I drank kombucha tea every day for a week to see if it helped my gut

I put the super drink for your gut to the test.

Bloating, cramps and gas – these are what myself and 62-year-old former Charge Nurse (Ward Sister) Julie Wickstead regularly experience between us. Kombucha is known for offering various health benefits, especially for improving gut health, which are supposed to help with these uncomfortable symptoms.

Yet, research behind this is inconclusive. So, we put this drink to the test to see if these claims are true, by drinking it for one week. We both tried No.1 Living’s Raspberry Kombucha. 

Woman sitting on the sofa reading a book, with a canned drink in her hand.Credit: Exceptional
Julie Wickstead is a 62-year-old former Charge Nurse (Ward Sister)

We drank a small 125ml of kombucha every day for seven days. The reason for only having a small amount is because evidence shows, like any carbonated drink (meaning it contains bubbles of carbon dioxide), too much kombucha can cause bloating and excess gas – the exact symptoms we were trying to reduce. The saying is true: you can have too much of a good thing.  

No.1 Living recommends that beginners have a smaller serving as your body might not be used to fermented products and your gut needs time to adapt. Therefore, as it was the first time trying kombucha for both of us, we decided to start slow and small.


What is kombucha?

What is kombucha?

Jar of kombucha surrounded by lemons and fresh ginger.Credit: Shutterstock/Brent Hofacker

Interest in kombucha has soared both in the UK and worldwide in recent years. But what is it? Kombucha is a fizzy sweet-and-sour drink, made from fermenting black or green tea, containing live cultures known as ‘SCOBY’ (‘symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeasts’).  

No.1’s kombucha range, specifically, is made up of natural ingredients and is sugar-free as well as dairy-free and suitable for vegans. It’s also low in calories and caffeine, and only has trace amounts of alcohol.  

Alternative brands sometimes add extra sugar, caffeine or alcohol. Kombucha can also be homemade and ingredients can vary due to the varying fermentation processes.  

No.1 claims, due to its unique production process, its kombucha contains probiotics that may help restore and regulate gut bacteria, and provide gut health benefits.

It doesn’t stop at the ingredients; No.1 has also put thought into its packaging, making sure it’s infinitely recyclable.

Common health benefits of kombucha: 

  • Source of probiotics: it’s not just No.1 who shouts about kombucha’s possible gut health benefits. A study in the journal of Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology shows probiotics provide your gut with healthy bacteria which can improve digestion. Despite this, proof about whether kombucha, specifically, is an effective probiotic source is lacking.

    Consultant dietitian and chair for the British Dietetic Association for London, Sophie Medlin agrees. “While drinking fermented drinks in place of fizzy or alcoholic drinks is better for you, there isn’t currently evidence that kombucha will benefit your gut health.” How kombucha is made also varies, meaning there are slightly different microbes in every batch, she adds.  

  • Contains prebiotics: No.1 say kombucha tea contains plant chemicals in its colour pigments, called ‘polyphenols’ – a compound (prebiotics) that helps gut bacteria thrive. 
  • May benefit heart health: animal studies suggest kombucha may help cholesterol management. Further, the protective compounds in tea (especially green tea) may lower the risk of developing heart disease. 

First impressions

Flavour and fizz

Woman drinking from a can of kombucha in the kitchen.Credit: Exceptional
The flavours improved during the week, according to Wickstead

Wickstead: On day one it tasted sourer than I expected, but I could taste all the flavours as stated on the can – the raspberries, then hints of pomegranate followed by a green tea aftertaste. It seemed less sour to me as the week went by.

The slight fizz felt very natural. I could feel it hit my tongue, but it did not leave an aftertaste and, thankfully, I didn’t experience any bubbles up the nose [like you can with other fizzy drinks]! The fizz didn’t mask the flavours either. I tried this with a meal and didn’t feel the flavours paired well which is why I would prefer to try another flavour from this brand. 

Me: For a drink that resembles the colour of urine, thankfully, it smells and tastes much better (I imagine). I could definitely taste the raspberry along with a subtle touch of green tea. I’m not a fan of green tea, so the other flavours really helped. The flavour did take some getting used to, but it grew on me. The fizz that is described as “lightly sparkling” on the box felt a little more than this to me but, I got used to this and it grew on me too.

Daily use

Handy for on the go

Wickstead: I found the canned kombucha handy to take out and drink on the go and I was pleased that all of the packaging is recyclable. 

Me: On each can, it is stated that it needs to be consumed within two days once opened – a feature that I found particularly useful with only drinking a small serving. This meant that I could drink one can over a couple of days so too much wouldn’t affect my gut.

