Are prebiotic sodas healthy? It depends on who is drinking them

Although they might help with gut health, an ingredient can cause bloating and gas

Prebiotic sodas are on the rise because of marketing campaigns that have taken over TikTok. As concerns about gut health grew on the popular app, so did companies creating and promoting their brands with the help of influencers — generating the hashtag #GutHealth, which has more than 7.4 billion views.

According to the Mayo Clinic, prebiotics are “(typically high-fiber foods) that act as food for human microflora.” They are often used to improve the “balance of these microorganisms.”

A 2022 study showed the fatty acids in prebiotic sodas have beneficial effects on appetite, blood sugar levels and inflammation.

A prebiotic soda may be a good alternative for someone who is currently a regular soda drinker and is trying to cut back on added sugar,” dietitian Keri Gans, MS, RDN, CDN, author of The Small Change Diet and host of the podcast The Keri Report, told Good Housekeeping.

Kambucha has dominated the prebiotic space for many years, but recently they’re up against popular brands like Poppi and Olipop, which have taken over storefronts of Walmart, Target and local grocery stores.

“Olipop uses a mixture of different prebiotics, including cassava root, chicory root, artichoke, nopal cactus, calendula flower, and kudzu root,” Kimberly Gomer, MS, RD/LDN, a registered dietitian and director of nutrition at Body Beautiful Miami, told Health. “These ingredients add fiber and inulin, which can help with constipation and stabilize blood sugar.”

Poppi calls itself the “modern soda for the next generation,” and uses apple cider vinegar as a main ingredient. According to Gomer, Poppi “may help with blood sugar levels, prevent heartburn and provide antioxidants.”

While it’s great to add prebiotics to your diet, there’s something consumers should know before consuming the trending drink.

“The prebiotic fiber used in these types of sodas is usually inulin, which is a common trigger for bloating and gas, particularly for those with a sensitive digestive system, or people with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Some brands claim their soda can relieve bloating, but it can be quite the opposite,” Karen Reyes, a board-certified nutritionist, told Healthline.

In hand with its high fiber content, it’s important to note the sugar intake, which can contribute to heart disease, some cancers, Type 2 diabetes and being overweight, Healthline said.

“Although some of these beverages may have benefits, it’s important to read food labels to see what you’re really getting. Consider the sugar content and the addition of artificial sweeteners, coloring agents and so on,” registered dietitian Bonnie Taub-Dix, RDN, told the outlet.

If improving your gut health is on your bucket list, experts say maintaining a balanced diet of fruits, veggies, whole grains and healthy fats can help while limiting constipation.