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Is Prebiotic Soda Right For You?

Wednesday Feb 21 , 2024


The most-watched commercial of last week’s Super Bowl was not Ben Affleck dancing in a Dunkin Donuts jumpsuit, or two babies playing tennis. 


Poppi’s 60-second spot called “The Future of Soda is Now” was the most watched ad of the Super Bowl according to one stat we saw. The commercial tried to redefine soda. Their drink has only 25 calories and less than 5g of sugar per can, and is made with prebiotics, fruit juice, and all clean ingredients.



But what does that really mean for your health? 


First it’s important to remember that “soda” is a very generic term. It can just mean carbonated water (“vodka soda”) or it can mean incredibly sugary dark-colored cola (Pepsi, Coca-cola) or anything in between. We won’t get into the soda discussion. 


So what about “prebiotics?”


Do you need those?


The other thing to remember anytime you see an ad for some kind of wonder product is this very simple rule: 


-Food is better than supplements

-Supplements are better than nothing 


But I’m being VERY generous here when I call a prebiotic soda a “supplement.” My honest answer is that you never ever need to drink one of these. 


However, this general rule of “Food vs. Supplements. Vs. Nothing” can help you make good decisions and weed out misinformation. You can get almost any nutrient you need to survive, or to feel good, from your food.


Supplements often have a place in a healthy diet but they are highly individualized. So if someone is advertising to 120 million people at once, it’s safe to say it’s not customized for you. 


Prebiotics can help feed your healthy gut bacteria. They’re present in all kinds of foods including bananas, onions, garlic, and greens. If you eat them, they are very good for you. 


However - putting them in a can in a very small amount, then adding some sugar to it, then making it a more acidic and carbonated drink is not even close to the same thing as eating them. 


In fact, drinking soda of any kind, can possibly do more harm than good to your stomach, your appetite, and your teeth. 


The inulin added to these types of products can cause digestive upset, so more than 1 can per day could be asking for trouble. Always tune in to how it makes you feel. If you immediately feel gassy or bloated, it’s probably not a good fit for you


I’m not here to be buzzkill. You can be healthy and still eat or drink sugar in moderation. I just want to be clear that the answer to hitting your goals in the short-term or being healthy in the long-term has not changed. You do not need a prebiotic soda to lose weight or to fix your gut. 


The answer is more simply: 


-Consume a variety of whole foods to absorb a variety of vitamins and minerals in their natural state

-Prioritize protein at every meal to help with everything from satiety to immune function

-Eat fruits and vegetables whole (not in powders/juices) so they also have fiber 

-Hydrate every day

Etc. 


The answer is not, as always, in a can. 


In conclusion: If you find yourself drinking soda regularly and you want to cut down, that’s a fantastic goal. Feel free to reach for a drink such as Poppi that is low/no sugar and uses more natural ingredients. Just don’t believe that some magical ingredient is good for you and that you’ve been missing out.

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