By Sean Zucker –
Drinking kombucha can deliver versatile and occasionally unorthodox benefits, as WellWell has reported. The beverage, for example, is seen as an effective hangover elixir. Now, new research points to another surprising use of this trendy drink. A recent Georgetown University study suggests that regularly drinking kombucha may help to reduce blood sugar in diabetes Type 2 sufferers.
Kombucha, a fermented and lightly carbonated sweetened black or green tea, has other benefits as well. Colorado State University has previously reported that the popular drink is loaded with probiotics that support a healthy gut, decrease inflammation and boost the immune system. Thanks to a plethora of antioxidants, namely polyphenols, kombucha may also have the ability to reduce cholesterol levels, decrease the spread of cancer and improve liver functions.
The research team at Georgetown University was able to add the drink’s ability to lower blood sugar to that list by examining kombucha’s impact on glucose levels against a placebo juice. The researchers accomplished this by recruiting 12 volunteers suffering from Type 2 diabetes. These individuals, who had an average age of 57, were then instructed to consume eight ounces of one specific drink each day over an initial four-week period. Selected at random, some drank kombucha while others drank a placebo.
Following a subsequent eight-week period to rid their bodies of any lingering effects, each participant switched their beverage and consumed that for another four weeks. Neither group was aware of what they were ingesting during any portion of the study as the placebo drink was a similarly tasting beverage. The kombucha used in this study was produced by Brindle Boxer Kombucha. However, the brand was mostly irrelevant to the results, according to the study’s senior author Dr. Robert Hutkins.
“Different studies of different brands of kombucha by different manufacturers reveal slightly different microbial mixtures and abundances,” he said. “However, the major bacteria and yeasts are highly reproducible and likely to be functionally similar between brands and batches, which was reassuring for our trial.”
During each individual’s four-week period drinking the placebo, their average blood glucose levels dipped from 162 to 141 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL), an unnoteworthy drop according to the study. However, following the four-week period of drinking kombucha, each participant’s average blood glucose levels dropped from 164 to 116 mg/dL. This decline marked a significant change for diabetes sufferers.
“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 being a major risk factor for heart disease, stroke and kidney failure,” lead author Dr. Chagai Mendelson said. “We were able to provide preliminary evidence that a common drink could have an effect on diabetes. We hope that a much larger trial, using the lessons we learned in this trial, could be undertaken to give a more definitive answer to the effectiveness of kombucha in reducing blood glucose levels and hence prevent or help treat Type 2 diabetes.”
Type 2 diabetes cases are only growing, but the rise is especially dire for mature adults. The American Diabetes Association (ADA) reports that nearly 16 million Americans over the age of 65 have Type 2 diabetes, which represents roughly 30 percent of the demographic. The ADA adds that diabetes is responsible for over 87,000 American deaths every year and is a contributing factor to almost 300,000 deaths. While the Georgetown study is too small to be definitive, it might offer hope for another tool in the battle against diabetes.
“Some laboratory and rodent studies of kombucha have shown promise and one small study in people without diabetes showed kombucha lowered blood sugar but to our knowledge, this is the first clinical trial examining effects of kombucha in people with diabetes,” said the study co-author Dr. Dan Merenstein. “A lot more research needs to be done but this is very promising.”