Prebiotic Soda Benefits: Is It Better Than Regular Soda?

Craig Primack, MD, FACP, FAAP, FOMA

Reviewed by Craig Primack, MD, FACP, FAAP, FOMA

Written by Vanessa Gibbs

Published 05/15/2024

If you’ve taken a peek down the grocery store soda aisle or ended up in the gut health corner of TikTok recently, you might have come across prebiotic sodas. What’s the deal — are they worth the hype? Are prebiotic soda benefits good enough to actually improve your health?

At the risk of stating the obvious, prebiotic sodas are sodas with prebiotics. They may boost digestive health, immunity, and overall well-being and might be a better alternative to regular sodas.

While there’s plenty of research on the health benefits of prebiotics — found in foods like oats, bananas, tomatoes, and supplements — there’s not much on prebiotic sodas specifically. But the drinks show some promise.

Below, we’ll dive into the science behind prebiotic sodas, including prebiotic soda benefits, risks, and alternatives to consider.

Prebiotic soda is exactly what it sounds like: soda with prebiotics.

What on earth is a prebiotic? Prebiotics are a group of nutrients that can’t be digested by humans. They can be digested by the microorganisms that live inside your gut, however.

These carbonated beverages come in flavors like cherry, peach, lime, and vanilla — you name it, there’s probably a flavor for it. You might see brand names like Poppi and Olipop on the shelves.

Drinking prebiotic soda is one way of consuming prebiotics. The microorganisms in your gut feed on prebiotics, breaking them down into short-chain fatty acids, which are released into your blood and benefit your health.

How so? Consuming prebiotics can increase the growth of healthy gut bacteria.

FYI, prebiotics aren’t the same thing as probiotics — despite the similar-sounding names.

Prebiotic vs. Probiotic Soda

Probiotics are live microorganisms found in fermented food, yogurt, kombucha, apple cider vinegar, and supplements. Consuming probiotics may help maintain the community of microorganisms in your gut and relieve various health issues like constipation and diarrhea.

You can buy probiotic sodas, but we’ll stick to explaining the prebiotic variety for now.

The main benefit of prebiotic soda is that it helps you consume more prebiotics like inulin. But what does prebiotic soda do, exactly? 

Though more research is needed, prebiotics may help with

  • Weight loss

  • Obesity 

  • Type 2 diabetes 

  • Cognitive function 

  • Stress, anxiety, and depression 

  • Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)

  • Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)

  • Colorectal cancer 

When it comes to obesity, some prebiotics can promote the growth of bifidobacteria. This type of “good bacteria” can control the secretion of the hunger hormone ghrelin. 

Prebiotics have also been shown to reduce the stress hormone cortisol (which improves sleep), decrease triglycerides (a type of fat in your blood), and reduce waist and hip circumferences in people with obesity.

It’s thought that short-chain fatty acids, produced by the breakdown of prebiotics, can:

  • Lower blood sugar levels 

  • Reduce insulin resistance 

  • Minimize inflammation 

  • Boost the production of glucagon-like peptide 1, which can suppress appetite, among other things 

There are many different types of prebiotics, though, and they all have different benefits.

It sounds promising, but it’s unclear whether the prebiotics found in prebiotic sodas would have the same health benefits as prebiotics found in other supplements or natural food sources, like fruits and vegetables.

Prebiotic sodas are a relatively new kid on the block, so there isn’t much research on them.

Do Prebiotic Sodas Help With Digestion?

If you’re struggling with constipation, you might be wondering, Does prebiotic soda make you poop? It might!

Short-chain fatty acids may promote laxation — i.e., a bowel movement. Prebiotic fiber can help move waste through your body, while a lack of fiber can cause constipation. So, the type of fiber in prebiotic sodas could help keep things regular.

Is Prebiotic Soda Better Than Regular Soda?

It depends on what you mean by “better” and whether you’re talking about diet soda or sugar-laden soft drinks. But the potential prebiotic soda benefits might make it a healthier choice.

Compared to regular (non-diet) sodas, prebiotic sodas contain less sugar, fewer calories, and more fiber — all good things. So, if you’re reaching for a fizzy drink, prebiotic soda is probably a better option than your usual soda choice.

