Let's talk Kombucha.
Kombucha tea is a fermented drink made with tea, sugar, bacteria and yeast. Although it's sometimes referred to as kombucha mushroom tea, kombucha is not a mushroom — it's a colony of bacteria and yeast called a SCOBY (Symbiotic Colony Of Bacteria and Yeast). Kombucha tea is made by adding the colony to sugar and tea, and allowing the mix to ferment. The resulting liquid contains vinegar, B vitamins and a number of other chemical compounds.
Wild claims that kombucha tea helps prevent and manage serious health conditions, from blood pressure to cancer, are not backed by science. Limited evidence suggests kombucha tea does offer probiotic benefits, including promoting a healthy immune system and preventing constipation. There have also been reports of adverse effects, such as stomach upset, infections and allergic reactions in kombucha tea drinkers. These are mainly due to home brewers not following proper brewing conditions.
People have been drinking kombucha for centuries, possibly as early as 200 BC, and you either love it or leave it. Kombucha has a unique flavor, sweet and slightly vinegary. It is easy to make and, if brewed properly, safe for most people to drink.
Benefits of Kombucha
The fermentation process of kombucha means that the drink is rich in probiotics. Probiotic bacteria are similar to healthful bacteria that are found in the gut. Consuming probiotics may improve overall gut health. Probiotic bacteria have been found to help treat diarrhea, and some research suggests they may help ease irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). More research is still needed into how kombucha improves gut health, but the link between probiotics and gut health suggests it may support the digestive system. The link between healthy bacteria in the digestive system and immune function is becoming clearer as more studies focus on gut health. If the probiotics in kombucha improve gut health, they may also strengthen the immune system.
A type of acid called acetic acid, also found in vinegar, is produced when kombucha is fermented. Kombucha kills microbes and help fight a range of bacteria. This suggests that it may help prevent infections by killing the bacteria that cause them before they are absorbed by the body.
When kombucha is made with green tea, it may aid weight loss. Obese people who take green tea extract burn more calories and lost more weight than those who do not. If kombucha is made with green tea, it follows that it could have a similarly positive effect on weight loss. Kombucha also improves gut health which can help with weight loss
Kombucha contains antioxidants that help fight molecules in the body that can damage cells. Some studies have found that the antioxidant-rich kombucha reduces toxins in the liver. This suggests that kombucha may play an important role in promoting liver health and reducing liver inflammation. However, studies to date have looked at rats and more research is needed to say with certainty how kombucha can support liver health in humans.
Type 2 diabetes management
Kombucha may also be helpful in managing type 2 diabetes. Studies have found that kombucha helped to manage blood sugar levels in rats with diabetes. This finding suggests it may be helpful in type 2 diabetes management. Again, more research is needed to say with certainty whether kombucha can have the same benefits in type 2 diabetes management for humans.
It is important to be careful when making kombucha at home, as it can ferment for too long. It is also possible for kombucha to become contaminated when not made in a sterile environment. Over-fermentation or contamination may cause health problems, so it may be safer to buy kombucha in a store than to make it at home. Store-bought kombucha normally has a lower alcohol content than homemade versions, but it is important to check the sugar content.