How Breastfeeding Inspired Ara Katz to Co-Found Seed
Improve human and planetary health with their bacteria.
Ara Katz Founded Seed After Dealing With a Common Breastfeeding Experience
Health and wellness have been a huge topic of discussion over the past few years or so.
Every day, there's some new fitness fad or wellness whim that sparks everyone's interest. Most of what this industry launches our way, however, doesn't always deliver on its promise. They're called crazes for a reason.
Ara Katz knows this to be all too true as well. After dealing with a common breastfeeding experience, she was inspired to explore the importance of microbes and the impact they have on the health of our bodies, children, and planet. This led her to founding Seed, a company dedicated to raising the bar in bacteria.
We chatted with Ara to learn more about how Seed came to be, why their probiotics are different than those already available on the market, and more. Read our exclusive interview below!
Women.com: How did Seed come to be?
Ara Katz: I met my co-founder, Raja, when I was pregnant—and I was immediately struck by his ability to translate science through both education and product development (where the science is often claimed, but lost as products come to market). We immediately bonded over two areas: first, the opportunity to apply scientific rigor to a consumer health company in the context of so much "wellness" noise, and second, to focus on the emerging field of microbiome research and how bacteria would transform health.
We spent a lot of time calibrating what we wanted to build, and then I had my son. After four months of breastfeeding, I felt especially defeated when I was unable to supply all of my son's breast milk. When looking for supplementation options, I couldn't believe how little science informed the products available, especially given what we now know about an infant's developing microbiome and that critical window of development.
So, we started Seed with the mission to reinvent infant formula informed by the most advanced microbiome research, and that quickly led to a wider shared vision to apply the platform we were building to realize the potential of microbes in various areas of both human and environmental health.
With our combined experience (Raja with his unique expertise in translating scientific research for product development, and mine in technology, e-commerce, storytelling, consumer brands, and community building), we soon realized the potential beyond reinventing infant formula. We have assembled leading scientists in the field and have built a platform that translates microbial sciences into some of the most sophisticated and rigorously tested probiotics and prebiotics globally.
We also share a mission to educate. We believe there are too many products and too many marketing efforts aimed at us—especially at women during vulnerable life stages like pregnancy—that take advantage of what consumers don't know or understand. This is especially true when it comes to probiotics because the term isn't regulated in many parts of the world. Through our products and content, we set out to reclaim "probiotics" for science.
WDC: Where do you see Seed expanding in the future?
AK: In the coming years, bacteria will impact almost every aspect of our lives. What we're learning about the microbiome is redefining health and radically transforming our approach to medicine, hygiene, diet, living, and the choices we make for ourselves, our children, and our planet. These advancements have the potential to change the way we prevent and treat disease and to restore and sustain systemic health.
Our Seed Health foundry incubates and accelerates these applications, partnering with leading scientists in the fields of women's health, skin, oral health, and more to develop a new class of living medicines for areas of unmet need. The first biotechnology company in this foundry—LUCA Biologics—targets the vaginal microbiome to address urinary tract infection (UTI), preterm birth (PTB), bacterial vaginosis (BV), and infertility.
Our consumer division, Seed, develops a pipeline of scientifically-validated, next-generation probiotics with a new standard of scientific rigor and sophistication of testing. The first is our Daily Synbiotic—a probiotic + prebiotic developed for systemic benefits beyond digestive health.
We also believe that human and environmental health are one and the same, so our ecological R+D arm, SeedLabs, works to realize the potential of bacteria in solving some of the biggest environmental challenges facing our collective home—across water, soil, the plastic crisis, and even in space. Our first project is a probiotic for honey bees that increases immune resilience against pesticides and pathogens, in an ever-urgent fight against honey bee population decline and Colony Collapse Disorder.
WDC: Can you speak a bit on the importance of gut health and how Seed’s Daily Synbiotic aids in that?
AK: "Gut health" is on everyone's minds right now. And for good reason—your gastrointestinal system sits at the core of your body and influences systems far beyond digestion. A healthy gut (or localized improvements to the gut) can have implications on areas like skin, heart, metabolic, immune, and cellular health.
Our Daily Synbiotic includes 24 clinically-validated strains studied to deliver systemic benefits beyond digestive health. While the digestive benefits are significant (including maintaining regularity, easing bloating, and alleviating occasional constipation), the formulation also supports gut immune function and tight-junction function, increases production of short-chain fatty acids (which are important for metabolic health), reinforces a healthy gut-skin axis, and is the first probiotic to include strains that increase folate production from within the body.
WDC: What sets the Daily Synbiotic apart from other probiotics on the market?
AK: "Probiotic" supplements, foods, and beverages are exploding. Yet, there's still a lot of confusion about what probiotics are and how they work. We believe the science of probiotics demands precision, efficacy, and education.
Our Daily Synbiotic represents the evolution of probiotics—combining human clinical research, proprietary technology, and innovations in biofermentation, formulation, stabilization, and testing—to set a new standard for this increasingly important category of health.
WDC: What's the biggest misconception surrounding Seed that you'd like to debunk?
AK: That we are a "supplement" or "wellness" company. Our partnerships with leading scientists and academic researchers, our category-disrupting clinical and biotechnology innovations, and our deep commitment to scientific rigor and its communication all reflect our life-science-first approach.
Relatedly, we'd also like to clarify the misconception that probiotics are "supplements" (despite being currently categorized as such in the U.S.), or that you can just drink kombucha or eat some kimchi and achieve the same benefits.
Probiotics are an incredibly rigorous field of scientific inquiry, and they have a very strict scientific definition (which was defined by our Chief Scientist for the UN / WHO in 2001)—"live microorganisms that, when administered in adequate amounts, confer a health benefit on the host."
Unfortunately, most things today that claim to be "probiotic" are in fact, not, and fall short of this definition. This means a saturated market of hyperbolized claims and unsubstantiated products that deviate from science. Widespread misuse of the term continues to contribute to consumer confusion and skepticism, and can even keep the field from advancing. As we seek a new standard in the probiotics category, we look to the highest global regulatory standards and rigorously test beyond what's required, and through our work, hope to reclaim "probiotics" for science.
WDC: How can those who use Seed’s Daily Synbiotic get the most out of it?
AK: When it comes to most interventions or choices for health, daily compliance is always the biggest challenge. Probiotics are no exception. Because they are transient microbes (meaning they do not "colonize" your gut to work, but rather deliver benefits while passing through), continuous, daily intake is critical.
Try Seed Yourself
Interested in giving Seed a go yourself? You can purchase your very own Daily Synbiotic 30-day supply here!
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