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The average probiotic pill does not work, according to the popular new digestive health supplement Seed. Backed by big name investors like Peter Thiel (an early investor in Facebook and PayPal), the unlikely teamup of Jessica Biel and Cameron Diaz, and the former chair of the World Health Organization panel that first defined “probiotics,” Seed is taking the cutting edge, much talked about world of gut health and aims to offer the best, most complete, most digestible, most healthful probiotic/prebiotic supplement on the market. (Or supplements, as there’s a male and female version.)

It’s hard to have the Best Possible gut health supplement given it’s such a new area of research that’s constantly evolving, but Seed is indeed an innovative supplement that goes to extraordinary lengths to make sure you actually benefit from the ingredients. 

A digestive health supplement that may be more effective than its competitors at delivering healthy bacteria and fiber to the right spots in your digestive tract.

As a “synbiotic,” Seed combines both probiotic bacteria — 58.1 billion of them — and prebiotic fiber, with the fiber potentially helping to nourish and extend the longevity of the bacteria. (More on that below.)

The ingredients can be split up into different probiotic blends and the prebiotic fiber. With probiotics, a diverse array of bacteria is as important or possibly more important than the number of bacteria, so Seed has included dozens of different forms. Here’s how they fall into the categories.

Bifidobacterium longum SD-BB536-JP, Lactobacillus acidophilus SD-LA2-IT, Lactobacillus plantarum SD-LP1-IT, Lactobacillus rhamnosus SD-LR6-IT, Bifidobacterium breve SD-BR3-IT, Bifidobacterium infantis SD-M63-JP, Streptococcus thermophilus SD-FP4-IT, Bifidobacterium lactis SD-BS5-IT, Lactobacillus reuteri SD-LRE2-IT, Bifidobacterium lactis SD-150-BE, Lactobacillus rhamnosus SD-GG-BE, Lactobacillus reuteri SD-RD830-FR.

Bifidobacterium longum HRVD90b-US, Lactobacillus casei HRVD300-US, Bifidobacterium breve HRVD521-US, Bifidobacterium lactis HRVD524-US, Lactobacillus rhamnosus HRVD113-US.

Lactobacillus plantarum SD-LPLDL-UK, Bifidobacterium lactis SD-MB2409-IT, Bifidobacterium longum SD-BL4-IT.

Indian Pomegranate [whole fruit and skin] (Punica granatum) (30% Punicalagins) Organic Scandinavian Chaga Mushroom extract [mycelium] (Inonotus obliquus) Organic Scandinavian Pine [bark] (Pinus sylvestris) (50% Oligomeric Proanthocyanidins)

Acid-Resistant Vegan Outer Capsule [hypromellose, fermented gellan gum, water, chlorophyllin], organic glycerine, water. Vegan Inner Capsule [hypromellose], organic rice fiber, organic rice extract blend. Choline (Choline Cl USP) [Low Moisture Suspension Matrix].

The truth is that you need to very well versed in microbiology and biochemistry to actually know just how useful this product is, but Seed does a valiant job of communicating the “basics” to the layperson.

As a primer: you’ve got trillions of bacteria living in your digestive tract helping you to break down food and absorb its nutrients. They comprise what’s called the “gut microbiome,” and we’ve known for a while that they’re crucial for digestion and might help with bloating, constipation, gas, and other symptoms of indigestion. More recently, evidence has suggested that a healthy, populous, diverse microbiome may also improve immunity, reduce inflammation, help insulin sensitivity, and boost athletic recovery.(1)(2)(3)(4)(5)(6). You know how stress can cause indigestion? Some research is suggesting that the relationship between the gut and the mind is a two-way street (called the “gut-brain axis”) and a healthy gut might help to lower, or lower the risk of experiencing, stress and anxiety.(7)(8)(9)

Once again, this is an emerging area of research and these links just aren’t as ironclad as other areas of our health, like “magnesium helps you sleep.” But Seed does cite their research claiming that each of these blends may improve their namesake.(10)(11)

Prebiotic fiber helps to nourish the probiotic bacteria, and there’s evidence that a healthy intake of the stuff — found in foods like garlic, onions, and bananas, among other places — helps keep your gut microbiome happy. But some research has also suggested that taking prebiotics with probiotics helps to keep the probiotics alive and make sure they they get to your large intestine and colon, where they might be needed, before they die.(12)(13)

There are a lot of areas that differentiate Seed from its rivals. As we mentioned, the combination of prebiotics and probiotics means that it might be more useful. The supplements also undergo “whole-genome testing” to confirm which strains are present in what amounts. They make sure the probiotics are cultured to ensure viability with precise pH, temperature, and other controls. They measure the probiotics in AFUs (Active Florescent Units) instead of the standard CFUs (which they claim is more precise)… are your eyes glazing over yet?

