Is Kombucha Good For Weight Loss? Does It Really Help 2023?
The fermented drink kombucha originated in China thousands of years ago. Its name came after Dr. Kombu, a doctor who used it to treat intestinal problems. It has since gained popularity due to its nutrient content and many health benefit claims.
There is interest in the effect of healthy gut bacteria on obesity and weight management. It begs the question of finding if the probiotic drink kombucha might be good for weight loss.
Does Kombucha Help With Weight Loss?
Kombucha itself has some ingredients that have been associated with weight loss. In particular, tea polyphenols and their probiotic properties may play a role.
Epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG), a green tea polyphenol, is mainly studied for its potential role in decreasing Body Mass Index (BMI). In addition, kombucha’s probiotics content also may support healthy gut bacteria, which may support weight loss.
Humans are hosts to a thousand strains of bacteria involved in digestion. Our gut bacteria not only help ferment fiber and facilitate nutrient absorption, but the metabolites produced in this process can decrease appetite.
When we consume diets high in sugar and saturated fat, it promotes alteration in the bacteria microbiome. In people with obesity, there is a noted alteration in the bacteria that live in the intestines that can affect health.
We have two big classes of bacteria in our gut: Firmicutes and Bacteroidetes. Alterations in the amount of either in our body from normal are associated with weight. Compared to leaner individuals, people with obesity have a higher presence of Firmicutes, and fewer Bactertoidetes.
These alterations in the microbiome in overweight individuals could also affect satiety triggers in the body. Gut bacterial alterations can impact important pathways that can promote the development of metabolic disease and inflammation.
Probiotics are live microorganisms that are consumed to have a health effect. These probiotics are most commonly used to treat diarrhea. The use of probiotics in randomized controlled studies shows a decrease in weight and BMI. Even so, there is still a need for larger studies on humans to gather more information.
Tea polyphenols have also been associated with a decrease in weight. In particular, those coming from green tea appear to be more potent. A review, where most studies used 3-4 cups of brewed green tea for around 12 weeks, found that it was effective in promoting weight loss. However, a more noticeable difference was seen when incorporating other weight loss strategies.
Green tea catechins, a subgroup of polyphenols in plants, may also be responsible for interfering with the absorption of lipids in the intestines in animals. Drinking green tea extracts can increase fat oxidation and increase energy expenditure. This effect was noticeable when combined with caffeine.
Kombucha is a source of antibacterial acetic acid, probiotics, and tea polyphenols. Some of these components have been associated with weight loss support and other possible health benefits but kombucha in itself has not been proven to help you lose belly fat.
What Is Kombucha?
Kombucha is a fermented drink made from infused Camellia sinensis leaves of green, black, or oolong tea and sugar. To be produced, a mix called the Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria and Yeast (SCOBY) is used to break down the sugar into alcohol, then to acetic acid. After fermentation, the kombucha will contain tea polyphenols, amino acids, ethanol, vitamins, minerals, antibacterial substances, and enzymes.
It will have an acidic taste and a sweet taste with a fizzy touch. To some people, it may taste similar to vinegar, possibly due to its acetic acid content. It does have a small content of alcohol produced during the fermentation process, but most are considered non-alcoholic due to most containing less than 0.5% alcohol.
Twelve ounces of kombucha contains:
- Calories: 60
- Carbohydrates: 15 grams, from sugar
- Potassium: 15 milligrams
It also offers small amounts of copper, iron, and vitamin B. Caffeine is also present in this drink due to its tea infusion. This makes it a beneficial drink to include for individuals looking for an alternative to juice. Although if you’re following a low-carb diet, it may not be the best option, due to its sugar content.
Health Benefits Of Kombucha
Besides its potential effect on reducing body weight, kombucha may have other potential health benefits. It may also have added components to boost health protective effects like juices, turmeric, herbs, ginger, and others. Data on these benefits are mainly limited to animal studies or small human studies.
