Did you know you are 50% human?
Believe it or not, you are home to an invisible community of 38,000,000,000,000 microorganisms (mostly bacteria) living in and on you. It’s your non-human half, that makes you human. This is your microbiome, and it has changed how we think about health.
If you’re thinking, ‘ew, bacteria!’, think again. 99% of bacteria are harmless to us, and in fact, many are essential to our health. These microbial partners are our gatekeepers to the outside world. They digest our food; regulate inflammation; and synthesize key vitamins, metabolites, and neurotransmitters. New findings around the gut-brain axis are even indicating that our gut flora may impact our mood, appetite, behavior, and circadian rhythm—functions we thought were relegated to just the brain.
Unfortunately, modern living and our daily choices (think: diet, stress, alcohol, tobacco, disrupted sleep, and overuse of antibiotics and antibacterials) disrupt our microbiome and compromise our health beyond simple digestive issues.
Alongside diet, exercise, and lifestyle, probiotics (good bacteria) and prebiotics (food for the good bacteria) offer a proactive approach care for our whole selves (including our microbes). But navigating the probiotics aisle is confusing. Our Daily Synbiotic makes it simple.
What exactly are probiotics?
Forget what you thought you knew. The official definition of ‘probiotics’, authored by a 2001 United Nations – World Health Organization Panel (chaired by our Chief Scientist, Dr. Gregor Reid), states:
Probiotics are live microorganisms that, when administered in adequate amounts, confer a health benefit on the host.
Let’s break that down:
Live microorganisms: This refers to strains of beneficial bacteria. ‘Live’ is a critical word here, and in science, we refer to this as ‘survivability’. To confer benefits, microorganisms must survive the many stages of digestion (think stomach acid and bile), past the small intestine, and make it into to the colon, where their work begins.
Adequate amounts: This is very important, and you’ll generally see quantities enumerated on a label as a certain billion or trillion CFU. Each probiotic strain is associated with an effective dosage, which is determined through clinical study. We’ll talk a little later about AFU, a new and more precise way to measure and enumerate probiotics.
Health benefit: So you’ve taken some live bacteria in the right amounts. But are they actually doing anything for you? To satisfy the definition of a probiotic, each specific strain (not just the species) must have been clinically verified to claim a health benefit in the body.
Can’t I just eat kimchi? Or drink kombucha?
Well, scientifically speaking, neither of those things qualify as a probiotic. Just because something contains live microorganisms, doesn’t mean it satisfies the above definition of a probiotic. You might have ingested some bacteria, but do you know which strains? In what quantities? Have they survived the acidic journey through your digestive system and landed in your colon? Have those strains been studied, in those quantities, to actually do something in your body?
Our collection of strains, methods of use, finished formulations, and biofermentation processes are entirely proprietary and unique to Seed—that means, they’re not found in yogurt, fermented foods, or ‘probiotic’ beverages.
So, why are all these products allowed to say that they’re probiotic?
That is a really good question.
In the United States, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) categorizes probiotics as supplements. And supplements are more loosely regulated compared to food or drugs. As such, the term ‘probiotic’ has been misused for marketing purposes, and much of the science has been lost in translation.
In fact, in Europe, it’s actually illegal to market something as probiotic without clinical proof. So while we at Seed certainly adhere to FDA regulations, we actually look to even higher global standards like the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and Japan’s Foods for Specified Health Uses (FOSHU) in the manufacture and translation of probiotics.
I don’t have any digestive issues, so why should I take a probiotic?
Probiotics go beyond digestive issues. Yes, improvements in gut health and digestion are often the most immediate, localized, and noticeable effects, but there’s more. Your body is complex and interconnected, and the gastrointestinal system sits at the core of it all. It’s connected to and influences everything from metabolic and gut immune function to your heart, skin, and urogenital health.
Our Daily Synbiotic, with 24 clinically-studied probiotic strains, is formulated for systemic benefits beyond digestive health—including skin health, heart health, gut immune function, gut barrier integrity, and micronutrient synthesis.
