It’s all about the gut these days when it comes to beauty and wellness. From digestion-minded intermittent fasting to gut health as a determiner of youthful skin, digestive health and function have taken center stage in the wellness conversation.
Ben Goodwin, the CEO, co-founder and formulator of prebiotic soda OLIPOP, created his brand of functional and botanical soda as a healthful alternative to the public’s fixation with sugary drinks, and he’s on a mission to position his brand of next-generation pop firmly in the health and wellness categories.
“People in the original colonies used to ferment botanicals and soda in the 1800’s and they dispensed them out of pharmacies due to actual or perceived health benefits. So, in that way OLIPOP is bringing this historical beverage full circle by incorporating functional ingredients and botanicals in a highly accessible format,” Goodwin says.
He’s done this by, first, drastically lowering the sugar content from the average soda brand’s 40g of sugar to OLIPOP’s 2-to-5g. Second, he’s added prebiotic fiber and botanicals to the recipe to fulfill the brand’s promise of being a functional food (which the Mayo Clinic defines as “foods that may have a positive effect on health beyond basic nutrition” and “can support optimal health and may help lower the risk of disease”).
In order to prove this approach towards soft drinks can be pivotal to shifting consumer choices towards soft drink purchases, Goodwin recently had OLIPOP rigorously tested and researched to prove its functional capacity.
“We’ve assembled an amazing team of researchers, had them write out a well-cited white paper assessing the function of our product based on existing scientific literature, and completed our own initial research at top-tier universities. And we’re not done,” enthuses Goodwin. “Very few brands in the digestive health category, not to mention across food and beverage broadly, have done any proper research at all, or come even close to the level of work that OLIPOP is doing. It’s OLIPOP’s position that research and scientific credibility should become the standard in the United States’ $300 billion health and wellness industry.”
Amongst the researchers involved with the OLIPOP clinical trials is Stephen Lindemann, Ph.D., an Assistant Professor in the Food Science and Nutrition Science Departments at Purdue University and Whistler Center for Carbohydrate Research. Lindemann is an expert on how dietary fiber and prebiotic fine-structure impact gut microbiome diversity and function and is widely considered to be one of the world’s foremost experts in understanding gut health and its implications on broader human health.
The Purdue findings indicated that consuming the equivalent of at least one can of OLIPOP per day for 30 days results in a boost in beneficial Bifidobacteria, one of the critically important good bacteria that live in the intestines. The university’s research also showed increased production of multiple varieties of crucial short-chain fatty acids, the primary source of nutrition for the cells in the colon and important for gastrointestinal, metabolic, immune, and even neurological health. Purdue’s data also suggests that OLIPOP’s botanicals contributed to increased metabolic activity through allowing a greater diversity of non-Bifidobacteria strains to grow at increased rates alongside the Bifidobacteria bloom.
“This combination provided us with very strong positive signals around the potential health impact of drinking OLIPOP,” explains Goodwin. “If our product increases native populations of beneficial bacteria, it would be pretty stunning, as most probiotics that people take by pill pass fairly quickly through our systems instead of helping to build the base of a healthy microbiome.”
There is also the 9 grams of fiber in each can of OLIPOP which the researchers believes adds to the drink’s functionality. Its 9 grams of fiber have the potential to easily increase the American average fiber intake of 10g to 15g closer to the recommended 30g that Americans should be having. Fiber, which is prebiotic, helps stabilize blood sugar, promotes healthy bowel movements, stabilizes the liver, and feeds the microbiome.
“Just being able to switch away from full sugar, or diet soda, will be a massive benefit for most people,” adds Goodwin. “But at the end of the day, we respect the fact that people love soda and grew up drinking it. Our goal is to ultimately celebrate that relationship in a healthier way, creating a new chapter in an iconic beverage category stretching back over 150 years.”