Kombucha FODMAP: The Complete Guide – Grow Your Pantry

Kombucha FODMAP: The Complete Guide

by Susan Grey on December 02, 2019
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The FODMAP diet has become a lot more popular and well understood in recent years, yet one question we often get is 'Is Kombucha Low-FODMAP?' can people that follow the FODMAP diet drink kombucha? It's suggested that if you're following a FODMAP diet to drink small amounts of non-alcoholic kombucha.
This article will delve into understanding the FODMAP diet as well as kombucha's ingredients, chemicals, and health warnings. 
 [It's recommended to visit your physician before altering your diet, information on this page has been gathered from cited websites and research papers and is intended to inform only - not as medical advice in any way]

 

What Is FODMAP?

"FODMAPs – Fermentable Oligo‐, Di‐, and Mono‐saccharides And Polyols" 
In layman's terms, these are the chemicals that are poorly absorbed by our small intestines. The FODMAP diet aims to eliminate all foods that contain these short-chain carbohydrates.

 

What Can't You Eat On A FODMAP Diet?

The FODMAP diet is a restrictive diet that removes certain foods from your diet that contain the specific short-chain carbohydrates. Below is not an exhaustive list of restricted foods, but it gives you an idea. For a full list, check out IBSDiets.org.
  • Garlic
  • Onions
  • Asparagus 
  • Beans (black, broad, kidney, etc.)
  • Cauliflower
  • Cabbage
  • Peas
 

Does A FODMAP Diet Work?

The two studies below do show that a low FODMAP diet is effective for reducing symptoms associated with IBS and other abdominal pain disorders.
A low FODMAP diet has been shown to reduce GI symptoms for sufferers of functional abdominal pain disorders. Symptoms that have specifically been reduced are those of abdominal pain and bloating. The study's conclusion was, "The FODMAPs-restricted diet may be an effective dietary intervention for reducing IBS symptoms in adults." Study: PMC5952847
Another study, 'Efficacy Of The Low FODMAP Diet,' concluded, "In summary, the evidence to date indicates that restriction of FODMAPs is an effective dietary intervention for reducing IBS symptoms. There are no well-designed clinical trials to support the efficacy of a low FODMAP diet with the alleviation of GI symptoms in the majority of patients with IBS. More studies are required to assess the long-term efficacy of low FODMAP diet following food rechallenge and to ascertain any adverse outcomes from effects on the gut microbiota."

 

Who Is The FODMAP Diet For?

The FODMAP diet is for those that suffer from abdominal pain disorders; most commonly, those that have IBS will follow the diet.

 

Kombucha And IBS

What Is IBS?

IBS affects the digestive system, which results in a wide range of symptoms. Symptoms are thought to be triggered and increased depending on the food that is consumed. One of the common symptoms is abdominal pain disorder; the FODMAP diet can be recommended to follow, to try and take control of symptoms.
 Symptoms Of IBS
  • Pain And Cramping
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Changes In Bowel Movements
  • Gas And Bloating
  • Anxiety And Depression
  • Food Intolerance(s)

What Causes IBS?

The cause of IBS is unknown. It's often diagnosed and treated according to symptoms. There currently is no cure for treating IBS, it's a problem which will stick with you for life. A few unproven hypotheses of causes do include food passing too quickly, or slowly through the body, oversensitive nerves within the gut, and family history of IBS.
Recommended further reading about IBS is suggested from the NHS IBS Guide.

Considerations If A Drink Is FODMAP

When looking to understand if a drink is FODMAP or not, you need to check the ingredients, final product to compare the lists to see if they contain any of the prohibited short-chain carbohydrates. 

Can You Drink Kombucha On A FODMAP Diet?

To understand if you can drink kombucha on a FODMAP diet, we'll start by breaking down each ingredient and component of the fermented tea beverage to better know if it's compatible. One important note to make is that although foods can be rated low-high FODMAP, each ingredient can affect people in different ways. Therefore it's essential to try small amounts before judging if it's suitable for you.

 

Tea 
When brewing kombucha, tea is steeped before allowing for it to ferment. Tea is a central ingredient during production - kombucha is fermented tea.
Is Tea A Permissible Ingredient?
From the online research we've conducted, certain teas are considered a Low FODMAP ingredient. Therefore you're able to consume 1-2 mugs per day. It would be recommended that you select varieties such as rooibos, white, green, or black teas. 
What People Are Saying
Quoted from IBSdiets.org, "Black tea, white tea, and various herbal teas are OK as long as they are made weak. The teas to avoid are chamomile tea, fennel tea, and oolong tea."
Another popular IBS blog named KatesCarlata is quoted saying "Low FODMAP tea options per the Monash University Low FODMAP app (proceeds of the app fund more research) include: Black tea, white, green, peppermint tea, rooibos, buchu, honeybush, Chai tea (made weak), Dandelion tea (made weak). [Black tea flavored with ginger and cinnamon tea seem to work well for my clients too.]"

