Is Kombucha Good for Gut Health?

If you’re trying to optimize your gut health, you’ve likely heard of kombucha. It’s become a popular topic when people are trying to get healthier. But is kombucha really all that? Or can kombucha actually be dangerous? And is kombucha good for gut health? 

We’ve got the answer to all of your kombucha questions here.Kombucha

What is kombucha?

Kombucha is a tea-based beverage that has been consumed for more than 2,000 years. It’s created through a fermentation process involving bacteria, yeast, and sugar that are added to black or green tea. 

This process results in the formation of alcohol, organic acids, and carbon dioxide, as well as beneficial bioactive compounds such as polyphenols. These compounds have been shown to reduce inflammation and oxidative stress in the gut, leading to improved gut health. 

While Kombucha is known for its probiotic content, which can aid in digestion, nutrient absorption, and immune function, it is the bioactive compounds produced by the fermentation of the polyphenols that make Kombucha a promising addition to a healthy diet.

Although research on Kombucha is still limited, the available evidence suggests that it may have a positive impact on gut health.

How much Kombucha should I drink?

When asked about how much Kombucha people should drink, Dr. Ken Brown, gastroenterologist said, 

“I suggest that my patients start small when consuming kombucha, especially if they are new to the beverage. A serving of 4 to 8 ounces can provide probiotics and bioactive compounds needed for gut health without causing a lot of problems. However, be mindful of the risks associated with overconsumption–inadvertent alcohol consumption, gastrointestinal upset, and potential tooth enamel damage.”

Benefits of Kombucha

Kombucha has boasted many benefits for health. However, scientific evidence is still in the early years of research. At this point, most of the studies have been performed on mice. However, some of the benefits of kombucha that have been noticed include:

Kombucha Dangers

We often only hear the benefits of kombucha, but did you know that there are also kombucha dangers to consider?

Because kombucha is fermented, small amounts of alcohol (typically 0.5-3%) and acid are created through fermentation and can cause potential health concerns. 

This can be problematic for those who cannot tolerate even a small amount of alcohol or who are on medication that interacts negatively with very small amounts of ethanol in kombucha. Additionally, high amounts of acidic substances can cause heartburn and damage tooth enamel.

Store-bought kombucha may contain added sugars that can lead to unwanted weight gain and other health complications if consumed excessively.

Finally, it’s important to be cautious when making your own kombucha or consuming improperly prepared commercial products. They may contain harmful bacteria or fungi that can cause infections or other health problems. If you’re feeling dizzy, nauseous, or begin vomiting after consuming kombucha you should see your doctor right away, as this could be a reaction from improperly prepared kombucha. 

Pregnant women, children 4 years old and under, and people with serious health conditions should not consume kombucha unless cleared by their doctor. These populations are the most at risk for the dangerous effects of kombucha.

Is Kombucha Good for Gut Health?

Regular consumption of kombucha has been associated with positive changes in the digestive system, particularly for those who are generally healthy. Probiotic content in kombucha can promote a balanced gut microbiome, but it is not the only beneficial component of this fermented tea beverage. 

Kombucha also contains organic acids that encourage the growth of beneficial bacteria in the gut and reduce inflammation, leading to improved digestive function. Additionally, bioactive compounds found in kombucha–such as polyphenols–may help reduce inflammation and promote gut health.

While kombucha can provide beneficial probiotics for the gut, it’s important to be mindful of the potential risks of overconsumption. Drinking too much kombucha can lead to an imbalance in gut bacteria, as excessive amounts of probiotics can overwhelm the gut microbiome and lead to digestive upset, bloating, and other gastrointestinal symptoms

Additionally, some commercial kombucha products may contain high amounts of sugar or caffeine; high sugar intake has been linked to inflammation and the development of gut dysbiosis, while excessive caffeine intake can lead to increased gut motility and diarrhea (which disrupts the delicate balance of your microbiome). 

Is Kombucha good or bad for those with digestive problems?

Dr. Brown stated, “As a gut health expert, I would caution individuals with small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) against regular consumption of kombucha. While kombucha is often touted for its probiotic content, the live microorganisms in the beverage can actually worsen symptoms in individuals with SIBO.” 

This is because probiotics can contribute to bacterial overgrowth in the small intestine, exacerbating gas, bloating, and constipation

While some individuals may find relief from gas, bloating, and constipation with regular consumption of kombucha, those with SIBO should consult with their healthcare provider before incorporating this beverage into their diet. It is possible that they may benefit more from other digestive aids or therapies that do not contain live microorganisms.

In addition to this, if someone who is prone to diarrhea starts drinking kombucha every day, it may help or hurt them depending on the underlying cause of their diarrhea.

If a bacterial or viral infection is causing diarrhea, drinking kombucha may not be helpful and could even worsen symptoms. The live cultures of bacteria and yeast could introduce new strains of bacteria to the gut and cause further irritation. In these cases, it’s best to consult a healthcare professional to identify the underlying cause of diarrhea and develop an appropriate treatment plan.

However, if diarrhea is caused by an imbalance in gut bacteria, stress, or medication use, drinking kombucha may improve digestive function. Kombucha’s helpful compounds can help to promote a healthy balance of gut bacteria, reduce inflammation in the gut and alleviate symptoms of diarrhea.

The Bottom Line

Kombucha can be a great product to add to your daily life. It’s full of polyphenols, phytoconstituents, vitamins, minerals, probiotics, and prebiotics that can all support your health. 

You should make sure that the quality of your kombucha is high and that it isn’t high in sugar. If you make it yourself, be careful that it is prepared properly.

Beware of Kombucha dangers. People who struggle with digestive problems, health conditions, are pregnant, or are under the age of 5 should consult with their healthcare provider before consuming kombucha because they are at a higher risk of complications. 

Do you love kombucha? Share your favorite recipe for it in the comments below.