As more healthy foods are emerging, so is the delicious, bubbly, and gut-friendly Kombucha. It has long been a player in the wellness world and this trendy drink has taken the world by storm. Many tout it as a magically healthy elixir but do kombucha benefits really live up to the hype?
In this article, we will be diving into the potential health benefits of this bubbly fermented drink (yes, there are many.) So, read on to discover these top 10 compelling reasons you should be including this beverage in your diet.
What Is Kombucha?
If kombucha has yet to make it into your vernacular, here’s a quick 101: kombucha is a lightly effervescent beverage that is made through the fermentation process. It is produced by fermenting tea, typically black or green, using a colony of bacteria and yeast called a “scoby.”
If you haven’t got a clue what SCOBY is, it’s an acronym that stands for symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeasts — which looks like a flat beige mushroom left in the back of a cupboard for a week or two.
It sounds a little weird, right? Don’t let it turn you off! It tastes better than you think, particularly when brewed with flavor combinations like lemongrass and ginger or pomegranate and passion fruit. Plus sugar makes it more palatable.
The hype surrounding the beverage can be attributed to its oddly addicting taste that may just cure soda cravings. It is a drink that people can chug down one after another, free of guilt. It also contains a slight amount of alcohol, as stated on most commercial products’ labels.
These beneficial compounds join forces to create a super drink! Here’s the breakdown on kombucha benefits and how this fizzy drink can change your health…
1. Kombucha Contains Antioxidants
Antioxidants are substances that fight free radicals (reactive molecules that can damage your cells.) Many scientists believe that antioxidants from foods and beverages are better for your health than antioxidant supplements.
Kombucha, especially when made with green tea, appears to have antioxidant effects in your liver. The glucuronic acid in kombucha binds to toxins, which allows the kidneys and liver to push them out faster. Toxins can be anything from harmful carcinogens to pollution we’re exposed to on a daily basis.
Removing these toxins from the body is an effective way to improve overall health. In fact, studies have shown drinking kombucha regularly reduces liver toxicity caused by dangerous chemicals by 70% in some cases. These kombucha benefits are a huge boost for detoxification, damage repair, and digestion!
2. Kombucha Is A Potential Source Of Probiotics
Kombucha is made by adding specific strains of bacteria, yeast, and sugar to black or green tea, then allowing it to ferment for a week or more.
During this process, bacteria and yeast form a mushroom-like film on the surface of the liquid. This blob is a living symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast (SCOBY) and can be used to ferment new kombucha.
Further, during the fermentation process that takes place to produce kombucha, a large amount of probiotic bacteria is produced. It also produces acetic acid and several other acidic compounds, as well as trace levels of alcohol and gases that make it carbonated.
For this reason, adding beverages like kombucha might have many health benefits.
3. Kombucha Supports A Healthy Gut
As you already know, kombucha benefits include high levels of probiotics, enzymes, and acids. These top ingredients are effective at eliminating heartburn, ulcers, and Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD).
Probiotics are basically your stomach’s best friend as they provide your gut with healthy bacteria. These bacteria can improve many aspects of health including balancing the digestive system and ensuring that good bacteria thrives.
Here’s a fun fact: a healthy human body has 3-5 pounds of beneficial bacteria and microbes (called the microbiome), but the microbiome can be depleted by stress, alcohol use, antibiotics, and other harmful organisms.
So by drinking kombucha, you may be able to help replenish lost gut bacteria. These good gut bacteria or Probiotics can help deter or provide relief from problems like IBS, diarrhea, and constipation.
4. Kombucha Contributes To Weight Loss
As mentioned above, one of the best kombucha benefits is its probiotic content, or in other words, its “good bacteria.”
Nearly every single cell in our body relies on bacteria. Some of the same beneficial bacteria that give yogurt its health claims can also be found in kombucha. These good gut bugs also aid in proper digestion, as do the enzymes present in kombucha.
Thus, a properly functioning digestive tract and healthy gut flora not only positively impact overall health, but also weight loss. By helping to rebalance proper gut bacteria, this in turn aids in digestion, nutrient absorption, and overall metabolism.
When our body can function optimally, it is more efficient at burning fat and weight loss efforts. Plus, Kombucha has been shown in some scientific models to lower bad cholesterol (LDL) and triglycerides while increasing good cholesterol (HDL).
Apart from that, kombucha may aid in weight loss when it is made with green tea. A 2008 study found that obese people who took green tea extract burned more calories and lost more weight than those who did not.
5. Kombucha Can Kill Bacteria
One of the main substances produced during the fermentation of kombucha is acetic acid, which is also abundant in vinegar.
Studies have shown that the polyphenols in tea, acetic acid, are able to kill many potentially harmful microorganisms. Kombucha made from black or green tea appears to have strong antibacterial properties, particularly against infection-causing bacteria.
