Kombucha has no known health benefits. Why is it added to Huel?

Taken directly from Wikipedia:

Many people drink kombucha for its purported health benefits.[1] There have not been any human trials conducted to assess its possible biological effects,[1][5] and the purported health benefits resulting from its biological activities have not been demonstrated in humans.[43][44] A 2003 systematic review characterized kombucha as an “extreme example” of an unconventional remedy because of the disparity between implausible, wide-ranging health claims and the potential risks of the product.[7] It concluded that the proposed, unsubstantiated therapeutic claims did not outweigh known risks, and that kombucha should not be recommended for therapeutic use, being in a class of “remedies that only seem to benefit those who sell them.”[7]

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I haven’t seen Huel make any claims about the benefits of kombucha per se. It contains useful B vitamins, and it’s natural, which they’ve decided to focus on as a selling point. I want B vitamins in Huel and I don’t care where they come from, as long as they don’t use harmful or unethical ingredients.


I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Please, Huel team, focus on science as opposed to trying to make things ‘natural’.

The focus on things being ‘natural’ is a scam nowadays, and Huel customers are wiser than others.

Huel has been a victim of its own success amongst people who either know about nutrition and/or care about their own health. People like us will scrutinize the food we eat, and so there will always be opposition to things we know are purely marketing towards the masses.

On the other hand, we realize that it is the masses that generate profit for Huel, so we’d at least wish Huel continues trying to reason their decisions with science, for example through the articles Huel publishes.

To give you a gist of what we’d love to hear Huel say:

“Huel is proud of being a food of the future available today, hence we eschew the practice of calling our product ‘natural’. We at Huel know that Kombucha/Acerola Cherry/Kelp has confers no health benefits, but we use it in Huel because paper A/B/C from University A/B/C demonstrates it consistently contains the desired amount of B vitamins/Vitamin C/Iodine. We also managed to source it cheaper than our previous source of B vitamins/Vitamin C/Iodine, hence we go with Kombucha/Acerola Cherry/Kelp.”


I think it might be a confusing message to say kombucha has no health benefit, but that it was used because it has B vitamins that have health benefit.

Huel’s Myth 15 is a great call-out to the general principle, but perhaps a longer article would be good to see:

Myth 15: Superfoods are a great way of getting key nutrients

‘Superfood’ is another marketing term with no actual meaning in nutrition. Some foods touted as being ‘superfoods’ do contain some vitamins and minerals, but at levels lower than in a portion of regular fruit and veg. Your overall diet is the key to obtaining adequate amounts of all vitamins and minerals and all food is ‘super’!

For me, I’d like to see more nutrition articles in general explaining that:

  1. Generally, you can get a needed nutrient from many different sources: there isn’t one ‘superfood’ that contains a magic, unique nutrient you need,
  2. A surprising number of ‘superfoods’ aren’t actually that high in nutrients – many, many fad articles tout how some superfood is ‘high in X’ when something a quarter of the price you’ve eaten your whole life is twice as high, and
  3. If any concept of a superfood is to be salvaged, it should be dependent on the carbon footprint of you getting that food, where you live.

as others have mentioned as well as Huel themselves - the kombucha tea powder is added in very small amounts as a source of B complex vitamins only - and they make no other health claims regarding that - real or imaginary.


I reckon it’s in Huel for marketing reasons… and it’s got a cool sounding name.

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As mentioned on the Huel website kombucha is a source of some of the b vitamins in Huel. It’s a more familiar ingredient than some of the full names of the vitamins and minerals on the label. People make purchases based on these decisions but we do have plenty of scientific information on site for anyone that wants to learn more.

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That’s a dark path that leads one to https://www.ambronite.com/pages/ingredients

We are worried and we don’t want that.

I think that’s a bit over the top if I’m honest. We’re not about to turn into Ambronite. We don’t think there is a single type of person that wouldn’t benefit from Huel a few times a week, but many react negatively to what they perceive as synthetic/chemical therefore bad. If we can get vitamin B, for example, from either an artificial source, or a natural source and each one has no advantage over the other, then why would we not use the natural one? We can then explain that [x%] of the vitamins and minerals in Huel come from natural sources and we can grow our community and help more people eat more nutritiously through the week.

We apply the same logic to GMOs. Plenty of people don’t like GMOs, (for whatever reason I’m not here to debate the pros and cons of GMOs!) but if we have a choice to use a GMO ingredient or not, then we might as well not, because it opens Huel up to more people.


Also, thanks Simon, I think that’s all some really good content we could put out. Perhaps an article and/or on IGTV/YouTube. Appreciate it, if anyone else has ideas on what we could write about or post about on social media then just say! :blush:

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+10000 :+1:

Very well reasoned argument, thank you for that.

I still enjoy Huel, and am still a customer and supporter of Huel.

Perhaps I am too over-the-top in my argumentation. All I want is for the Huel team to know that just like there are people who perceive synthetic/chemical as bad, there are also people who perceive appealing to nature as a bad sign. Expressing this opinion on the forums here is my only chance of possibly having my voice heard during the next marketing discussions if someone from the Huel team passes it on.

Great care should be taken when deciding how much to focus on ‘natural’ because it will rub many of us the wrong way.


I hear you, and others and try to balance the different views from across our community. I’ve raised these concerns before and will again when they come up.

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I checked out the references. The systematic study found one uncontrolled investigation on humans. There is an absence of science; that does not mean there is an absence of benefits.

The microbiome has been under-researched in recent decades compared to other areas of medicine (where drug treatments offer better commercial prospects). Perhaps this has changed in the last couple of years but that’s too soon for a body of scientific evidence to be accrued.

“We”? Presumptuous.

Not really presumptuous, but the ‘we’ is certainly not fully defined. Insofar as rikefrejut is suggesting that at least one other Huel-using forumgoer shares his opinion, add me to the list (also Raymondcal, it seems).

There’s definitely a cluster here that’s skeptical of the ‘appeal to nature over science’ approach to nutrition. You get some keto fans, some paleo fans, some vegan fans, etc., all arguing over what Mother Nature really intended us to eat, and all agreeing that anything at all processed is bad and there’s no more nuance than that. The flawed premises they all share are rarely challenged and this forum is one of the only places I’ve seen it regularly.

Ok. I see what you mean.

Nature and science are not really opposing things, though. One is the study of the other. Both are ‘work-in-progress’!

And my axe.


Let’s not turn this into a poll. I admit I may have used the ‘we’ far too liberally.