So how do probiotics work?
We first need to clear up a common misconception: that probiotics have to colonize your gut and alter the composition of your microbiome to be effective. That’s not true:
Probiotics typically don’t take up residence in your gut. Compared to the tens of trillions of microbes already in your gastrointestinal tract, most probiotics don’t contain enough new bacteria to make a significant difference in the composition of your microbiota.
Even if they did, we don’t know enough about the safety of introducing colonizing microbes. Large numbers of newcomers moving in and displacing your existing bacteria could alter the unique balance of your ecosystem within and trigger unintended consequences.
What scientists do know is that, as transient microbes, probiotics travel through your colon, interacting with your immune cells, gut cells, dietary nutrients, and existing bacteria to, directly and indirectly, deliver benefits. Some enhance the gene expressions involved in tight junction signaling, which help protect against intestinal permeability—this means a tight gut barrier. Others trigger neurotransmitters that stimulate muscle contractions for increased motility—think, better, more regular poops. Yet other bacteria produce byproducts like short-chain fatty acids, which have been extensively shown to be beneficial for metabolic and gut immune health.
I’ve seen other probiotics with larger CFU counts, are they better?
More is not necessarily better.
CFU refers to colony-forming units, which basically tells you how many bacteria in the sample are capable of dividing and forming colonies. A bigger number on the bottle does not always mean better results. The best dose, per strain, is the one that has been studied in humans and shown to deliver positive outcomes.
In addition to CFU, we test for AFU (Active Fluorescent Units)—the most advanced and precise enumeration method for probiotics today. These are measured through flow cytometry, a process where probiotic cells are tagged with fluorescent ‘markers’ and counted by a laser as they pass through a tube. Through AFU, we are able to calculate a more precise measurement of all viable cells.
Our Daily Synbiotic includes 53.6 Billion AFU, which reflects the clinical dosages from the original strain-specific clinical trials.
But what are prebiotics? How are they different?
While most prebiotics today fall into the category of dietary fibers such as fructo-oligosaccharides (FOS) and galacto-oligosaccharides (GOS), or inulin, our Microbiota-Accessible Prebiotic [MAP®] blend introduces an entirely new class of patented, plant-based prebiotic compounds that are biotransformed by gut bacteria into beneficial metabolites for the body. They are non-fermentative—meaning, unlike FOS, GOS, and inulin, they are not fermented by gut bacteria and therefore, do not cause discomfort or bloating.
Our MAP® blend includes polyphenols (standardized for punicalagin) from Indian pomegranate, polysaccharides from Scandinavian chaga mushroom, and oligomeric proanthocyanidins from Scandinavian pine bark. With punicalagin, specifically, certain bacteria metabolize it into another powerful molecule called urolithin-A. It drives a process called mitophagy, which manages the recycling of defective mitochondria in our cells, and offers benefits in metabolic health.
How do I know the Daily Synbiotic will actually work?
Most probiotics don’t survive the trip to your gut. Our Daily Synbiotic is the first to harness the ViaCap™—a capsule delivery technology that nests our probiotic strains inside a solubilized blend of the prebiotic compounds. The Prebiotic Outer Capsule acts as an additional barrier to oxygen, moisture, and heat to safeguard and ensure the viability of the Probiotic Inner Capsule. Combined with our patented algae microsphere delivery system for our most sensitive strains, these protect against stomach acid and safeguard viability through digestion.
To evaluate the survival of our probiotics, we use a Simulator of the Human Intestinal Microbial Ecosystem (SHIME®)—the closest system developed to model digestion and the gut. It recreates the physiological conditions and biological processes (i.e. food uptake, peristalsis, digestive enzymes, pancreatic and bile acids, and time spent in each step) representative of the human gastrointestinal tract.
Our ViaCap™ delivered a maximal release of probiotics—approaching the full value of the starting dose (10.32 log vs 10.92 log, or about 94%), indicating viability through the end of the small intestine.
The Daily Synbiotic, at-a-glance: