Dietitians Are Begging Prebiotic Soda Drinkers to Pay Attention to This One Thing

Prebiotic soda is having a major moment, most famously with Poppi, which boasts with a label on its cans that it's "for a healthy gut." But how much does it actually help your gut health? That's up for debate.

A recent class action lawsuit filed in California alleges that Poppi has minimal gut health benefits. According to the suit, Poppi's prebiotic content is too low to exhibit a tangible boost to one's gut health, and the good it might do is essentially negated by what the plaintiff says is a high sugar content.

Here's what registered dietitians most want you to know about drinking prebiotic sodas: The sugar in them can cancel out the little gut health benefits you could get from chugging them.

Below, behold the rest of your questions about prebiotic sodas, answered from RDs.

Related: 20 High-Fiber Snacks to Benefit Your Health

Are Poppi and Other Prebiotic Sodas Healthy?


"I think the word 'healthy' is misused often and can be a trap. It's not," Kim Shapira, MS, RD, tells Parade. "Each person will have a different interpretation of what healthy is. And each person has a different level of inflammation, antibiotic use, medication and diet. Our guts need a diverse amount of prebiotic and probiotic, omega-3, antioxidants and fiber to remain healthy. These drinks have a small amount of apple cider vinegar and fiber, but they also have other ingredients that may offset the benefits."

Katherine Basbaum, MS, RD at MyFitnessPal, concurs.

"There is little harm in drinking one of these low-calorie prebiotic sodas per day so long as it is understood that there is minimal benefit to be gained in terms of bolstering gut health," she explains. "These beverages only contain a small number of prebiotics and should not be a replacement for prebiotic whole foods such as garlic, onions, oats, soybeans and more."

Related: 20 Best High-Fiber Foods for Healthy Digestion

Are Prebiotic Sodas Beneficial for Gut Health?

Not really, but chances are they won't make it worse. "While 'functional beverages,' such as those that promote gut health will not harm gut health (as they do contain minimal prebiotics), they will also not provide much tangible benefit on their own," Basbaum says. "The gold standard fiber formula for gut health requires a significant contribution of both prebiotics and probiotics, therefore drinking a beverage with a marginal amount of just prebiotics is not enough."

She adds, "Poppi contains two grams of prebiotic fiber. How many would the average person have to drink to see a gut health benefit?"

The answer is, essentially, "a lot"—and if you do drink a lot of it, the sugar content can negate all the good gut stuff.

"I don't think two grams of fiber is significant. A woman's body needs 25 grams a day and a male body needs 30 grams a day," Shapira explains. "I think the product should have 5 grams or 10% of daily dietary fiber to be considered significant."

"When consuming a food or beverage product that contains both beneficial fiber but also harmful added sugars, it's six of one and half a dozen of the other," Basbaum adds. "As beneficial as fiber is for the gut, added sugars are equally bad for the gut (if not more so), so they essentially cancel each other out."

Related: 18 Best Foods for Gut Health

Are Prebiotic Sodas Healthier Than Regular Sodas?

According to Basbaum, they actually are a lot healthier than your average can of Coke or that potent, delicious McDonald's fountain Sprite: Poppi specifically has only five grams or less of sugar per can, which is far below the 30 grams or more that traditional sodas can pack.

Related: Fruits, Vegetables and Legumes High In Soluble Fiber

What Are the Actual Best Ways to Boost Gut Health?

While popping a prebiotic pop won't necessarily do you harm, there are more efficient and effective ways to improve your gut health. "Eat between five and seven different fruits and vegetables every day," Shapira advises. (Some high-fiber options include raspberries, almonds, navy beans, chickpeas and lentils, to name a few.)

"Add flaxseed, chia seeds or hemp seeds every day to increase your omega-3 and fiber intake," Shapira recommends. "Eat whole grains with at least five grams of fiber per serving, and take a probiotic with at least five different strains."

If you need help keeping track of your fiber intake and overall diet, Basbaum recommends using an app to help track your nutrition and create a custom plan to support your gut health.

Next, The One Food Experts Swear By for Better Gut Health