Although there are health benefits associated with drinking kombucha, it may be a trigger for irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) flare-ups.
Foods that trigger IBS flare-ups are different for each person. But kombucha has some specific characteristics and ingredients that could cause digestive upset, making it a possible trigger for your IBS.
As a carbonated beverage, kombucha can cause excess gas and bloating by delivering CO2 (carbon dioxide) into your digestive system.
Kombucha contains certain carbohydrates called FODMAPs. The acronym stands for “fermentable oligo-, di-, and monosaccharides and polyols.”
FODMAP food sources include fruits, high-fructose corn syrup, milk and dairy products, wheat, and legumes. For many people with IBS, these ingredients can cause digestive distress.
Sugar and artificial sweeteners
Sugar is used in the fermentation of kombucha and some manufacturers add additional sugar or artificial sweeteners. Some sugars, such as fructose, can cause diarrhea. Some artificial sweeteners, such as sorbitol and mannitol, are known laxatives.
Kombucha is a caffeinated beverage. Drinks with caffeine stimulate the intestine to contract, causing possible cramping and laxative effects.
The kombucha fermentation process creates some alcohol, although not a great quantity. The alcohol level is typically higher in home brewed kombucha. Alcohol consumed in excess can cause loose stools the following day.
If you purchase bottled or canned kombucha, read the label carefully. Some brands contain higher levels of sugar, caffeine, or alcohol.
IBS is a common chronic functional disorder of the intestines. It affects an estimated
IBS symptoms include:
While some people can control IBS symptoms by managing their diet and stress levels, those with more severe symptoms often require medication and counseling.
While IBS symptoms can be disruptive to everyday life, the condition will not lead to other serious diseases and is not life-threatening. The exact cause of IBS isn’t known, but it’s thought to be caused by multiple factors.
If you have IBS, your doctor may recommend that you drop certain foods and beverages from your diet. This may include:
- gluten, such as wheat, rye, and barley
- high-gas foods like carbonated beverages, certain vegetables like broccoli and cabbage, and caffeine
- FODMAPs, such as fructose, fructans, lactose ,and others found in certain vegetables, grains, dairy products, and fruits
Kombucha can have the properties of two of these food groups that are often suggested to be eliminated from IBS diets: high-gas and FODMAPs.
See your doctor if you experience diarrhea or constipation that comes and goes and is accompanied by bloating or abdominal discomfort.
Other signs and symptoms may indicate a more serious condition, such as colon cancer. This includes:
- rectal bleeding
- weight loss
- difficulty swallowing
- continuing pain that cannot be relieved by a bowel movement or by passing gas
Kombucha has characteristics and ingredients that could cause digestive upset. But that doesn’t mean it will for you. If you have IBS and want to drink kombucha, talk to your doctor about how it might affect your digestive system.
If your doctor agrees, consider trying a brand with low sugar, low alcohol, low caffeine, and low carbonation. Try a small amount at a time to see if it triggers your IBS.