You’ve probably been hearing a lot about probiotics lately. It seems like hardly a week goes by without us learning something new about how important our gut bugs are to our health. And everyone seems to be talking about them, from your local news anchor to your neighbor down the street.
So, great, you get it. Probiotics are important, helpful and healthy. But how are you supposed to know which one is right for you? There are so many out there to choose from. It can be confusing, to say the least.
So we’re going to break it down for you. Because anything this important for your health, shouldn’t be this confusing.
The link between gut bugs and health
New research has revealed that our guts have far more to do with our overall health than we ever imagined. Out of balance gut bacteria have been linked to everything from simply feeling blah to heart disease. And more links are being discovered with every study performed.
But one thing that experts agree on is the fact that a good probiotic can make a huge difference in your overall health—as long as you choose wisely.
4 things to look for in your probiotic
There are hundreds of different probiotic brands out there. With so many to choose from it may be tempting to close your eyes and grab one off the shelf. Don’t.
While picking a probiotic can be a bit intimidating at first, what you need to know essentially boils down to just four things to be on the lookout for.
1. Multi-strain formulas:
Your gut has more than 10,000 different types of bacteria in it. So a probiotic brand with just a single strain isn’t likely to be all that helpful.
Instead look for one that has a variety of good bugs. Preferably one that has, at the very least, a strain or two of lactobacillus, and a strain or two of Bifidobacterium.
2. Plenty of CFUs:
On probiotic labels you’ll spot the abbreviation CFU. This stands for “colony forming units,” and it means how many of the good bacteria each dose has in it.
Typically, there’s not much use in taking a probiotic that contains anything less than 3 billion total CFUs.
3. Shelf stability:
Just as, if not more important than CFUs is shelf stability. Since these are living creatures, they need to still be live and active when you take them, not just when they’re bottled. You shouldn’t be paying for a 20 billion CFU probiotic if 15 billion of them are dead by the time they reach your medicine cabinet. Respectable brands will have a “live through” or expiration date printed on the packaging.
4. Prebiotics, as well as probiotics:
Prebiotics are specific fibers that feed the probiotics. In other words prebiotics help keep the probiotics healthy, so they can help you stay healthy. You can purchase separate prebiotic and probiotic supplements, or choose a product that contains both.
Probiotics are a worthwhile investment in your health. They are a rare case in which a breakthrough discovery has not only lived up to its hype, but surpassed it. And with these four simple guidelines you can now choose the one that’s right for you.