According to study results, individuals with type-2 diabetes who consumed the fermented tea drink known as kombucha for 4 weeks experienced lower levels of fasting blood glucose in comparison to when they drank a placebo drink that tasted similar.
This result, from a pilot feasibility study consisting of 12 participants, points to the possibility of a dietary treatment that could help reduce blood sugar levels in diabetic individuals and also lays the foundation for a bigger study to substantiate and further explore these results.
Kombucha is a bacteria and yeast-fermented tea and has been consumed in China since 200 B.C., but it didn’t gain popularity in the West until the 1990s. The popularity of kombucha has been boosted by unproven anecdotal claims of improved energy and immunity and reductions in inflammation and food cravings.
Some animal and laboratory kombucha studies have produced encouraging results and 1 small study in individuals without diabetes found kombucha reduced blood sugar, but this current study examined kombucha‘s effects in individuals with diabetes.
One of the study’s strengths was that individuals weren’t told what to eat because a crossover design was used that limited any variability effects in the diet of an individual.
The crossover design had 1 group of individuals consuming approximately 8 oz. of placebo or kombucha drink every day for 4 weeks and then again after 2 months after having ‘washed out’ the beverage’s biological effects, the placebo and kombucha were then changed between groups with an additional 4 weeks of beverage consumption. Neither group was informed which beverage they were getting at the time.
Kombucha seemed to reduce average levels of fasting blood glucose after 4 weeks from 164 to 116 mg/deciliter with a statistically insignificant difference after 4 weeks consuming the placebo. The blood sugar levels before a meal are recommended to be between 70 and 130 mg/deciliter.
The fermenting micro-organism makeup in kombucha was also considered to establish which ingredients could be the most active.
It was discovered that the drink was mostly made up of acetic acid bacteria, lactic acid bacteria, and a type of yeast known as Dekkera, with an approximately equal measure of each microbe present; RNA gene sequencing was used to validate the result.
Different studies of various kombucha brands reveal somewhat different microbial blends and quantities. The main yeasts and bacteria are however reproducible and probably functionally similar between batches and brands.
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