Does Kombucha Actually Help With Digestion?

Combined with a sensible diet, kombucha provides a nutritional boost that assists digestion and balances the gut. Here's what we know.

Kombucha lovers around the world may come for the taste, but they often stay for the health benefits. Though the full health advantages are only starting to come into focus, delicious and raw kombucha has already given health researchers cause for optimism. The combination of probiotics, antioxidants, and more make for a powerful nutritional punch—especially when kombucha replaces high-sugar beverages like soda.

One of the main ways kombucha can impact your overall health is by improving digestion. Experts point to gut health as a critical battleground for the body—a healthy gut and smooth digestion process means less stress on the body and lowered chances of affiliated disorders. 

Combined with a sensible diet and lifestyle, kombucha can provide an essential boost that assists digestion and helps balance the gut. Here's what we know about the role kombucha plays in digestion.

Revamping the Gut Microbiome

Fungi and bacteria don't have the best reputation, but that's only because we usually focus on the negatives. In reality, both are indispensable parts of your microbiome, which is the living system that determines the health of your gut. Like it or not, trillions of living organisms are controlling your gut, and, by extension, can determine how well you digest foods.

The good news? You can heavily influence your gut microbiome with your diet. One key to a happy gut is to diversify your microbiome by eating a variety of different foods. This can spur the growth of helpful bacteria and lead you down the path to stress-free digestion. Fermented foods and beverages that contain Lactobacilli are considered especially helpful—an element you can find in some of the best kombuchas.

Experts have also been surprised at just how fast we can rearrange our gut microbiome. Stanford researchers found that 10 weeks of regularly ingesting fermented foods can be a game-changer for your gut. The study also mentions kombucha as one of the best ways to diversify your microbiome, pointing out that fermented foods had an even greater impact than a high-fiber diet. Kombucha may be only one piece of the puzzle of gut health, but it can serve as a critical building block.   

A Superior Way to Take in Probiotics

The word has gotten out about probiotics. Probiotics help digestion in a variety of ways, including improving the effects of irritable bowel syndrome. As health-conscious individuals look for ways to up their probiotics game, many turn to supplements for a quick (but expensive) boost in gut health. With the rise of probiotic supplements, many researchers were left wondering whether kombucha can provide the same or similar benefits.

For many researchers, fermented foods like kombucha are a better option than supplements. A 2023 Harvard Medical School summary of probiotics concluded that supplements should be sidestepped in favor of dietary changes. Because probiotic supplements don't require FDA scrutiny, results are harder to verify, and fermented foods can provide the boost you’re looking for. Kombucha is named one of the best options for quickly improving your probiotic levels.

To fully revolutionize your gut, kombucha can be paired with a variety of other foods that are high in probiotics. Sauerkraut, pickles, sourdough bread, and yogurt are some of the most prominent foods that help with digestion.

Elevating Digestive Enzyme Levels with Kombucha

Probiotics tend to get the publicity, but digestive enzymes are just as critical for a healthy digestive tract. A lack of natural digestive enzymes can lead to issues like lactose intolerance, which can make life difficult for anyone who enjoys dairy products. Enzyme supplements can be a step in the right direction, but taking in natural enzymes that help you break down carbs, fats, and proteins is usually the better path.

Just like with sauerkraut, fermented drinks like kombucha tend to be rich in both probiotics and natural enzymes. While we don't want too much acid in our stomachs, we need the right amount of acid to break down food and keep everything flowing correctly. Enzymes in kombucha can be an important part of this process, ensuring that our body has the tools it needs to process our diet.  

And when our body isn't producing enough digestive enzymes, our gut can experience significant distress as it attempts to compensate. Stomachaches, gas, and diarrhea are just a few of the fun side effects of not having enough enzymes in our system. For a physician-recommended boost, a kombucha smoothie containing raw honey can provide a significant uptick in natural enzymes. Even though they usually don't get the same credit as probiotics, enzymes might be the most underrated digestive component of your favorite kombucha.

