In the United States, the term “probiotics” has become a generic term, commoditized by any product that is fermented or supplements containing generic species of bacteria.
Scientifically, though, there is a strict definition mandating that oral consumption of specific strains of bacteria have a quantifiable and validated effect in the human host. Unfortunately, as you can read here in “A new kind of probiotic could change the $38 billion market by using real science”, most probiotics simply do not seed the gut. Period. They are a waste of money.
As you can read in the article above, most scientific studies suggest the pills do very little to help our stomachs and may not provide any measurable benefits to overall health. That may be at least partially a result of the fact that very few of the beneficial bacteria in the supplements make it to our guts or stick around long enough to have an effect. But an even bigger problem is that many probiotics don't do much as they're passing through your gut either. This is because they are generic strains with limited benefits.
Since meeting their chief scientist at a health conference and being incredibly impressed, I've been looking into “SEED,” which is a new microbiome science company with a deep bench of scientists and doctors developing microbial therapies that are backed by both human clinical data and quantifiable endpoints showing they actually do “seed” the stomach (hence the name). SEED's first product is a consortium of 20+ strains of bacteria supported by multiple double-blind, randomized, human clinical trials looking at a variety of endpoints – including intestinal transit time, stool consistency, regularity, ease of elimination, bloating, and intestinal barrier integrity. There is a male and female formulation.
For example, the female formulation contains a specific strain that is the first to increase endogenous production of 5-MTHF (folate), which has a short half-life when taken in supplement form but can be absorbed through specialized receptors in the colon when produced by gut bacteria. The product also includes a patented prebiotic, isolated from the skin of the pomegranate plant (punicalagin), which is biotransformed by gut bacteria into Urolithin A – a powerful metabolite that stimulates mitophagy (the selective degradation of defective mitochondria).
Overall, the product has been tested with a number of mechanistic and characterization assays including gut simulation models (SHIME), flow cytometry, whole-genome sequencing, untargeted metabolomics, human cell line testing, short-chain fatty acid panels, and a novel screening platform (looking at the NRF2 pathway with intellectual property exclusively licensed from The Department of Genetics at Harvard Medical School). The company's Chief Scientist is Dr. Gregor Reid (the scientist who Chaired the United Nations – World Health Organization Expert Panel that authored the global definition of probiotics), and the combination of novel technology, mechanistic research, and statistically significant results in validated human biomarkers is both innovative and disruptive for probiotics, which are not required to demonstrate efficacy under the FDA.
“This is the best new probiotic, period. I've been popping two every day. Their website is pretty fun to explore too.” – Ben
Use code BEN15 here for 15% off your first month of the Daily Synbiotic.
Learn more about Seed in this podcast episode with Seed Co-Founder and C0-CEO, Raja Dhir: