The Emerging Potential of Kombucha in Glycemic Control: A Promising Frontier for Diabetes Care


In recent years, kombucha has gained considerable popularity as a health-promoting beverage, with many enthusiasts touting its potential benefits for overall well-being.

Traditionally brewed through the fermentation of sweetened tea with a symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast (SCOBY), kombucha has been linked to a variety of health claims, including improved gut health, antioxidant properties, and even potential anti-diabetic effects.

Despite the growing interest in kombucha and its purported health benefits, the scientific community has been slow to investigate these claims through rigorous clinical research studies in human subjects.

Until very recently, the body of clinical research on the health benefits of kombucha in human subjects was almost non-existent, with only one study available in the literature, which lacked proper controls and blinding.

However, the tide is turning, and new clinical trials are now shedding light on the potential health effects of kombucha, particularly in the context of glycemic control for individuals with type 2 diabetes (T2D).

How kombucha may help with glycemic control

Kombucha contains a number of compounds that may help to improve glycemic control, including:

  • Probiotics: Kombucha contains probiotics, which are live bacteria that are beneficial for gut health. Probiotics can help to improve digestion and absorption of nutrients, which can help to regulate blood sugar levels.
  • Polyphenols: Kombucha contains polyphenols, which are antioxidants that can help to protect cells from damage. Polyphenols have also been shown to improve insulin sensitivity, which is the body’s ability to use insulin to regulate blood sugar levels.
  • Acetic acid: Kombucha contains acetic acid, which is a short-chain fatty acid that has been shown to improve insulin sensitivity and reduce inflammation.

Glycemic Control and Kombucha: The First Clinical Trial in Diabetic Adults

In a pioneering controlled human clinical trial, researchers examined the effects of kombucha on glycemic control in healthy adults with normal glucose tolerance. Participants consumed a high glycemic index meal along with either soda water, diet lemonade, or kombucha.

The results demonstrated that kombucha significantly lowered both glycemic and insulin indices compared to a glucose solution, indicating a potential positive impact on blood glucose levels.

Building upon these preliminary findings, a more recent clinical trial specifically targeted diabetic adults in the United States. The study, conducted over a 4-week period, revealed significant decreases in fasting blood glucose levels in diabetic subjects with elevated blood glucose levels after consuming kombucha, compared to a placebo. This suggests that kombucha might hold promise as a potential adjunct therapy for managing blood glucose levels in T2D patients.

Possible Mechanisms of Action

While the exact mechanisms behind kombucha’s potential glycemic benefits remain unclear, several plausible explanations have been proposed. First, kombucha has been associated with improved pancreatic beta cell regeneration, which could contribute to enhanced endogenous insulin production.

Second, the diverse chemical constituents formed by kombucha microbes, such as polyphenols, D-saccharic acid-1,4-lactone, caffeine, organic acids, and ethanol, have shown potential in preventing oxidative stress-related diseases and reducing cholesterol levels and blood pressure.

Third, kombucha might contain constituents that inhibit starch digestion, thereby reducing net absorbed glucose. Additionally, the acetic acid present in kombucha has been reported to possess anti-diabetic properties, although further investigation is required to determine the optimal concentrations for therapeutic effects.

Potential Implications for Diabetic Care

The findings from these initial clinical trials suggest that kombucha consumption, despite its sugar content from the fermentation process, does not raise fasting blood glucose levels to unhealthy levels in diabetic individuals. This is particularly significant since many diabetics struggle to replace sugar-sweetened beverages with water due to the limited drink choices available to them. The addition of kombucha to their options may provide a beneficial alternative without compromising glycemic control.

What are the potential benefits of kombucha for people with diabetes?

The potential benefits of kombucha for people with diabetes include:

  • Reduced blood sugar levels: Kombucha may help to reduce blood sugar levels by improving insulin sensitivity and reducing the GI of meals.
  • Improved gut health: Kombucha is a good source of probiotics, which can help to improve gut health. A healthy gut microbiota is important for maintaining stable blood sugar levels.
  • Antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects: Kombucha contains a number of polyphenols, which have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. These properties may help to protect against the complications of diabetes, such as heart disease and stroke.

