Seed vs. Other Probiotics: Why Science and Quality Matter

Here we break down exactly what to look for in a probiotic, mythbust some of the most common misperceptions, share how our DS-01® Daily Synbiotic stacks up, and confirm when to trust your gut (pun intended).

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Not All Probiotics Are EqualMicrobiome ScienceKnow Your StrainsProven BenefitsAlive = ThriveBillions ≠ BetterTesting MattersMaking Informed Decisions

Type “probiotics” into Google and you’ll find over 198,000,000 search results and an infinite scroll of “probiotic” products promising to “fix”, “rebalance”, “restore”, or “reset”. And though the science of probiotics is one of the most exciting and rapidly growing areas of research, most “probiotics” and probiotic products (especially in the US) are not grounded in science at all. So, in addition to navigating the already challenging “biotic” landscape (prebiotics, probiotics, synbiotics, postbiotics), you are expected to discern those touting “science-backed” from actual science.

Unlike the inert and less complex ingredients and compounds found in most dietary supplements and wellness products, probiotics are actually a science. They are live microorganisms that undergo the complex process of fermentation, require delivery technology to ensure they can survive digestion, and involve human clinical research to arrive at the effective dosage for a specific benefit in the host (that’s you).


Other Probiotics

Most probiotics are developed and manufactured by supplement companies, where probiotics are just one of many products, like vitamins and powders, designed to enhance wellbeing. This model relies heavily on contract manufacturers and suppliers to conduct research on a strain in order to make the claims the manufacturer provides. While there are a number of well-known strains that have been validated in clinical research for specific benefits (typically related to digestion), for most of these companies, the data generation and science stop there. 



By contrast, we are a microbiome science company. Members of our scientific board have been foundational in the fields of both probiotics and the microbiome, and their breakthrough research has been published in top scientific journals. We employ new testing methods and bioinformatics (the analysis of large and complex biological data sets), and conduct clinical research to better understand how our probiotics work, establish safety and tolerability, discover new benefits for health, and advance our understanding of the underlying biology.

We conduct this research at leading academic institutions around the world and, perhaps most importantly, subject our analyses and publications to peer review—a gold standard in science, not in the supplement industry. By example, our current pipeline of research includes two new clinical trials on DS-01® and our most recent PDS-08® clinical study was just published in Pediatric Researchthe official journal of the American Pediatric Society, the European Society for Paediatric Research, and the Society for Pediatric Research.

Our probiotic research, development, and innovation programs encompass areas of health beyond the gut microbiome and DS-01® , like the vaginal microbiome, skin microbiome, oral microbiome, infant health, and gut-brain axis for mental wellbeing. 



The takeaway? 

Research who you are buying from.  


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Probiotics are a science. It’s important they are developed, manufactured, and vetted with scientific rigor and precision. 

Other Probiotics  

A probiotic is all about the strains—not just the species. Within each species of bacteria, there can be hundreds, even thousands, of strains, some of which can have different effects in the body. When it comes to bacteria, precision is critical. As strain-level detail is not required on the label, many probiotics do not disclose the specific strains (only the species). This is a loophole, which allows manufacturers to enjoy broader claims and avoid the more costly and time-consuming inclusion of strains with precise benefit indications or mechanisms of action. If you are consuming bacteria, you deserve the transparency of exactly which strains are included, so you know whether you can expect the promised benefits. 



Our DS-01® Daily Synbiotic is:

  • Formulated with 24 strains (not found in yogurt, most supplements, or fermented foods and beverages) with extensive mechanistic and clinical data. 
  • The first (and only) 24-strain consumer probiotic with a functionally redundant consortia—the inclusion of multiple strains from within the same species to cover a broader range of genetic activity than a single strain alone.

Our strains are:

  • Deposited in the American Type Culture Collection (ATCC). 
  • Biofermented in conditions optimized for pH, water activity, temperature, and 28 other growth factors. 
  • Live and viable throughout the entire shelf life and under even the most destructive shipping temperatures.

Lactobacillus bacteria at 1000x magnification.
Lactobacillus bacteria at 1000x magnification.

The takeaway? 

Strains matter. For most probiotics, benefits are clinically assessed on the strain level, and cannot simply be extrapolated across the entire genus and species. We recommend you choose a probiotic that is transparent about which strains (not just species) are included.

Other Probiotics

The majority of probiotics research has been focused on digestive health, which continues to be one of the most compelling benefits for the millions who suffer from GI-related issues.  But microbiome research has now begun to elucidate the far-reaching ways the gut influences our systemic health and the specific strains that extend the benefits of probiotics beyond digestive health.



Developed to impact health both in and beyond the gut, DS-01® is formulated with 24 scientifically studied strains that enjoy a breadth of both mechanistic (how a strain works) and clinical research (what a strain does in the human body, after ingestion) for a multitude of benefits, including:

  1. Gastrointestinal health*
  2. Gut barrier integrity
  3. Gut immune function*
  4. Dermatological health*
  5. Cardiovascular health*
  6. Micronutrient synthesis* 

Additionally, DS-01® is subject to two ongoing clinical trials, one within a population of persons with irritable bowel syndrome (and under an Investigational New Drug authorization from FDA), the other in a healthy population monitoring the impact of DS-01® in response to oral antibiotics (under Health Canada authorization).

The takeaway? 

Though many probiotics include legacy strains studied for digestive health, there is now science to substantiate benefits beyond the gut, as well as multi-strain formulations, like DS-01®, that are designed to impart novel benefits such as the synthesis of key micronutrients and the promotion of healthy immune responses.  

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As the science advances, so should your probiotic. 

Other probiotics

As live organisms, probiotics are fragile and sensitive to factors like heat, oxygen, light, and moisture. These factors impact viability and survivability through manufacturing, packaging, shipping (especially with rising temperatures), and most importantly, through digestion—perhaps the most tumultuous process. 

