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How much kombucha is too much?

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Photo: Stocksy/Scoby Lyuba

It is possible to have too much a good thing; when certain health foods get incredibly popular, it can be easy to go overboard in trying to harness their magical-seeming healing properties. Charcoal is known to be a purifier, but too much of it could be making your birth control ineffective. Similarly, apple cider vinegar can help with digestion, but overindulge, and you might end up with gastrointestinal issues.

Does the same apply to kombucha, one of the buzziest wellness drinks around?

If you’re drinking too much kombucha, you’re consuming too many “quickly absorbed calories,” particularly from the sugar in the drink.

Many devotees of the fermented drink will tell you that kombucha is a good source of healthy probiotics—and that much is true, according to registered dietician Elizabeth Boham, MD. Still, that’s not a free pass to drink all the kombucha. Dr. Boham’s main concern is that if you’re drinking too much booch, you’re consuming too many “quickly absorbed calories,” particularly from the sugar in the drink.

To keep your habit healthy, make sure your kombucha isn’t packed with added sugars. The body absorbs those sugars fast, causing a spike in insulin, according to Dr. Boham, and that has been linked to inflammation, disease, and weight gain. Stick to drinks that contain no more than 5 grams of added sugar per serving, or less than 20 calories per serving.

Another thing to keep in mind is that if you’re just starting your kombucha regimen, you should take baby steps. Dr. Boham recommends that you begin with a few small sips instead of going all in with two bottles on your first day. She says that “for some people, all of the good bacteria may cause more bloating or digestive distress.”

Don’t consume more than 50 kombucha calories a day.

Even for seasoned kombucha drinkers, there’s a threshold you shouldn’t cross: Dr. Boham recommends that you don’t consume more than 50 kombucha calories a day. A store-bought bottle of kombucha tends to have between 30 and 40 calories per serving (depending on the brand, that can be anywhere from a half to a whole bottle), so serving size is a good strategy for setting your fermentation sweet spot.

And you can work on building up your kombucha tolerance almost anywhere now that the elixir is available in supermarkets and airports alike.

If you’ve hit your kombucha limit, consider trying other drinks with healthy star ingredients, like a healthy latte or a lavender-infused seltzer.