**Drinking Kombucha May Lower Your Blood Glucose Levels, Study Finds**
A recent study published in the journal Frontiers has revealed that drinking kombucha, a fermented beverage, could potentially lower fasting blood glucose levels. The study, conducted by researchers from Georgetown University, involved participants who were all diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. They were divided into two groups, with one group consuming 8 ounces of kombucha before a carb-heavy dinner every evening for four weeks, and the other group drinking a similar-tasting sparkling beverage instead. After four weeks, the groups switched.
Significant Reduction in Fasting Blood Sugar Levels
The study yielded promising results, showing that the participants who consumed kombucha experienced a drop in their fasting blood sugar levels by about 50 points, from 164 to 115. This is noteworthy as the American Diabetes Association recommends a fasting blood sugar level of less than 100. In comparison, the fasting blood sugar levels of those who did not consume kombucha only dropped by about 20 points, which was not statistically significant. The researchers allowed participants to eat whatever they wanted during the study, making the drop in blood sugar levels even more significant.
Possible Explanations for the Beneficial Effects of Kombucha
The researchers proposed several theories to explain the positive effects of kombucha on blood glucose levels. One possibility is that the addition of any carbonated drink to dinner may suppress appetite and reduce the size of meals, leading to lower fasting blood glucose levels in the morning. Another theory suggests that kombucha consumption may promote the regeneration of insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas, at least in animals, which could potentially reverse the condition in part. Additionally, compounds found in kombucha, such as polyphenols, caffeine, organic acids, ethanol, and alkaloids, may help prevent oxidative stress-related diseases, including heart disorders, cancer, and neurodegeneration. These compounds might also contribute to lowering cholesterol and blood pressure, providing an overall health boost.
Further Research Required
While the study showed promising results, it had a small sample size of only 12 participants. Therefore, more research is needed to determine exactly which mechanisms contribute to the reduction in fasting blood sugar levels associated with kombucha consumption. Additionally, the study did not explore other potential health benefits of kombucha, such as improved gut health, which warrant further investigation according to the authors.
Kombucha’s Potential Impact on Diabetes
The researchers emphasize that kombucha holds real health promise, especially considering the prevalence of pre-diabetes and diabetes in the United States. With an estimated 96 million Americans having pre-diabetes, and diabetes being the eighth leading cause of death in the country, finding simple and effective interventions is crucial. Dr. Chagai Mendelson, one of the lead authors of the study from Georgetown University, expressed hope that larger trials can be conducted in the future, using the knowledge gained from this study to determine the effectiveness of kombucha in reducing blood glucose levels and potentially preventing or treating type 2 diabetes.
Understanding Kombucha: An Ancient Concoction
Kombucha is an ancient beverage that dates back to around 200 B.C. in China. It is made by fermenting tea, usually black or green, with sugar or another sweetener like honey, along with “healthy” bacteria and yeast. The fermentation process typically lasts from a week to a month, resulting in a lightly carbonated drink with a tangy taste. Although fermentation does add a small amount of alcohol to the beverage (usually less than 0.5%), kombucha is considered non-alcoholic.
Growing Popularity and Perceived Health Benefits
Kombucha has gained popularity worldwide and was valued at nearly $1.7 billion in the global market in 2019. It is known for its perceived health benefits, although limited research has been conducted to determine its actual effects. Some potential benefits, according to the Cleveland Clinic, include weight loss, reduction in inflammation, improved gut health, boosted immune system, cancer-fighting properties, detoxification, and protection of heart health.
Risks and Side Effects
While kombucha offers potential benefits, it is not without risks. Drinking excessive amounts of kombucha can result in side effects, such as headaches, nausea, gastrointestinal problems, and even ketoacidosis, a condition characterized by excessive acid in the blood. Additionally, if kombucha is brewed in containers with lead, it can potentially lead to lead toxicity. Unsanitary brewing conditions, particularly when making kombucha at home, can also pose risks. It is important to watch out for any strange coloring or a nail polish-like smell when consuming kombucha from sources that may not adhere to proper brewing practices.
In conclusion, the study provides preliminary evidence suggesting that kombucha consumption may lead to a reduction in fasting blood glucose levels among individuals with type 2 diabetes. However, further research is needed to understand the specific mechanisms behind this effect and to investigate other potential health benefits. As kombucha gains popularity, it is essential to consume it in moderation and ensure that it is sourced from reputable and safe producers.