You may be worried about your after-dinner cup of kombucha ruining your sleep schedule or maybe you are just worried about your new obsession giving you the jitters.
Either way, knowing the side effects of kombucha will tell you everything you need to know about your new favorite drink.
While kombucha in and of itself is a very healthy addition to your diet (for most people), drinking too much kombucha can cause issues commonly associated with the overconsumption of caffeine, calories, and sugar.
To answer concisely and quickly, kombucha will only keep you awake if you drink too much of it or are particularly sensitive to caffeine.
Caffeine Levels in Kombucha
The caffeine levels in your bottle of kombucha depend entirely upon the brand and type or flavor. Traditionally, kombucha is made out of types of teas that are generally pretty high in caffeine: black tea and green tea.
That being said, kombucha has less caffeine than the green tea and black tea it is based on because of the added bacteria and fermentation process.
Getting down to actual numbers, normal black tea contains 47 milligrams of caffeine. In comparison, a kombucha based on green tea contains much less, closer to between 8 and 14 milligrams of caffeine per every eight ounces (or a serving).
Since this is significantly less than traditional teas, it truly varies from person to person whether or not your kombucha will keep you awake.
If you are a seasoned veteran of tea drinking and know that those higher levels of caffeine do not impact your body negatively, a serving of kombucha will likely have even less of an effect!
However, if you are sensitive to caffeine, kombucha can definitely trigger negative side effects. This can mean trouble sleeping if the kombucha is drunk later in the day; generally, 2 pm is the best time to stop drinking caffeine in order to ensure that it does not affect your sleep.
Kombucha could also cause anxiety and hyperactivity in those prone to them.
How Much Kombucha Can You Drink?
Even if you are not overly sensitive to caffeine, it can still impact you if you drink too much kombucha. Plus, overconsumption of kombucha leads to a high intake of calories and sugar.
The healthiest serving of kombucha is between one and two servings of eight ounces a day. That being said, most store-bought bottles of kombucha contain two servings, 16 ounces, so be sure to check the label!
In order to further prioritize your health, you can pick a brand of kombucha that is lower in calories and lower in sugar. These products tend to come in dark glass bottles that protect the healthy probiotics from any light damage.
The Benefits of Kombucha
After hearing about the caffeine, sugar, and calories, you may be wary to pick up another bottle of your kombucha. However, there are still a large variety of health benefits contained in the fermented tea.
- As mentioned above, kombucha can contain probiotics. The drink can contain a variety of lactic acid bacteria species, which can function as probiotics for your body. Probiotics are necessary for a healthy stomach and gut, and can improve digestion, reduce inflammation, and encourage weight loss.
- Kombuchas that are based in green teas have the benefits of green teas, one of the healthiest drinks out there! Green tea contains bioactive compounds and antioxidants that can reduce inflammation, improve cholesterol levels, help with blood sugar levels, and fight cancer. It can even help with weight loss by increasing calorie burning and reducing stomach fat. Green tea also has polyphenols, which are an especially strong antioxidant.
- Non-green-tea-based kombuchas have antioxidants as well! These are used by your body to fight against damage to your cells. These antioxidants can also potentially improve the toxicity of your liver, in some cases by at least 70 percent. It should also be noted that getting antioxidants from your drinks and foods (such as dark chocolate, pecans, blueberries, strawberries, artichokes, goji berries, raspberries, kale, red cabbage, beans, beets, spinach, and more) is actually better for your body than taking additional antioxidant supplements.
- Similarly to vinegar, the acetic acid in kombucha can kill bacteria. Kombucha can fight candida yeasts (a fungal infection that can also be fought off with foods such as coconut oil, probiotics, garlic, curcumin, and a general low-sugar diet) and other infection-causing bacteria.
- Kombucha, both with and without green tea, can potentially decrease the risk of heart disease. This is because kombucha can potentially help with bad LDL and good HDL cholesterol. Kombucha, especially green-tea-based ones, can also keep LDL cholesterol from oxidizing, which is a process commonly thought to partially cause heart disease. Studies have shown that green tea drinkers have a 31 percent lower chance of getting heart disease!
- Kombucha can help fight against cancer as it prevents the growth and the spread of cancerous cells. This is because of the high levels of polyphenols and antioxidants found in kombucha and tea. While it is not widely understood, polyphenols are thought to block gene mutation and fight the growth of cancer cells while killing said cancer cells.
- Kombucha can, amazingly, help manage Type 2 diabetes as it has been shown to slow the digestion of carbs in rats, therefore reducing the blood sugar levels. It can also, as mentioned above, help with the liver and kidneys. Green tea, and therefore green-tea-based kombuchas, can also further help reduce blood sugar levels. Drinkers of green tea have an 18 percent lower risk of developing diabetes.
Other Potential Side Effects of Kombucha
Now that you have been reminded of the amazing benefits of kombucha, it is time to get back into the potential drawbacks so that you are motivated to stick to your one bottle of kombucha a day limit.
It is important to remember that these side effects are not guarantees, and are more likely the more kombucha you drink.
The majority of the common side effects of kombucha are those issues commonly associated with eating (or drinking) too much sugar, calories, and/or caffeine.
Specific categories of people may experience rarer side effects from drinking kombucha as well.
- Stomach Problems: Since the majority of kombuchas are carbonated, the excess carbon dioxide can result in gas and bloating. Kombucha is also high in the FODMAP carbohydrates that can be especially harmful to those with irritable bowel syndrome and can cause stomach cramping. Kombucha can also cause diarrhea because of the sugar in the drink drawing water to your intestines.
- Sugar, Sugar, Sugar: Some kombuchas, but not all, are made extra sweet and appealing with fruit juice or cane sugar. A diet with too much sugar, or too much kombucha, can increase your risk of obesity, diabetes, fatty liver disease, and heart disease. Some kombuchas, depending on the brand, may contain 28 grams, or seven teaspoons, of sugar. On the other hand, other brands may have as little as four grams of sugar!
- Dangers for Auto-Immune Deficiencies: The variety of yeasts and bacteria within kombucha can actually cause harm to those with weakened immune systems caused by medical issues such as cancer, HIV, kidney disease, and more. Some people may also have rare yet severe allergic reactions to kombucha.
- Pregnancies: Because kombucha contains both caffeine and small amounts of alcohol, pregnant and breastfeeding women should not drink it.
I have a bachelor’s degree in Computer Information Systems and over 10 years of experience working in IT. As a homeowner, I love working on projects around the house, and as a father, I love investigating various ways to keep my family safe (whether or not this involves tech). I’ve also played guitar for almost 20 years and love writing music, although it’s hard to find the time these days.