Kombucha—fermented tea created from Symbiotic Colony of Bacteria and Yeasts (SCOBY)—is commonly hyped up as being a magic elixir. Just like magic, there is a dark side to kombucha. Regular consumers claim this “potion” aids weight loss and digestion, serves as an anti-aging regimen, helps prevent cancer, improves liver function and supports overall immunity.
Although this incredible tonic is now popularly marketed on a large scale for its countless health benefits, kombucha has the potential for negative side effects.
Why kombucha is amazing
Bacteria and yeasts in kombucha work to eradicate most sugars from the tea, transforming the liquid into a fizzy, semi-tart, delicious drink.
Kombucha is high in Vitamin B—protecting the pancreas and liver.
It’s also rich in enzymes that help detoxify the body, high in glucosamine that lubricates joints and prevents arthritis, and is packed with probiotics—helping to aid digestion and ensure gut health.
Hannah Krum of Kombucha Kamp shares in her new book, The Big Book of Kombucha:
“Kombucha is often referred to as a gateway food, because this one health-promoting choice can lead to a whole host of others, bringing balance to body, diet and lifestyle. With regular consumption, kombucha can be part of deep, positive changes in all aspects of life….We are living in a bacterial world, and I am a bacterial girl!”
The dark side to kombucha resides in your choices
The main issues are the frequency and quantity that people consume kombucha. A lot of health experts will advise drinking kombucha every day, but I strongly disagree.
While I love kombucha and appreciate its benefits, I believe everything should be done in moderation!
If you are taking medications, are an alcoholic, diabetic, alcohol sensitive, caffeine sensitive, sugar sensitive, or have Candida…kombucha may not be the drink for you. Symptoms of SIBO can be revealed or exacerbated through drinking kombucha. In some cases, it can trigger acid reflux or heartburn and possibly irritate ulcers.
Reap all the kombucha benefits with none of the buzzkills
While kombucha is not a magical drink with wizardly powers, if drank in moderation this yummy concoction can provide health benefits like increasing your bacterial diversity, which helps prevent chronic disease.
(One of my Fermentationists®, Gayle, calls kombucha the “designated driver’s drink” while out at the bar.)
The key to reaping the benefits of kombucha without the negative repercussions is to be aware of how often you’re drinking it and how it makes you feel.
In general, I recommend drinking kombucha no more than twice a week.
My clients weigh in with their kombucha experiences
Kevin Gianni of Annmarie Skin Care, “The only dark side of kombucha is when you run out…. lol… We have it on tap at the office here.” 🙂
Elissa, “I used to drink lots of kombucha and loved the different flavors at the store. I also liked the idea that it was healthy, until I got a “baby” from a neighbor (that was super fun, like sharing sourdough starter) and realized how much sugar and caffeine it got fed! Yikes!”
Morray, “I have done kombucha on/off for a couple of years. I could definitely tell when it was not agreeing with my system (bloating and digestion just off), removed it for a time and have been drinking it again for a few months with no issues. I think the amount is key and I do better WITHOUT the second ferment. I have never really liked carbonation…”
Catherine, “I started making kombucha five years ago and loved it, drank it almost daily in amounts of 4 to 12 oz with no ill effects, I rarely used a second ferment.
Then over time I developed SIBO and noticed increasingly that I didn’t feel as well after drinking it. This actually helped clue me in that I had SIBO. I was drinking it less and less so I stopped producing it at home.
After a year or so without it I took a sip from my husband’s Celestial Seasoning kombucha as we were shopping in Sprouts Market one day and holy cow, one sip was enough to blow my gut up to basketball proportions. I think that brand has inulin added to it.
I didn’t touch kombucha again until I got an all-clear signal from my retest for SIBO. Now I respect the power of the ferment more and I limit my kombucha use to keeping a bottle of GT in the fridge on occasion and sipping from it as I’m passing through the kitchen.”
Myra, “The first time I ever tried it was in this program [Fermentation Certification Program]. I thought it tasted like “hard” iced tea. I like that sort of thing!” 😉
Shawn, “Like Myra, the first time I tasted it was in this program. I only had one drink of it since I do not tolerate caffeine or sugar well. My daughter loves it, however, so I am continuing to make it for her. She says it is so much better than any of the many different kombuchas she has purchased from stores, and that she never wants to buy any again!
This summer she wants me to teach her how to make it so she can make it herself and experiment with different flavors.”
Marlies, “I drank a lot of it for about 2 years. I did not realize then that drinking it in large amounts was not a good idea. My teeth started to ache and I suspected it was causing my Candida problem to flare up. Now I have it on occasion.
Jennifer Delaney, “I can drink it on occasion, but if I drink it too often I start getting headaches. I am prone to food-related migraines and know certain things must be done in moderation for me.”
Jane, “We as a family like kombucha. We go through a lot of it. I have a hard time keeping up with making it. I don't find the alcohol in it affects us in any way. I don’t know what the alcohol content is but I’m sure it's low. We've been drinking it for about two years now.
I was diagnosed borderline diabetic but was able to reverse that diagnosis. I think that the kombucha may have a part in that. I'm not sure. I know lifestyle changes affect that also-eliminating processed foods, sugar etc. My daughter had a histamine reaction to it. She does drink it but a lot less often than she used to.”
Laura, “My son, by drinking kombucha regularly, has gone from borderline constipated to 3 poops a day! He spends so much less time in the bathroom, it’s awesome.”
Is the dark side to kombucha shadowing you?
Have you been using kombucha more than you should? Maybe you experience bloat, headaches or feeling “off” after drinking it even if you barely touch the stuff. If that's the case, it may be time for you to dive deeper into what's going on in that glorious gut of yours.
SIBO and Candida may be making your symptoms worse. Check into the gut health labs I recommend to get a clear idea of where you're starting.
If you've had gut labs completed recently and you're ready to improve your results, my Gut Rebuilding® Program can help. Take action to reduce or eliminate your bloating, gas, indigestion, IBS, constipation, diarrhea, fatigue, anxiety, and other gut-related symptoms.
Learn more about my 8-week program that includes live coaching and the support of other students actively healing at their own pace in the Gut Rebuilding® Facebook community when you attend my free webinar.
If kombucha and your gut get along great…
And you troll the refrigerated aisles of your natural food store looking for new kombucha flavors to try,
But you would rather be hyper diligent about what goes into the food you consume (no hidden inulin or non-organic ingredients),
Plus, you love the idea of turning your kitchen into your very own DIY probiotic factory,
Then it might just be time for you to check out how to make your own kombucha (plus 13 other delicious ferments) inside my Fermented Foods 101 course.
What has your personal experience with kombucha been? Comment below and let me know.