Kombucha is a healthy probiotic drink that has been around for nearly 2,000 years. This fermented tea originated in China and is renowned as the “Tea of Immortality” and the “Elixir of Life” in traditional Chinese medicine. Nowadays, kombucha has gained its reputation as one of the most popular healthiest beverages worldwide.
Let’s discover what makes this tea so unique and uncover the health benefits of kombucha tea that are backed by science.
What is kombucha?
Kombucha is a fermented tea made from yeast, sugar, and tea (either black or green tea). It usually takes the brew a week to a month to settle and ferment. During the fermentation, bacteria, and acids form in the drink, as well as a small amount of alcohol.
If you have any concerns about the bacteria that formed, let your guard down. They are healthy bacteria called probiotics.
The final product is a nutritious probiotic beverage with a mildly sweet and acidic flavor.
The nutritional profile of Kombucha
One cup (8 ounces) of kombucha contains:
Protein: 0 grams
Fat: 0 grams
Carbohydrates: 7 grams
Fiber: 0 grams
Sugar: 4 grams
Kombucha tea is a good source of B vitamins, minerals (iron, calcium and potassium), organic acids and amino acids, polyphenols, and most importantly probiotics.
Evidence-based benefits of Kombucha tea
- Kombucha serves you a cocktail of probiotics
This beverage is packed with beneficial bacteria called “probiotics”. In terms of probiotic value, kombucha has roughly 10 billion CFU per gram.
Probiotics help us digest food more efficiently and reduce symptoms of gas, bloating, and constipation. When the gut becomes unbalanced with unhealthy levels of bad bacteria, probiotics fight the harmful microbes and restore gut health. Probiotics also strengthen your immune system and reduce the number of colds you will have in a year. Moreover, by influencing the gut-brain axis, these friendly bacteria will help you get good quality sleep and elevate your mood.
- It contains antioxidants.
Because kombucha is made from tea, it also provides the benefits of tea. This fermented tea has strong antioxidant properties owing to its high polyphenol content, particularly flavonoids.
Antioxidants protect your bodies against free radicals. Free radicals are produced when your body converts food to energy or is exposed to UV rays, air pollution, and tobacco smoke. These harmful molecules can cause damage to cells and DNA. By neutralizing free radicals, antioxidants play a substantial role in preventing early aging, neurodegenerative diseases, and cancer.
- It detoxifies your liver.
The enzymes and organic acids in Kombucha help with natural detoxification. Glucuronic acid found in Kombucha binds to toxins to help expel them from the body which takes the load off the liver.
Rodent studies have consistently found that drinking kombucha has a protective effect on the liver from toxins and chemicals. Though the same hasn’t been found in humans yet, it is a hopeful benefit for people with liver disease.
- It lowers your blood cholesterol.
Kombucha has a high content of glucuronic acid that can neutralize cholesterol deposits, and change to another form that is more soluble in water. In one study, researchers studied the effects of supplementary kombucha tea on cholesterol levels in duck blood.
The conclusion was that fermented kombucha tea decreased total cholesterol and LDL or bad cholesterol while increasing HDL or good cholesterol. By improving blood cholesterol profile, kombucha may also have a beneficial effect on cardiovascular disease.
- It potentially helps you lose weight.
You might be wondering how kombucha could be helpful for weight loss when it has sugar in it. It is the sugar that the yeast and bacteria eat, so nearly 90% of the sugar that’s initially included is used up during the fermentation process.
That’s why kombucha is a healthier swap for your high-calorie, carbonated, sugar-sweetened beverages and will be a good accompaniment during your weight loss journey.
Moreover, studies have found that green tea, a key ingredient of kombucha, can also help to boost your metabolism and aid fat burning, which makes kombucha a great workout partner.
How much kombucha is ok to drink?
“The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that drinking approximately 4 ounces of kombucha per day may not cause adverse effects in healthy persons.”
If you’re new to kombucha, it’s best to build up the amount you drink slowly to allow your digestive system to adjust to it gradually.
Is kombucha safe for everyone?
Kombucha in the recommended amount is generally considered safe for healthy individuals. But, overdoing it can cause some unpleasant side effects like headache, dizziness, nausea, and stomach pain.
There are also safety concerns in the following two conditions according to research.
- Sanitation issues
You were likely to experience adverse effects if you drank a contaminated batch of kombucha. Mold contamination can occur in kombucha cultures, especially when the tea is homemade in unsterile vessels.
Moreover, there is evidence that severe lead poisoning can be caused by the regular use of Kombucha tea which was brewed in a ceramic pot. It is important to use glass containers for the preparation and storage of Kombucha tea.
- Pre-existing health conditions
People with chronic kidney disease are more likely to experience an upset stomach from drinking kombucha than those who don’t.
In addition, if you have a weakened immune system, kombucha may not suit you, so you should ask your doctor before introducing it into your diet.
Kombucha tea is also contraindicated in pregnant and lactating women.
Advantages of kombucha probiotics over probiotic supplements
Kombucha can be a tasty and refreshing delicious addition to your diet. It’s not only good for you, but it’s delicious too, which likely keeps you motivated to continue your probiotic intake. You will not feel like you are forcing yourself to get your probiotic boost for the day.
A good quality probiotic supplement can cost a lot of money, especially in the long run. Probiotic-rich foods and drinks like Kombucha can save you money.
In addition to being a fantastic probiotic, Kombucha is packed with other healthy phytochemicals, nutrients, vitamins, and minerals which can offer you a multitude of additional benefits.
Not every kombucha is made equal
While good kombucha is one of the healthiest drinks, the quality and safety depend on several factors, such as type of raw material, time of infusion, SCOBY (symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast used to ferment tea), the whole production process, and storage. Therefore, you should keep your eyes on quality and food safety when buying kombucha.
Special buying considerations for Kombucha
- You should only buy your kombucha from a reputable source that complies with all health regulations to avoid contamination and ensure good quality.
- You do not want to have too much sugar in your kombucha especially when you are consuming it as a healthier alternative for your soda. So, check the label for the “added sugar” content.
- They should be stored cold in the grocery refrigerated section and have a fresh date.
- Last, but not least, look for the word “ live cultures” on the label to make sure your probiotics are active.
A word from drtunmin.com
Many patients asked me if kombucha was worth trying.
Kombucha conveys a lot of potential health advantages. But the studies on the effects of kombucha in humans are limited. So, you cannot anticipate that kombucha will provide you 100 percent of all the benefits as claimed.
Nontheless, kombucha is certainly worthwhile to try if you’re moving toward a healthier diet and lifestyle and with persistence, you might notice fantastic results.