Stopping by the local market for a sparkling water or soda pop isn’t quite the same as it was just a few years ago. Today, some fizzy beverages also come packed with health benefits that go beyond bubbly refreshment—especially when it comes to perks for your gut microbiome.
To that end, we recently delved into the best probiotic drinks on the market—think Health-Ade Kombucha and probiotic sodas like Culture Pop. These tasty drinks offer a one-two punch: they’re packed with probiotics (aka live and active cultures that help diversify and balance the ‘good’ bacteria in your gut) and they’re an easy way to boost hydration.
That said, in order to truly reap the benefits of probiotics, experts recommend consuming them alongside their counterpart, prebiotics, which are what feed the healthy probiotic bacteria in your gut and help it thrive. One easy way to do so? Cracking open a prebiotic drink and guzzling away. Ahead, we delve into some of the best prebiotic drinks that boost gut health and why they give probiotics a much-needed oomph.
Health benefits of prebiotic drinks
As far as ‘good’ gut bacteria goes, probiotics have gotten most of the attention to date—but as gut health research gets more comprehensive, specialists say you really shouldn’t be sleeping on the benefits of prebiotics either.
“I’m a bigger believer in prebiotics than in probiotics,” Frank Lipman, MD, revealed during a recent virtual event with the Global Wellness Institute. Why? According to him, prebiotics come from insoluble fiber—like whole grains and cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and kale—that, unlike soluble fiber, aren’t broken down by the body before reaching the small intestine. This, in turn, allows the prebiotics to reach the small intestine and the microbiome to feed the good gut bacteria. Mission accomplished.
Are prebiotic drinks good for you?
Okay, let’s delve into the nitty gritty. Are prebiotic drinks even good for us in the first place? Well, according to Will Bulsiewicz, MD, a gastroenterologist and New York Times bestselling author of The Fiber Fueled Cookbook, although they aren’t the end-all-be-all in terms of gut health, they are a great option compared to other “old sugar-laden, artificial-colored classic.”
However, the most important part of prebiotic drink shopping is knowing you’re getting the real deal. Laura Iu, RDN, CDN, CNSC, RYT, a registered dietitian and founder of Laura Iu Nutrition, previously shared with Well+Good that for prebiotic drinks to be, well, prebiotic, they must contain certain ingredients. Namely, fiber or inulin, fructooligosaccharides, or galactooligosaccharides. These can come as prebiotic blends made from ingredients like chicory root, Jerusalem artichokes, or cassava root.
Do keep in mind: While you may be enticed to drink a few cans of prebiotic soda daily, registered dietitians remind folks that they shouldn’t ever replace whole food sources of prebiotic fiber (like yogurt, bananas, cabbage, onions, and asparagus, to name a few). The good news: You’re likely already consuming at least one or more of these high-prebiotic foods regularly, meaning it’s simply important to keep your prebiotic drink intake in check in order to avoid upsetting your digestive system or throwing your gut out of balance.
5 best probiotic drinks for gut health
OLIPOP Prebiotic Soda, Pack of 12 — $45.00
OLIPOP is a functional soda that tastes like many of our favorite conventional soda products while promoting gut health. It contains oligosaccharides, a type of microbiome-supporting prebiotic, and between two to five grams of sugar per serving (depending on the flavor). For context, most traditional sodas can have nearly 40 grams of sugar per can, which can result in inflammation affecting the brain, heart, and gut. Best of all? OLIPOP comes in delicious, soda-style flavors, including Vintage Cola, Lemon Lime, and Classic Root Beer, and combines prebiotics, plant fiber, and botanical extracts in its formula.
Poppi Sparkling Prebiotic Soda, Pack of 12 — $30.00
Poppi prebiotic soda is infused with apple cider vinegar (ACV), which has gut-boosting properties. Each can contains one tablespoon of raw, unfiltered ACV with two grams of prebiotic fiber. The drink also comes in various refreshing flavors, such as Grape, Strawberry Lemon, Watermelon, and Cherry Limeade, and spins on classic flavors, including Doc Pop, Root Beer, and Classic Cola.
Sunwink Digestion Prebiotic Powder — $24.00
Founder and CEO Eliza Ganesh founded Sunwink in 2018 after she was diagnosed with an auto-immune disease. Since then, the company has made beverages and powder blends to boost gut health. Their Citrus-Lime Prebiotic fiber powder provides prebiotics essential for maintaining optimal gut health that helps the good bacteria in the gut flourish. At the helm of this product is the convenience factor—the powder formula makes turning any beverage into a prebiotic drink a breeze.
Mocktail Club Variety Pack of 12 — $60.00
Did someone say happy hour? Mocktail Club has you covered with its line of non-alcoholic cocktails offering the familiar flavors of craft cocktails—like Manhattan Berry and Havana Twist—minus the ABV. It’s formulated without refined sugars but is rich in antioxidants and prebiotics from apple cider vinegar.
Uncle Matt’s Organic Light Orange Juice — $8.00
If breakfast isn’t complete without a big ol’ glass of OJ, Uncle Matt’s Organic—aka the nation’s oldest organic orange juice company—has you covered. Their products are USDA organic and are made with no additives or preservatives. What’s more, it’s packed with vitamin C, prebiotics, probiotics, calcium, potassium, and folate, to name a few. And since we’re on the topic of gut health, each serving contains one gram of prebiotics and one billion probiotics.
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