Can Kombucha Help You Lose Weight?

by Dr. Ahmed Zayed
Published on January 1, 2020 and last updated for accuracy on January 3, 2020

Kombucha already exists for about 2,000 years and became known as the “tea of immortality.” It initially became prominent in China and then spread to Russia and Japan. In the early 20th century, the same has become popular in Europe until kombucha was known in the United States as an energy and health drink. 

What is kombucha?

Kombucha is a sparkling sweet-and-sour drink that is made of sugar, yeast, and fermented tea. It boasts various health benefits from hair loss to AIDS and cancer. Usually, the mixture is set aside for a week or so to allow fermentation. During that time, acids, bacteria, and alcohol are formed in the drink. The process is usually similar to how milk is converted into yogurt or how cabbage is made as kimchi or sauerkraut (1).

The tea used is either sweetened black or green tea. The tea is usually fermented with SCOBY. SCOBY or symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast, as the name suggests, is a mixture of bacteria and yeast. The yeast is broken down into sugar, which is responsible for releasing probiotic bacteria. Kombucha is known to be sparkling or fizzy because it becomes carbonated after the fermentation process (2)

Benefits of Kombucha

  • It is a good source of probiotics

As already mentioned, kombucha is made of tea, yeast, and sugar. The fermentation process takes about a week or more. Although a little alcohol is produced during fermentation, it is considered as a non-alcoholic beverage (3)

Also, during the fermentation process, a mushroom-like film composed of bacteria and yeast is apparently formed in the liquid.This is also the reason why kombucha is also called as mushroom tea.  Aside from that, acetic acid, which is also found in vinegar and other acidic compounds, are also produced. Not just that, trace levels of gases and alcohol are formed too, which make it carbonated. That is why kombucha is described as sparkling or fizzy (4)

Kombucha is known for its probiotic benefits, because it contains various species of lactic-acid bacteria which provide a probiotic function (5). Kombucha contains a huge amount of bacteria that grow in the mixture. These bacteria are healthy for your gut. It can help in improving several aspects of your health, including inflammation, digestion, and even weight loss. 

  • It provides the benefits of green tea

One of the healthiest beverages on earth is green tea. This is because it contains a lot of bioactive compounds, such as polyphenols, that serve as a powerful antioxidant in your body (6). Kombucha consisting of green tea have similar plant compounds that provide various health benefits. 

A lot of studies show that if you drink green tea regularly, you have a higher chance of burning a lot of calories, reducing belly fats, controlling blood sugar, and improving cholesterol levels (7). Aside from that, it was shown that drinking green tea can reduce your risk of colon, breast, and prostate cancers (8)

  • It contains antioxidants

Kombucha is rich with antioxidants. Antioxidants are substances that combat free radicals responsible for damaging your cells (9). Although antioxidants can be taken from supplements, it was found out that antioxidants that are naturally formed in foods and beverages are good for your health. 

Kombucha made of green tea has antioxidant benefits in your liver. In fact, a study has shown that drinking kombucha regularly can reduce your risk of liver toxicity by at least 70 percent, mainly caused by toxic chemicals (10)

  • It kills bacteria

As already mentioned, acetic acid is also produced during the fermentation process. Acetic acid is also found in vinegar, which is known to kill bacteria. Aside from that, kombucha contains polyphenols which are also capable of killing various harmful microorganisms (11)

Kombucha containing strong antibacterial properties are those made from green or black tea. Kombucha can fight bacteria that cause infection as well as Candida yeasts (12). We already know that yeast can prevent infections. So if you want to prevent your risk of infection, you can always drink kombucha. 

You may wonder whether the bacteria and yeasts produced during the fermentation process are also removed due to the antibacterial properties of kombucha. The truth of the matter is that these antimicrobial properties only suppress the development of unfavorable bacteria and yeast. It means that it does not affect the beneficial bacteria and yeast of kombucha. 

  • It reduces the risk of heart disease

One of the leading causes of death throughout the world is heart disease. A study has shown that kombucha helps in improving two markers of heart problems- bad cholesterol and good cholesterol (13)

Aside from that, kombucha, especially one which contains green tea, is capable of protecting you from bad cholesterol. And this is known to contribute to various heart diseases. In fact, it was shown that there is a 31 percent lower risk of various heart diseases when you drink kombucha regularly (14)

  • It helps manage type 2 diabetes

Do you know that more than 300 million people all throughout the world are affected with type 2 diabetes? Type 2 diabetes is characterized by insulin resistance and high sugar levels. A study has shown that kombucha allows the digestive process to slow down, which aids in reducing the level of your blood sugar. Aside from that, kombucha aids in improving the function of your kidney and liver (15)

It is shown that kombucha made from green tea is even more favorable to people with type 2 diabetes. Green tea is known to reduce blood sugar levels. In fact, it was shown that people who drink green tea have 18 percent lower risk of having type 2 diabetes (16)

  • It protects you from cancer

One of the leading causes of death in the world is cancer. Cancer is characterized by the mutation of cells and the uncontrolled growth of cells. The good news is that kombucha can help in preventing the development and spreading of various cancer cells because the former is rich in antioxidants and polyphenols (17)

Aside from that, the micronutrients found in tea, such as polyphenols, are capable of blocking the mutation of genes and the growth of cancer cells. These are also responsible for killing various cancer cells. These are just a few reasons why people who drink tea are less likely to suffer from different types of cancer. 

