Probiotics have been gaining traction over the years as a staple for gut health and overall wellness and vitality. As a result there is a ton of information out there about probiotics and how they function, but not all of it is accurate. Here, we break down and debunk the three most common myths associated with probiotics, and provide the information you need to choose the best probiotic for your health!
1. Probiotics are Unnecessary
Some choose to avoid probiotics due to the fact that they’re composed of active bacteria, while others find probiotics unnecessary to everyday health because the body can produce healthy bacteria on its own. Although this is true, the body can only produce enough healthy bacteria on its own if it’s in optimal health. And unfortunately, no one is perfect. Poor diet, antibiotic treatment, pollutants and countless other factors can negatively affect gut health, leading to a lack of healthy bacteria to properly support your immune and digestive system. Probiotics can provide healthy bacteria in your gut that may be lacking and help appease a number of health problems, such as bloating, fatigue and indigestion.
2. All Probiotics Are Created Equal
Although the notion of probiotics having a one-size-fits-all model is nice, that is simply not the case. There is an endless variety of probiotics on the market, all with varying strains and amounts of bacteria per supplement. This can lead to quite a bit of confusion when trying to find the right probiotic, but the key is to focus on the strains themselves. Many leading probiotic brand utilize strains that cannot survive the harsh gastric system on their way to the gut, basically meaning that they’re dead on arrival and cannot foster a healthy gut flora as promised. Therefore, survivability is key.
One example of better survivability is spore bacteria. Spore probiotic strains have a 99.999% survival rate through the gastric system so they can arrive alive in the gut, where they really do their work. This ensures a better potency for the probiotic, and healthier gut flora balance!
3. The Higher the CFU, The Better the Probiotic
CFU stands for “colony forming units” and refers to the number of bacteria within probiotics capable of dividing and forming colonies. For example, if a probiotic claims to have 5 billion CFU, then each individual supplement contains 5 billion bacteria. Since probiotics focus on delivering healthy bacteria, it makes sense to want the highest CFU possible, but quantity does not beat quality. As mentioned above, survivability and potency of the strains used within probiotics should take precedence over the CFU, because a high number of bacteria that cannot survive are as useful to your body as no bacteria at all.
Furthermore, probiotic bacteria are only truly effective when they are organisms that already exist in the gut, delivered in a higher concentration than what is already thriving in your gut. Many probiotics use strains of bacteria that already exist in very high concentrations, meaning they won’t be as effective. For example, adding 100 billion CFUs of a strain that already exists in large numbers is equivalent to adding a drop of water into an already-full bucket. Not much is going to happen.
Spore strains work best in this scenario since the human gut flora naturally contains a low concentration of spore bacteria. Therefore, spores can be supplemented in a higher concentration much easier than more common strains of gut bacteria, making them an effective, easily survivable probiotic solution!