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Probiotics: Colony-Forming-Unit

Probiotics have proven their functional worth as more and more people are becoming health-conscious. Probiotic bacteria-also known as “good bacteria” or “friendly” bacteria. They help balance out the number of undesirable bacteria in the G.I tract and contribute to gut health. The benefits of probiotics are pretty clear. It is well-defined, but health-conscious consumers are still confused about how they are measured and how they should be properly handled to provide optimal benefit.


What is Colony-forming-unit?


A colony-forming-unit or CFU, cfu is a unit used to determine the number of viable bacteria or yeast cells present in a sample. Counting with CFU needs culturing the microorganism. Microorganisms grow on appropriate media under controlled conditions and then count the number of colonies formed. But only count the viable cells. Viable cells are those that can divide and grow under controlled conditions. In cell culture, a colony needs significant growth to be visible.



How are probiotics measured?


Probiotics efficacy is measured in colony-forming-unit or CFU. The colony-forming-unit indicates the number of viable cells. The typical CFU for probiotic supplements ranges from 5 to 10 billion CFUs per serving. However, not all bacteria can survive the stomach’s acidic environment. They tend to die off before reaching the intestine. This is why most manufacturers of probiotic supplements begin with higher doses than what is required. Taking extremely high doses doesn’t cause any harm. Additionally, if the label specifies an expiration date, the CFU count must reflect the number of viable bacteria remaining at the end of that date.


How probiotics should be handled?


Probiotics are live bacteria or yeast that, when consumed in sufficient amounts can benefit the body. Because they are living organisms, they require special care to remain viable. Otherwise, they will not work when consumed. The probiotic bacteria sustain a wide range of conditions that could fizzle their numbers out before their consumption, thus inhibiting their beneficial effects on the body. Some bacteria will inevitably die somewhere along the supply-to-shelf chain, due to light, heat, moisture, and oxygen. When creating a probiotic supplement, it is important to choose bacteria or yeast with the most promising characteristics.


Bacterial strain combinations


When choosing probiotic supplements, there is more to consider than just the number of CFUs per serving. High quality probiotic isn’t just about having a higher dose of CFU. Opt for multiple species and multiple strain combinations. Furthermore, you need to ensure that the probiotic supplement you choose contains the right kind of probiotic strains that will address your particular needs.

Multiple strain probiotics can be a good option as an everyday supplement to support gut health. Most high-quality multiple strain probiotic supplements contain around 5 to 6 strain combinations. Having more than 10 strain carries various uncertainties as probiotic bacteria do compete with and inhibit other bacteria in a variety of ways. Another drawback with multiple strain probiotic is overcrowding. By the time you take the capsule, many of the microbes are dead. Either they die off due to lack of resources or they cancel each other out.

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