Find out what nutrition experts have to say about Olipop, Poppi, and similar drinks.
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If you have a soft spot for carbonated drinks (looking at you, LaCroix) then you've probably heard of or already tried healthy sodas. Fizzy drinks are getting a total rebrand with more and more companies offering sweet carbonated beverages that promise *gasp* health benefits. The hashtag #prebioticsoda has gained over 330,000 views on TikTok, suggesting the trend of prebiotic sodas and "healthy" sodas, in general, is on the rise.

Of course, given soda's reputation, you may still be questioning whether the drinks can really be good for you. Ahead, find out what nutritionists think of the buzzy trend and its potential health benefits.

What is prebiotic soda?

Simply put, prebiotic sodas are carbonated drinks that contain a prebiotic ingredient(s). You may already be familiar with a few of the most popular prebiotic sodas on the market. Poppi prebiotic soda is known for its apple cider vinegar-infused bubbly drinks that come in a wide range of flavors such as strawberry lemon, raspberry rose, and ginger lime. Olipop soda gets its prebiotics from a range of ingredients including marshmallow root, cassava root, chicory root, and cactus.

Generally speaking, including prebiotics in your diet is worthwhile. "Prebiotics are a type of fiber found in foods that make their way to the large intestine where they help support a healthy gut microbiome," says  Kristin Neusel, M.S., R.D. L.D.N, CDCES, NASM-CPT, a therapeutics dietician at Pendulum. The benefits of sipping on these next-generation sodas include adding to your dietary fiber intake via the prebiotics they contain, explains Neusel. (Related: The Best Canned, Non-Alcoholic Drinks)

To fully grasp the importance of prebiotics you'll need to understand probiotics. Probiotics are "good" bacteria in your body, which are also present in fermented foods such as sauerkraut and yogurt. Prebiotics (typically found in high-fiber foods, e.g. fruits and vegetables) act as food for probiotics, contributing to a healthy, balanced gut. In theory, you're better off consuming both prebiotics and probiotics together than the latter alone.

"[Consuming prebiotics] is essential because when the bad guys (aka bad bacteria) outnumber the good, that's when your immune system becomes weak, inflammation runs rampant, and a slew of other health problems can develop," says Will Cole, IFMCP, D.N.M., D.C., a leading functional medicine expert. (Research suggests that while prebiotics may feed bad bacteria, they seem to cause good bacteria to flourish at a faster rate.) "Everyone needs prebiotics for a healthy gut. And since your gut produces the majority of your happy neurotransmitter serotonin (95 percent to be exact) and is responsible for many other areas of your health, it's vital to take care of your gut microbiome."

Other benefits of prebiotics are regulated bowel movements, an enhanced anti-inflammatory response, improved immune system functionality, and a decrease in bacteria that causes diseases, according to the Cleveland Clinic.

So, do prebiotic sodas have nutritional benefits?

In short, yes. Prebiotic sodas act as a healthier alternative to traditional sodas due to their potential to aid in better health, says Cole. For example, Poppi soda gets its prebiotic content from apple cider vinegar, which may help lower blood sugar, and omits high fructose corn syrup, a common ingredient in soda that has been linked to diabetes, he notes. (Related: Vitamin-Enhanced Drinks to Stay Hydrated and Score Key Nutrients)

As far as how often you need to drink prebiotic sodas to reap the benefits? There are a few things to consider. "Prebiotics are important to feed the friendly bacteria in our gut and keep them healthy," says Neusel. "While they can be found in these convenient fizzy drinks, you may also be getting them from your diet too from foods like apples, oats, and onions." In other words, you won't necessarily need to supplement if you're already diligent about getting enough of the dietary fiber, but the sodas act as a yummy addition to get prebiotic benefits, especially as an alternative to traditional soda.

Studies show that a daily dose of about three to 10 grams of prebiotics is necessary to reap the health benefits, and that going well above that amount (read: 40 to 50 grams) can lead to gas or bloating. Most prebiotic sodas offer fiber right in that range, for instance, Olipop has nine grams. With that in mind, one can per day may help support gut health, with the caveat that it'll also add to your sugar consumption. "While one per day may help support a healthy gut, they contain two to nine grams of sugar per can, so it may be best to consider how this tasty beverage may fit into your diet," says Neusel. However, in comparison to a can of traditional soda, which can have nearly 40 grams of sugar, it's definitely the better option if you're trying to watch your sugar intake.

All in all, prebiotic sodas are a drink that you can feel good about adding to your meal plan. If you're someone who doesn't typically eat enough prebiotic-rich foods already, they're an easy (and delicious) way to promote that "good" bacteria you need for a healthy and happy gut.