These antimicrobial effects suppress the growth of undesirable bacteria and yeasts, but they do not affect the beneficial, probiotic bacteria and yeasts involved in kombucha fermentation.
All in all, all the mentioned studies have shown that kombucha contains both antibiotic and antimicrobial components. It has the ability to kill bad bacteria (such as E. coli, salmonella, and shigella). Protection against these bacteria may help stave off food poisoning.
6. Kombucha Contains Vitamins and Minerals
One of the Kombucha benefits lauded by long-time drinkers are the vitamins and minerals it contains.
Kombucha has B vitamins (B1, B2, B6, and B12, to be specific), which are essential for maintaining and producing new, healthy cells. In fact, Kombucha naturally contains approximately 100 times the amount of vitamin B12 found in lamb.
Drinking this ‘vitamin B cocktail’ found in kombucha helps your skin glow and strengthens your hair and nails.
Apart from that, kombucha contains a number of essential minerals in small amounts, namely zinc, copper, iron, manganese, nickel, and cobalt. Zinc and copper are important for immunity and enzymatic reactions, whereas iron is needed for hemoglobin to carry oxygen within the bloodstream.
It’s important to note that every batch of kombucha is different, so nutrient content will vary according to the quality of water, the type of sugar and the composition of the fungus.
7. Kombucha May Provide The Benefits Of Energy Drinks
Most commercially processed energy drinks contain large amounts of chemicals and sugars which give the body a temporary boost of energy and cause immediate lows as well.
During the fermentation process of Kombucha, black tea releases iron, small amounts of caffeine, and B-vitamins, all of which are known for providing energy to the human body. Hence, it can be a healthier and natural alternative to most energy drinks we know.
In fact, many people drink kombucha for this very reason. Kombucha has become a staple of many people’s diets due to its ability to supply much-needed energy and vitality. Plus, it comes with the added benefits of nutrients and good bacteria to keep the gut health in check.
8. Kombucha May Help Protect Against Cancer
Cancer is one of the world’s leading causes of death, causing cell mutation and uncontrolled cell growth.
Studies have shown that Kombucha can prevent the growth and spread of cancer cells thanks to its high antioxidants and polyphenols. The polyphenols block the gene mutation and growth of cancer cells and kill them on contact.
For this reason, it is not surprising that tea drinkers are much less likely to develop various types of cancer.
9. Kombucha Balances Blood Sugar
In addition to kombucha’s effect on gut health, acids such as acetic acid can help with blood sugar regulation as well. But wait, 90% of the sugar included in the process is used up during the fermentation process, right?
Yes! But it is the sugar that the yeast and bacteria eat, similar to what happens in making bread, wine, beer, etc. Therefore, in its raw organic form, it is far from a sugar-laden drink you may otherwise be drinking, and could serve as a great alternative to your soda or fruit juice!
The component that gives kombucha its vinegar-like pungent taste (acetic acid), is also a property that has been shown to positively impact insulin sensitivity and help reduce fasting blood sugars. This acid may interfere with the breakdown of sugar and starches, and therefore not have the same impact on blood glucose.
On that note, kombucha may help manage type-2 diabetes. Research suggests that the antioxidants in kombucha may help reduce the impact of oxidative stress caused by diabetes. This appears to be especially true in terms of liver and kidney function, which are generally weak in those with diabetes.
10. Kombucha Strengthens The Immune System
One of the best things that cultured foods do is to boost your immune system. Your gut is responsible for 80 percent of your immune system. The more good bacteria you have, the better your immune system is.
As you already know that kombucha is a fermented tea that could have the bacteria we are looking for to help rebuild or restore our gut health, therefore, it may help stimulate the immune system. Probiotics, specifically from those in fermented foods and gleaned from the fermentation process, can strengthen our natural defenses against harmful microbes and some forms of illnesses.
Lastly, kombucha also contains DSL and vitamin C, which may fend off inflammatory diseases, tumors, cell damage, and other concerns. In fact, it has three times more vitamin C than an orange (151 milligrams per 100 milliliters of kombucha compared with an orange’s 51.1 milligrams). Having lots of vitamin C in your diet is a great way to keep your immune system healthy.
This beverage, which has been consumed for centuries, helps boost the immune system, detoxify the body, and enhance overall energy.
You can purchase it in stores or make it yourself at home (or office). However, be sure to prepare it properly. If made properly or bought in-store, kombucha is a probiotic-rich drink enjoyed as part of a healthful diet.
This drink’s benefits make it sound worth a shot, but that doesn’t mean it hasn’t been without its share of concerns. Check out our previous article where we dispel myths surrounding kombucha and reveal the truth about this concoction that is hitting the market by storm: Is Kombucha Really Good For You?
At the end of the day, drinking kombucha may help you on your journey to a healthier lifestyle and can be a healthier alternative to soda and other sugary drinks. Give it a try for yourself!
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