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11 Best Probiotic Drinks For Gut Health (And The 3 You Should Avoid)

Probiotics don't just come in supplement or food form. You can also drink them, but here's what you need to know.
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In recent years, gut health has become one of the trendiest health words in wellness. And for good reason. Links between the gut and our overall health have been studied and proven time and time again. While there are many ways to improve your gut health, one proven method is through probiotic supplements. But does that mean that probiotic drinks are an equally good way to get your probiotics? We asked experts to find out.

What are probiotics, and how are they supposed to work?

"Probiotics are essentially friendly bacteria that can help support both your digestive system and immune system," says Amber Pankonin, MS, RD, registered dietitian and owner of Stirlist.

They boost "good" bacteria by fighting off "bad" gut bacteria.

"[Probiotics] help fight off 'bad' and harmful bacteria that may lead to chronic disease and illnesses," says Sarah Schlichter, MPH, RDN, registered dietitian nutritionist and owner of Bucket List Tummy. "We have research showing they can be helpful for immunity, digestion, and GI diseases. They may even reduce the risk of chronic disease, like heart disease."

Pankonin adds, "Research suggests that probiotics might be helpful when treating diarrhea, irritable bowel syndrome and could even influence your weight and mood."

Are there any health benefits of probiotic drinks?

"Probiotic drinks do have health benefits in that they can help with digestive health and offer an easy way to consume probiotics," says Schlichter. Plus, unlike probiotic supplements, probiotic drinks often contain other nutrients, like protein, calcium and vitamin D. "However, they can be more expensive than just getting probiotics through natural probiotic foods like yogurt, kimchi, sauerkraut, and fermented soy products."

"Probiotic drinks like kefir, yogurt smoothies, and kombucha contain live cultures that might offer the same health benefits that you might find in a container of Greek yogurt or supplement."

And they're also not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

"One thing to be aware of when it comes to probiotic drinks is that the FDA does not regulate or approve health claims for probiotics, so you may not be getting what you think you're getting," says Schlichter.

What should you look for when choosing a healthy/good probiotic drink?

When purchasing a probiotic drink, consider the nutrition facts, serving size and the strain of bacteria that is listed on the label. Dietitians prefer products that contain a variety of strains and cultures.

The healthiest probiotic drinks you can buy.

With the help of dietitians, we rounded up the 10 best probiotic drinks you should add to your grocery cart.

1. Activia Probiotic Dailies

activia probiotic dailies

Per serving: 70 calories, 1.5 g fat (1 g saturated fat), 5 mg cholesterol, 50 mg sodium, 12 g carbs (10 g sugar), 3 g protein

"These drinks taste great, they're affordable and they contain only 70 calories for a 3-ounce serving," says Schlichter.

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2. Siggi's Plain Filmjolk

siggis plain probiotic

Per serving: 80 calories, 0 g fat (o g saturated fat), 5 mg cholesterol, 150 mg sodium, 12 g carbs (10 g sugar), 8 g protein

"Siggi's is known for its simple ingredients. It has only 4 grams of total sugar, 16 grams of protein, and it's rich in different strains of probiotics," says Brittany Modell, MS, RD, CDN, founder of Brittany Modell Nutrition and Wellness.

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3. Lifeway Plain Kefir Drinks

lifeway kefir

Per serving: 90 calories, 0 g fat (0 g saturated fat), 5 mg cholesterol, 120 mg cholesterol, 12 g carbs (12 g sugar), 11 g protein

"[This probiotic drink] offers a variety of 12 strains of probiotics, like lactobacillus, Saccharomyces, and Bifidobacterium. Plus, it has 15-20 live billion CFUs (colony-forming units). Additionally, it offers 11 grams of protein, 30 percent of daily calcium needs, and 25 percent of Vitamin D needs, with no added sugars," says Schlichter.

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4. Good Culture Probiotic Smoothie

good culture smoothie

Per serving: 140 calories, 6 g fat (3.5 g saturated fat), 20 mg cholesterol, 75 mg sodium, 16 g carbs (14 g sugar), 7 g protein

"These contain 12 different strains, 7 grams of protein, 0 grams of added sugar. additionally, these probiotic drinks feature kefir made from with pasture-raised dairy with 35 billion live and active cultures," says Modell.

Available at Whole Foods stores nationwide. 

