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Jocelyn Hsu / Spoon

Are Prebiotic Sodas Worth the Hype?

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at SLU chapter.

If you have been on social media in the past year, you may have noticed that gut health has become a viral topic. It seems like everyone is on the path to “healing their gut.” An increased interest in gut health has allowed many new products targeting gut health to rise in the market. From drink mixes to pills and green juices, these new products now fill the shelves of department stores. 

One product has gone especially viral on all platforms and that is the prebiotic soda, Poppi. I decided to try Poppi to see what the hype was about. After trying them, I fell in love. They are delicious and soda-like without all the sugar and syrup and supposedly they are good for gut-health. I thought this might be a little too-good to be true, so I decided to take matters into my own hands and find out if these new prebiotic sodas are worth the hype or if they fall flat.

First, let’s talk about what prebiotic sodas are. Prebiotic sodas are carbonated drinks that contain prebiotic fibers that feed the beneficial bacteria in your gut. These sodas might have the capability to improve your gut health through the added prebiotics within them. 

Now, let’s address whether they are truly beneficial for you. According to registered dietitian Emily Lewis, “Prebiotic sodas may be a better alternative to conventional soda by typically containing less added sugar.” A can of prebiotic soda typically contains no more than four to five grams of added sugar, whereas a can of regular soda averages 35 to 40 grams of added sugar. The low sugar content also allows these beverages to be much less caloric compared to a traditional soda. With lower sugar content and added dietary fibers, prebiotic sodas can be a healthier option for soda lovers. Not only do these sodas have less sugar but they also have the added benefit of no high fructose corn syrup. 

These prebiotic sodas are not only healthier than traditional sodas but provide a tasty way to add beneficial microbes and dietary fibers to your routine. The dietary fibers in these drinks have the potential to improve digestion and aid with bloating, as well. A 2016 review published in the Nutrition Bulletin, suggests that the consumption of prebiotics may be beneficial for health conditions, like gastrointestinal infections and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). 

Not only are these drinks potentially good for your gut health and digestive system, but according to Karen Reyes, a board-certified nutritionist, “Some studies even suggest that they may have beneficial effects on mood and mental health by promoting the production of neurotransmitters like serotonin.” 

Despite these benefits, some health care professionals are not entirely convinced that these sodas are as beneficial as they claim to be. Marilia Chamon, registered nutritional therapist, says that she isn’t entirely convinced. She says, “I personally can’t see much benefit to it, apart from increased fiber intake.” Chamon believes that these sodas, although a convenient and tasty way to incorporate dietary fiber into a daily routine, should not replace a diet rich in whole foods. She says, “I would rather people focus on improving their dietary patterns instead of relying on prebiotic sodas to support their health goals.” Chamon isn’t the only one who thinks that these sodas aren’t worth the market hype. Even Lewis, who admitted that prebiotic sodas can be a great alternative, says, “There is little to no evidence to support the many health claims associated with these drinks. More studies are definitely needed.” 

After considering these various perspectives about prebiotic soda, here is the bottom line: they are a great alternative to traditional sodas and are a tasty way to incorporate more dietary fiber into your diet, but they are not an alternative for eating well. These sodas should not replace eating a rich and healthy diet. Additionally, while more studies are needed for certainty about Poppi’s health efficacy, these prebiotic drinks may have positive effects on your gut health and digestive system. They may make you personally feel better and improve your own gut health, but remember that everyone’s experience may be different, and keep in mind that there are differing health officials’ opinions.

A writer for HerCampus in the Saint Louis University chapter.