Because kombucha is a relatively new drink to western society we are still wrestling with some basic questions. For instance, is it possible to drink too much kombucha? How much kombucha should I drink?
The fact remains, kombucha is healthy for you. But that doesn’t mean it can’t be harmful. With everything in life, it’s possible to overdo it.
So, is it possible to drink too much kombucha?
The answer is yes and no. While there are no major downsides to kombucha, a good thing can easily turn harmful if you drink too much. There are three major concerns with drinking too much kombucha:
- Risk of bloating
- Risk for lactic acidosis
- Sugar, caffeine, and alcohol content
While the risk of lactic acidosis is very rare, and the cases of bloating aren’t very common, the sugar, alcohol, and caffeine levels need special attention. People who consider kombucha a harmless health drink may be surprised at the levels of sugar, alcohol and caffeine they are consuming in their kombucha. For some perspective, drinking 1-gallon of kombucha a day is equivalent to 1.5 cans of soda, 2 coffees, and 5 cans of beer! You can see how drinking too much kombucha can be bad for your health.
3 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Drink Too Much Kombucha
I’m sure you’ve heard 100 reason why you should drink kombucha, but that doesn’t always translate to “the more kombucha the better.” Here are 3 reasons why kombucha should be consumed in moderation:
The Bacteria Can Cause Bloating
This is particularly true if you are just starting out with kombucha. Everyone’s gut biome is unique. For some, the influx of healthy bacteria can cause some temporary discomfort during the re-balancing phase. This is why I always recommend beginners start with a daily shot (1.5-2 oz.) of kombucha for at least a week.
After your body has had time to re-balance you can start increasing this amount to the daily recommended dose (see below.)
Risk For Lactic Acidosis
As I mentioned in the intro, there is a small risk of lactic acidosis. If lactic acid builds up in the body more quickly than it can be removed, acidity levels in the blood increase.
Some of you may have experienced this after completing a strenuous workout. A temporary buildup of lactic acid can be caused by vigorous exercise if your body doesn’t have enough available oxygen to break down glucose in the blood. The main symptom is nausea and weakness.
The good news is, the chances of this happening from kombucha are very rare. As long as you’re not drinking 2-gallons of kombucha a day you shouldn’t be worried.
Kombucha Contains Caffeine, Alcohol, and Sugar
The combination of fermentation and healthy acids makes everything in kombucha much more bio-available. In other words, the sugars in kombucha are easier to digest. This means, the sugars in kombucha may cause the insulin levels in your blood stream to spike if you consume too much.
While most of the sugar in kombucha is used during fermentation, there is still some left over in the final product. The quantity of sugar can vary (especially if you’re drinking home-brewed kombucha) so you need to be careful of your sugar intake if you’re consuming more than 1 bottle per day. Drinking 1-gallon of kombucha is equivalent to 1.5 cans of soda.
READ MORE: How Much Sugar Is In Kombucha?
The alcohol levels of commercial kombucha are less than 0.5% ABV. Home-brewed kombucha usually hovers around the 2% ABV level. So, drinking 24 oz. of kombucha is equivalent to a single can of beer. If you’re on the extreme end of kombucha consumption (1-gallon per day) you would be drinking an equivalent of 5 beers a day!
While the caffeine levels in kombucha are perfectly fine in moderation, drinking too much can have negative side effects on your sleep and anxiety levels. A regular bottle of kombucha will contain approximately 25 mg of caffeine. Which is about 1/4 the amount in a regular coffee. So, if you’re an extreme kombucha drinker you may be having the equivalent of 2 coffees.
How Much Kombucha Should You Drink?
The good news is, you can get all the health benefits of kombucha without any of the risks as long as you drink it in moderation. When people first start drinking kombucha, their first question is usually:
How much do I drink?
Just because the kombucha comes in 16 oz bottles doesn’t mean you have to drink the whole thing!
The right amount for everyone is going to differ slightly, but as a rule of thumb, I recommend people start off with 6-8 oz. per day.
If you find your stomach becomes upset, or you become bloated, decrease this amount to 2 oz. until your body has enough time to re-balance. Everyone has a different toxin load and gut bacteria population. It may take longer for some people to adapt to the healthy probiotics and acids.
After a few weeks, you can start to play around with the dose until you find something that suits your needs.
I like to have my kombucha first thing in the morning so I can notice its effects. I’ll also have 6 oz. before a big meal to aid in digestion and help prevent bloating and acid reflux. But that’s just me! Everyone has their own unique relationship with kombucha. My best advice is to experiment for yourself.
How Much Is Too Much Kombucha?
Worried you may be drinking too much kombucha? Well, as I’ve mentioned above, the likelihood that you’ll have serious adverse health effects from kombucha are very rare. The only problem with drinking too much kombucha is the long term health effect of sugar and alcohol.
From the kombucha drinkers I know, the most extreme drinkers usually only drink a maximum of 32 oz. a day. However, I’ve heard of some cases where someone was drinking up to a gallon of kombucha a day!
My opinion is, if you can get all of the health benefits of kombucha through 8 oz. a day, why drink more? After 8 oz. you’re only adding extra sugar, alcohol, and caffeine to your daily diet.
If you are someone who likes to drink lots of kombucha, or are trying to supply your family with a daily dose, you’ll want to consider continuous home-brewing. Buying store-bought kombucha will be far too expensive in the long-run. You can easily supply a family of 5 with 8 oz. of kombucha using the continuous brewing method.
Symptoms of Drinking Too Much Kombucha
Another question that gets asked a lot is “how do I know if I’ve drank too much kombucha?”
There are a few ways your body is going to let you know you’ve had too much.
Feeling Worse Before Feeling Better
One of the positive side-effects of kombucha is its ability to pull unwanted toxins from your body. The downside to this side-effect is it can sometimes make you feel much worse before it makes you feel better. Depending on your toxin load, drinking kombucha can have the following side-effects:
This usually occurs when beginners drink too much kombucha too often. Your body will need time to pull out the toxins. If you flush them out too quickly your liver won’t have time to react. I find this is particularly true for those who’ve consumed a lot of alcohol in their past.
If this sounds familiar, drink 2 oz. a day until you start feeling the negative side-effects decreasing. Gradually increase your dose until you’re up to the 6-8 oz. a day!
Increase In Bloating or Indigestion
Depending on your gut pH and bacteria balance, drinking kombucha can be a shock to the system. Because kombucha is loaded with healthy bacteria, your digestive system may time to adjust before it finds its new balance.
As with any probiotic, the initial stages can go either way. You may find your heartburn decreases, or you may find your bloating increases. It’s all going to depend on your previous diet and previous gut population.
I haven’t met anyone who has had last negative effects from drinking kombucha. The only negative effects come during the initial stages when your body is releasing all of the toxins that have built up over the years.
That being said, the other components of kombucha can have adverse effects that aren’t noticeable during the short term. Just take anything that applies to too much sugar and alcohol consumption and apply it to kombucha if you are drinking more than a gallon per day. If you stay within the recommended 6-8 oz. per day you won’t have to worry about any negative health effects.
Simple as that!