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Kombucha Might Help Keep Your Blood Sugar in Check If You Have Diabetes—A New Study Suggests

The bubbly bevvy might be a boon for gut health, but blood sugar, too?

By Kaly JohnesPublished about a month ago 4 min read
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As we've noted in our recaps about kombucha and weight loss and what happens when you drink kombucha every day, we think this fizzy, tangy fermented drink can be good for gut health and energy levels. But more scientific research needs to be done to further confirm those claims.

And as of this week, another topic could be one to consider for future deep-dives: Can kombucha help stabilize blood sugar? According to an August 1, 2023 paper published in Frontiers in Nutrition, compared to a similar-flavored placebo drink, drinking kombucha daily might lower fasting glucose levels among people with type 2 diabetes.

There's a really big "but" to keep in mind when translating the findings, though. Here's what you need to know.

What This Type 2 Diabetes Study Found

Nearly 40% of all Americans are predicted to have received a type 2 diabetes diagnosis by 2060, diabetes is currently the eighth leading cause of death in the U.S. and an estimated 1 in 3 Americans already have prediabetes (elevated blood sugar levels that fall below the official type 2 diabetes range). Those numbers are all very real and very sobering, and as a result, researchers are on a rapid quest to figure out ways to prevent and slow the progression of type 2 diabetes.

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Not only is this important for diabetes management and previous, but we're learning a lot about how what happens with blood sugar doesn't just effect our blood sugar alone. The ripple effects of type 2 diabetes can increase risk for everything from cognitive decline, heart disease and beyond.

Since very little (if any) research has been conducted on humans about the blood sugar ramifications of kombucha, a team of scientists from Georgetown University's School of Health, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and MedStar Health designed a clinical trial to study that exact topic.

"Some laboratory and rodent studies of kombucha have shown promise, and one small study in people without diabetes showed kombucha lowered blood sugar, but to our knowledge this is the first clinical trial examining effects of kombucha in people with diabetes," study author Dan Merenstein, MD, professor of human science in Georgetown's School of Health and professor of family medicine at Georgetown University School of Medicine tells Georgetown School of Health news release.

The scientists tapped 12 individuals who had been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes to take part. For the first 4 weeks, one group drank about 8 ounces of Brindle Boxer Kombucha, while another drank an equal amount of a placebo beverage that tasted like the fermented tea. (BTW, that kombucha company didn't sponsor the study. It was simply selected as a representative example of the typical "recipe" available commercially.)

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The participants took 2 months off to "wash out" the impacts of their first round or sips, the researchers explain, then they swapped drinks for next 4 weeks. Neither group was told whether they received the real deal or the placebo.

The "crossover design…limited the effects of any variability in a person's diet," Dr. Merenstein says, and helps control for other factors like genetics and other diagnoses.

Along the way, the scientists kept tabs on each individual's blood sugar, and at the end, they compared the body's response to both beverages. Kombucha appeared to lower the average fasting blood sugar after 4 weeks from 164 to 116 milligrams per deciliter. The placebo resulted in no noticeable shift. For reference, the American Diabetes Association recommends that a "healthy" blood sugar before a meal should be between 80 to 130 milligrams per deciliter.

It's too early to really know why this occurs, although the scientists believe it might be linked to the probiotic qualities of the kombucha. A 2021 meta-analysis in the journal Advances in Nutrition suggests that probiotics may help those with type 2 diabetes lower their blood sugar levels.

The Bottom Line

A new health study found that drinking 8 ounces of kombucha per day for 1 month might help lower fasting blood sugar levels among those with type 2 diabetes.

For now, it's important to not jump to conclusions that kombucha lowers blood sugar. This study only involved 12 people, and the actual experiment took over the course of a very short timespan. More larger and longer studies—including ones that investigate the "why"—are needed to solidify this relationship.

"A lot more research needs to be done, but this is very promising," Dr. Merenstein admits in the release.

As we continue to learn more, individuals with prediabetes or type 2 diabetes should sip mainly plain water, as it has zero added sugar compared to the few grams per serving in kombucha. (Yes, even Homemade Kombucha contains added sugar.) Regarding balancing blood sugar, the basics hold true:

Aim to fill half your plate (or more) with produce

Embrace self-care practices and other stress-management strategies

Shoot for 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night

Drink alcohol in moderation, if at all

Try to integrate 30 minutes of movement most days of the week

Stay in touch with your medical care team and follow their personalized recommendations

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Kaly Johnes

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