Prebiotic Soda Bubble May Be Bursting

In April of 2021, we wrote about the then-new soda Olipop. It was making a big splash as it claimed to be a healthy soda company. Its drinks have nine grams of prebiotic fiber to feed a healthy gut and only two grams of added sugar.

At the time, our verdict was that it was better than normal soda and could be a good option if you were desperate for a cola. We still recommended water. We were concerned that drinking nine grams of fiber could cause intestinal discomfort. We weren’t sold on the health promises, but it was low in sugar and at least wouldn’t cause a blood sugar spike.

While Olipop’s high fiber content might cause intestinal issues, another prebiotic soda is in trouble for the opposite reason. The brand Poppi marketed itself with the slogan “Be Gut Happy. Be Gut Healthy.” However, each can only contains two grams of fiber with five grams of sugar. They are being sued in a class-action lawsuit for false advertising. According to the lawsuit, that level of fiber is “too low to cause meaningful gut health benefits.”

According to the lawsuit, “a consumer would need to drink more than four Poppi sodas in a day to realize any potential health benefits from its prebiotic fiber.” It said a person would have to drink four cans daily for 21 days before any potential benefits were seen. And it said, “Even if a consumer were to do this, Poppi’s high sugar content would offset most, if not all, of these purported gut health benefits.”

Registered dietitian Natalie Rizzo pointed out that prebiotics exist in common foods. Blood sugar-healthy staples like asparagus, garlic, onion, barley, tomato, rye, soybean, cow’s milk, peas and beans all contain prebiotics. Eat more of these if you are concerned about a healthy gut and want more prebiotics.

Ms. Rizzo said, “Your best bet is to include these foods in your diet with probiotic-rich foods like yogurt, sauerkraut and tempeh.”

Reactions have been mixed. Some have joked that they will use any money they get from a settlement to buy more Poppi. Others have been left justifiably confused about whether Poppi is unhealthy or just not as healthy as it claimed. Others have made jokes about Olipop celebrating the lawsuit. (To be clear, Olipop has made no statement about the case.)

Poppi is currently the 11th-fastest-growing beverage brand. It is ahead of more prominent brands like Gatorade. However, the court case may slow the company’s growing popularity.  

Despite Poppi’s ‘prebiotic’ marketing claims, which assure consumers, on the can, that they can ‘Be Gut Happy (and) Be Gut Healthy,’ as one nutritionist bluntly explained: the products ‘are basically sugared water,’” according to the lawsuit.

We are left thinking back to our blog about Olipop in 2021. Then, we concluded it wasn’t as healthy as water but not as bad as soda. Now, we’ll revise it. If you want fiber in a carbonated beverage, Olipop has more than Poppi, but we’re still not sold on the health claims.

Banner image: Kelly via Pexels

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