Drinking kombucha, a fermented tea, may help reduce blood sugar levels in people with type-II diabetes., according to a clinical trial by researchers at Georgetown University’s School of Health, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, and MedStar Health.
The study showed that participants who consumed kombucha for four weeks showed lower fasting blood glucose levels compared to those who consumed a similar-tasting placebo beverage.
POTENTIAL DIETARY INTERVENTION
The findings from this pilot 12-person feasibility trial offer promise for a dietary intervention that could aid in lowering blood sugar levels in individuals with diabetes. The successful outcome of this trial establishes the foundation for a larger study to further confirm and expand upon these results.
HISTORICAL AND POPULARITY CONTEXT OF KOMBUCHA
Kombucha, a tea fermented with bacteria and yeasts, has historical roots dating back to 200 B.C. in China. Its popularity in the United States surged in the 1990s due to claims of improved immunity, energy, reduced food cravings, and decreased inflammation, although scientific evidence supporting these claims has been limited.
THE FIRST CLINICAL TRIAL FOR DIABETES
This clinical trial is the first of its kind to examine the effects of kombucha specifically in people with diabetes. While prior laboratory and rodent studies demonstrated potential benefits, this trial offers clinical evidence of kombucha’s positive impact on blood sugar levels in individuals with diabetes.
RESEARCH DESIGN AND FINDINGS
In a crossover design, one group of participants drank around eight ounces of kombucha or a placebo beverage daily for four weeks. After a two-month washout period to negate any lingering effects of the beverages, the groups switched, and another four weeks of beverage consumption took place. The study found that kombucha consumption led to a significant decrease in average fasting blood glucose levels, from 164 to 116 milligrams per deciliter after four weeks, whereas the difference after four weeks with the placebo was not statistically significant. The American Diabetes Association recommends blood sugar levels before meals to be between 70 to 130 milligrams per deciliter.
ANALYSIS OF FERMENTING MICRO-ORGANISMS
The researchers analyzed the composition of fermenting micro-organisms in kombucha to determine which components might be most effective. They found that the beverage primarily comprised lactic acid bacteria, acetic acid bacteria, and a type of yeast called Dekkera, with each microbe present in approximately equal measure.
POTENTIAL TO BENEFIT DIABETES PATIENTS
With an estimated 96 million Americans having pre-diabetes and diabetes being the eighth leading cause of death in the U.S., the potential of kombucha to impact diabetes outcomes is significant. The researchers hope that a larger trial can be conducted based on the lessons learned from this pilot study, providing a more definitive answer on kombucha’s effectiveness in reducing blood glucose levels and potentially preventing or helping treat type-II diabetes.