Probiotic and prebiotic sodas are gaining popularity as healthier alternatives to traditional beverages. These fizzy and sweet drinks are made with ingredients said to support a healthier gut. Probiotics are live microorganisms that live in our gut and keep it balanced and healthy. Prebiotics are a type of fiber that we can’t digest. They serve as food for the probiotics, helping them grow and flourish in our gut. Experts say probiotic and prebiotic sodas may help you hit your recommended daily fiber allowance, improve digestion, and support immune function. However, some have a high sugar content and may cause digestive issues like bloating and gas. Research on the health benefits of probiotics and prebiotics is limited.
Marilia Chamon, registered nutritional therapist, gut health expert, and founder of Gutfulness Nutrition, says the newfound popularity of prebiotic and probiotic beverages is the result of increasing awareness of gut health and the role of the gut microbiome in overall well-being. People are becoming more interested in products that claim to support gut health. Secondly, she says the appeal of these sodas is rooted in convenience. As a beverage, they provide a tasty way to incorporate beneficial microbes and dietary fibers into one’s routine, making them an attractive option for consumers who want to improve their gut health without making significant dietary changes.
Karen Reyes, a board-certified nutritionist, says there are both health benefits and potential health risks to consuming these beverages. On the one hand, she says they may improve digestion and support immune function by promoting the production of antibodies. Reyes believes it’s important to note that research on probiotics and prebiotics is still developing, and more studies are needed to fully understand their potential health benefits. In the meantime, if you are choosing to drink a probiotic or prebiotic soda, she advises choosing brands with natural ingredients and no added sugars.
Although there is no clear answer as to whether or not you should consume them every day, both experts agree that in moderation they are generally safe for most people. However, they should not replace a diet rich in whole foods. A diet that is high in fiber and low in processed high-sugar, and high-fat foods is key. Meanwhile, research suggests that eating fermented foods like kefir, yogurt, and sauerkraut may improve the gut microbiome. No single drink or food can replace a varied and well-balanced diet.