Oakland's OLIPOP Soda Debuts

It contains cassava, calendula, nopales, and more.


Image courtesy of OLIPOP

A new Oakland-based soda brand has just been launched.

Made with chicory, cassava, kudzu root, sunchoke, nopal, marshmallow root, calendula, and more, OLIPOP debuted August 1 at Party Under the Palms: Summer Cocktails of the Farmers Market in Jack London Square. Now it's available in stores.

Its name derives from a combination of the words "oligosaccharides" and "pop."

Co-founder David Lester, who lives in Oakland, is an experienced marketer and drinks innovator. Fellow co-founder Ben Goodwin, who has in the past created a major kombucha brand, investigates pro- and prebiotic properties at his Santa Cruz microbiome lab.

Oligosaccharides are complex carbohydrates that form prebiotic fibers. The term "microbiome" refers to the assemblage of microorganisms living in, on, and around our bodies. Concentrated most intensely in the digestive system, the microbiome can affect not just physical but also mental well-being. 

OLIPOP's advisory board is headed by one of the world’s leading microbiome researchers: Dr. Joseph Petrosino, Director of the Alkek Center for Metagenomics and Microbiome Research at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston.

Seeking to produce an alternative to the high-sugar sodas commonly associated with rising diabetes rates and other health issues, the founders sought input from scientists, flavor experts, consumers, and students to create a beverage whose ingredients include prebiotics, anti-inflammatory plant-based botanicals, and plant fiber. 

Fiber and prebiotics can help to disperse nutrients slowly throughout the yards-long human digestive tract, feeding the probiotics that already live there. 

Controlled human clinical studies are set to be performed soon to understand more details about OLIPOP's recipe, entailing gut-immune health markers, mucosal-membrane health markers, intestinal fatty-acid production, and more.

Lester and Goodwin describe OLIPOP as "the first clinically backed digestive health beverage that meets consumers' real-world taste preferences." They also promote the drink as "a clinically validated alternative to kombucha and a functional alternative to sparkling water."

Each twelve-ounce can contains 35 calories and fewer than three grams of sugar.

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