Is Poppi good for you? Dietitians explain gut health claims and lawsuits

As better-for-you sodas continue to emerge, they’re serving as tempting alternatives to traditional sugary drinks. And according to nutritionists, when it comes to calories, these soda substitutes from brands like Poppi are superior. The average soda contains about 40 grams of sugar while Poppi boasts only about 5 grams.

The sugar content of the average soda may contribute to weight gain, diabetes and heart disease, previously reported. Plus, it exceeds the recommended daily serving for sugar, which is 25 grams a day for women and 36 grams for men, according to the American Heart Association.

But while these newer options are preferable to the sugary ones, do they live up to it? others promises?

That’s the question at the center of a new lawsuit filed against Poppi on May 30 by a woman in San Francisco. In her complaint, she says Poppi’s promises that its prebiotic soda is a good alternative to conventional sugary sodas are misleading. The product claims to be “gut healthy” due to its inclusion of ‘prebiotics,'” but there isn’t enough prebiotic fiber in a single can to produce “significant gut health benefits,” she claims.

In a statement to, Poppi said the lawsuit is baseless: “We are proud of the Poppi brand and stand behind our products. We’re on a mission to revolutionize soda for the next generation of sodas, and we’ve diligently innovated to deliver a tasting experience that millions have come to enjoy. We believe the lawsuit is without merit and we will vigorously defend against these allegations.”

Each can of Poppi has about 2 grams of dietary fiber, according to the Poppi website. The branding that once said Poppi supports gut health is no longer on the can or on Poppi’s website. (Poppi declined to comment on when the change occurred because of the ongoing litigation. NBC News found references in Internet archives to gut health benefits in Poppi’s ads last month.)

Ahead, learn everything you need to know about Poppi and prebiotic sodas, and tips if you’re looking for healthier soda options.

What is prebiotic soda?

“A prebiotic soda is simply a soda that contains prebiotic fiber, with the goal of being gut healthy,” Keri Gans, registered dietitian and author of The Small Change Diet, told

Prebiotics are fibers that feed probiotics, the microorganisms that live in our intestines, according to the Cleveland Clinic. By eating prebiotics, you’re helping to strengthen the probiotics in your gut, which work to improve digestion, immune health and other bodily functions, previously reported.

In Poppi’s case, the soda is enhanced with a prebiotic fiber called inulin, the only fiber found in the product, according to its website. “Inulin is commonly used in many food and beverage products, likely because it mixes well with other ingredients,” explains Gans.

According to the Cleveland Clinic, inulin is found naturally in foods including artichokes, asparagus, garlic, soybeans, onions and oats, among many others. The strain used in Poppi comes from the agave plant.

Olipop, another popular brand of prebiotic soda, contains 9 grams of prebiotic fiber, including inulin, per can, according to its website.

What are Poppi’s gut health claims?

The Poppi website says the product is made with apple cider vinegar, has 5 grams of sugar, less than 25 calories and is made with inulin from agave, a “special type of fiber that can act as food for the healthy bacteria in your gut . . .

In a TODAY segment from April 2024, co-founder Allison Elsworth said she created Poppi after experiencing “health issues,” including stomach upset. When the medication made her feel worse, she started researching remedies and kept coming across apple cider vinegar. After drinking it every day for two weeks, she was inspired to make a “better-for-you” soda with all clean ingredients, she added.

In February 2024, the brand’s ad premiered during the Super Bowl and made no mention of gut health. Instead, he described Poppi as soda with “none of the bad stuff” and “all the flavor.” Poppi was founded in 2015.

Is Poppi good for you?

Poppi and other prebiotic soda brands are better for you than regular soda, Caitlin Dow, a senior food scientist at the Center for Science in the Public Interest, an independent advocacy organization, told NBC News.

Because they contain less sugar and fewer calories than other sodas, in moderation, prebiotic sodas like Poppi “can fit into a healthy, balanced diet,” Theresa Gentile, a registered dietitian at New York City and a spokeswoman for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. , previously said.

Does Poppi Really Help Gut Health?

There’s no recommended daily amount of prebiotics to consume, so “it’s hard to say whether the prebiotics in Poppi are doing much damage to gut health,” says Natalie Rizzo, registered dietitian and food editor at

Of the few studies on prebiotics out there, some have shown that they benefit gut health, Rizzo explains. “But the research uses different doses and strains, so it’s hard to know how much prebiotic you really need and which types are most beneficial. Poppy has about 2 grams of prebiotics in each can, and most research uses at least 4 grams per day.

Poppi also doesn’t promise to meet all your nutritional goals, Gans points out. “They’re just saying it could be a healthy gut. I can’t disagree that the prebiotics in Poppi offer some benefits. It’s just that they don’t offer everything (you need).

Regardless, Poppi and prebiotic sodas shouldn’t be your first choice to meet your fiber intake goals, Gans says. The best choice is to include high-fiber foods like whole grains, fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts and seeds in your diet, she adds.

Why is Poppi suing?

Kristin Cobbs is suing Poppi over its claims that it’s a gut-healthy drink. Class action claims total more than $5 million.

“Poppi soda contains only 2 grams of prebiotic fiber, an amount too low to cause significant gut health benefits for the consumer from just one can,” the lawsuit states. “Consequently, a consumer would need to drink more than four Poppi sodas per day to realize any potential health benefits from its prebiotic fiber. However, even if a consumer were to do so, Poppi’s high sugar content would offset most, if not all, of these purported gut health benefits.

There are currently no official dietary guidelines for how much prebiotic fiber to consume per day, Rizzo points out in response to the four-can lawsuit.

“The current Dietary Guidelines for Americans suggest that people age 2 and older get 14 grams of fiber for every 1,000 calories in the daily diet,” adds Gans. “For children 12 months to 23 months, guidelines suggest getting 19 grams of fiber per day.”

But there are no guidelines that specify how much of this fiber should come from prebiotics.

However, Rizzo agrees with the lawsuit’s concerns about the amount of sugar in four cans, which would be a third of your daily allowance. “Drinking (a third) of your added sugar intake is not good because added sugar appears in many other foods that we eat throughout the day,” says Rizzo.

What are the supposed side effects of Poppi?

The lawsuit also alleges that Poppi fails to warn consumers about potential side effects. Researchers, the lawsuit claims, have discovered that consuming too much inulin can lead to gas and abdominal discomfort.

According to the Food and Drug Administration, the maximum recommended daily intake of inulin is 15 to 20 grams, and exceeding that amount can cause nausea, bloating, and flatulence, Rizzo says. “Poppy only has 2 grams of inulin per can, so it’s nowhere near the maximum amount you can have per day,” she adds. However, in smaller amounts, inulin can cause problems in people with inflammatory bowel disease or allergies.

What to drink instead of prebiotic soda

If you’re looking to cut back on soda, even the best-for-you ones, Gentiles and other nutritionists previously recommended on by trying:

  • Injected water
  • Seltzer and sparkling waters
  • Tea without sugar
  • Coconut water
  • Kombucha
  • Iced coffee

If you want to jazz up any of these, consider adding a lemon or lime wedge, or even a splash of natural fruit juice for extra flavor, nutritionists suggest. And if you’re looking for a caffeine jolt that you can get from some sodas, iced coffee is a good trade-in as long as you go easy on the sugars, syrups, and creamers.

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