beneficial bacteria works to stimulate the immune system and protect your digestive health. It’s also thought to help treat various gastrointestinal issues that can lead to diarrhoea, so alongside lactobacillus and bifidobacterium, its inclusion in our P3 Gut Builder and Probiotic Concentrates makes it easy to add this good bacteria to your ongoing gut-health regimen.
Found in the digestive tract, this probiotic is responsible for producing lactic acid in the gut. Alongside other good bacteria, it works to break down food and absorb vital nutrients, as well as fight against the bad bacteria that can cause disease.
Known as the multitasking probiotic, enterococcus usually lives harmlessly in the gut and helps to produce anti-microbial agents that can fight off pathogenic microbes. It can also help to create a protective barrier around the gut, which contributes to a more balanced gut microbiome.
Most escherichia strains play a crucial role in gut health. They work to keep your entire digestive system healthy, support the digestion of food and even produce vitamin K. Along with streptococci, they are the first bacteria to colonise your gastrointestinal tract upon birth.
Various bacillus probiotic species have spores that are responsible for “germination or persistence in the small intestine and modulation of the intestinal conditions”. They can help improve digestive health, reduce IBS symptoms, and support greater immune function and lipid metabolism.
Know how CFUs influence your gut-health routine
The wonderful world of the gut microbiome continues to be a source of fervent research and discovery. Learning about all the moving parts, especially the diversity of probiotics that can balance your gut and the influences of CFUs can help you better determine the quality of your chosen probiotic products.
The biggest takeaway from learning about CFUs is that it’s about quality not quantity. While you will undoubtedly see products advertising a larger CFU count, the most important decision you have to make is choosing a product that meets your body’s specific needs. That’s why it’s so important to learn which different strains and probiotic blends can help you with whatever issues you want to overcome – from skin health, to gas and bloating, to digestion and bowel struggles.