Remember when kombucha was just a fad?
Now a groundbreaking clinical trial conducted jointly by researchers at Georgetown University’s School of Health, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, and MedStar Health has some new revelations about this fermented drink.
Results from this pilot study have revealed that drinking kombucha, for four weeks can significantly lower fasting blood glucose levels in individuals with Type 2 diabetes.
These findings offer promising evidence of a potential dietary intervention that could help manage blood sugar levels in diabetes patients and pave the way for larger trials to confirm and expand upon the observed benefits.
What is Kombucha?
Kombucha or Probiotic Tea is a drink that is made through fermentation with bacteria and yeasts. It has been around since 200 B.C. It gained popularity in the U.S. during the 1990s and internet fame increased its stature in the country and around the world.
Although anecdotal claims have praised its potential benefits, scientific evidence has been limited until now.
The Research Study
This pilot feasibility trial, which was first reported in Frontiers in Nutrition, involved 12 participants with Type 2 diabetes. Participants were divided into two groups, with one group consuming about 8 ounces of kombucha daily for four weeks, while the other group drank a similar-tasting placebo beverage.
After a two-month period to "wash out" the biological effects of the beverages, the groups switched their drinks for another four weeks. Notably, participants were unaware of which drink they were receiving during the trial due to the study's crossover design, minimizing any potential bias.
The results were striking. Participants who drank kombucha experienced a significant reduction in average fasting blood glucose levels from 164 to 116 milligrams per deciliter after four weeks.
In contrast, the difference in blood glucose levels with the placebo was not statistically significant. The American Diabetes Association recommends pre-meal blood sugar levels to be between 70 to 130 milligrams per deciliter.
What This Research Means
Lead author Chagai Mendelson, MD, expressed the importance of the findings, given the prevalence of diabetes and its serious consequences. "An estimated 96 million Americans have pre-diabetes, and diabetes itself is the eighth leading cause of death in the U.S., as well as a major risk factor for heart disease, stroke, and kidney failure," he said. "We were able to provide preliminary evidence that a common drink could have an effect on diabetes."
Dan Merenstein, MD, a study author and professor at Georgetown University School of Medicine, noted that this is the first clinical trial examining effects of kombucha in people with diabetes. A lot more research needs to be done, but this is very promising."
Kombucha and Gut Microbiota
Researchers also analyzed the microbial composition of the kombucha used in the study and identified lactic acid bacteria, acetic acid bacteria, and Dekkera yeast as the predominant components.
The consistency of these microorganisms across different brands and batches reassured the researchers about the reliability of the trial's results.
The positive outcomes of this pilot study have opened new avenues for exploring kombucha's and other probiotics’ role in diabetes management.
However, individuals with diabetes are encouraged to consult with their healthcare providers before incorporating kombucha or any dietary intervention into their diabetes management regimen.
Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is based on the research study mentioned and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.