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February 9, 2022

Top 8 possible side effects of kombucha and how to consume it safely

Kombucha may have health benefits due to the beneficial bacteria it contains. But consuming the wrong type of kombucha, or too much, can produce harmful side effects.
Kombucha is a probiotic drink made from fermented tea and sugar, sometimes along with other ingredients.
Kombucha may have some possible health benefits when consumed in moderation, but drinking too much may carry some risks.
Other issues like contamination or over-fermentation can also play a role in the possible side effects of kombucha, and there are some characteristics to keep in mind when choosing a kombucha beverage.
This article explores the possible harmful side effects of kombucha and how to consume it safely.

What is kombucha?

kombucha side effects
Photo editing by Lauren Azor; Olga Pankova/Getty Images

Kombucha is a traditional fermented drink.

At its simplest, kombucha contains brewed tea and sugar. Many manufacturers add other ingredients for flavor, such as fruit, herbs, or juice.

Letting the mixture ferment in a controlled environment will allow healthy bacteria and yeast to build up in the drink, making kombucha an easy source of beneficial probiotic bacteria.

Drinks can also be carbonated, through natural or artificial fermentation. The result is a bubbly drink that may have a number of health benefits. Research posted to the Journal of Chemistry notes that the probiotics and antioxidants in kombucha may have a number of therapeutic benefits, such as helping to support a healthy gut microbiome, also such as supporting other organs and body systems such as the liver, heart, and nerves. system

Possible side effects of kombucha

Although kombucha may have health benefits, there is some possibility of side effects when taking it.

Digestive upset

Some people may experience digestive upset from drinking kombucha or from drinking too much.

Symptoms such as bloating, nausea, and vomiting may occur. These side effects may be more likely in people who drink too much kombucha.

Also, some people may not tolerate kombucha well or have a poor digestive reaction when drinking it

Excess calories

Some people drink kombucha as a soft, carbonated alternative to soft drinks.

While kombucha may provide some benefits to the body, it does contain calories. Actual calorie levels in kombucha will vary widely depending on the manufacturer and additives.

Some manufacturers may add more sugar or sugar-rich juices to their kombucha for flavor. This also adds extra calories.

Those on a calorie-restricted diet may want to avoid extra calories from kombucha.

People with diabetes will also need to know about the calories and carbohydrate and sugar content of kombucha

Added sugars

Fermentation from kombucha requires sugar to feed the probiotic bacteria in the drink.

Many manufacturers will also add added sugar or high-sugar fruit and juices to the drink.

Sugary drinks have been linked to a number of health conditions.

For example, research published in CirculationTrusted Source documented an association between sugary beverage consumption and conditions like obesity, type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.

Additional research in the European Journal of NutritionTrusted Source notes that people who drink a lot of sugary drinks have a higher risk of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease.

Opting for lower-sugar kombucha products may offer similar health benefits with fewer risks associated with consuming too much sugar

Tooth erosion

Drinking too much kombucha can be bad for your teeth.

According to research published in the journal Beverages the fermentation of kombucha produces acids such as acetic acid. This is the same acid found in vinegar, and gives kombucha its aromatic flavor

The release of acetic acid during fermentation lowers the pH of the beverage, making it acidic.

Research published in the Journal of Chemistry notes that kombucha has a pH lower than 4.2. Therefore, drinking too much kombucha can put teeth at risk of wear.

For this reason, drinking water or rinsing your mouth with water after drinking sweet and sour drinks can help protect tooth enamel

Infection risk

Kombucha may not be suitable for people with sensitive immune systems in some situations.

For example, home-brewed or small-batch kombucha may not have been pasteurized.

Combinations of many different types of bacteria and wild yeast can grow in drinks.

While many of these bacteria can be beneficial, the same environment during fermentation can also allow some harmful bacteria to grow or leave space for these bacteria to take root.

For this reason, people who are prone to infections, such as those with weakened immune systems or chronic illnesses that affect their immune systems, may want to avoid kombucha

Excess caffeine

Kombucha usually contains tea during fermentation.

Depending on the type of tea, this can provide a person with plenty of additional caffeine.

For people who are sensitive to caffeine or who already drink caffeinated beverages, adding kombucha may increase caffeine consumption and cause symptoms such as:

Those who are sensitive to caffeine may want to avoid kombucha or look for versions made without caffeine from the tea leaves

Liver toxicity

Although rare, some people can have a more serious reaction to kombucha.

Research posted to SD Med attributes several cases of liver toxicity and inflammation to kombucha consumption. This can lead to complications such as jaundice or lactic acidosis.

People with a condition that affects the liver may want to avoid kombucha or make sure it comes from a controlled environment.

Contamination

Since kombucha is the result of natural fermentation, improper handling or poor environmental control can lead to contamination.

Kombucha contaminated with other bacteria or yeast can be unhealthy, or can even be dangerous to drink.

Contamination from containers can also be a risk factor. Styrofoam pots, or plastic or enamel containing lead or other contaminants, can get into kombucha.

Some plastics can break down into kombucha as it brews. Contaminants from the container can put the person at risk for side effects or toxicity depending on the chemical

How to consume kombucha safely

Consuming kombucha safely may help reduce several risk factors from the drink.

For small batch beers or homemade kombucha, make sure the container won’t break or let chemicals or metals like lead get into the drink.

It is best to brew kombucha in a glass container that can be sanitized before use.

Preventing contamination from other microorganisms may include proper temperature control and the use of clean equipment during the brewing process.

For those concerned about the possibility of other bacteria in the drink, look for pasteurized kombucha. Some manufacturers will pasteurize the drink and then only add beneficial bacteria afterwards.

For those worried about sugar and calories, look for drinks that don’t contain too much sugar or calories.

There are no definite recommendations for kombucha consumption.

The individual factors and types of kombucha can vary greatly. With that said, drinking one to two 8-ounce servings of kombucha per day may be adequate for the average consumer

Summary

Kombucha is a fermented probiotic tea that may benefit the body.

There are some risks to consider, especially when drinking kombucha in excessive amounts.

Some people may want to avoid kombucha, such as those with compromised immune systems and those sensitive to caffeine.

There are no exact guidelines for kombucha consumption, and finding a balance of individual intake may be best in each case.

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Originally posted 2021-10-07 14:21:42.

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