Kombucha For PCOS: How Probiotics Can Help You
Kombucha has become a go-to health drink and a staple beverage in many people’s diets. The sweet, slightly fizzy and refreshing drink is sold in most supermarkets worldwide.
But is kombucha healthy for women with PCOS?
In this post, we will look at the benefits and drawbacks of kombucha for PCOS. And whether it should be part of your PCOS diet.
Let’s get started.
What is Kombucha?
Kombucha is a cold fermented, slightly alcoholic, tea. It is believed to have originated from Asia but is now available and well-known around the world.
It is made using water, black or green tea, sugar and a SCOBY (Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria and Yeast).
Fermentation is the process where the live bacteria and yeast (SCOBY) convert the sugar into alcohol or organic acids.
Kombucha can be bought in supermarkets or you can make it yourself, check out this simple DIY kombucha recipe guide.
Benefits of Kombucha for PCOS
Not only is kombucha a refreshing and delicious drink; it also has a great nutrition profile for women with PCOS.
Kombucha is known for being a great source of probiotics. Probiotics are good live bacteria and yeast that keep your gut healthy. They are needed for a healthy digestive and immune system.
How do Probiotics help PCOS?
PCOS is a complex metabolic and hormonal condition that affects 10-20% of reproductive-age women. Women with PCOS produce too many male hormones. The high male hormones interrupt the production of female hormones (estrogen and progesterone) and the natural ovulation cycle.
The probiotics found in kombucha may help alleviate many of the PCOS symptoms women struggle with on a daily basis such as blood sugar imbalances, poor digestion and depression.
Probiotics Help Manage Blood Sugar Levels
Insulin resistance is the most common root cause of PCOS. This is a condition where the cells in the body have difficulty absorbing glucose in the blood and this leads to a build-up of sugar in the bloodstream.
To reduce blood sugar levels the pancreas starts producing even more insulin. High levels of insulin in the body then has the unwanted side effect of telling the ovaries to produce more androgens. Which then causes the PCOS symptoms women experience.
Research has shown that probiotics can help lower blood sugar levels and insulin resistance.
A study done on rats with diabetes found kombucha slowed down the digestion of carbs which helped manage their blood sugar levels. The results suggest it may be effective in treating Type 2 Diabetes.
Now, we have to bear in mind this is an animal study, so results on humans may vary. More research must be done to say with certainty whether kombucha can help with the management of type 2 diabetes in humans.
Probiotics Improve Digestion
As discussed, probiotics are needed for a healthy digestive system. An improvement in the balance of both good and bad gut bacteria may help aid digestion. This, in turn, can alleviate symptoms such a bloating, a common PCOS symptom.
Our gut houses 70-80% of our immune system. So, a healthy gut is important for a healthy immune system.
Probiotics strengthen the gut barriers and protect the gut lining from further damage. As a result, foreign invaders that can cause inflammation cannot pass.
Probiotics May Help with Depression
Depression is a huge risk factor for women with PCOS. But research shows that kombucha can help boost mood and help with depression.
Probiotics may help alleviate depressive symptoms. They do this by increasing serotonin in the brain (the happy chemical) and/or decreasing inflammation.
Drinking kombucha may, therefore, be a great way to help improve mood. But additional research is required to find out for certain how probiotics can help.
Kombucha Lowers LDL and Increases HDL Cholesterol
Women with PCOS have high levels of LDL cholesterol, 'bad cholesterol', and low levels of HDL cholesterol, 'good cholesterol'. Having high levels of LDL cholesterol and low levels of HDL cholesterol increases the risk of heart disease.
The right balance of LDL and HDL cholesterol is important for cardiovascular health. Therefore, knowing that kombucha may help achieve a healthy balance of both 'good' and 'bad' cholesterol is promising for women with PCOS.
Again, more research is needed to establish whether kombucha has the same effect on humans.
Kombucha Reduces Toxins in the Liver
Detoxification is mainly carried out by the liver. But the enzymes and bacterial acids produced during kombucha’s fermentation process help to detoxify the body. Experts suggest its ability to do this is due to the creation of glucuronic acid.
Glucuronic acid binds to toxins in the liver and removes them from the body.
Women with PCOS need to rebalance their hormones to reverse their condition. So removing hormone disrupting toxins and chemicals is especially important.
