Does Kombucha Help with Acid Reflux?Published on Monday, October 02, 2023 by
Is Kombucha the Answer to Acid Reflux? The Complex Connection Explored
In an era focused on wellness, kombucha has become increasingly trendy as the “new” wellness drink. The drink, which has actually been around for thousands of years, is produced through the fermentation of black or green tea with sucrose. This tea and sucrose blend is added to a mixture of bacteria called “SCOBY,” which is short for Symbiotic Community of Bacteria and Yeast, and then fermented again for a longer period.
Kombucha and Gut Health: Understanding the Role of Probiotics
Typically, when we talk about fermented foods and bacteria, we think of probiotics. Many health and wellness sources include kombucha on a list of probiotic-rich foods. We know that some research tells us that probiotics can alleviate acid reflux or GERD symptoms. This can lead us to assume that kombucha directly or indirectly alleviates these symptoms. As you can imagine, it's a little more complex than that. Let’s explore.
There is an unknown number of probiotic strains at this time, and each likely has its own mechanisms of action (or use) in our body and gut health. In fact, many probiotics we ingest don’t even survive all stages of digestion to make it to our gut microbiome! When it comes to fermented foods on GI health, kefir, sauerkraut, natto, and sourdough bread have been the most thoroughly studied. Few randomized control trials have examined the impact of kombucha on GI health, including its effects on acid reflux.
So, unfortunately, it's a little bit of a leap to suggest that kombucha certainly decreases acid reflux symptoms, especially when you start to consider the wide variety of kombucha products on the market.
Managing Acid Reflux: Tips for Enjoying Kombucha Responsibly
What we know about acid reflux is that, for most people, carbonation can actually exacerbate symptoms by increasing abdominal pressure. Kombucha also contains FODMAPs, notably fructans. So, if your exposure to the FODMAPs in kombucha is part of the root cause of your acid reflux, then we certainly do not assume that kombucha should be a part of your management plan for your symptoms.
That’s not to say that kombucha is inherently bad. It does contain some B vitamins and polyphenols, and of course, the possibility that it is increasing the diversity of your gut microbiome has not been entirely ruled out. If you enjoy the beverage but live with acid reflux, I suggest trialing it to see if the carbonation or FODMAP content aggravates your symptoms. If not, it may be a great beverage to add to your diet!
Don’t forget that some of the other acid reflux triggers that may be present in your kombucha drink, such as peppermint, spearmint, some citrus fruits, and caffeine. Kombucha often has trace amounts of alcohol, which may be an acid reflux trigger for you. Lastly, double-check the added sugar content of the choices; often, kombuchas are sweetened for taste. If you frequently drink kombucha, then the amount of sugar you drink may add up fast.
- Abaci, N., Deniz, F.S.S., & Orhan, I.E. (2022). Kombucha- An ancient fermented beverage with desired bioactivities: A narrowed review. Food Chemistry:X, 14(2022) 100302. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9011011/
- Dimidi, E., Cox, S. R., Rossi, M., & Whelan, K. (2019). Fermented Foods: Definitions and Characteristics, Impact on the Gut Microbiota and Effects on Gastrointestinal Health and Disease. Nutrients, 11(8), 1806. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu11081806
- Webber, S. (2017, February 28). Fermented drinks and the low fodmap diet. A blog by Monash FODMAP | The experts in IBS - Monash Fodmap. Retrieved October 31, 2022, from https://www.monashfodmap.com/blog/update-new-fermented-drinks-added-to/
Savannah DuffyMS, RDN, LD