Morning, noon, or night? Empty stomach or full? When it comes to probiotics, and kombucha specifically, there are a lot of questions surrounding when you should consume them to get the most benefit.
While there are certainly some concrete rules you should follow, other determining factors will depend on your individual needs.
Let’s take a closer look at the features of kombucha and how those may dictate when you should enjoy this fantastic beverage.
What Is the Best Time to Take Probiotics?
Most of the hard and fast rules around when to drink kombucha have to do with the optimal time to ingest probiotics to get the most out of them. Stomach acid can quickly kill even the acid-tolerant bacteria in kombucha. So if consuming good bacteria is one of your main reasons for drinking this tea, then you’ll definitely want to consume it only under certain circumstances.
Empty Stomach or Full?
The average person’s stomach retains a pH of 1.5 to 3.5 (1), while the typical kombucha brew has a pH of 2.5 to 3.5. This is one of the reasons bacteria in kombucha are more likely to survive consumption than other forms of probiotics.
Your stomach tends to be less acidic (toward the 3.5 range) before meals when there isn’t any food to digest. Once you eat, your body starts producing acid to break down your food, bringing the pH of your stomach closer to 1.5—a level that even kombucha bacteria probably can’t survive.
So, according to this logic, it is best to drink your kombucha before you begin eating to give those little strings of bacteria the best chance for survival as they move into your small intestine.
Macro-Content of Your Meal May Play a Role
But, before you take the above info and run, there are a few more facts to consider.
One study into probiotic survival found that good bacteria consumed with a meal consisting of oatmeal or milk survived better than those taken with juice or water alone (2).
Both fat and carbohydrates can help protect bacteria in the stomach and feed them as they establish in the gut. For this reason, it may be even more beneficial to drink your kombucha right before, or as you begin, eating a high-fat or high-carb meal.
When Should YOU Drink Kombucha?
While the question of when to drink kombucha to get the most out of the probiotic content has more to do with how often you eat than the actual time of day, there are some factors that may restrict consumption to only specific times. To determine whether you should drink kombucha with breakfast, lunch, or dinner, you will need to consider your specific sensitivities.
Kombucha is brewed from caffeinated tea leaves. While the fermentation process reduces caffeine levels, there’s still some left in the final product.
The typical brew has about as much caffeine as a cup of decaf coffee. This isn’t much for most people, but for caffeine-sensitive folks, this can be enough to disrupt sleep or increase anxiety.
If you know you’re particularly sensitive to caffeine, it’s best to drink this kombucha earlier in the day.
Kombucha also contains a little alcohol as a byproduct of fermentation. For store-bought brews, this level will never exceed 0.5%—about as much as a non-alcoholic beer. But, again, if you are sensitive to alcohol, this may be enough to influence when you want to enjoy this drink.
It’s also worth keeping in mind that homebrewed kombucha may have a higher alcohol content than commercial brands, especially those that have fermented for an extended period.
While probiotic vitality is higher when kombucha is consumed before or at the beginning of a meal, some people might find kombucha is too much to drink on an empty stomach.
If this is true for you, you may be better off drinking it as you eat. Try to pair your brew with a lighter high-fat or high-carb meal to protect the good bacteria. For most people this will be breakfast, but consider your own eating habits to find the best time.
The Bottom Line on When to Drink Kombucha
For the average person, the best time to drink kombucha is on an empty stomach as you begin a light high-carb or high-fat meal. The exact time of day, however, will vary depending on your schedule and sensitivities.
Of course, there’s no rule that says you can only drink kombucha once a day. So, if in doubt, drink often and enjoy whenever you’re in the mood!