Probiotic and prebiotic beverages are at the front of both the functional food trend and the increased interest in digestive health. Probiotics help to replace healthy bacteria in the gut, while prebiotics feed this good bacteria, supposedly resulting in health benefits ranging from clearer skin to increased energy and mental clarity, and a healthier digestive system overall.
Previously, one of the most popular ways to consume probiotics was through yogurt and yogurt-based beverages like kefir. Today, however, with more people shifting away from dairy and animal products in general, beverages like kombucha are providing a refreshing, plant-based approach that allows more people to enjoy the benefits of probiotics. Apple cider vinegar-based beverages are another probiotic drink beginning to increase in popularity, and probiotic/prebiotic shots and mix-in powders are also appearing on shelves.
The largest challenge faced by probiotic/prebiotic beverage brands is limitation in marketing and claims. Much of the appeal of these beverages is in their health claims, but most of these claims have yet to be substantiated by any major scientific study. Because of this, probiotic/prebiotic beverage and supplement brands should tread lightly when it comes to making any claims.
Formulation can also pose a problem, with most probiotic drinks going through a fermentation process, which can prove finicky and even pose a health hazard if fermented or bottled improperly.
Regardless of mainstream scientific credibility, probiotics/prebiotics continue to be a buzzword in the functional food and beverage community, as well as the health and wellness community in general, and these drinks seem poised to continue increasing in popularity.