 

Sugar  
Most commonly, cane sugar is used during the production of kombucha. There are many alternatives to cane sugar when brewing kombucha, they would include molasses, brown sugar, honey, and more. Sugar feeds the SCOBY to ferment the tea and leaves a distinct sweet taste too.
Is Sugar A Permissible Ingredient?
Cane sugar has been rated as a Low FODMAP food that can be eaten in moderation. Therefore if you're looking to consume or brew kombucha it would be suggested to use a low-sugar producing method and then test the sugar content after production to ensure Low-FODMAP compliance.
What People Are Saying
A LittleBitYummy Blog Says:
Cane sugar is produced from sugar cane and is the other most common source of white sugar (1). As cane sugar is a form of white sugar, the safe serving size would be one tablespoon (2).
SCOBY
A SCOBY is a symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast. It is a disc-like shape that is formed when the fermenting tea produces bacteria and yeast. The yeast and bacteria combine to create a SCOBY. 
Is A SCOBY A Permissible Ingredient?
This is a tricky question to answer. There are no online blogs or resources that answer this question specifically. 
The most likely source of a SCOBY not being FODMAP is that if it contains bacteria, yeast, or carbohydrate that is not compatible with the diet.
Typically commercially produced kombucha has been produced with a SCOBY. However, it is then strained before being pasteurized, which means that the final brew does not contain the SCOBY, bacteria, or yeast. 
Therefore if you're drinking commercial kombucha it's likely irrelevant if the SCOBY is FODMAP or not.

 

Caffeine 
Kombucha contains some caffeine. The caffeine comes from the tea that is used when brewing. Tea varieties such as black tea include higher levels of caffeine than non-caffeinated drinks like rooibos.
Is Caffeine Permissible?
The consensus seems to be that caffeine could negatively impact IBS, but it's very dependent on the individual and how much they consume. It's still considered reasonable for followers of the FODMAP diet plan to drink caffeinated beverages in moderation.
What Are People Saying?
MonashFODMAP.com says: "So should you change your caffeine intake to improve your IBS symptoms? Given the lack of high-quality evidence in this area, blanket recommendations about caffeine intake are certainly not warranted. Instead, work with your dietitian to determine whether your symptoms are related to your caffeine intake. If there appears to be a link, make sure that any change in your caffeine intake (up or down) is made in isolation so that any effects can be monitored and detected."
Ibsdiets.org says: ". For coffees (regular or decaf), black espresso and espresso with lactose-free milk or soy milk are OK. Instant coffee up to two heaped teaspoons is also OK. Espresso made with cows milk is considered high in FODMAPs."

 

Alcohol 
When brewing kombucha, small amounts of alcohol are formed during production. Typical quantities of alcohol will range from 0.5 - 3% ABV (alcohol by volume). Commercially produced kombucha is made with lower alcohol content, less than 0.5% ABV so people of all ages can buy and consume.
Is Alcohol Permissible?
From the online research, we've found that in moderation, it can be acceptable, but if you have diarrhea symptoms of IBS, it may irritate it. Therefore it would be suggested to opt for a commercial brand or other non-alcoholic variety.
What Are People Saying?
Healthline.com says: "There doesn't appear to be a definite answer to the specific effects alcohol has on IBS symptoms. Rather, it's a question that can only be answered individually."
Fodmapeveryday.com says: "The bad news is alcohol, in general, isn't the best idea for those with digestive conditions such as IBS."

Fermented Drinks And FODMAP

There are many different fermented beverages; therefore, we've compiled a shortlist of suitable fermented drinks if you're following the FODMAP diet.
 Fermented Beverage 
FODMAP Rating
Kombucha
Low-FODMAP
Kefir
Low-FODMAP
Miso
Low-FODMAP

 

 

Risks Of Drinking Kombucha And FODMAP

Although from the online resources kombucha can be enjoyed in small quantities, it must be stressed that everybody will react differently to consuming kombucha. Therefore it would be suggested that you would only drink very small amounts to see how your IBS is effected.
Symptoms Become Worse: It's possible that by drinking kombucha any number of symptoms could become flared up and become worse. Some may not have any change in their symptoms, while others may become a lot worse. [It's recommended to visit your physician before altering your diet]

Other Common Questions

Is Kefir Low FODMAP?
Yes, kefir is considered low FODMAP as almost all of the lactose has gone due to the fermentation.
Is Kombucha Tea Good For IBS?
There haven't been any studies proving that kombucha is specifically suitable for IBS. However, it's considered Low-FODMAP and, therefore, could be enjoyed in small quantities.
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