Kombucha:Benefits & Risks
You’ve known how often I’ve spoken about the fact that there is no magical food or superfood. Ever since my very first posts. Superfoods and food fads are a big trend in today’s world of health. Kombucha is the latest. Kombucha is being seen as the magical cure all for everyone and their eternal gut problems. In fact, very recently, someone told me that they were drinking Kombucha early in the morning, before eating or exercice. With lots of Kombucha in the market today, is it that wonderful cure all? Functional Nutrition taught me that there is nothing like everyone’s superfood, and that includes Kombucha. There’s a lot into all sides of Kombucha & so today I want to take you through the benefits, as well as who might be at risk for complications, just from drinking Kombucha!
Before you think this post is to put down your favourite superfood, think again! It’s to empower you with the knowledge of where it might not be working for you. The feedback of your spouse or best friend, is not your body’s feedback. Further, you might not see it as problems with your gut. It might show up somewhere else, in a system where you are unable to connect the dots.
The problems with Kombucha, are more than just safety in preparation. Most articles you read about Kombucha, will tell you that the only problem that might occur is if the preparation is not done safely. But there is much more than that. I’m going to take you through some of the benefits first, for there are many. If it does work for you, then chances are that you will get plenty of health benefits, when you add Kombucha to your daily dietary protocol.
Kombucha : The Magical Elixer for Gut health
The fact is, that if Kombucha works for you, it can be a wonderful addition to your diet. It is a drink which is very high in antioxidants. Fermented foods are rich in probiotics. They help to rebuild the balance of good and bad bacteria in your gut. They can be especially helpful if you have a history of antibiotic usage, when that has created dysbiosis, or that imbalance in your gut. Probiotics can help regulate your digestive system and improve your bowel movement. Probiotics are also very critical to make certain vitamins like vitamin A and K, and also help your body to utilize them.
Probiotics also have antimicrobial properties, helping your immune system, balancing intestinal pH and protecting you against environmental toxins.
Fermented foods and drinks, like Kombucha, can have billions of good bacteria, and in potencies far greater than in a probiotic capsule.
Do you feel that you have some form of dysbiosis? Perhaps you have repeated usage of antibiotics? If so, Kombucha might help. So once again, here’s a quick look at the benefits of Kombucha.
Benefits of Kombucha:
- Regulates your peristaltic movement through your gastrointestinal tract.
- Helps bowel movement.
- Makes vitamins A & K and helps your body utilize them.
- Increases good bacteria in your body and helps prevent dysbiosis
- Supports your immune system
- Balances intestinal pH
- Protects against environmental toxins
But is kombucha great for everyone? Recently a friend of mine was drinking kombucha early in the morning, before her workout. She was also advising her husband to drink it. She had been told by the girl who was making Kombucha, that it was the wonder cure she needed for all her complex health challenges, which included severe immune challenges, recurring infections, persistant yeast overgrowth and depression.
I also came across a client who said that she had added Kombucha because she had been told by her friends that it was great for her gut, but it seemed to make her acne worse. I came across another client who felt her bladder issues flaring up again, shortly after she started drinking Kombucha, but she didn’t make the connection in her mind. It took some extensive digging for us to realise the connection. I really want to explore who might have trouble with Kombucha, and why. So read on.
What are the risks of drinking Kombucha and for whom?
As you know, in Functional Medicine, you are truly unique. There is absolutely no magical food or superfood. Even the healthiest food can be harmful to someone. This concept is called bioindividality. There is also the connection between the food you eat and your body. The intersection between a food and the physiology of the person is what makes each reaction different and unique.
Who can Kombucha be harmful for?
I cannot tolerate Kombucha at all. Don’t get me wrong. I am not saying that it is bad. My husband takes it regularly and it works wonders for him, supporting his gut health and preventing any bloating. It doesn’t work for my son either, although he loves this fizzy drink. I’ll explain why in a moment, as I take you through different scenarios where it does not work.
- Kombucha can be a problem for people with candida or yeast overgrowth. My friend who tried Kombucha, thought it was the wonder cure. But, she had recurrent yeast infections, and required antifungal medication consistently.
- Kombucha can aggravate acne, urticaria, eczema or psoriasis. Although you might think that strengthening your gut with Kombucha can help your skin conditions, for those with severe conditions which might be autoimmune in nature, like urticaria and eczema, just a few days of Kombucha can aggravate symptoms and create a flare. If you find your skin becoming red, more sensitive, or rashes, then it’s probably a sign that it does not work for you.
- Kombucha can create sleep issues. If you find yourself starting to feel wide awake when you should be falling asleep, that’s another sign that you might be sensitivew to Kombucha.
- Kombucha can creates acidity, reflux and GERD. If you find any symptoms like hyperacidity ir reflux, there could be one of two things. Either your gut needs more gentle repair first before you start Kombucha, or you are sensitive to it altogether.
- Kombucha can increase aggression, irritability or anger. If you find yourself getting more irritable after starting Kombucha, try a few days without and see if it goes down.
In fact, in my case, I love the Kombucha my husband makes! He tries everything! We have bottles of Kombucha ranging from mango to orange to hibiscus. Yet, I really cannot tolerate it, except as a small drink once in a few weeks. Instantly my skin flares up, my sleep gets severely disrupted, and I find myself grumpy all the time.
If you have any of these side effects, you could be sensitive to Kombucha as well! In fact, my friend developed a urinary tract infection, within a few days of starting Kombucha. The reason for this is two things. She was probably sensitive to it and the other reason was that it was making her urine pH more acidic, and causing bacteria to breed, especially as she was prone to bladder infections.
Now, here’s something I want to explain about how this works (or doesn’t).
The reason Kombucha doesn’t work is that it is very high in histamine. It might not work for everyone. This can be due to genetic predispositions in liver detoxification. In my case, my genetic predisposition to liver detoxification led me through a lifetime of urticaria. If you have similar physiological issues, then you could be sensitive to phenols, and therefore unable to tolerate Kombucha.
I’ve been urticaria free for many years now, unaffected by every change; including my menstrual cycle. But, I cannot tolerate Kombucha everyday.
How I did this!
All that I addressed was my body, through better detoxification.
I healed my gut. I solved constipation & supported my digestion. This consequently reduced overall chronic inflammation, improved my ability to DETOXIFY, balanced my hormones & regulated my cycle.
How to Address your GUT
Addressing your gut is crucial, since your gut is at the centre of all health.
- Support your GUT HEALTH with lots of plant foods, fermented foods & clean proteins. There can be problems for those sensitive to phenols like Kombucha. You must do a trial and be mindful of your body’s feedback.
- Detoxification is critical. If you have done a lot of work on your gut and are eating an anti-inflammatory diet, which I’ll talk about very soon, then you might be able to tolerate Kombucha in small amounts, like I can.
- And there are so many more connections between your ability to detoxify & your intolerance to Kombucha. If you do not detoxify, your body will be unable to process something which you are innately sensitive to.
Have you been able to tolerate Kombucha? Share your stories with us. The fact is that in the world of Functional Nutrition, there is no magical food or drink. It could work miracles for you, but create havoc for me. It all comes down to respecting our uniqueness and being mindfull of reactions.