With its bacterial content, it may improve gut health. Its acetic acid content provides antibacterial properties against harmful bacteria like Helicobacter Pylori and Escherichia choli. These types of bacteria tend to be the cause of stomach ulcers and diarrhea. Since kombucha is fermented with healthy bacteria, it has potential probiotic effects. Not only this, but it also contains prebiotics, which helps to feed the healthy bacteria, allowing them to thrive in the gut.
Kombucha may have anti-inflammatory properties due to its probiotic and tea content. Tea polyphenols and antioxidants like EGCG and others can scavenge free radicals. These are harmful compounds in the environment that can harm your health if too much builds in your body.
Probiotics protect the body at the intestinal level. When there is an alteration in the composition of our gut microbiome, inflammation ensues. In studies, there is a potential that using probiotics will decrease markers of inflammation and directly decrease inflammation.
Those same tea components help capture free radicals, which may also protect the arteries. Tea polyphenols may also help decrease low-density lipoprotein (LDL, “bad cholesterol”). In a small study of women drinking green tea extract, researchers saw a decrease in BMI and an improvement in LDL cholesterol.
Downsides Of Using Kombucha
Kombucha has many potential health benefits, but it can also have its downsides. It is important to look into the ingredients and choose carefully since there could be negative effects that come with its consumption.
Most kombucha products contain sugar or contain added juices that may increase calories.
Homemade kombucha may contain more alcohol content than commercial brands. This is something to think about when making it yourself. Commercially bottled kombucha may have a negligible amount of alcohol.
Drinking Kombucha is contraindicated in pregnant and lactating women. It also may not be beneficial for people with significant liver, pulmonary or renal disease. Depending on how acidic the kombucha is, it can affect health.
It can also be too acidic for some people, especially for those who suffer from acid reflux.
Some recommendations exist on limiting consumption to 4 ounces of kombucha daily. Consumption of excessive amounts of kombucha may lead to negative effects related to metabolic acidosis and potential microbial contamination. If this is a concern, consider purchasing this fermented beverage from a commercial source.
How To Drink Kombucha For Weight Loss
Although kombucha sounds like an option to help you lose weight, it is not a cure-all option. It will be best to use tried-and-true weight loss methods. Kombucha can then be an option you can include in your diet. Follow the next tips:
The recommendation is to consume 4 ounces of kombucha daily. The main idea is to not drink excessive amounts of this product as its acidic content may affect blood levels in some individuals. Many kombucha brands are also high in sugar, which does not support weight loss.
Commercially, you may find bottles of around 12-16 ounces. This amount of kombucha may be safe to consume in its entirety. Like any new food product, it may be good to start with small amounts, then increase as tolerated.
Choose Green Over Others
There is more evidence of higher antioxidant potency coming from green tea. This does not mean black tea or another tea is not an option, but green tea appears to have additional health benefits.
Don’t Skip On The Water
It is important to keep hydrated with water. Kombucha is a liquid but it does contain small content of caffeine, which can be dehydrating.
Keep Physically Active
Adults desiring weight loss should perform moderate-intensity at least 5 hours a week (brisk walks, swimming, bicycle riding,…). Start slowly. Then increase time and intensity as your tolerance improves.
Decrease Calories Consumed Daily
A caloric deficit is needed for weight loss. Eating around 500 calories daily will help you lose weight. Eat balanced meals and less added sugars, more healthy fats, lean proteins, and whole grains.
Eat Fruits And Vegetables
The fiber content in these foods will help keep your gut healthy and maintain a balanced microbiome. They also have health-protective nutrients that support the immune system and have antioxidant effects.
The Bottom Line
Kombucha appears to be a drink with many potential benefits. It has a potent blend of healthy bacteria and tea antioxidants. The effect kombucha tea might have on the body is debatable, but it’s hard to doubt its tea content might make it a great health protector.
Kombucha contains beneficial probiotics that support health and well-being. However, there is a lack of evidence that drinking kombucha tea will help promote weight loss.
Regardless, some ingredients in Kombucha may indirectly support weight loss. Kombucha, in the right amounts, may be included as part of a healthy diet.
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