Kombucha tea is a drink that has become incredibly popular in health food circles. It is a delicious fizzy drink with a slightly sour taste. It is a fermented drink made from sweet tea and a bacterial culture called ‘scoby’, which stands for ‘Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria and Yeasts’.
How Is Kombucha Made?
You can make kombucha out of green tea or black tea. Usually, the sweetened tea is fermented for a week, then has some more sugar added to it before being left to ferment again for a couple of days.1 The bacteria and yeast turn the sugar in the tea into acetic acid and alcohol. It is the acetic acid in the drink which produces the sour flavor. The longer the drink is left to ferment, the fizzier then end product will be. Some people like to add fruit or spices to the tea to give it more flavor.
It is best to purchase pre-made kombucha, rather than making it yourself at home. The fermentation process is something that must be performed carefully to ensure that the product is safe for consumption. If you prepare kombucha incorrectly then other bacteria may grow in the drink, in addition to the ones in the scoby. Those other bacteria could be highly toxic.
The Benefits of Kombucha
Kombucha has many health benefits, most notable benefits for the digestive system. During the fermentation process, a large amount of probiotic bacteria is produced.2 Probiotics are important for the health of your gut. The bacterial cells that live in the gastrointestinal tract by a factor of ten.3 Those bacteria play an important role in digestion, and can also protect against inflammatory bowel disease, irritable bowel syndrome, obesity, diabetes, and other conditions.4
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To enjoy the protective effects, we need to have a healthy gut microbiome. There are ‘good bacteria’ and ‘bad bacteria’, and having a diverse population of the good types of bacteria is essential for health. While it is thought that some parts of our gut microbiome are hereditary, there is a significant portion that is influenced by our diet and other elements of our lifestyle.5 The fermentation process that is used to make kombucha produces probiotics which can help to support a diverse and healthy gut microbiome.
The Benefits of Green Tea
Kombucha can be made with green tea or black tea. If kombucha is made using green tea then it can confer most of the benefits of green tea, since it contains the same polyphenols and antioxidants that are found in the unfermented tea.6 Studies show that green tea can help to improve your cholesterol levels, regulate your blood sugar, and even reduce your risk of certain kinds of cancer, including colon cancer.7,8
Kombucha and Diabetes
Type 2 diabetes is becoming increasingly common in the western world. Historically, this condition was known as a disease of old age, and it was called “adult-onset diabetes”, however people are developing it at younger and younger ages. Type 2 diabetes is characterized by insulin resistance and elevated blood sugar levels. People are at a greater risk of it if they are overweight or obese. Studies show that drinking kombucha can have a protective effect against Type 2 diabetes because it slows the rate at which carbohydrates are digested, therefore reducing blood sugar levels.9
Kombucha and Cancer
Kombucha is thought to have a protective effect against cancer by preventing the growth or spread of cancerous cells.10 Both black tea and green-tea based kombucha drinks are thought to have these benefits.
Kombucha is a Good Addition to a Balanced Diet
As with any health food, there has been a rather heavy marketing spin put on kombucha, and some companies are making promises that are not backed by science. Kombucha has a lot of health benefits, but those who promise that it can help with weight loss or with chronic inflammation are taking small studies and attempting to make big reaches with them. There is not yet a large body of evidence to support those claims.
Kombucha can do a lot of good when it is taken as a part of a balanced diet. It should be consumed only by those who are generally healthy, though. If you have a weakened immune system or you are pregnant or breastfeeding then you should not consume kombucha. Even those who are generally healthy should drink it only in moderation because there is the risk of some side effects with excessive consumption.11 If you have any concerns about kombucha or other fermented food or drink products, be sure to talk to your doctor before adding them to your diet.
Kombucha that is made properly and stored in accordance with the manufacturer’s directions should be safe for most people to consume. If you do not store kombucha correctly, then there is the risk that it could spoil and make you ill, or at best that the probiotics in the beverage could die, leaving you with a product that is not as beneficial to your health as it could be.
How Much Kombucha Should You Drink?
The Centers for Disease Control recommends that people consume no more than 12 ounces of kombucha per day. That is one to three servings of four ounces of the beverage.12 It is important to remember these recommendations, given that the average bottle of kombucha sold in supermarkets and health food stores is 16 ounces. This makes it very easy to go above the daily recommendations.
While many people can tolerate greater servings, the possibility of toxicity should not be ignored, especially in those who are young or who may have a weakened immune system. The benefits of moderate consumption of kombucha are clearly documented, but it is possible to have too much of a good thing.
Probiotics have been around for a long time but they have only recently become mainstream, and as such, there is not a lot of research into the safety of using a wide variety of probiotics (such as probiotic milk, kombucha, and kefir). As such, the CDC’s recommendations are the best and safest guidelines available.
Kombucha can have great and lasting digestive benefits for anybody. It can positively affect diabetes, cancer, and help promote probiotic bacteria in the stomach that stop a whole host of issues before they can begin. It is worth a look as a great-tasting and great-feeling addition to an everyday diet. Another good way to feel great every day is by using MONQ’s Healthy personal aromatherapy diffuser.
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