Kombucha has become a leading light in the health and fitness industry due to the wealth of health benefits it brings which has been praised by dieticians. There have been many claims made about the health benefits of Kombucha, however we are here today to dispel the myths and confirm the truths!
Once upon a time, fermentation was a preservation method for food which proved to offer some surprising health benefits by happy accident. During the fermentation process, sugars and starch are converted to a healthy acid which produces natural probiotics. These are very good for your gut health! Well known sources of probiotics include yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut and Kombucha. There has been a huge interest in fermented food in recent years, not only due to the benefits for your gut, but for your brain health too
What is Kombucha?
Kombucha is a quirky fermented drink, often described as ‘sour apple cider’. It’s composed of black or green tea, cold water, sugar and a SCOBY (Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria and Yeast) which is a type of ‘tea fungus’. This is left to ferment for one to two weeks, during this process the liquid becomes carbonated giving it its fizzy quality.
What’s the story of Kombucha?
Kombucha has been around for an incredibly long time, over 2000 years in fact! It was first documented in China where it was used for its detoxifying and energizing attributes, it was subsequently named ‘The Tea of Immortality’. From then, the tea made its way across Japan, Russia, Poland, Denmark and Germany until World War II when the drink died out for a while. A short time later, a German doctor re-discovered Kombucha and prescribed the tea to some of his patients for its health benefits.
What are the health benefits of Kombucha?
It helps the body with antioxidants
The base of Kombucha is green tea which contains many bioactive compounds such as Polyphenols which are powerful antioxidants. The fermentation process in Kombucha encourages the growth of antioxidants which is why the drink is perceived as such a healthy beverage. Antioxidants help to protect the body from reactive molecules called ‘free radicals’ which are harmful to our cells.
It aids detoxification
Kombucha contains glucaric acid, which helps the liver to naturally detoxify and rid your body of bad chemicals, stopping them from entering our bloodstream.
It might improve our mental state
Within Kombucha, you’ll find vitamin B, and specifically vitamin B12 which has been known to elevate your mood. How? Vitamin B12 aids the natural functioning of dopamine, the neurotransmitter responsible for happiness and pleasure.
Note how we have said ‘might’ as there isn’t currently any scientific validation for these effects of Kombucha. This is based purely on the presence of the ingredients (Vitamin B) within the beverage.
It may improve digestion
The high amount of probiotics within Kombucha is known to improve gut health and infuse it with good bacteria, which aids the role of the digestive system. Currently, there are no specific studies around Kombucha and its role in digestion; however the ingredients and probiotics it contains have been confirmed to support digestion.
Do you want to make your own kombucha?
Kombucha can be purchased in the shops however can be quite expensive, this is why many people chose to make it at home, however this must be carried out with caution – as this is a fermentation process, it requires a hygienic approach when assembling and preparing the ingredients. One common mistake is over-fermenting. The usual fermentation time is 7-10 days however if left for too long it can cause the substance to be more acidic, and if consumed can cause serious health problems. Another thing to keep in mind is that homemade Kombucha can also contain up to 3% alcohol.
Kombucha, with its acquired taste, is not for everyone, however the sought after beverage contains fantastic nutritional benefits.