Because of these vulnerabilities, delivery technologies are a meaningful way to ensure probiotics stay protected both within and outside the body. Without protection, probiotics may require refrigeration, may not deliver the amount of live microbes enumerated on their label, and will likely not survive digestion in order to have a meaningful health impact. 

With almost every probiotic touting similar claims about survival, how can you know what’s true?



Here’s our approach:

  • We engineered ViaCap®, a proprietary capsule-in-capsule delivery system, which serves as a barrier to oxygen and moisture, and buffers against heat stress to minimize impact from fluctuating conditions. 
  • We validate our survivability with a Simulator of the Human Intestinal Microbial Ecosystem (SHIME®)—the closest system developed to model human digestion and the gut. With this model, we have compared DS-01® to some of the leading global probiotics in order to demonstrate superior genomic diversity and simulated gastrointestinal survival data.
  • We’ve conducted extensive heat testing to confirm viability at room temperature for 18 months past manufacturing, over 10 days at constant 100°F exposure, and even 2 days at continuous 120°F exposure. Unlike many probiotics, this means refrigeration is not required. 


Our ViaCap® capsule-in-capsule delivery system with a probiotic inner capsule nested inside a prebiotic outer capsule. 

The takeaway? 

How a probiotic survives and remains viable is critical to its optimal efficacy. Choose one that ensures the appropriate protection and has generated the data to validate their claims for conditions both within and outside the body. 


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Other Probiotics

Probiotic labels include poorly understood acronyms (think: CFU), numbers into the billions—even trillions—and unpronounceable ingredients (say Lactobacillus rhamnosus five times quickly), all of which are meant to impress, but make choosing a probiotic a challenge. CFU (colony forming units) is the quantification of probiotic organisms per dose. CFU is measured by plating, a classic microbiology technique that has been used since the 1800s to measure how many bacteria in a sample are capable of dividing and forming colonies.

CFU, like many other denotations, has become a marketing tool. Many probiotics proclaim enormous CFU counts to justify higher prices, regardless of the clinically effective dosage or whether the bacteria are able to survive the trip from manufacturer to store shelf to, finally, the journey through digestion. 



We quantify our probiotics differently. For further precision, we also measure AFU (active fluorescent units), the most advanced and precise enumeration method for probiotics today. This is measured through flow cytometry, which tags probiotics’ cells with fluorescent “markers” and uses a laser to count each cell as it passes through a tube. With flow cytometry, we are able to calculate all viable cells, including ones that are efficacious but not culturable (and would not be counted in CFU measurement).

Animation of a flow cytometer. As each cell within the sample moves across the laser beam, it is individually analyzed. 

The takeaway? 

Billions are not always better when it comes to probiotics. With more sophisticated methodologies, the viability of a probiotic can be more precisely measured in AFU to ensure clinically derived dosages.


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Other Probiotics

Testing is another area where many companies perform the minimum viable work to either minimize costs or obfuscate suboptimal product attributes. For example, most brands only conduct testing for potency (in CFU), pathogens, and occasionally heavy metals, which means they are skipping other important considerations like pesticides and allergens.



We conduct extensive testing on DS-01®, including a suite of third-party testing throughout each step of the manufacturing process, as well as on the final product. 

Our battery of tests includes:

  • Potency (AFU)
  • Survivability (SHIME®)
  • Contaminants (heavy metals and pesticides) 
  • Extended allergen panel (all 14 EFSA-defined classes)
  • Thermostability (temperature)

With 50+ quality assurance and quality control (QA / QC) checkpoints, we monitor purity under both US and European protocols (including cGMP + HACCP) throughout the production cycle. This means we extensively test each ingredient batch prior to encapsulation, and each batch after manufacture.

In addition to the highest standards of quality assurance and quality control testing, DS-01® is among the first probiotics to undergo whole-genome testing, which uses shotgun sequencing techniques to provide a highly accurate verification of which probiotic strains are present and to ensure there are no antibiotic-resistant genes. This is incredibly important to ensure quality, purity, and strain specificity.

All of our testing methodologies and information can be found here. 


Illustration of the Simulator of the Human Intestinal Microbial Ecosystem (SHIME®). We use SHIME® to evaluate the survival of our probiotics. Results demonstrate that DS-01® withstands digestion and delivers live bacteria for entry to the colon.

The takeaway? 

With infrequent regulatory enforcement in countries like the US, choose a probiotic that is tested rigorously, and often. Given the variability possible from lot to lot, the depth and frequency of testing reflect a company’s commitment to deliver the product and the corresponding benefits claimed. Purchase from companies that invest in clinical trials and test well beyond what’s required.

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With so much misinformation and confusion around the microbiome and probiotics, we believe education is as important as our science. Regardless of whether you choose DS-01® as your probiotic, we hope you have learned more about the science of probiotics and feel empowered to make the best choice for your health. 

Here’s a summary of what to look for: 

✅ Scientific expertise in microbiome and probiotics—is the company a dietary supplements manufacturer or one with a specific focus on microbiome science?

✅ Strain specificity—are the included strains studied for the benefit you are seeking and are they present in their clinically relevant doses? 

✅ Survivability and viability—are there data to demonstrate that the probiotics remain alive and viable from manufacturing to your gut?

✅ Rigorous and frequent testing—what is tested, which methodologies are used, and how frequently does testing occur? 

More than scrutinizing the science, education, or our own products, we encourage everyone to be their own scientist and advocate for their health. With an ever-question-asking approach, you can hone the skills to make the best choices (including your probiotic) that will best serve you and your health journey. 

For any science, health, or product-related questions, our SciCare team of experts is always here—


*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.


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