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Surprising Side Effects of Drinking Kombucha, According to Science

Is it as healthy as some claim? We did the research.
FACT CHECKED BY Kiersten Hickman

While it's considered an acquired taste by most, kombucha has recently been a buzzworthy drink beloved by celebrities, influencers, and health professionals. Generally speaking, a serving—eight ounces—of kombucha is a good idea for your digestive system and your gut microbiome. However, as with many dietary choices, too much of anything can potentially have a negative impact. Here, we explain the surprising side effects of drinking kombucha, including the good and the bad.

It may seem like a new drink, but kombucha has been revered by civilizations for thousands of years, thanks to its many natural healing properties. But before you dive into a brave new world of kombucha flavors, mixtures, and brews, it's smart to research what exactly you're consuming. Many popular brands have plenty of added sugar, which isn't ideal for your diet. And, you may have other risk factors that make it better to stay away from this fermented beverage. Here are the kombucha side effects to consider, and for even more healthy tips, be sure to check out our list of The 7 Healthiest Foods to Eat Right Now.

Improvement in digestive health

kombucha bottles

When you sip on kombucha, you'll notice it has an almost acid-taste and flavor. For many, the texture is reminiscent of a pint of beer. This is due to the way kombucha is brewed because, like a beer, it goes through a fermentation process that creates bacteria. These bacteria strands are the right type for your gut, including lactic acid, which has probiotic properties. In other words: drinking kombucha is a lot like taking a daily probiotic. You may notice more regular trips to the bathroom and easier digestion over time.

Here are 14 Probiotic Foods for a Healthy Gut.

A healthier liver


For those who suffer from liver disease, kombucha can be a miracle worker. In fact, a study with rats illustrates that regular consumption of this fermented beverage can reduce live toxicity. Though the same hasn't been found in humans (yet), there is reason to be hopeful, and it's worth chatting with your doctor if you'd like to try it.

Here are Popular Foods That Cause Liver Damage, According to Experts.

A stronger immune system

cold brew kombucha

Though it may seem a little unappetizing, kombucha and vinegar share a property: acetic acid. This is why kombucha is bubbly, and believe it or not; it's actually a perk for your health. This specific form of acid is a superstar at ridding of the bad bacteria that we don't want present in our bodies, boosting our immune system. Not bad for a beverage!

Here are 8 Ways to Support a Healthy Immune System, According to Harvard.

Management of type 2 diabetes

kombucha variety

When kombucha is brewed with green tea, studies suggest that it may help prevent or manage type 2 diabetes. This is because green tea, in general, lowers our blood sugar levels. One study—albeit with rats—found that kombucha effectively improved liver and kidney function, reduced blood sugar levels, and slowed the digestion of carbohydrates.

Weight loss

kombucha tea

If you'd like to drop a few pounds for a big event or just because you're feeling less than stellar, drinking a glass of kombucha daily could help you lose weight. As one study found, drinking green tea helps you burn more calories. If you choose a kombucha that's brewed with green tea, you could see improved gut health—and a reduction in your waistline!

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Pregnant and breastfeeding complications

kombucha bottle and fruit

Because kombucha has live bacteria which give it those gut-boosting properties, it isn't recommended for pregnancy. How come? Some versions may have a slight amount of alcohol, and it's unpasteurized, which isn't safe for carrying a baby. If you'd like to drink kombucha while breastfeeding, check with your OB-GYN first.

Potential contamination


When you are drinking kombucha, check the source. Generally speaking, the beverages available at stores go through a rigorous testing process before they can be sold nationwide. However, some of the home-brewed varieties may not have the most sanitary conditions, adding a potential risk of contamination.

Potential diabetes risk


While preventing or maintaining type 2 diabetes is one of the kombucha side effects mentioned, if you're not careful about the type of kombucha, it can actually have the opposite effect on your body. If you were to take a sip of kombucha as soon as it's brewed, you likely would find it incredibly sour and bitter. To make it more delicious, companies add sugar. This is a fine solution for most people, but for those with diabetes, it could push you over a dangerous threshold. Make sure to check with your doctor before starting a kombucha practice. Here are the 11 Best Low-Sugar Kombucha Brands You Can Buy.

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