  • It is healthy

Kombucha is healthy for your body if such is made properly. It is rich in probiotics, known for a lot of potential health benefits. You can actually make kombucha at home, but you can always find it in stores. 

For you to get the utmost health benefits, it is an excellent choice to prepare it personally and properly. It was found out that kombucha, which is over-fermented or contaminated, can cause serious health issues much worse death (18)

It is also worth to note that kombucha has up to 3 percent of alcohol. Although it is considered as a non-alcoholic beverage, a little alcohol is produced during the fermentation process. Usually, commercial products are alcohol-free, and they usually contain less than 0.5 percent. In order for you to avoid highly commercialized tea, it is best to check the label first before purchasing it. 

How Kombucha Can Help in Weight Loss

Kombucha may be made from green or black tea. Both green and black teas are known for their weight loss benefits. According to Livestrong, it really doesn’t matter what tea you drink for as long as you observe a proper diet and engage in regular exercise (19). Anyway, here are a few reasons why kombucha can help in weight loss:

  • Change in gut bacteria

A study has shown that black tea is capable of helping you lose weight and maintain your health (20). The mechanism practiced by the particles found in green tea is different from black tea. Usually, the mechanism used by black tea involves the gut microbiome, which helps in decreasing bacteria found in the gut. These bacteria are associated with obesity. 

Well, Americans are known to love black tea. In fact, 80 percent of all the tea consumed is composed of black tea (21). Although black tea is usually overshadowed by green tea, the former is also hailed to have the ability to help you lose weight. Of course, it works in a different way. Whether you choose kombucha containing black tea or green tea, both have the same effect, and that is to lose weight. 

  • Antioxidant effects

Kombucha may consist of green tea. Green tea typically contains caffeine and catechin, an antioxidant. We already know that antioxidant helps you in losing weight. This antioxidant-rich beverage will not only help in slowing down aging but also in giving you energy for everyday activity. 

More importantly, it helps in your weight loss goal. Just come to think about the benefits of losing weight. According to WebMD, any weight loss can aid in preventing heart disease and lowering blood pressure (22)

In fact, it was shown that people who drink a higher dose of catechins in green tea even with the same tea variety lose more weight compared to those with a lesser dose of catechins. It only means that the higher the dose of catechin, the higher the possibility of weight loss. 

  • Low-calorie beverage

Do you know that a cup of black tea contains only up to 2 calories? What is more interesting is that it has 0 percent saturated fat and cholesterol. In case a cup of black tea contains more than two calories, it is mostly because this has added honey, sugar, or milk (23)

That is the reason why if you want your kombucha to be made of black tea, it is a good option to make one on your own. You can be sure of the ingredients as well as the amount of honey, sugar, or milk in your black tea.  

On the other hand, green tea is also known to help you lose weight. In fact, it can help you burn fats by up to 75 to 100 calories a day. You may find it small, but over time, this can significantly help you lose weight. The catechins and caffeine found in green tea are responsible for boosting your metabolism as well as increasing the fats your burn (24)

How to Drink Kombucha

In order to aid in digestion, you can drink your kombucha before meals. This will most likely help you in losing weight as the sour taste of kombucha can help in curbing your appetite. If you drink this with your meal, the nutrients found in your food may be useless. 

Moreover, it is a good alternative for your coffee. Kombucha contains caffeine, so it is helpful for those with low energy. But, it is worth to note that the fermentation process may produce some alcohol in your kombucha. Make sure to drink a lot of water to keep you hydrated. 

Since it has caffeine content, drinking kombucha before bedtime is not recommended. Make sure that you prepare it properly; otherwise, you will be at risk of unhealthy bacteria and contamination. Of course, excess of anything is bad. Since it has acetic acid, you should not drink too much of it. Otherwise, it will affect your tooth enamel (25)

Conclusion

Indeed, kombucha is capable of treating various chronic health problems. Make sure to check the label first before purchasing it. Otherwise, you will be at risk of highly commercialized tea with high sugar content that is certainly harmful to your entire well-being. On the other hand, if you opt to make your own kombucha, you should prepare it properly. Remember that highly contaminated kombucha may be detrimental to your health. 

References:

  1. https://www.webmd.com/diet/the-truth-about-kombucha 
  2. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/319630.php\
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26796581
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8559192
  5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24290641
  6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8617188
  7. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10584049
  8. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17906295
  9. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1985414
  10. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19420997
  11. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10888589
  12. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1745-4514.2011.00629.x
  13. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22591682
  14. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18641205
  15. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22591682
  16. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20008687
  17. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18979556
  18. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19460826
  19. https://www.livestrong.com/article/279551-is-black-tea-or-green-tea-more-effective-for-weight-loss/
  20. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs00394-017-1542-8
  21. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/319646.php
  22. https://www.webmd.com/diet/a-z/o2-diet
  23. https://vitagene.com/blog/black-tea-for-weight-loss/
  24. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/how-much-green-tea-per-day#section1
  25. https://annawildman.blog/2017/07/07/the-best-time-of-day-to-drink-kombucha-according-to-doctors/

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