What Happens to Your Body When You Drink Kombucha Every Day
Few beverages are getting quite as much buzz these days as kombucha. On TikTok alone, #kombucha has racked up more than 875 million views, and celebs from actors to athletes have been spotted carrying a can around with about as much loyalty as a cell phone.
According to estimates from the market research firm Grand View Research, $2.64 billion was spent on kombucha worldwide in 2021 alone, and they predict that figure will jump by nearly 16% each year through 2030.
It's clear that interest in kombucha is bubbling up. But what are all those bubbles—and the ingredients in kombucha—doing to our digestion and our bodies as a whole? Read on, as dietitians spill about what happens when you drink kombucha every day.
What Is Kombucha and Is It Healthy?
As we mention in our kombucha 101 guide, this is a lightly effervescent, fermented tea with a unique tart and slightly sweet taste. Kombucha is available in a wide variety of flavors commercially, and you can make homemade kombucha if you're feeling ambitious … and confident in your fermentation skills.
Kombucha ingredients typically include green or black tea, sugar or juice (to feed the yeast during fermentation), water and a scoby (an acronym for "symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast"). The scoby is sometimes referred to as the "mother," "starter" or "mushroom," since it is the source of the live bacteria that infuse the tangy flavor and gut health-promoting probiotics into the mix.
"Kombucha contains probiotics which support a healthy microbiome," explains Jenna A. Werner, RD, creator of Happy Strong Healthy in Middletown, New Jersey. The amount of probiotics can vary widely based on brand, though. "Overall, I would consider kombucha a nutrient-rich drink, depending on the quality of the product. Kombucha is definitely not a meal or a meal replacement," says Werner, so it should be enjoyed with a meal or snack—not instead of food.
Related: 5 Things You Should Do Every Day for Your Gut Health, According to a Gastroenterologist
Kombucha can be part of a balanced diet, adds Lauren Manaker M.S., RD, LD, a registered dietitian and owner of Nutrition Now Counseling in Charleston, South Carolina, and it's one of Team EatingWell's recommendations for best fermented foods for a healthy gut. Still, it shouldn't be the only drink or the sole fermented product you consume. As with sources of fiber, your best bet to promote good gut health—and overall well-being—is to mix things up.
"Everything should be enjoyed in moderation. While a glass of kombucha is A-OK, drinking multiple servings every single day may not be the best choice," Manaker says, noting that it might invade the space of good ol' H2O, can contain some caffeine from the tea, and could do a number on your teeth due to its acidity. (The typical pH of kombucha is around 3.)
In addition, the fermentation process produces a small amount of alcohol; about 0.5% ABV. That means if you're pounding kombucha from morning to night, all of those low-ABV sips could add up to be on par with the alcohol content of one light beer. It's not a wise choice for anyone who is avoiding alcohol due to dependence challenges, pregnancy, breastfeeding, allergies, medication interactions or otherwise.
Related: Can You Have More Drinks If They're Low in Alcohol?
So, is kombucha healthy?
"Healthy" means something different to everyone, explains Laura Ligos, RDN, CSSD, a registered dietitian nutritionist and the founder of The Sassy Dietitian in Albany, New York. So it's more a matter of considering if this fits into your overall menu and makes you feel good after drinking it.
"I certainly think kombucha can be healthy, but it definitely depends on an individual's overall food intake, hydration, gut health, activity level and more," Ligos says.
What Happens When You Drink Kombucha Every Day
As is the case in many circumstances involving nutrition recommendations, there's no one-size-fits-all prescription for how much kombucha to drink. That said, if you do opt to crack open a can or bottle every day, here's what can happen.
You'll Reap the Health Benefits of Tea
Since many kombuchas are made with true teas, drinking kombucha can provide the same benefits as drinking a classic cup, Manaker says. ICYMI, the health benefits of tea include lower risk for heart disease and certain cancers; better task performance, creativity and focus; improved sleep; and more.
Your Gut Health May Improve
Kombucha is a fermented beverage and, as such, can provide live bacteria probiotics that may support gut health. The current scientific evidence to support kombucha's exact impact on gut health is extremely limited, though.
"There still needs to be more research on this, but since it is a fermented beverage, it may have some probiotics which can help contribute to improved microbiome health," Ligos says.
You'll Boost Your Hydration Levels
If you think plain water is too ho-hum, listen up: kombucha can help you perk things up. Since it's lightly flavored and fizzy, kombucha can be an easy way to add to your daily water consumption, Ligos says.