What are the risks of kombucha for people with diabetes?

The risks of kombucha for people with diabetes are not well-known. However, there are a few potential risks that should be considered:

  • Sugar content: Kombucha contains sugar, which can raise blood sugar levels. However, the amount of sugar in kombucha varies depending on the brand and the brewing process. It is important to choose a kombucha that is low in sugar.
  • Alcohol content: Kombucha contains a small amount of alcohol. The alcohol content of kombucha varies depending on the brand and the brewing process. It is important to choose a kombucha that has a low alcohol content if you are concerned about the effects of alcohol on your blood sugar levels.

Future Research and Limitations

As with any emerging field of research, there are limitations to be addressed. The number of participants in the studies discussed above was relatively small, and attrition rates were high, primarily due to a lack of participant incentives to complete the study. Additionally, analyses relied on self-reported blood glucose levels, which may introduce variability and potential biases.

To establish a more robust understanding of kombucha’s effects on glycemic control and potential health outcomes, larger and more comprehensive studies involving diverse kombucha varieties are warranted. Moreover, examining the influence of kombucha on gut microbiota could help elucidate its mechanisms of action better.


The surge in kombucha’s popularity is paralleled by an increasing interest in its potential health benefits. While most claims have been derived from in vitro and animal studies, recent clinical trials have begun to shed light on the potential glycemic benefits of kombucha in human subjects, especially for those with T2D.

The observed reductions in fasting blood glucose levels in diabetic patients are encouraging, albeit preliminary, and call for further exploration through larger and more extensive research endeavors. Kombucha’s potential as a dietary adjunct for glycemic control holds promise for diabetic care and may mark a new frontier in the ongoing pursuit of alternative and complementary therapies to improve the lives of those living with diabetes. However, caution should be exercised, and individuals with diabetes should consult their healthcare providers before incorporating kombucha or any other new elements into their management plans.

In the context of a rapidly evolving field, it is crucial for researchers, clinicians, and the public to stay informed and updated on the latest findings regarding kombucha’s potential health benefits, as the beverage continues to capture the interest and palates of many health-conscious individuals around the world.

Kombucha is made by fermenting tea with a symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast (SCOBY). The SCOBY is a gelatinous mat that forms on top of the tea during fermentation. The fermentation process produces carbon dioxide and alcohol, which gives kombucha its characteristic fizzy and slightly tart taste.

To make kombucha, you will need:

  • Black or green tea: 1 cup of loose tea or 8 tea bags
  • Sugar: 1 cup
  • Filtered water: 3 cups
  • SCOBY: You can purchase a SCOBY online or from a local health food store.
  • Jar: A glass jar with a lid
  • Cheesecloth: A piece of cheesecloth to cover the jar


  1. Bring the water to a boil.
  2. Add the tea bags or loose tea and let steep for 5 minutes.
  3. Remove the tea bags or loose tea and let the tea cool to room temperature.
  4. Add the sugar to the tea and stir until dissolved.
  5. Add the SCOBY to the tea.
  6. Cover the jar with cheesecloth and let ferment in a warm place for 7-10 days.
  7. After 7-10 days, taste the kombucha and see if it is to your liking. If it is not tart enough, let it ferment for a few more days.
  8. Once the kombucha is to your liking, strain it into a clean jar and store it in the refrigerator.

Kombucha can be enjoyed plain or flavored with fruits, herbs, or spices. It can also be used in cocktails or mocktails.

Here are some tips for making kombucha:

  • Use filtered water to avoid any impurities that could affect the fermentation process.
  • Use a clean jar and cheesecloth to prevent contamination.
  • Keep the kombucha in a warm place, but not too hot. The ideal temperature for fermentation is 70-75 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Taste the kombucha regularly to see if it is to your liking.
  • If you are not going to be able to drink the kombucha within a few days, store it in the refrigerator.

Enjoy your homemade kombucha!

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