Once upon a time, the cola wars were just Coke versus Pepsi. These days, though, store coolers are crammed with cans all claiming to be a healthy answer to your soda craving.

Some of the newer offerings are prebiotic sodas, so-called “functional” beverages that combine carbonation with plant-based carbohydrates that have been linked to gut health and increased immunity, among other benefits.

A report published in July 2021 in Food & Beverage Insider stated that “widespread growth is anticipated” in the prebiotic beverage market, and the variety of fun, colorfully packaged brands like Poppi, Olipop, and Health-Ade seem to prove the prediction right. But are these sodas actually better for you? Nutrition experts discuss what the research shows, and what you need to know before you buy.

What Exactly Are Prebiotic Sodas?

“As public attention to the importance of a healthy gut continues to grow, companies have also begun to fortify prebiotics into various beverages, breakfast cereals, or snack foods,” says Whitney Linsenmeyer, PhD, RD, a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and an assistant professor of nutrition at Saint Louis University.

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