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Poppi and Olipop health benefits — a dietician breaks it down

Poppi and Olipop health benefits — a dietician breaks it down

  • PublishedJune 6, 2024

A new lawsuit alleges that Poppi has falsely misled consumers about its ‘Gut Happy’ health claims.

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — There’s nothing quite like a crisp can of soda on a hot summer day, or any day of the week, really (We’re looking at you Diet Coke drinkers.)

It’s no secret the high-fructose-filled fizzy drinks aren’t great for our health — that’s where prebiotic sodas come in. 

You may be familiar with drinks like Poppi or Olipop that have found a space in the beverage aisle in the last few years. They’re shaking up the industry with big health claims – we’re talking things like better digestion, lower cholesterol and even glowing skin. 

Still, soda’s long-standing reputation as a sugary treat may have you questioning if promises of a “healthy” soda are too good to be true. A new lawsuit even alleges that Poppi has falsely misled consumers about its health claims.

So, we turned to the experts.

RELATED: Class action lawsuit against Poppi alleges sodas are ‘basically sugared water’

What is prebiotic soda?

These drinks promise the same carbonated crisp and delicious taste as a regular soda but without the mass amounts of sugar and artificial ingredients.

Olipop describes the product as “a soda alternative packed with prebiotic fiber to support your gut.”

The added prebiotics, as described by the Cleveland Clinic, are essentially food for the good bacteria in your gut called probiotics. Probiotics help your body function properly by digesting food, boosting your immune response and fueling your brain, and prebiotics in your food serve to keep these probiotics working, the clinic explained.

Olipop promises 9 grams of prebiotic dietary fiber with ingredients like cassava root, chicory root, Jerusalem artichoke and nopal cactus. Poppi, promises 2 grams of dietary fiber through almost one tablespoon per can of apple cider vinegar.

RELATED: Sour Patch Kids Oreos? Peeps Pepsi? What’s behind the weird flavors popping up on store shelves

Are Poppi and Olipop really healthy?

We talked to Wendy Wesley, a St. Petersburg-based registered dietitian and licensed nutritionist, to get to the bottom of it.

Wesley said that while drinks like Olipop and Poppi may be a healthier alternative to drinking a regular can of Coca-Cola, she wouldn’t recommend them as a quick fix to someone looking to focus on their gut health.

Based on the drink’s nutrition facts, Wesley said Olipop does offer a “significant hunk of fiber” with 9 grams. So, it could be a drink to incorporate into your high-fiber diet along with other healthy foods.

Poppi, on the other hand, makes several claims on its website that the drink “may aid digestion,” “may promote weight loss” and “may help refine complexion.”

“There isn’t any harm in drinking vinegar, and there has been some science that supports that it’s beneficial,” Wesley said. “But there’s that magic word, ‘may.’ They can’t make a health claim. They can use the word ‘may’ which is like a suggestion that this ‘may’ be beneficial.”

Instead, Wesley said people looking to improve their gut health should focus on the basics.

“If you want the benefits of prebiotics that come from fiber, the best thing to eat is unprocessed plants,” she explained. “It’s boring, but the best fiber we get is from fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, legumes and whole grains.”

Wesley said a good place to start is by cutting down on the meals you get from restaurants and cooking more simple meals at home.

“It’s been my experience that many of my clients developed new eating habits during the pandemic that involved restaurant and takeout delivery,” Wesley said. “I’ve been working with them on getting back to foods that they prepare at home from minimally processed ingredients – also known as cooking.”

So according to a registered dietician, you don’t need to feel guilty for enjoying a can of prebiotic soda. Just trust your gut when it comes to health claims that seem too good to be true.

This story has been rewritten for 10 Tampa Bay following the class action lawsuit filed against Poppi prebiotic soda. Its author, Andrea Chu, originally wrote it as part of a project for a graduate program.

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