Are Probiotic Sodas Worth The Hype?

homemade fermented drink kombucha tea healthy natural probiotic in a glass bottle.
Probiotic sodas are the latest trend in healthy drinks, promoting various benefits, including improved gut health.
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Better digestive health and more probiotics are popular trends right now in the wellness space. Healthy spa snacks can help guests get a full-body experience from their spa visit. One new type of healthy snack gaining steam is probiotic soda, which contains live microorganisms and offers similar benefits to traditional probiotic foods.

We tapped experts at Gastroenterology of Greater Orlando, a clinical gastroenterology practice in Orlando, Florida, specializing in digestive health care, to learn how probiotic sodas compare to other probiotic sources.

Related: 5 Practical Tips for a Healthy Gut

What Are Probiotic Sodas?

Probiotics are live microorganisms that are beneficial for overall gut microbiomes. These helpful bacteria play a crucial role in supporting digestive health by maintaining a balance in our stomachs and keeping everything regulated. Research suggests that probiotics may help digestion, boost immune function, reduce gastrointestinal issues and even support mental health. Probiotic sodas are fermented with various strains of these beneficial bacteria. This fermentation process gives the drinks their natural fizzy texture, making them a positive substitute when transitioning away from conventional soft drinks.

Do Probiotic Sodas Really Help The Gut?

While probiotic sodas contain live bacteria cultures and may offer some of the same benefits as other common probiotic sources (such as yogurt and fermented foods), their benefits are largely unproven and can vary by brand. Compared with traditional probiotic foods, probiotic sodas often have added sugars and don’t necessarily have all of the same beneficial bacteria found in naturally fermented foods.

Clients should know that it's important to consider the types and strains of probiotics used in the soda they purchase, the sugar content and the overall nutritional value. Look for brands that contain live and active cultures and less added sugars. The high sugar content in some probiotic sodas can especially outweigh the health benefits for those looking to manage their glucose levels. Carefully comparing these labels can help clients make informed choices and ensure they're getting the best nutrients for their bodies.

Comparing Probiotic Sodas to Traditional Sodas

While probiotic sodas are not perfect, they are a healthier alternative to traditional sodas. The high sugar content, artificial additives and low nutritional value of traditional sodas all harm the balance of bacteria in the gut. Sugary sodas have also been linked to health issues, including obesity, type 2 diabetes and dental problems. In contrast, probiotic sodas, while still sweetened by sugars or artificial sweeteners, provide live cultures that can help support a healthy gut.

They may not be the ultimate health beverage, but switching to probiotic sodas over traditional sodas can be a step in the right direction toward improving gut health and general well-being. However, only drink probiotic sodas in moderation as part of a balanced diet that includes plenty of whole foods and minimally processed sugars.

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