What Happens to Your Body When You Drink Kombucha
Trendy and recommended by influencers and celebrities alike, kombucha has been touted as 'the' beverage to improve your health. But, how good for you, is it really? Pretty darn beneficial, if you ask most experts, including Hanna Crum, the co-founder of Kombucha Kamp and co-founder and president of Kombucha Brewers International. As she explains, it may seem like a new phenomenon, but in reality, this bubbly drink has been consumed for thousands of years. In fact, ancient civilizations referred to it as the 'elixir of life.'
"The fermented brew helps increase energy, aids in digestion, supports healthy liver function, and enhances overall health and wellbeing," she says. "It doesn't just taste good; it makes you feel good."
Here's what happens to your body when you drink kombucha, and for more healthy tips, be sure to check out our list of The 7 Healthiest Foods to Eat Right Now.
Kombucha balances our gut microbiome.
While many associate their stomach and core with digestion and strength, our guts are far more connected to our overall health than we realize. Our gut is the root of holistic wellness since it contributes to immune health, skin, mood, and more, according to Danielle Ryan Broida, RH, a holistic nutritionist and an instructor of mycology.
"The gut is known as the microbiome—or mycobiome—which is a complex community or ecosystem containing trillions of microorganisms, bacteria and fungi residing in your small and large intestine," says Broida. "The health of this ecosystem is controlled by having more 'good' bacteria than 'bad' bacteria. Everything you eat either feeds the good or bad bacteria and fungi down there."
Kombucha comes into play since it's a probiotic food, or a form of 'good' bacteria, thus, improving our gut health.
"Fermented foods, including kombucha, are rich sources of probiotics, making them a critical component to a healthy gut," she says.
So, in short: if you regularly drink kombucha, you're giving your gut an extra boost of nutrients. So stock up on one of these 11 Best Low-Sugar Kombucha Brands You Can Buy.
Kombucha improves our immune system.
Particularly now, many people are considered about the fighting-power of their immune system. And sure, loading up on vitamin C isn't a bad idea, per se, there are other avenues too, like when you drink kombucha. As Dr. Elroy Vojdani, MD, IFMCP, a functional medicine doctor, explains, this probiotic beverage powerfully improves your immune system by activating cells centered with the gut called 'regulatory T' cells.
"These cells are responsible for creating a balanced and efficient immune system, which reduces your risk of developing several chronic diseases like eczema, joint disease, or thyroid disease," he says.
Also, he notes kombucha populates our guy with healthy, beneficial bugs, rather than the disease-causing type. Notably, a kombucha practice can prevent 'Candida yeast overgrowth,' an increasingly common condition.
Kombucha gives us an energy boost.
If you have pals who are already on the kombucha train, they may rave about the productivity and motivation they receive after downing their beverage. There's science behind this, Crum says, since proper digestion combined with B vitamins provides a natural energy boost. It also could be the origin of the kombucha buzz that some experience, causing a light niacin flush. This is why many choose to drink kombucha in the morning, to reap the benefits throughout the workday.
Kombucha helps our metabolic and digestive health.
You, um, might experience a few trips to the restroom if you drink kombucha, and that's okay. As Dr. Vojdani explains, the beneficial bugs living in kombucha can significantly aid our own ability to digest and metabolize food, leading to improved digestion and, in some cases, weight loss. This is partly due to the fact that kombucha changes how we metabolize fat-degrading acids, also called bile acids, produced by our liver, he adds.
And while kombucha does have higher sugar content, it's not an additive but part of the process of creating a fermented beverage. As Crum explains, with pre-diabetes on the rise, a kombucha practice that incorporates fermented sugars with a lower-glycemic impact is a better choice than sodas or energy drinks.
"When looking at the label, the sugar grams listed are not the same as those listed on soda or juice because the sugars are broken down into their monosaccharide components during fermentation," Crum says.
Along with kombucha, here are 14 Fermented Foods to Fit Into Your Diet.
Can you drink too much kombucha?
Kombucha shouldn't replace your water intake and should be considered an added health ingredient in your balanced diet. Especially in the beginning, it's essential to start slowly and see how your body reacts. Crum recommends drinking four to eight ounces on an empty stomach twice a day, followed by plenty of water to flush out the toxins. Over time, you can increase the amount if you can tolerate it.
How do you know if you're having too much? Crum says to pay attention to bowels: are you visiting the bathroom too much? Are you overly bloated, gassy, or have a stomach ache? If so, Crum says to reduce the amount of kombucha, increase water intake and introduce it when your system has rebalanced.
Truth be told, most people will enjoy kombucha, even if it's an acquired taste at the start. The only time you should think critically about giving kombucha is if you have histamine intolerance, according to Dr. Becky Campbell, a board-certified functional medicine doctor. This chemical produced in the body helps our immune system fight off pathogens, and many people have trouble breaking it down.
"This can lead to an overabundance of histamine in the body, which can lead to many symptoms like anxiety, migraine headaches, eczema, vertigo, and more," she says.
Because kombucha is fermented, it produces the type of bacteria that can actually increase histamine levels in the body. So for histamine intolerant people, Kombucha is not a good idea.
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