You May Find It Easier to Drink Fewer Cocktails
If you're trying to drink less alcohol, sipping kombucha straight or mixing it into dressed-up drinks can be a festive replacement for a cocktail, glass of wine or beer. Our Lemon-Ginger Kombucha Cocktail is just as tasty without the vodka. Or try this Pineapple Kombucha Mai Tai sans rum or triple sec.
Due to the fermentation process, kombucha does contain a small amount of alcohol. But an option like Ligos' go-to, kombucha and seltzer, is a lovely way to step down from higher alcohol drinks—or space them out. (Try alternating a cocktail and kombucha.)
You'll Increase Your Added Sugar Intake for the Day
Depending on the brand, kombucha can have large quantities of added sugar. Look for a brand with 12 grams of sugar or less per serving, if possible. And be sure to note how much sugar is naturally occurring (from something like 100% fruit juice) compared to how much is added sugar.
While sugar is perfectly OK in moderation as a part of a healthy diet, excess amounts of added sugar can contribute to insulin resistance and difficulty controlling blood sugar, Ligos says, and will increase your daily calorie intake. "To help with the added sugar, you can cut the kombucha with seltzer or water," she says. "Or pair it with a meal that has protein and fat to help with the blood sugar response." (A quick 2-minute post-kombucha walk can help, too!)
What to Look for in Kombucha
You can control the quality and quantity of ingredients if you opt to brew a Homemade Kombucha recipe.
If you'd prefer to go the store-bought route, the best kombuchas contain live probiotics, and to help preserve them, many companies offer kombucha in tinted bottles or opaque cans. Because those probiotics are alive (hopefully), kombucha should be sold refrigerated—and kept refrigerated—rather than at room temperature. Some brands list the probiotic content on the label. However, it's important to keep in mind that there's really no way to know how many actually survive by the time you consume the kombucha.
Seek out kombucha that has a best-by date—that hasn't passed, of course—and that has few or no artificial additives and is fairly low in added sugars. Keep your kombucha's sugar content in mind as part of your overall meal plan; the current 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans suggest limiting added sugar intake to 10% or less of total calories, or about 50 grams of added sugars per day if you consume 2,000 calories.
Related: 5 Sneaky Sources of Added Sugars That Are Probably in Your Kitchen Right Now
Be sure to peek at the alcohol content if that's a concern for you, and look at the serving size and number of servings per bottle or can so you can calculate accordingly if you sip on more than one.
Frequently Asked Questions About Kombucha
1. Is it OK to drink kombucha every day?
There's no definitive answer here. "Consider the way you feel while consuming this beverage," Werner says.
If you like the taste and how it makes you feel, great—"Go for it!" Ligos says. If not, feel free to carry on with other beverages you do enjoy. (Psst … discover all the beverages that can count toward your daily hydration goals.)
Note, however, that "drinking too much kombucha may lead to digestive distress, and it's important to look at your entire diet and diversify the sources of probiotics within your days," Werner says.
2. Who should not drink kombucha?
While most commercial and homemade kombuchas have too little alcohol to qualify as an alcoholic drink (defined as 0.5% ABV or higher), even their light amount of alcohol may be contraindicated for some. Many brands are also raw and unpasteurized, so "those who are immunocompromised, pregnant, breastfeeding or on specific dietary restrictions should be aware of this," Werner says, and speak to their medical care team before enjoying kombucha.
Due to the tea in the mix, kombucha can be a source of caffeine. You may want to steer clear if you're sensitive to caffeine or are limiting your caffeine intake.
3. Does kombucha detox your body?
As long as you have a functioning liver and kidneys, your body detoxes for you.
"Your digestive system, liver, kidneys and skin break down the toxins in your body and eliminate them through stool, urine and sweat," Werner explains. You definitely don't need to worry about detoxing, EatingWell dietitians confirm.
You can certainly support your body's natural detoxification processes through what you eat and drink and your lifestyle overall, but "no one single food or beverage can 'detox' your body," Ligos says. "Stick to the basics like drinking water, moving your body, eating your fruits and vegetables, and getting enough sleep.
The Bottom Line
Some people view kombucha as a "superfood" (OK, a "superdrink"). And while it's made with tea and, in many cases, beneficial probiotics, drinking it won't be a substitute for an overall healthy diet, Manaker confirms.
Ligos and Werner agree that, if you enjoy it, kombucha can certainly be part of your overall gut-health-supporting strategy. This game plan should also include a focus on quality sleep, stress management, diet diversity, hydration, adequate fiber, prebiotics (which you can find in certain plant-based foods, milk, honey and prebiotic sodas; Werner adores Olipop) and physical activity.
Up Next: Gut Health: Prebiotics, Probiotics and the "Forgotten Organ"