As we mentioned, it’s hard for the average person to really understand this stuff. But something that really stands out, and is a little easier for the layperson to understand, is the acid resistant coating. While a lot of studies have seen benefits to giving people probiotics, there are plenty that have found little to no benefit of consuming these critters.(14) The culprit, according to Seed and some other researchers, is the fact that bacteria may die in your stomach acid before making it to the guts and the colon where they’re needed.

To remedy that issue, the pills are encased in an acid resistant vegan coating, plus the prebiotic fiber is in another capsule within the first so that it’s more likely to make it through toward the end of your system before delivering the fiber where it may be the most useful.

That’s pricier than a lot of competitors — it’s not hard to find probiotic pills for $10 or $20 per month — but given the enormous variety and number of probiotics, the addition of the prebiotics, the innovative coating and the quality controls, I think it’s a pretty reasonable price.

You can’t really escape the fact that this area of research is not only enormously complicated but very new, and a lot of these benefits, while backed up with some studies, don’t have decades of research supporting them. Supplement makers and journalists are prone to exaggerating the benefits of a healthy gut.

Bifidobacterium Lactis Powder

But it’s exciting. And a lot of money is being poured into research. And Seed has taken the information we have, used very stringent quality controls, and put together what may be the best digestive health pill on the market. We won’t say it’s essential to your health but if you’re thinking about buying a probiotic pill, we can’t think of a more impressive entry in the market.

1. Le Chatelier E, et al. Richness of human gut microbiome correlates with metabolic markers. Nature. 2013 Aug 29;500(7464):541-6. 2. Carvalho BM, et al. Influence of gut microbiota on subclinical inflammation and insulin resistance. Mediators Inflamm. 2013;2013:986734. 3. Plaza-Díaz J, et al. Evidence of the Anti-Inflammatory Effects of Probiotics and Synbiotics in Intestinal Chronic Diseases. Send to Nutrients. 2017 May 28;9(6). 4. Nichols AW, et al. Probiotics and athletic performance: a systematic review. Curr Sports Med Rep. 2007 Jul;6(4):269-73. 5. Kadooka Y, et al. Regulation of abdominal adiposity by probiotics (Lactobacillus gasseri SBT2055) in adults with obese tendencies in a randomized controlled trial. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2010 Jun;64(6):636-43. 6. Bäckhed F, et al. The gut microbiota as an environmental factor that regulates fat storage. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2004 Nov 2;101(44):15718-23. 7. Messaoudi M, et al. Assessment of psychotropic-like properties of a probiotic formulation (Lactobacillus helveticus R0052 and Bifidobacterium longum R0175) in rats and human subjects. Br J Nutr. 2011 Mar;105(5):755-64. 8. Schmidt K, et al. Prebiotic intake reduces the waking cortisol response and alters emotional bias in healthy volunteers. Psychopharmacology (Berl). 2015 May;232(10):1793-801. 9. Desbonnet L, et al. Effects of the probiotic Bifidobacterium infantis in the maternal separation model of depression. Neuroscience. 2010 Nov 10;170(4):1179-88. 10. Costabile A, et al. An in vivo assessment of the cholesterol-lowering efficacy of Lactobacillus plantarum ECGC 13110402 in normal to mildly hypercholesterolaemic adults. PLoS One. 2017 Dec 11;12(12):e0187964. 11. Del Piano M, et al. The use of probiotics in healthy volunteers with evacuation disorders and hard stools: a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled study. J Clin Gastroenterol. 2010 Sep;44 Suppl 1:S30-4. 12. Panigrahi P, et al. A randomized synbiotic trial to prevent sepsis among infants in rural India. Nature. 2017 Aug 24;548(7668):407-412. 13. Patel R, et al. New approaches for bacteriotherapy: prebiotics, new-generation probiotics, and synbiotics. Clin Infect Dis. 2015 May 15;60 Suppl 2:S108-21.

Nick is a content producer and journalist with over seven years’ experience reporting on four continents. At BarBend his writing more on nutrition and long-form content with a heaping dose of strength training. His underlying belief is in the middle path: you don’t have to count every calorie and complete every workout in order to benefit from a healthy lifestyle and a stronger body. Plus, big traps are cool.

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