Kombucha and Hydration

Many adults simply don't drink enough water. One poll showed that 47% of adults don't drink the recommended amount of water while other estimates are even higher. Most of us can use more consistent water intake, particularly those who regularly consume soda and coffee. While low water ingestion leads to a variety of negative health effects, subpar digestion is one of the main ways dehydration can affect people on a daily basis.

Even with the fizzy properties of kombucha, nobody should conflate it with the average carbonated drink. Experts point out that kombucha has nearly the same hydrating benefits as unsweetened iced tea. The small amount of alcohol created by fermentation is also too insignificant to impact your overall hydration levels.

This is exactly why kombucha can be such a tool against dehydration. Everyone needs a break from plain old H2O on occasion, and kombucha is a much better alternative than most other popular drinks on the market. This is just one of the reasons why kombucha consumption is expected to grow dramatically in the coming years while soda intake has been steadily declining for years.  While not a substitute for water, daily kombucha drinkers improve their hydration outlook and encourage proper digestion with every bottle.

How Antioxidants Protect Your Gut

The full upside of antioxidants is only now becoming more apparent. Researchers find that antioxidants can act as an important protector for your intestines, lowering oxidative stress and the chances of developing a host of disorders related to digestion (e.g., IBS). For many kombucha drinkers, a steady intake of antioxidants is one of the goals of regular kombucha consumption. Alongside the delicious flavors, kombucha can deliver potent vitamins straight to your gut with each bottle.

But we're also seeing that the foundation of kombucha really matters. A prominent study showed that all the different types of tea in a kombucha – black, green, red, etc. – showcase antioxidant properties, yet they're not all created equal. Kombucha enthusiasts trying to maximize their antioxidant levels should focus on green tea kombuchas that really deliver the goods.

For antioxidants, the fermentation ritual is also just as important as the type of tea. A high-quality fermentation process is critical for developing antioxidants, leaving some kombucha makers well behind the competition. While kombucha shouldn't be your only source of antioxidants, it can provide a stable level of antioxidants that encourage digestion and help you avoid intestinal issues.

Kombucha, Metabolism, and an Active Lifestyle

One association commonly linked to kombucha is its potential for improving metabolism. Digestion is one of the fundamental components of our metabolism, which makes it one of the essential links of our body. 

While we don't have enough data for concrete conclusions, there's a reason that researchers are often optimistic about kombucha's potential to improve metabolism. The properties of many teas are known to have elements that enhance metabolism. Several studies suggest green tea can help bodies burn extra calories, potentially making it a helpful option for fighting obesity and weight gain.

This is encouraging, although it's also only a starting point. While green tea kombucha shouldn't be counted on to burn extra calories, kombucha is an excellent post-workout beverage thanks to its hydration qualities, probiotics, and antioxidants. Kombucha smoothies are also an ideal way to pack in the right nutrients after exercise. And for those who just need a little flavor instead of plain water after a workout, kombucha can hydrate while putting your tastebuds into a happy zone.

Ultimately, those who drink enough water might also speed up their metabolism while decreasing their appetite. That provides even more incentive for individuals to remain active and substitute kombucha for sugary sodas or that extra cup of coffee. Even if there's no direct evidence kombucha itself improves metabolism, it can encourage healthier lifestyles that contribute to a high-functioning metabolism.

Kombucha and the Happy Gut

Our bellies are a coordinated ballet of nutrients, microorganisms, and hormones. Even though it mostly goes on undetected, studies continue to show that our diet has an instrumental impact on our gut makeup, which then determines how well our digestive process works. Pay attention to what goes into the system, and you may be blessed with smoother digestion while improving your odds of maintaining overall health.

There is no answer that will guarantee a happy gut, but kombucha's many health benefits can serve as a cornerstone of good digestion. The probiotics, enzymes, antioxidants, and more directly encourage our guts to behave themselves. Beyond the research backing up kombucha's role in digestion, regular kombucha consumption can encourage healthy decisions that will compound the established benefits.

Brew Dr crafts a careful blend of taste and nutrients in every kombucha batch, providing full flavor that will help get your gut on track. Our leaf-to-bottle approach ensures every one of our kombucha flavors hits the mark—every time you open a bottle.

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