A look at potential Kombucha benefits.
WHAT IS KOMBUCHA?
Kombucha is a fermented tea. Although it is currently extremely popular and may be viewed as nothing more than a trend this drink, like many of the healthy foods we recommend, has been around for centuries. Kombucha starts with a brewed tea, typically black or green, and sugar dissolved into the tea. Then, a “starter culture” blend of bacteria and yeast, called a “SCOBY” or a “symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast” is added to the brew. This culture is somewhat similar to “The Mother” in apple cider vinegar.
During fermentation the bacteria and yeast eat away the sugars, significantly reducing the sugar content and forming alcohol, which is then further broken down. While this is happening, the SCOBY forms into a rather odd looking, yet amazing, gelatinous “disk”. Meanwhile, the Kombucha is becoming a bubbly, tangy, probiotic filled brew.
BENEFITS OF KOMBUCHA
Be aware that Komucha on its own is one possible tool to include in a healthy lifestyle and will not create miracles. To truly benefit from the foods, supplements and tools we talk about you need to take other steps. We will help direct you through those steps, you just have to walk with us. As with most things we discuss, there is debate on the overall benefits of consuming Kombucha and more research is needed. We always urge you to research and come to your own conclusions.
We only promote the things we believe in, and we believe Kombucha is a healthy food!
Gut Health and Digestion
- Kombucha is fermented and contains probiotic bacteria. Probiotics have been shown to encourage healthy bacteria growth in the gut. A good balance of healthy gut bacteria is important for digestion as well as overall health. This is why you see the online stores and market shelves full of probiotics, kombucha, and other popular fermented foods.
- S. Boulardii, one of the probiotic bacteria strains found in Kombucha, was reviewed in several clinical trials and experimental studies. It was concluded that S. Boulardii is a good bio-therapeutic agent which can treat and/or prevent several gastrointestinal diseases. The effects of this probiotic bacteria resembles the protective effects of a normal and healthy gut.
- Kombucha contains acetic acid which can promote digestion, especially in those with low stomach acid levels.
Blood Sugar and Insulin
- Several studies on vinegar, some of which we referenced, showed evidence that due to the acetic acid content, vinegar can help to stabilize blood sugar and insulin levels. There are no current studies relating the same benefits to Kombucha. However, we know Kombucha contains this potentially beneficial acetic acid.
Kicking That Soda Habit
- One of the most interesting, and possibly most unusual benefits to reference. Many people have reported using Kombucha as a way to help kick their soda habit. With its bubbly and acidic characteristics, as well as the wide variety of available flavors, Kombucha has proven a healthy alternative for some. Be sure to use caution as you don’t want to drink Kombucha excessively.
- Probiotics are clearly linked to a healthy and balanced gut flora, promoting digestion and proper absorption of nutrients. There are no current studies linking Kombucha to weight loss, however a balanced and healthy digestive system is one important key to overall health.
- Again, as mentioned above, several studies on vinegar showed that due to the acetic acid content, vinegar consumption was linked to weight loss, feelings of satiety, reduced blood sugars and insulin response when eating a high carb meal. As there are no current studies linking the same benefits to Kombucha, we recommend reading the references on our Apple Cider Vinegar page. We do not know if Kombucha does or can provide the same benefits. Still, we believe it is something important to consider.
- That soda habit we mentioned? If Kombucha is able to help you overcome that habit, you are almost guaranteed to see some weight loss. The average can of soda contains 44 grams of sugar. 44! That is nearly DOUBLE the recommended daily intake. The World Health Organization recommends your sugar intake consisting of no more than 5% of your daily calorie intake. For the average adult consuming a 2,000 calorie a day diet, this equals around 25 grams of sugar per day. Yikes! Excessive consumption of carbs and/or sugar is thought of as the number one culprit in weight gain obesity. Be careful, though, some Kombuchas have higher sugar levels than others. Always check your nutrition labels.
WHEN TO USE CAUTION
Those with a weakened immune system, women who are pregnant or breast feeding, and individuals with a sensitivity to caffeine (it is tea, afterall) should all use caution with Kombucha. If you fall into one of these categories and just need to get your hands on the good stuff, speak to your doctor first.
Most risks associated with Kombucha come from homemade brews that were improperly handled. If you intend on brewing at home, do research so thorough you could write your own article.
CHOOSING YOUR KOMBUCHA
Here’s what you need to look for when buying your Kombucha:
1. Buy organic and raw.
2. Unpasteurized! The pasteurization process involves heat which can destroy the good bacteria in this fermented vinegar.
3. Be aware of sugar content. Some Kombuchas contain far more sugar than other, and will often have more than one serving in what appears to be a single serving bottle. We don’t want to negate the benefits of this good stuff by spiking your blood sugar.
4. Flavor! This all comes down to personal preference. There’s a wide variety of flavors available among the different Kombucha brands. Go out and find your favorite.
A few of our favorite Kombuchas:
Delicious! Now go out and strengthen those digestive systems! Let us know how your experience goes, and check back soon for our head to head review and comparison on two of the most popular “homemade Kombucha” brewing kits.