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Is Your Prebiotic Soda Helping or Hurting Your Gut?

poppi functional soda
photo credit: Amazon

Poppi, the prebiotic soda claiming to support a “happy gut," is under a $5-million lawsuit for false health claims. Despite being promoted as a healthier option than soda, the consumer taking legal action against Poppi argues that the beverage offers few nutritional advantages and could potentially harm gut health. While there are no official recommendations for prebiotic fiber, some nutrition experts note that health benefits are seen with at least 5 grams of prebiotic fiber. A 12-ounce can of Poppi contains 2 grams of fiber (in the form of agave inulin). To receive a benefit, the average consumer would need to drink at least 3 cans of Poppi.

Is Your Prebiotic Soda Helping or Hurting Your Gut?

One can of Poppi also contains 4 grams of added sugar. Drinking three cans equals 12 grams of added sugar, which can negatively impact gut health. The American Heart Association recommends no more than 30 grams of added sugar daily for a 2,000-calorie diet, while the WHO suggests even less. Three cans of Poppi would account for nearly half your daily sugar intake.

The Rise of Prebiotic and Probiotic Products

Research shows growing interest in gut health with 1 in 20 US adults purchasing prebiotic and probiotic products. The market for these products is expanding, with companies offering “fast” and “easy” gut health solutions like prebiotic sodas, pills, and supplements. However, these supplements, similar to Poppi, are not meant to be substitutes for whole foods and, instead, are supposed to complement a balanced diet. A whole food first approach ensures individuals receive more well-rounded nutrition.


Understanding and Creating a Healthy Gut

healthy whole food plant-based salad
photo credit: Unsplash, Nadine Nadeau

What is Gut Health

Gut health refers to the environment within your digestive system that supports beneficial bacteria aiding in digestion and nutrient absorption. Good gut health can impact metabolism, mood, inflammation, and the immune system.


How to support a healthy gut

A healthy gut microbiome can evolve quickly, with fiber playing a crucial role. Sadly, 95% of the population is fiber deficient due to the prevalence of ultra-processed foods. Boosting fiber intake is simple with legumes, vegetables, fruits, and whole grains. Aim for at least 30-40 grams of fiber daily. Once you’ve increased fiber, consider adding 2–3 tablespoons of probiotic-rich fermented foods like plant-based yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, and kimchi.

Prebiotics and Probiotics: A Perfect Pair

Probiotics (beneficial bacteria) need prebiotics (a type of fiber) to thrive. Prebiotics can be found in a wide variety of plant-based foods like beans, lentils, onions, artichokes, asparagus, bananas, apples, oats, and barley.


Can Functional Soda Fit into a Healthy Lifestyle?

couple cooking

As nutrition experts, we don’t demand dietary restrictions but recommend science-based choices. If you enjoy soda, switching to a prebiotic soda like Poppi can be a healthier choice due to lower sugar content and added fiber compared to regular sodas. However, always check the nutrition label. Of note Olipop, provides 9 grams of fiber and 2–5 grams of added sugar per can; Mayawell provides 5 grams of fiber and 5 grams of added sugar per can; and Culture Pop provides no fiber, only probiotics, and contains 8 grams of added sugar per can.

Maintaining a healthy gut is crucial for overall well-being, affecting digestion, mood, inflammation, and more. A whole-food, plant-based diet is the best approach, providing essential nutrients not found in single supplements or functional foods.

Take a Whole Food Plant-Based Approach First

Maintaining a healthy gut is key for overall well-being, impacting many aspects of well-being, from digestion to mental health. By understanding the importance of a healthy gut and making informed dietary choices, you can improve your digestive health, support your immune system, decrease inflammation, improve mood, and more. The next time you consider working on your gut health, consider a whole food, plant-based approach first.

dietetic intern

Hi! I'm Erika, a Graduate Nutrition Student at Georgia State University. When I'm not enjoying delicious food or training for a marathon, I love spending time with my family and friends. As a future Latina dietitian, I am passionate about using media to share the values of community and heritage. My goal is to debunk prevalent nutrition myths and promote cultural awareness, particularly by highlighting the rich traditions and health practices of Latino communities. I hope that one day I am able to inspire others to embrace a holistic and informed approach to nutrition.


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