In Conversation With Seed Cofounder and Co-CEO Ara Katz

In Conversation With Seed Cofounder and Co-CEO Ara Katz

“Go with your gut” has become a rallying cry for following our intuition. But what if we took it literally?

The more we learn about gut health, the more we understand its critical relation to our body’s overall ability to function at an optimal level. From digestion and skin to immunity to energy, in many ways, it all comes down to our guts. So following them, really, in essence, is about treating them well. Which is the crux of the mission for probiotic supplement brand Seed.

Founded by Ara Katz and Raja Dhir, the company sells just two supplements: one for adults, and one for preteens and kids (both which come in sleek green jars that are a far cry from the stuff of drugstores). The DS-01 Daily Synbiotic is Seed’s hallmark product, combining probiotics and prebiotics into a single powerful pill for adults 18 and up. For Katz, taking it has been instrumental.

“There is this general overwhelming sense of resilience that I do feel from it that I’ve not gotten from other things that I’ve taken,” Katz, who is based in Venice, California, says via phone. “And then I think the other thing, which is very connected, is digestive health. Regularity. And the quality of stool is something that I think I probably took for granted prior to starting Seed and prior to having DS-01.”

Katz is a self-proclaimed “lifelong science nerd” (no, really: she owns several tardigrades who now call Harvard’s Museum of Natural History their home) but it wasn’t until she was breastfeeding her son that she became entrenched in learning about the microbiome.

“I could only breastfeed for about three months until my supply really diminished,” she recalls. “And it was very heartbreaking not just for all the normal, typical reasons, but actually in this case, because we know how critical breast milk is to the infant’s developing microbiome. And that was really one of our a-ha moments: I was searching for supplementation and figuring out, ‘Okay, well, which formula and why? Are there formulations that are really reflecting where the science is today around the microbiome? What will be missing if I go to a more standard formula in the form of probiotics and prebiotics? And I was just really bummed to see what the options were.” So, like many entrepreneurs before her, she solved her own problem.

Seed takes a decidedly unique approach, ensuring that science is at the forefront of its formulation process. “At big companies, especially big consumer packaged-goods companies, a lot of products are developed off of marketing briefs; they aren’t originated by the science itself and the evidence base,” Katz explains. “And I think that was where we started was saying, ‘Outside of the people that genuinely suffer, how can we answer the question of: why would a relatively healthy person actually take a probiotic every day?’” The answer, it turns out, is multifaceted.

A supplement such as Seed’s can do wonders for our microbiome, including in aiding digestion; encouraging healthy stool evacuation; maintaining a healthy gut barrier; assisting healthy skin; promoting cardiovascular health; supporting gut immunity; and supporting folic acid production.

Aside from taking a probiotic, Katz says that supporting our microbiomes can include eating lots of foods that are rich in Omega-3s (such as olive oil), eating a wide variety of plants (including nuts and seeds), staying hydrated, and avoiding overly processed foods.

“Thinking about the microbiome,” she says, “is kind of a filter for how I make decisions about a lot of things.” She’s going with her gut, you might say.