There are many benefits of Kombucha – an age-old fermented tea drink that has been around (in various forms) for centuries in many different cultures.
Kombucha contains a variety of vitamins, minerals and enzymes and has been prized by traditional cultures for its health-promoting properties.
Practically speaking, it is a sweetened tea that is fermented with a SCOBY (a symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast) to become a nutrient-rich, low-sugar beverage. The fermentation process takes 7-12 days depending on temperature and the strength of the SCOBY and the over 90% of the sugar is used up in this process. This process is similar to what would happen in sourdough bread or milk/water kefir.
Is Kombucha Healthy?
Kombucha is wonderful at supporting the body in various ways. It isn’t some magic pill or silver bullet, but it helps the body function well by supporting:
- liver detoxification
- improved pancreas function
- increased energy
- better digestion
- improved mood (helps with anxiety/depression)
- kills Candida (yeast)
- helps nutrient assimilation
- weight loss
The research is still out on the specific way Kombucha affects digestion, but we do know that kombucha contains probiotics, enzymes and beneficial acids and these have been researched for their benefits.
Harvard Medical School explains that a healthy gut will have 100 trillion + microorganisms from 500 different identified species. In this sense, we truly are more bacterial than human. There has been a lot of emerging research on the dangers of an overly sanitary environment and how overuse of antibiotics and antibacterial soaps and products is literally changing the structure of our gut.
Drinks like Kombucha, Water Kefir, Milk Kefir, and fermented foods like sauerkraut contain billions of these beneficial bacteria, enzymes and acids that help keep the gut in balance.
Natural Detoxification and Liver Support
The liver is one of the body’s main detoxification organs. Kombucha is high in Glucaric acid, which is beneficial to the liver and aids its natural detoxification.
As Kombucha also supports healthy gut bacteria and digestion, it helps the body assimilate food more easily and provides quick and easy energy without caffeine.
Giving the Immune System a Boost
Kombucha is naturally high in antioxidants and supportive of the immune system. Again, there is no magic pill or silver bullet when it comes to immune function- it is best to support the body in its natural immune process.
It contains a compound called D-saccharic acid-1,4-lactone (or DSL for short) that has amazing antioxidant properties. This compound is not present in unfermented teas (though many teas are high in other antioxidants). DSL has been specifically identified as beneficial for cellular detoxification.
The Downside of Kombucha Consumption
There is emerging research on the benefits of Kombucha and it is something I consume daily, but there are also some cautions and downsides to be aware of.
Those with any diagnosed medical condition should absolutely check with a doctor before consuming this or any other type of supplement. Some people experience pain and bloating, most likely from changes in gut bacteria and there is some evidence that if kombucha is not made correctly, it can be dangerous.
The most logical concern I’ve seen with Kombucha is its potential to cause dental problems. Since it is high in natural acids (but still lower than most sodas) it can be harmful to the teeth. OraWellness wrote a great article on the specific way kombucha affects teeth and how to consume it without harming your teeth.
In short, if you drink Kombucha, drink it all in one sitting, don’t sip it throughout the day and swish with clean water (don’t brush) right after. I personally still think the benefits outweigh the potential dental harm (and I’ve seen my own cavities reverse even while consuming kombucha) but it is something to be aware of and take steps to mitigate.
Where to Get Kombucha
Kombucha has gained popularity in the US recently and is now available in many stores. There are dozens of really good brands and if you choose to buy it, just look for an organic variety without a large amount of sugar.
I personally prefer homemade kombucha. Here are a few of my favorite recipes:
I’ve found that I seem to do best when I consume Kombucha daily but also consume other foods and drinks that are rich in other sources of probiotics such as water kefir, sauerkraut, beet kvass, or homemade ginger ale.
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Sheng-Che Chu, Chinshuh Chen, Effects of origins and fermentation time on the antioxidant activities of kombucha, Food Chemistry, Volume 98, Issue 3, 2006, Pages 502-507, ISSN 0308-8146, http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0308814605005364.
P. Semjonovs, I. Denina and R. Linde, 2014. Evaluation of Physiological Effects of Acetic Acid Bacteria and Yeast Fermented Non-alchocolic Beverage Consumption in Rat Model. Journal of Medical Sciences, 14: 147-152.
C. Dufresne, E. Farnworth, Tea, Kombucha, and health: a review, Food Research International, Volume 33, Issue 6, July 2000, Pages 409-421, ISSN 0963-9969, http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0963996900000673.
Determination of D-saccharic acid-1,4-lactone from brewed kombucha broth by high-performance capillary electrophoresis.
Do you make your Kombucha? Have you experienced any benefits from taking it? Share with me below!