It’s touted to be a miraculous drink that will improve your gut health, detoxify your liver, boost your immune system and more, but is kombucha actually all it’s cracked up to be?
Some experts are now saying that the popular fizzy, fermented tea may not be as healthy as you think, with little scientific evidence to support claims of its benefits. Regardless, it’s been selling like bottled hot cakes, with sales of $600 million in 2015, which is projected to reach $1.8 billion by 2020.
Kombucha’s mildly acidic concoction of tea, sugar, bacteria and yeast dates back around 2,000 years and tastes bittersweet and sour, and is a little effervescent. Great mouthfeel? Sure. But does it really have all the health benefits that people drink it for?
Professor Keith Warriner from the faculty of food science at the University of Guelph says that there’s still a need for conclusive evidence to weigh in on whether there are real benefits from the drink or not.
“There is no science to say yes, it does reduce blood pressure, yes it does improve digestion. There is just nothing there at the moment,” Warriner told CTV.
There have even been studies that document a rare, liver-damaging side effect of riding the kombucha train just a little too hard. To quote the study’s abstract, “there is concern, however, from the evidence of a few case reports currently available, that [kombucha] may pose life-threatening and/or adverse effects for users.”
There’s also the risk of other, less desirable bacteria or fungus sprouting into the drink during the fermentation process, which is more likely in home brews. And while taking four ounces of kombucha tea daily is generally recommended, pregnant women along with children, elderly people and anyone with a poor immune system should think twice about drinking it.
Still, for many people, the lack of scientific evidence isn’t enough to stop them from sipping this particular tonic.
“More people are interested in the mystery of the health benefits than the scientific evidence,” said Warriner.
Mystery health benefits? When it’s put like that, who could resist?