Walk through the aisles of a grocery or health food store, or visit a trendy coffee shop or restaurant, and you’re likely to find kombucha tea. Some establishments promote kombucha as a healthy alternative to soda because of its sweet flavor and fizziness. You can even buy kombucha home brewing kits.
But what exactly is kombucha, and what is it about kombucha that makes it healthy?
Kombucha originated in the Far East about 2,000 years ago. Typically consumed as a tea, kombucha is a fermented drink with black or green tea, sugar, probiotic bacteria and yeast, and prebiotics (microcellulose).
Kombucha tea is made by combining a symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast (SCOBY) with sugar and tea and allowing it to ferment. After fermentation, kombucha becomes carbonated and contains vinegar, B vitamins, and short chain fatty acids (SCFAs), which serve as a nutrition source for cells in the colon.
Don’t let the word “bacteria” scare you. The average person’s intestinal tract contains trillions of bacteria from more than 400 species. These bacteria play an important role in maintaining gut health.
As Hippocrates said, all disease begins in the gut – which brings us to one of the primary health benefits of kombucha.
Probiotics are the good bacteria that help keep your gut healthy and promote good digestion. Prebiotics are carbohydrates and dietary fibers that promote the growth of intestinal microbiota, the non-living organisms that serve as food for living probiotic organisms. A healthy gut supports and helps balance all of the body’s systems, contributing to a strong immune system, digestive system, and brain health.
Research suggests that kombucha, when raw or unpasteurized, contains antioxidants that can help to detoxify the body, prevent disease, reduce inflammation and boost energy. Black tea alone contains antioxidants, but the fermentation process can create additional antioxidants in kombucha tea. Because kombucha is rich in vitamin C, it helps control free radicals.
Some research has shows that kombucha can help treat a wide range of conditions, including a leaky gut, joint damage, memory loss, high blood pressure, constipation and arthritis.
However, kombucha is not the magic elixir that some make it out to be. No such elixir exists. People with a weak immune system need to be careful about consuming kombucha. There’s a chance that harmful bacteria could cause illness, particularly with homemade kombucha. Pregnant women should also be careful about consuming kombucha because of its caffeine and alcohol content, although levels of both are low.
At Natural Healthcare Center, we recommend kombucha to certain patients based on their individual condition and test results. If you’re going to make your own kombucha, it’s important to work in a sanitary environment, use the right ingredients, follow the right process, and test your kombucha tea before drinking it. Contamination is most likely to happen during the fermentation process. Raw and unpasteurized kombucha from reputable brands typically provides the greatest health benefit.
Kombucha is one more tool in the Natural Healthcare Center shed that we draw upon to help our patients feel better, function better and live longer. If you’d like to learn more about how to make better health decisions for yourself and your family, contact us to schedule a complimentary consultation.