I Had Probiotic Soda Every Day for a Week—Here’s What Happened
A board-certified holistic nutritionist details her week-long experiment investigating whether daily probiotics helped her digestion.
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Probiotics have always been beneficial for our gut health, but lately they’ve taken center stage. Sauerkraut and kimchi are two of the most common food sources for probiotics, but they both have strong flavors that aren’t for quite everybody. More people have started taking probiotic supplements, which many nutrition experts applaud…but if you’re looking for a fun way to get more probiotics, fizzy drinks are one fresh place to find them.
In fact, prebiotic and probiotic sodas have become a great solution for anyone looking to increase their intake. One research firm’s analysis of the probiotic soda market across more than 30 countries projects this trend to be valued at $443.8 million by 2032.
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“In recent years, the benefits of gut health and probiotics and prebiotics have become more widely known,” says registered dietitian Erika Jacobson, MS, RD, CDN. “That means companies are now creating convenient products with probiotics and prebiotics to cater to individuals interested in optimizing their gut health.”
Still, probiotic soda is…soda. So can it be good for you? “Probiotic soda is a healthier alternative to sugary sodas or drinks filled with artificial sweeteners,” Jacobson says. “However, it’s important to note that they shouldn’t replace whole food sources of probiotics in your diet (think fermented veggies and cultured dairy). Instead, consider these a fun and refreshing way to boost your probiotic intake!”
Truth be told, as a board-certified nutritionist, I’ve been taking a daily probiotic for years. I also eat lots of sauerkraut, and sometimes I sip on kombucha—so I was interested to try something new that might also benefit my gut health while offering some flavorful bubbles. Here’s how my week went drinking probiotic soda.
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My week with probiotic soda
At the start of this experiment drinking probiotic soda every day, I sampled Tepache probiotic soda. Here are a few points I noticed when I drank this probiotic soda:
It was too sweet for me! I might be the anomaly here, but I don’t like super sweet drinks. I had a choice between a mango mandarin and a berry flavor at the store, so I opted for the mango mandarin. Even though I liked the flavor, I could only handle a few sips because it was just extremely sweet for my non-soda drinker’s palate.
This probiotic soda also had a bit of an aftertaste. I don’t like the taste of stevia, and this brand of probiotic soda has stevia in it. Many people can’t taste stevia, but I can—so I try to avoid foods and drinks that use stevia as the sweetener.
Since I normally just drink water, I’m not used to the carbonation of the soda which did make my stomach feel a little uncomfortable. It didn’t cause gas like some sodas do, I just didn’t like the way that I felt. Carbonated drinks contain carbon dioxide, which can cause people to have gas. This is one reason I tend to avoid soda in general!
If you like soda, you might like probiotic soda. “Many options are great alternatives to regular soda or if you are looking for a refreshing beverage,” Jacobson says. “Remember to pay attention to the ingredients list and pick one with minimal added sugars.”
Jacobson suggests aiming for less than five grams of sugar per serving. Her favorite brands are Bear’s Fruit Sparkling Water with Probiotics and Poppi Prebiotic Soda.
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I switched to probiotic sparkling water
After sampling probiotic soda, I switched to probiotic sparkling water for the rest of the week. I tried The Bu brand, and that was more my speed. I stayed with the mango flavor so I could really see if I could taste the difference between the two drinks. Here are a few observations I noticed from drinking the probiotic sparkling water for a week.
The probiotic seltzer was less carbonated, so I didn’t experience the same type of discomfort in my stomach as I did with the probiotic soda.
The probiotic seltzer was less sweet than the soda which I really like. I also found it to be a much smoother drink, and I was able to take more than a few sips.
It was actually refreshing. I felt more hydrated after drinking it compared to the probiotic and prebiotic soda that I tried.
And, I also tried a prebiotic soda! “Prebiotic soda contains prebiotics, fibers that help support gut health by encouraging the growth of beneficial bacteria (probiotics), while probiotic sodas/beverages contain live cultures of the bacteria,” Jacobson says.
The prebiotic soda brand I tried was Health-Ade Pop. I liked the taste of this one better than the probiotic soda. It could be that I found it in a ginger flavor, which is my favorite, but they also use monk fruit instead of stevia so it didn’t have the same aftertaste that I felt the Tepache soda did.
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How often should you drink probiotic soda?
“Incorporating probiotic sources in your daily routine is a great way to support your gut, but I recommend consuming whole food sources of probiotics for maximum benefits,” Jacobson says. “Probiotic sodas are an easy way to boost probiotic intake, but they should not replace real food sources. If probiotic soda is something you decide to consume often, be mindful of the added sugar content.”
To be fully transparent with all of this probiotic talk: I eat lots of fiber, take a daily probiotic and have regular bowel movements. When I’m not feeling well and have a stomachache, I gravitate toward a ginger kombucha. The kombucha does help settle my stomach, much like they say ginger ale does, but again—not a big soda fan, so the kombucha works well for me.
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For now I think I’m just going to stick with my ginger kombucha that I have been sipping on for years, but I’m hopeful to find a ginger-infused probiotic sparkling water that I can drink on days I want more than water.
If you are looking to support your digestive health, Jacobson leaves us with three of her top tips to improve digestion.
Take a few deep belly breaths before eating. This helps switch to “rest and digest” mode and supports the digestive process.
Chew your food to applesauce consistency. Chewing is the first step of the digestive process, so if we barely chew our food it puts a lot more work on the digestive tract.
Work on being present during meals (taking time away from your computer, phone, and TV) and slowing down (putting that utensil down between bites!).
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