As people become more interested in probiotics—live microorganisms sometimes referred to as “good bacteria”—;as well as healthier, lower-sugar drink choices, new options are showing up in the beverage aisle, like probiotic soda, bottled water, and carbonated drinks. But just how healthy are these beverages?
Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that occur naturally in the digestive tract, as well as in probiotic supplements and fermented foods, such as yogurt, pickles, and sauerkraut. The balance of “good” and “bad” bacteria in the body and digestive tract can exert a powerful influence on the immune system and overall health. Digestive disorders, including diarrhea and irritable bowl syndrome, as well as eczema and allergies have demonstrated improvement with the increased intake of a variety of probiotic sources.
The rise of probiotics in beverages
For centuries, cultured dairy products, such as yogurt and kefir, have been the go-to source for probiotics in foods. However, the popularity of probiotics has spurred the advent of dairy-free probiotic beverage options. Two different water-based probiotic strains, Lactobacillus plantarum 299v and Bacillus Coagulans GBI-30 6086, (trademarked and patented as GanedenBC30) have been studied extensively for their effectiveness. Scientific evidence supports their health benefits in intestinal health, immune function, blood cholesterol, and diarrheal disease.
Probiotic beverages vary in calories and sugar content. Although added sugar is not necessary in these products, most include some type of sweetener to improve the taste. All of the products we reviewed include at least one of the two effective probiotic cultures Lactobacillus plantarum 299v and Bacillus Coagulans GBI-30 6086. Choose a beverage that you like best—for flavor and health.