Kombucha is a Source of Antioxidants
Women with PCOS have increased levels of oxidative stress. Meaning there is an imbalance of free radicals (these cause the body harm) and antioxidants (these protect the body). Many dietary, lifestyle and environmental factors (e.g. pollution) can cause oxidative stress.
But get this.
Kombucha contains antioxidants that help protect the body from free radicals. D-saccharic acid lactone (DSL), an antioxidant found in Kombucha, has been shown to reduce oxidative stress and cell damage in the body.
How exactly do B vitamins help PCOS?
Women with PCOS often produce low levels of progesterone. Low progesterone levels are caused because of a lack of ovulation. One way to increase progesterone levels is by taking B vitamins.
Helps With Fatigue
A common symptom of PCOS is fatigue. Deficiency in vitamin B has been shown to increase this feeling of fatigue. So including vitamin B in your diet can help alleviate this and increase energy levels.
Kombucha is a Source of Vitamin C
How can Vitamin C help PCOS?
Lowers Blood Sugar Levels
As discussed women with PCOS suffer from high blood sugar levels. A study on type 2 diabetes patients found vitamin C can decrease blood sugar levels. So, vitamin c may be an effective PCOS supplement to help manage blood sugar levels.
Supports the Adrenal Glands
The adrenal glands contain high levels of vitamin C. When stressed, vitamin C is released into the blood along with stress hormones. This then causes Vitamin C levels to become severely depleted. The more stress your body is under, the more vitamin C your body uses.
Alternatively, however, when your body is deficient in vitamin C, your adrenals panic and release cortisol.
So including vitamin C in your diet will help replenish stock levels and can help with hormonal balance.
Drinking too much Kombucha may cause Lactic Acidosis
Kombucha contains Lactobacillus, bacteria that convert sugar into lactic acid.
Now, lactic acid can be good because it kills bad bacteria and can boost the immune system.
But an excess consumption of lactic acid from kombucha is said to cause lactic acidosis. This condition affects the liver or kidney's ability remove excess acid from the body.
People who drink kombucha ingest more fluoride because of the tea. The tea plant (Camellia sinensis) absorbs fluoride in the soil and stores it in its leaves. The fluoride is then extracted when transformed into dried leaves used for brewing tea.
Now, you might be wondering.
What’s the link between Fluoride and PCOS
Well, fluoride is a major endocrine disruptor that women with PCOS must avoid. (An endocrine disruptor is any chemical that can disrupt the normal functioning of the bodies hormones)
Let explain why.
Researchers found that around 25% of women with PCOS suffer from a thyroid condition. It is said that hypothyroidism, an underactive thyroid, is a common ‘hidden cause’ of PCOS.
So here’s the thing.
Dr. Izabella Wentz, The Thyroid Pharmacist, explains that in the body fluoride is seen as iodine. Iodine is an essential mineral needed for the production of thyroid hormones. Because the body thinks fluoride is iodine, our organs absorb it. She states we don’t remove much fluoride through urine or sweat, so fluoride builds up in the body and becomes toxic. The increase of fluoride then begins to cause damage to major organs that produce hormones, like the thyroid.
To find out more about the impact fluoride has on PCOS, check out my post ‘Reverse PCOS Naturally: Eliminate Endocrine Disruptors in Water’.
How Can I lower the levels of fluoride in my kombucha?
According to Fluoride Alert, a good way of ingesting less fluoride from your kombucha is to use white tea. This is because young tea leaves contain less fluoride than older teas like black tea.
Sarah Pope, a health and nutrition educator, suggests black tea should only make up 20% of the kombucha tea. This is because it is needed for optimal fermentation, whilst the rest should be white tea. She also recommends using filtered water to reduce the fluoride content further. This is the water filter that I use and trust.
Kombucha Can Be Contaminated
There is a risk that kombucha can be contaminated during the fermentation process. Now, contamination is more likely to occur if you are brewing kombucha yourself at home.
Kombucha can be contaminated if it is fermented for too long or if it is not made in a sterile environment.
Experts suggest that if the color or smell is off, for example, if it smells like nail polish, do not drink it. Throw it out immediately.
It may be safer to buy kombucha from the store than to make it yourself to prevent contamination and any health issues.
Now, you might be wondering.
What about the sugar content in Kombucha?
This is certainly a valid concern.
