Struggling to keep a regular schedule? Wondering if kombucha can help keep things moving? You’re not alone. One study found that 27% of the population experiences constipation on a regular basis. While some of these cases are caused by other chronic conditions, and some by medication, most of them come down to what you eat.
This is why lots of people are asking: can kombucha make you poop?
While kombucha itself doesn’t contain fiber, it does contain healthy bacteria (otherwise known as probiotics.) Probiotics are bacteria that occur naturally within the gastrointestinal tract (GI tract). Having the right bacteria in the GI tract can help break down stool into more manageable sizes. So while kombucha doesn’t directly cure the constipation, it does help bring things back into balance – helping you poop easier.
So, if you’re experience constipation, taking a daily dose of kombucha over a period of time may help relieve some of the symptoms.
It’s All In The Probiotics
For illustration purposes, I like to think of kombucha as half bacteria and half yeast. The balance between the two is what makes kombucha so special.
This balance is also what makes kombucha so healthy. The yeast provides food for the bacteria to grow and the bacteria produce healthy acids that both taste great and improve our health.
Not only are the acids healthy for us, the bacteria themselves also plays a crucial role in our health.
With the modern western diet, it can be a struggle to eat in a way that promotes a balanced gut bacteria population. Recent medical research has shown how integral a healthy supply of gut fauna is to our overall health. It has wide ranging impacts on our energy levels, immune system, as well as digestion.
It’s no surprise then to discover that a diverse population of gut bacteria directly impact that quality and frequency of our bowel movements. Luckily for us, kombucha is packed full of naturally occurring gut bacteria. In a similar way to yogurt (or other fermented foods) kombucha helps restore the balance and promote the natural healthy bacteria that thrive in our digestive system.
How Probiotics Help With Constipation
We have over 100 trillion bacterium in us at any given time. These bacteria release essential enzymes that help us digest and breakdown our food. When this population of bacteria is suffering, our health can suffer as well. Symptoms can range from bloating, to constipation, to even irritable bowel syndrome.
King’s College Researchers in London poured through the medical literature and found 14 studies that concluded probiotics helped with constipation. Each study passed their standards for double-blind clinical trials.
The researchers found that probiotics slowed “gut transit time” by 12.4 hours, increased the number of weekly bowel movements by 1.3, and helped soften stools – making them easier to pass. In other words, probiotics helped reduced the severity of constipation.
This was particular true of a bacteria called Bifidobacterium infantis – a friendly bacteria commonly found in lactic acid. Bifidobacterium infantis is used in the production of yogurt, olives, sauerkraut, salami, and cheese. It also happens to be produced naturally in kombucha.
The re-balancing of your gut fauna through probiotics is the main way kombucha will help your bowel movements.
Why We Need Probiotics
There are three reasons why we’d need probiotics:
1. Poor diet
To have a variety of gut bacteria we need to have a varied diet. Unfortunately, our modern western diet is full of sugar and simple carbs. This diet choice is exactly what promotes the bad bacteria over the good.
After long periods of time, our bodies become accustomed to this diet and the healthy bacteria population dies off. Chronic constipation is one of many symptoms.
Once you reach this stage it can be difficult to introduce the healthy bacteria. Your best option is to eat a higher amount of vegetables and fruit (surprise) while taking diatery supplements if needed. I’ve always thought as kombucha as a stepping stone to a healthier lifestyle. I won’t cure all your problems, but it can be the linch-pin you needed to begin your health transformation.
It doesn’t help that many of us are chronically dehydrated. Drinking fluids is essential to preventing our bowel movements from becoming too hard to pass through our digestive tract easily.
In fact, dehydration is the most common cause of chronic constipation. Water keeps the food you eat moving and keeps your intestines smooth and flexible. If you don’t drink enough fluids, your large intestine soaks up water from your food waste – making it difficult to pass the stool.
Kombucha helps both on the dehydration front, as well as providing the probiotic enzymes that help breakdown your stool into manageable sizes
Finally, taking antibiotics for extended periods of time can have adverse effects on our healthy gut population. Most antibiotics are swallowed, killing both the good and the bad bacertia. This leaves you with nothing to secret the enzymes that helps break down your food.
This is why it’s recommend to consume fermented foods or yogurt after a round of antibiotics. A few days of drinking kombucha can also be extremely helpful.
Does Kombucha Give You Diarrhea?
Cases where kombucha has caused diarrhea are very rare. This is not something you should be worried about.
However, if you do find yourself with an upset stomach, there may be a few reasons why (keep in mind I’m not a doctor, I’m only giving advice based on my understanding of kombucha.)
1.You drank too much
If you are new to drinking kombucha, you don’t want to drink an entire bottle. It’s best to ease yourself into it for a few days. Try drinking 2 oz. a day until your stomach issues subside. Depending on the condition of your stomach, drinking an entire bottle of kombucha can be a shock to the system.
After a while, you can move up to the regular dose of 8 oz. or more daily. I don’t recommend drinking over 16 oz a day.
2. Kombucha Contains Caffeine
Caffinated drinks have laxitative potential. Even small amounts of caffeine have been known to cause diarrhea is rare cases. If you’re sensitive to caffeine, be aware that kombucha contains between 8 -40 mg of caffeine per 8 oz.
Considering that the average coffee has over 100 mg of caffeine per 8 oz. you should be fine drinking kombucha (unless you are drinking 1 gallon per day.)
3. You’re taking antibiotics
Some researchers suggest that antibiotics can cause a yeast overgrowth in the digestive tract. This can be particularly noticeable if you are drinking kombucha while taking your antibiotics.
As you know, kombucha is full of healthy yeast, making yeast overgrowth a possible cause of antibiotic-associated diarrhea.
Another Way Kombucha Can Help You Poop
If you do a little research on how to maintain a regular schedule, you’ll quickly realize it’s all in the fiber.
The amount of dietary fiber you digest is the biggest determinant of the quality and timing of your bowel movements.
Now, let’s make one thing clear, kombucha is not a source of dietary fiber.
Dietary fiber consists mainly of plant-based material that we cannot digest.
One part of the plant cell in particular is responsible for providing most of of fiber needs: cellulose.
Cellulose is very difficult to break down. Herbivores have developed intricate digestive tracts in order to breakdown this complicated molecule (think of the many stomachs in a cow.)
In humans, cellulose simply passes through our digestive system unchanged – bringing anything else alone with it. It scrubs the interior walls of our intestine and pushes through any remaining food. While kombucha the drink doesn’t contain cellulose, SCOBY does!
It turns out, SCOBY is actually a network of woven cellulose. Pure dietary fiber!
Eating a little SCOBY can be a great way to supplement your fiber. It’s a much better alternative to just throwing it out.
If you want to know of a few different ways you can eat SCOBY I’ve written a complete article covering the topic here.