Kombucha effect on fat metabolism studied

Tuesday, 02 April, 2024

Kombucha effect on fat metabolism studied

Researchers have found that the microbes in kombucha make changes to fat metabolism in the intestines of a model worm species similar to the effects of fasting. Robert Dowen at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and colleagues presented these findings 28 March in the journal PLOS Genetics.

Kombucha has surged in popularity recently, partly due to its supposed health benefits, such as lowering blood pressure, preventing cancer and protecting against metabolic disease and liver toxins. These benefits are believed to come from the drink’s probiotic microbes and their effects on metabolism, but the associated health claims have not been well studied in humans.

Dowen’s team investigated how microbes from kombucha impact metabolism by feeding them to the model nematode worm C. elegans. The researchers found that the yeast and bacteria colonise the worms’ intestines and create metabolic changes similar to those that occur during fasting. The microbes alter the expression of genes involved in fat metabolism, leading to more proteins that break down fats and fewer proteins that build a type of fat molecule called triglycerides. Together, these changes reduce fat stores in the worms.

The results provide insights into how probiotics in kombucha reshape metabolism in a model worm species and offer hints on how these microbes may be impacting human metabolism. It’s important to remember that more research is required to provide evidence that humans consuming kombucha experience similar effects as the C. elegans model studied here — but these findings appear consistent with the reported human health benefits of kombucha, note the authors, and could inform the use of the beverage in complementary healthcare approaches in the future.

To read more on this research, visit journals.plos.org/plosgenetics/article?id=10.1371/journal.%20pgen.1011003.

Image credit: iStock.com/Mehmet Gökhan Bayhan

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