If you haven’t jumped on the kombucha train, you may be wondering what kombucha is and what all the buzz is about. You may have seen it on the shelves of your local health food store and wondered what it was, and what was floating around inside it. This fizzy drink has a distinct taste that some people love, and others, well not so much. But what exactly is kombucha? Let’s begin at the beginning.
What Is Kombucha and Where Did It Come From?
Your first sip of kombucha might take you by surprise. It’s fizzy, but not exactly carbonated, kind of tart but also sweet. This fermented tea has been consumed in Asia and Russia for thousands of years. Not only does it have many of the health benefits of tea, but it is also packed with probiotics. In addition, it contains antioxidants that can kill harmful bacteria, which is why it can be so good for your gut.
With supermarkets, convenience stores, and even gas stations carrying kombucha, I feel safe in saying that this fermented drink has gone mainstream. It has also gained a reputation as having health benefits for all manner of ailments, from gut issues to dull, lifeless skin. But is this drink a magic potion that should be part of a healthy diet or just a fad? Let’s dig deeper.
Kombucha is a combination of green or black tea and sugar that is fermented with the aid of a SCOBY (symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast). That is the blob you often see floating on top of, or sometimes at the bottom of, a bottle of kombucha. And like many fermented foods, it is full of healthful probiotics.
Health Benefits of Kombucha
It would be almost impossible for kombucha to do everything people say it does, such as managing serious health conditions like blood pressure or cancer. These claims are not backed by science. If they were true, you’d probably be paying a lot more than $3-$4 dollars a bottle.
However, wild claims aside, there are some proven benefits to drinking kombucha on the regular.
Probiotics Are Good for Gut Health
Like other popular fermented foods, such as sauerkraut and kimchi, kombucha contains probiotics that are good for your gut health. The right balance of microbes in your gut microbiome helps with digestion, immunity, and balanced blood sugar.
The probiotics in kombucha come from the yeast and added sugar in the SCOBY. Although the probiotics found in kimchi are different than those in kombucha, they most likely have similar benefits.
Antioxidants That Help Fight Disease
Kombucha is made with black or green tea, so it contains a ton of polyphenols. These powerful antioxidants fight free radicals and help repair damaged cells.
Acetic Acid That Helps Fight Bad Bacteria
Remember the slightly sour taste I mentioned previously. This comes from acetic acid, an antimicrobial agent found in fruits and vinegars. This acid can help combat harmful gut bacteria, thus keeping the gut microbiome balanced.
May Help You Kick the Soda Habit
Some people love soda for the sugar and others like the fizz. Try replacing sweet, carbonated beverages with fizzy, flavorful kombucha when the soda craving hits. Probiotic-packed, lower sugar kombucha is a much healthier option.
May Benefit Your Waistline
Kombucha made with green tea may share some of the same weight-loss qualities. In addition, we know that probiotics can also help with weight loss. While more research is needed to confirm this theory, what we do know is that kombucha is a great, lower-calories replacement for sugary sodas and fruit juices.
May Help Your Skin Glow
We already know that kombucha’s probiotics can help balance your gut. Those benefits can benefit your complexion as well. As probiotics feed and nourish the gut microbiome, they can help soothe inflammatory skin conditions such as eczema and acne. This is another area where more research is needed to determine the exact nature of the benefits.
And if you’re new to fermented foods such as kombucha, keep in mind they’re an acquired taste. But don’t let kombucha’s sour taste put you off. Stick with it, and in a short time, you’ll not only be drinking it regularly, but you’ll also want to drink it regularly. Or perhaps I should say that your gut will want you to.