Despite this, the can could do with a re-closable lid if not drinking all at once. One clumsy move and half of the can would have been everywhere and wasted. I’m becoming increasingly environmentally conscious and, like Wickstead, I was pleased by No.1’s sustainability efforts to make the packaging recyclable. 

Can of kombucha being hand poured into a glass.Credit: Exceptional
We’re not sure about the colour, but it tastes better than it looks.

Digestive outcome

Digesting the results

Wickstead: I kept getting heartburn in the evenings and I think the culprit was drinking too much [English breakfast] tea. I decided to swap a cup of tea in the evening for kombucha and I noticed that my heartburn reduced. Whether it was down to just removing the cup of tea or adding the kombucha, it’s hard to tell. Due to the live cultures it contains, I hoped I would experience gut health benefits, but I didn’t notice any reduction in bloating.

Headshot of a woman looking at the camera

Experience insight

Julie Wickstead

Expertise: Health, Gut Health, Education

“I decided to swap a cup of tea in the evening for kombucha and I noticed that my heartburn reduced.”

Despite this, No.1’s kombucha has no fat or sugar content which is good for me as I am watching my cholesterol levels. [As a former nurse], I know that drugs such as statins are offered to control levels, but I prefer to manage mine by diet. Certain fats in your diet can lead to a build-up of cholesterol and if you’re susceptible, it can lead to heart attack and strokes. Reducing fats, particularly saturated, is [an aim of mine], so this product wouldn’t negatively affect that. 

Going forward, I would continue drinking kombucha over a longer time frame to see if my gut benefits, as per the company’s claims. 

Woman drinking from a can in a kitchen.Credit: Exceptional
I was impressed by the naturally and sustainably sourced ingredients, and the low-calorie content.

Me: Initially, I was anxious that the fizz would cause bloating – not something I needed more of. To my pleasant surprise, the fizz didn’t affect me at all perhaps because I only had a small serving. It would be interesting to increase the serving size, once my gut has adapted to it, to see if this causes bloating.  

I was impressed by the naturally and sustainably sourced ingredients and the low-calorie content, having just eight per can. 

However, I was a little disappointed with the impact – or lack of impact I should say – on my digestive system, especially as I have irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and had been taking antibiotics not long before starting this trial and they had disrupted my gut. I was still experiencing symptoms of gut disruption during most of the week. It was only towards the end of the week that I noticed a minor change and my stomach felt slightly more settled.

I agree with Wickstead that I need to try kombucha for a longer period to see if my digestive issues would have improved further. On the plus side, at least drinking it didn’t make any of my symptoms worse!  


Our thoughts

Woman sitting and smiling with a canned drink in her hand.Credit: Exceptional
We’d like to try kombucha for longer, to really see what changes occur.

Drinking kombucha became a part of our daily routine, almost like brushing your teeth. The flavour did take some getting used to. It wasn’t just the bright and fresh packaging that caught mine and Wickstead’s eye but the acquired taste too. Although it’s not unpleasant, alternative flavours might suit better. 

The natural ingredients were good for Wickstead watching her sugar and fat intake while the recyclable and BPA- (bisphenol A) free packaging impressed us as we are both becoming more environmentally conscious.

No.1 is not only thinking about the health of our bodies, but the planet too. The cans aren’t the most user-friendly; without a re-closable lid, it felt like the drink could easily spill and had to be finished in one go. 

Neither myself nor Wickstead noticed any major benefits or improvements to our stomach or digestion symptoms. We both agreed that we would need to drink this product over a longer time frame to see if the company’s claims are true.

A bit like the existing evidence on kombucha and gut health benefits, the jury is still out on this one.

Why not try some for yourself by downloading the HappyKombucha app? It guides you through brewing your own or purchasing from different brands. You could even grab a journal to note down your findings. 

Sophie Medlin
Consultant colorectal dietitian and director of CityDietitians

Medlin has worked with people with digestive problems for more than 10 years, in the NHS in research, in the media, and in her private practice. She is passionate about making good gut health accessible to everyone. 

Gemma Harris

Written by Gemma Harris she/her


Gemma Harris has been a journalist for over seven years and is a self-confessed health and wellbeing enthusiast, which led her to specialise in health journalism. During her career, she has worked with top editors in the industry and taken on multiple high-discipline fitness challenges for certain outlets. She is particularly passionate about nutrition; after being diagnosed with irritable bowel syndrome in 2016, she discovered her fascination for gut health and founded thegutchoice.com – a dedicated space for providing a hopeful outcome for people with gut issues. Gemma’s core aim is to help others through her writing.

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