5. Chobani Low-Fat Greek Yogurt Drink

chobani yogurt drink

Per serving: 140 calories, 4 g fat (2.5 g saturated fat), 20 mg cholesterol, 95 mg sodium, 17 g carbs (15 g sugar), 11 g protein

"These are not only super convenient for taking on the go, but they also taste great and they're affordable," says Pankonin.

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6. Farmhouse Culture Gut Shots

Farmhouse culture gut shot ginger beet

Per serving: 5 calories, 0 g fat (0 g saturated fat), 220 mg sodium, 1 g carbs (0 g sugar), 0 g protein

"The ingredients are very simple: cabbage, water, red beets, sea salt, ginger and fruit, and vegetable juice. They are made from sauerkraut juice and they are organic, unpasteurized with multiple strains of probiotics," says Modell.

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7. GoodBelly Probiotic Shots

goodbelly probiotics

Per serving: 30 calories, 0 g fat (0 g saturated fat), 0 mg sodium, 6 g carbs (3 g sugar), 1 g protein

"These tiny 'gut' shots offer 20 billion CFU's, including a variety of strains. They are non-GMO, soy and dairy-free, and have low amounts of sugar. They also offer other nutrients, like Vitamin C, iron, Vitamin D, and calcium, depending on which one you choose," says Schlichter.

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8. Health-ADE Kombucha Pink Lady Apple

healthade kombucha

Per 16 fl-oz serving: 80 calories, 0 g fat (0 g saturated fat), 0 mg sodium, 18 g carbs (14 g sugar), 0 g protein

"I'm really picky about kombucha because most that I've tried taste like I'm drinking vinegar. However, I really like Health-Ade kombucha because of the flavor and the cultures that it provides. I also like that this is a non-dairy option for those who cannot consume dairy," says Pankonin.

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9. Califia Farms Probiotic Dairy-Free Unsweetened Yogurt Drink

califa probiotic yogurt

Per serving: 100 calories, 9 g fat (2.5 g saturated fat), 240 mg sodium, 4 g carbs (1 g sugar), 3 g protein

"The ingredients are simple, and it is plant-based and dairy-free," says Modell.

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10. Harmless Harvest Dairy-Free Yogurt Drink

harmless harvest drink

Per serving: 100 calories, 6 g fat (4 g saturated fat), 20 mg sodium, 12 g carbs (3 g fiber, 7 g sugar), 1 g protein

While 4 grams of saturated fat is 20 percent of your daily value of the nutrient, the saturated fat in coconut does have some health benefits. For example, these saturated fats can encourage your body to burn fat. But just because they're more beneficial than animal-based saturated fat doesn't mean you should consume as much as you please. The good thins is that there is a healthy balance of saturated fat, sugar, and fiber in this beverage.

11. GT Kombucha Gingerade

GTs enlighted kombucha gingerade

Per 16 fl-oz serving: 50 calories, 0 g fat (0 g saturated fat), 10 mg sodium, 12 g carbs (12 g sugar), 0 g protein

GT's (the OG kombucha brand) makes dozens of different flavors of kombucha, but this one is our favorite. It's one of the lowest sugar options at 12 grams, and none of that is added sugar. It contains three strains of probiotic cultures and five different organic acids to aid digestion and nurture a healthy gut microbiome.

The worst probiotic drinks you can buy.

Tropicana Essentials Probiotics Juice

tropicana probiotic juice

Per serving: 140 calories, 0 g fat (0 g saturated fat), 10 mg sodium, 33 g carbs (29 g sugar), <1 g protein

"Juice can contain many good nutrients like vitamin C and potassium, but juice can also contain a high amount of carbohydrate per serving which might not be appropriate for some people," says Pankonin.

GoodBelly Probiotic Juice in Raspberry Blackberry

goodbelly probiotic juice

Per serving: 100 calories, 0 g fat (0 g saturated fat), 15 mg sodium, 23 g carbs (19 g sugar), <1 g protein

"Eight ounces offers 19 grams of sugar, with less than 1 gram of protein and it's void of other nutrients. Instead, opt for their newer juices with no added sugars," says Schlichter.

Vitacup Probiotic Infused Coffee Pods

vitacup coffee pods

Per serving: 5 calories, 0 g fat (0 g saturated fat), 45 mg sodium, 0 g carbs (0 g sugar), 1 g protein

"Personally, I think there are better ways to get your probiotics. These are also expensive and coffee pods, in general, are not great for the environment," says Pankonin.