Now, the sugar added to kombucha is required for the fermentation process. As the drink ferments, beneficial bacteria is created. You see, the sugar is for the culture to consume, not you. So ideally, the probiotics feed off most of the sugar during fermentation.
But, I understand why some women may be on the fence about drinking kombucha. They hear sugar is toxic and that they need to avoid it to balance their hormones and reverse their PCOS.
But here’s the thing.
Not all kombucha is created equally. Meaning the brewing process differs from brewery to brewery. So, the sugar content varies among brands.
Some kombucha brands may have a high sugar content because the company adds lots of sugar in the brewing process. They do this because they know the SCOBY (live culture) will not eat all of the sugar and want the drink to have some sweetness to give it more flavor.
Choose low sugar kombucha
We know a large consumption of sugar is bad for our health and PCOS, so always check nutrition labels before buying kombucha. Avoid brands that mention sugar first in their list of ingredients.
From my research, I found ‘Health-Ade Kombucha’ to be a low sugar brand (3-3.5g of sugar per serving).
Is Kombucha Good for PCOS?
In summary, kombucha is a great PCOS friendly drink. It contains probiotics which can help lower blood sugar levels, improve digestion and boost the immune system. There is also evidence kombucha can help with depression and LDL cholesterol. As well as this it is helpful in removing toxins from the liver.
Kombucha also contains B vitamins which can help boost progesterone levels and help with fatigue. As well as Vitamin C that helps lower blood sugar levels and supports the adrenal glands.
But kombucha can have some drawbacks. Like lactic acidosis, ingesting too much fluoride and potential contamination. The amount of sugar in kombucha varies from brand to brand.
The Decision Lies With You
Ultimately, the decision lies with you. If you suffer from liver, kidney or thyroid problems, or you are trying to cut back on your sugar intake. It may be best to avoid kombucha. But I would highly recommend discussing any dietary changes with your doctor.
The risk of ingesting too much fluoride from kombucha tea can be mitigated by using more white tea than black tea and using filtered water. This can protect your thyroid from damage and help balance your hormones.
Moderation is key
Just like with most things, it is all about moderation. Kombucha contains sugar and an overconsumption can cause a build-up of lactic acid. The Centers for Disease Control advises a safe consumption of kombucha is four ounces consumed one to three times a day. But again this depends on how you feel, so I recommend making a note of your symptoms when you drink kombucha.
My Personal Experience Drinking Kombucha
I decided to give kombucha a go after I discovered it can help heal the gut and improve digestion. I used to suffer from painful PCOS bloating and I was in serious need of some relief. From my research, I learned that the birth control pill (which I was on for 15 months for my PCOS) can cause changes to the healthy balance of gut bacteria.
You see before I started the pill I never had any digestive problems like bloating. So, once I understood why it was happening, I could fix it. To do this, I needed to focus on healing my gut and this would, in turn, stop the painful bloating.
So, I went grocery shopping and bought my first bottle of kombucha. Even after the first bottle, I felt like my gut was sending me positive feedback.
But I knew drinking a bottle of kombucha wasn’t going to be a quick fix. So I stuck with it.
I drank kombucha every day for a month.
After one month I not only noticed an improvement in my bloating, which was my main focus. But I also noticed a change in my mood. I felt more positive and happy. So overall, adding kombucha to my PCOS diet had a positive effect on my health.
While I no longer drink kombucha every day, I do occasionally enjoy drinking a bottle.
Hey there! I am Despina Pavlou, founder of PCOS Oracle and online coach. I want to share with you the diet and lifestyle changes I made to naturally reverse my PCOS and achieve hormonal balance. I believe using my holistic approach you too can take back control from PCOS.
Just so you know: This post includes affiliate links. If you buy something through one of those links, I will get a small commission, with no extra cost to you. It helps me keep my little website going. Thank you for your continued support!
If you enjoyed this post give it a share
Get The PCOS Support Manual for FREE
I understand that having PCOS can be a daily struggle. But it doesn't have to be that way. Let me help you reverse your PCOS and live a symptom-free life. Download your FREE PCOS Support Manual to find out what type of PCOS you have and what diet and exercise is best for PCOS. Finally, learn how to take back control from PCOS naturally without pills.
Download your PCOS Support Manual today, because no one should struggle with PCOS alone.