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More research is needed into the risks of prebiotic sodas. As mentioned above, they’re relatively new to the soda scene. Even the definition of prebiotics is constantly changing — so it’s hard for science to keep up with the many products containing them.

But in general, it’s thought that prebiotics are safe to consume and don’t have any severe side effects.

When prebiotics are digested in the gut, side effects may include:

  • Bloating 

  • Cramps 

  • Gas 

  • Diarrhea

Different types of prebiotics can cause different side effects. How much you consume also matters — low doses of prebiotics might lead to gas, whereas higher doses could result in diarrhea. 

Consuming lots of fiber in a short period can cause gastrointestinal issues like gas, cramps, and bloating — and prebiotic sodas are high in fiber.

Your gut may get used to this, though, so it might not happen every time you crack open a can. Slowly increasing your fiber intake can help minimize side effects.

Finally, some prebiotic sodas contain added sugar or artificial sweeteners — albeit much less than traditional sodas. So, if you’re sipping them regularly, you might want to keep an eye on your overall sugar intake to avoid unintentional weight gain and related health issues.

When in doubt, consult your healthcare provider or a registered dietician nutritionist.

Prebiotics have a long list of health benefits, but prebiotic soda isn’t the only way to get them.

Sources of prebiotics include:

  • Oats

  • Onions

  • Wheat

  • Leeks 

  • Asparagus

  • Garlic

  • Soybeans

  • Chicory root

  • Jerusalem artichokes 

  • Bananas

  • Barley 

  • Tomatoes 

  • Peas

  • Beans 

  • Rye 

  • Milk 

If you’re looking to reduce your regular soda intake, consider swapping sugary soft drinks for sugar-free versions, sparkling water, or good ol’ tap water. If plain water isn’t for you, try flavoring it with lemon slices or a few strawberries.

Is prebiotic soda good for you? The jury’s still out on that one.

While prebiotics may help with everything from obesity to type 2 diabetes, it’s unclear whether prebiotic sodas have the same benefits. More research is needed into the health claims many of these sodas share.

If you’re tempted to give prebiotic sodas a try, here’s what to keep in mind: 

  • Prebiotic sodas may be beneficial for your gut health. There’s a reason they’re called “gut health sodas.” Prebiotics from whole foods can help healthy bacteria in your gut microbiome thrive — so while there’s no solid evidence, prebiotic sodas should, theoretically, do the same. 

  • Prebiotic sodas are probably safe. Side effects may include bloating, cramps, and gas. Beyond potential prebiotic benefits, they’re a healthier alternative to regular soda, as they’re much lower in sugar and calories.

  • You can get prebiotics from foods. If you’re looking to up your intake of prebiotics, you don’t need a soda to do it. Stock up on whole grains, onions, tomatoes, peas, and beans to get more prebiotics in your diet.

Looking into prebiotics for weight loss? You don’t need to rely on a soda for that, either. 

If you’d like to lose weight, focus on eating nutritious foods. One bonus is that many prebiotic-rich foods make for a healthy snack or meal addition, like fruits and veggies. 

Doing more movement (like walking), drinking more water, and getting enough sleep are also key for weight loss. For some, weight loss medication can play a positive role in the journey to a healthy body weight.

Start a free online weight loss assessment to find the best options for you.

10 Sources

  1. Bevilacqua A, et al. (2024). An Update on Prebiotics and on Their Health Effects.
  2. Carlson JL, et al. (2018). Health Effects and Sources of Prebiotic Dietary Fiber.
  3. Davani-Davari D, et al. (2019). Prebiotics: Definition, Types, Sources, Mechanisms, and Clinical Applications.
  4. Erhardt R, et al. (2023). Functional constipation and the effect of prebiotics on the gut microbiota: a review.
  5. Hutkins RW, et al. (2016). Prebiotics: why definitions matter.
  6. Megur A, et al. (2022). Prebiotics as a Tool for the Prevention and Treatment of Obesity and Diabetes: Classification and Ability to Modulate the Gut Microbiota.
  7. National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH). (2019). Probiotics: What You Need to Know.
  8. National Library of Medicine. (2022). Constipation - self-care.
  9. National Library of Medicine. (2022). Fiber.
  10. Slavin J. (2013). Fiber and prebiotics: mechanisms and health benefits.
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