Kombucha, a fermented tea with cultures of bacteria and yeast, is often thought of as a superfood drink. But while enthusiasts sing the beverage’s praises (antioxidant power and gut-health boosting power), scientific research on it is limited and mainly done in animals.
Probiotic yeast found in kombucha is a different microbe than the probiotic bacteria you’d find in naturally-fermented foods such as sauerkraut, explains Robin Foroutan, RDN, a nutritionist at The Morrison Center in New York City and a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Regularly consuming the drink could potentially trigger an imbalance of the microbiome and result in an overgrowth of yeast, she says. This could yield side effects such as fatigue and craving larger amounts of sugar.
While the occasional bottle of is fine, Foroutan recommends aiming for a variety of healthy probiotics from whole foods such as yogurt, pickles, and kimchi. “Our bodies work better overall when we have more diverse strains of bacteria and yeast, which can help to suppress pathogenic or unfriendly microbes.”