If you’re not into drinking kombucha, maybe it’s time you begin. A recent study has shown that the fermented drink can help to lower blood sugar levels. Here’s everything you need to know about the fascinating research and how it can benefit you.
Disclosure: This post on kombucha and blood sugar is for informational purposes only. It is not meant to force you to change your daily diet habits but to highlight kombucha’s benefits. As always, I’m a fan of you just the way you are. If, after reading, you have questions, please talk to your physician or nutritionist.
Think back to old movies that highlighted the sale of “snake oil” to cure everything from gout to hair loss. While the fake liquid was sold and labeled differently, the purpose was the same: to scam folks out of their money. These days, we can read up on ingredients and their benefits before ever ingesting them.
And while we’d love for an elixir or tonic to be a one-and-done drink that would cure us of everything, we don’t have one yet. But, there is a drink that’s been around for a very long time that may offer an easy way to keep your blood sugar levels in check: kombucha.
This year in the United States, 96 million people have pre-diabetes. And while we’re talking stats, diabetes is the eighth-largest cause of death. So, could consuming a drink that’s been around for thousands of years be the key?
What Is Kombucha?
It seems that every grocery store or supermarket I visit is selling kombucha, and it’s for a good reason. While there isn’t an exact location of origin for the fermented drink, there are recipes from as far back as 221 B.C. that highlight making it in the Qin Dynasty of China. As for the United States, it didn’t see any popularity until the 1990s.
Made from tea combined with sugar, yeast, and bacteria, folks who drink it say it has a sweet-and-sour taste with a fizzy kick. Just like when we make bread, when sugar is added to the yeast, it becomes their source of nourishment and produces carbon dioxide and ethanol, making the bread rise and become fluffy. As for gut health, the drink has plenty of “good bacteria,” offering a probiotic kick.
But the phrase “too much of a good thing” is also true for kombucha. Overconsumption can lead to several not-no-nice side effects, including nausea, GI distress, and even ketoacidosis (especially bad for diabetics as the body rapidly breaks down fat, causing the liver to process it into a fuel called ketones.)
As for its benefits, kombucha has been shown to be helpful with inflammation, compliments of its antioxidant properties, and has the potential to work as both an antibacterial and a probiotic. Recently, a study was performed to examine the benefits of kombucha and its ability to lower blood sugar. Here are the results.
Kombucha and Blood Sugar Levels
Keep in mind that this study was pretty small (12 participants in all), and all 12 members were diagnosed previously with type 2 diabetes. Split into two groups, one group was given eight ounces of kombucha per day to drink, the other a placebo. During the four-week study at Georgetown University’s School of Health, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, and MedStar Health, participants could eat their normal diet.
After four weeks, the groups were given a two-month “wash out” period so the biological effects of the drinks would be gone, and then swapped places so the members that were drinking the real kombucha were given the placebo and vice versa.
When the eight-week trial was over, the results were pretty impressive: those who drank the kombucha saw a dramatic drop in blood sugar levels. On average, it went from 164 to 116 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dl), putting the levels in a healthy zone of between 70-130 mg/dl.
The ability of kombucha to hold down spikes in plasma glucose and insulin when consumed with a carbohydrate-rich meal is very promising, especially for those with type 2 diabetes, and could become a natural therapeutic for the disease.
Also, during the study, researchers looked at which fermenting microorganisms were present in the kombucha they gave each participant. It turns out that both lactic acid and acetic acid bacteria and Dekkera yeast were found. Why the need to know? Different kombucha brands made by different manufacturers offer different microbial mixtures in different amounts, although slightly so.
In a Nutshell
First, the study was the only one of its kind, so further testing and additional studies will need to be performed before giving the thumbs up on kombucha becoming a diabetic therapeutic.