Are Prebiotic Sodas For Real, and Which Should You Try?
Prebiotic sodas can improve digestive health by increasing the amount of healthy bacteria in the gut.
You don’t necessarily need to drink prebiotic sodas, as most prebiotics are found in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
Listen—eating healthy is not an easy task for everyone. Whether someone’s love language is fast food, sweets, or greasy pizza, finding more nutritious alternatives that keep you full and satisfied can be challenging.
Many people are looking for the ultimate “cheats” where they can still indulge in their favorite foods but in a healthier way.
Prebiotic sodas are a new trend in the health and wellness industry that piqued the public’s interest. Many say these “healthier” sodas are better than “regular” sodas like Coca-Cola and Pepsi.
But are they really a healthier alternative? Let’s find out.
About the Expert
Kimberly Gomer, MS, RD/LDN, is a registered licensed dietitian and nutritionist and the Director of Nutrition at Body Beautiful Miami. She’s practiced as a nutrition coach for nearly three decades.
What Are Prebiotic Sodas?
According to Kimberly Gomer, MS, RD/LDN, a registered licensed dietitian and nutritionist and the Director of Nutrition at Body Beautiful Miami, a prebiotic soda is a “carbonated beverage that contains prebiotics. These sodas come in flavors that mimic traditional soft drinks like cola, lime, orange, and more.”
To understand the benefits of prebiotic sodas, you have to understand what that term means.
“Prebiotics are a source of food for your gut’s healthy bacteria–they feed it,” Gomer says. “They are carbohydrates that your body can’t digest, so they go to your lower digestive tract where they act like food to help the healthy bacteria grow.”
Prebiotics are found in the following foods: (2)
- Whole grains
TRUST YOUR GUT
Are Prebiotic Sodas Healthy?
The short answer is yes—prebiotic sodas can be healthier than regular sodas. “[Prebiotic sodas] are lower in sugar than traditionally sugar-sweetened drinks because they are sweetened with sugar substitutes,” Gomer explains. “They also contain a variety of other ingredients, including apple cider vinegar, herbs, botanicals, and minerals.”
Aside from prebiotic sodas, there are other “health” focused sodas, like healthy seltzers, sparkling waters, club sodas, and adaptogen sodas. Newer gut health drinks like R’s KOSO’s, a traditional Japanese drink, are gaining popularity as well
If you’re looking for a sugar-free option—you might want to look past prebiotic sodas, as these can contain a few grams of sugar. Sugar-free sparkling water may be a healthier option as they’re sugar– and calorie-free. (3)
Who Should Buy Prebiotic Sodas?
Anyone who wants to improve their gut health may wish to try prebiotic sodas. Prebiotic sodas can contain inulin, a type of prebiotic fiber.
Aside from the gut health benefits of inulin, this prebiotic fiber may provide additional health benefits, such as: (4)
- Regulating lipid metabolism
- Weight loss
- Lowering blood sugar
- Reducing inflammation
- Reducing the risk of colon cancer
- Improving mineral absorption
- Improving constipation
- Relieving depression
But can you expect to get these results from drinking prebiotic sodas? We aren’t 100% sure.
“The true question is if sodas–and the prebiotics in them are truly going to have those beneficial health results,” Gomer says.
Let’s make it clear—you don’t actually need to drink prebiotic sodas to be healthy. A healthy, balanced diet will likely get all the prebiotics you need to support your gut health.
As we mentioned, prebiotics can be found in many foods you’re likely already eating, including whole grains, fruits, and vegetables.
“Along with the fiber naturally found in these foods, there are tons of other benefits nutritionally, including vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals (those are the plant chemicals) that are known to prevent stroke, improve cholesterol, prevent heart disease, diabetes, and weight management,” Gomer explains.
Despite the benefits of prebiotics, not everyone should take them.
“Those with SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth) and those following a low FODMAP diet should not consume inulin-containing products,” Gomer says. “Additionally, some folks may have a sensitivity to inulin–gas and bloating–from consuming these products.”
So are prebiotic sodas worth it? They can improve gut health, but as mentioned, they aren’t a must-have to add to your diet plan—so including them as a small part of your personal gut health plan is entirely up to you.