Benefits Of Kombucha
Kombucha has become a bit of a buzzword in the world of athletes and health experts. Since a lot of those people read this blog, we thought we’d do some digging and find out a bit more about the drink. This article contains a potted history, some instructions to make Kombucha tea, and some of the potential benefits of drinking it.
What Is Kombucha?
In the last couple of years, Kombucha has become popular amongst health experts, personal trainers, and hipsters as the new ‘it’ drink. But there’s nothing new about it – it’s been around for over 2,000 years. It’s a fermented drink made from bacteria and yeast mixed with either black or green tea and sugar. Sounds delicious right? It’s a little different to your standard mug of sugary tea though because it’s made of live bacteria. And, you might be surprised to find out that it’s slightly alcoholic. If that description, and the odd vinegary smell when you drink it, has put you off, don’t worry because there’s a whole host of health benefits that might bring you back.
How Do You Make Kombucha?
It’s relatively simple to make a batch of Kombucha if you don’t want to buy it in the shops. To start making Kombucha, you’ll need a few key ingredients:
- Cold filtered water
- Black/green tea
- SCOBY (Symbiotic Culture Of Bacteria and Yeast) – purchased online, or from an existing batch of kombucha
Here’s a quick guide to making Kombucha. There are plenty of more detailed guides on the internet, but this is the basic method.
- Filter the water and boil it.
- When the water is boiled, add sugar and stir till it’s dissolved.
- Add the tea and let it steep (soak).
- Leave it to cool down to room temperature.
- Add the SCOBY to the solution.
- Cover the container with a weave towel or coffee filter and secure it with a rubber band.
- Leave out of direct sunlight for 7-30 days (to taste).
- Leave for a week to ferment.
- Pour out of the container and leave the SCOBY and enough water to start the next batch.
- Add flavorings or bottle, depending on your preference.
Are There Side Effects Of Drinking Kombucha?
In most cases, drinking Kombucha has no side effects. However, if the fermentation process is done incorrectly or the environment it’s kept in is wrong, it can become contaminated with fungus or bacteria. It’s also not recommended for people with weakened immune systems. In the wrong circumstances drinking Kombucha can cause the following side effects: stomach problems, yeast infections, allergic reactions, yellow skin (jaundice), nausea, vomiting, head, and neck pain, and death. It’s recommended that you seek advice from your doctor before drinking it and introducing it slowly as part of a balanced diet.
Because Kombucha is a relatively new craze, there haven’t been many conclusive studies about the benefits. Some of the following benefits are based on anecdotal evidence and haven’t been proven by double-blind studies.
1. It Might Be A Source Of Probiotics
Ever since those ‘good bacteria’ adverts of the last decade, most people are aware of the health benefits of probiotics. They provide your stomach with the healthy bacteria it needs to function and are known to improve digestion, inflammation, and weight loss. There is no solid evidence to suggest that Kombucha is a source of probiotics. However, the drink contains several sources of lactic acid bacteria, which are known for their probiotic function. So, if you need probiotics, it’s not a sure-fire way to get them into your system, but it could help.
2. High In Antioxidants
It’s well documented that green and black tea contain antioxidants, but it’s thought that after the fermenting process, Kombucha is teaming with them. Again, like most of these benefits, there aren’t many human studies backing them up. But there have been promising studies on rats that show antioxidant effects on the liver.
3. Contains Vitamins And Minerals
Kombucha is not known for its vitamins and minerals, but it does contain some. During the process of making Kombucha, the yeast breaks down the sugar. This produces vitamin C and vitamins B1, B6 and B12. It’s not the best source of these vitamins, but it can certainly help as part of a balanced diet.
4. Helps Digestion
Kombucha is a good digestive aid because it contains enzymes, probiotics, and amino acids. There isn’t a lot of research on this area but there is plenty of anecdotal evidence. There is even some suggestion that it can prevent and heal stomach ulcers because of its ability to protect the lining of the stomach.
5. Might Help Weight Loss
Kombucha isn’t a magical weight loss tool (they don’t exist). However, because it’s only around 30 calories a cup, it can be used to replace carbonated drinks and fruit juices. A lot of regular drinkers claim that it stops you from feeling hungry, so it can encourage a low-calorie diet.
6. Might Reduce The Risk Of Heart Disease
Heart disease is the world’s biggest killer, so it’s important to stay on top of it. There have been successful studies on rats that show the improvement of cholesterol level in as little as 30 days. Also, it contains green tea, which is known to significantly lower the risk of heart disease.
7. Might Help Against Cancer And Diabetes
Kombucha, especially when it’s made with green tea, is thought to lower the risk of diseases like cancer and diabetes. Green tea is one of the healthiest beverages there is and it’s pretty well documented that it can reduce the risk of serious disease, however, the reasons why are not that well understood. There’s a good chance that Kombucha has similar effects. But, if we’re being honest, you might be better sticking to green tea.
8. Can Kill Bacteria
One of the main things that are produced during the fermentation process of Kombucha is acetic acid, which can kill many potentially harmful microorganisms. That means that Kombucha can have anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial effects that stop the growth of unwanted bacteria and yeast.