Kombucha! This refreshingly fizzy yummy bevy appears to have pretty much taken over the world lately. It's at Safeway, in Costco and even on tap at your favorite restaurant!
But what's the deal with Kombucha?! Is it a gut healer, inflamer, or worth the $4 a bottle?
What is Kombucha?
I’m going to start with a little kombucha 101 – Kombucha is a fermented tea believed to originate in China. It is made by combining; caffeinated tea (usually green or black tea), sugar and a starter (aka: SCOBY or mother) and allowed to ferment for about 7-14 days.
The most important benefit to kombucha is that it is a rich source of probiotics which supports digestive health. A happy plentiful microbiome (aka: an abundance of good bacteria in the colon) has been linked to sooooo much healthful goodness from a strong immune system to balanced hormones, a clear mind and of course an inflammation free belly.
There is also promising research showing kombucha to reduce liver toxicity especially when it is made from green tea, prevent and heal stomach ulcers and alleviate diabetes symptoms.
While this may seem counterintuitive since kombucha is full of live health promoting bacteria, lab studies also show kombucha to have antibacterial effects against harmful microbes like staph, E. coli, Sh. sonnei, two strains of salmonella and Campylobacter jejuni. This shows that by filling your belly with good bugs you suppress the growth of pathogenic bacteria and yeasts that are responsible for infections.
Kombucha is also high in B-vitamins which increases your energy and mental wellbeing.
Can I get a woot woot for kombucha! But before you go out and start chugging your weight in ‘buch’, make sure to keep reading for a few key aspects to be mindful of with this delicious bevy…
As with all commercially available food products there are some really amazing ones, and some not so amazing ones. Kombucha brands all brew just a little bit different and these minor shifts may seem insignificant but can actually transform this liquid gold from gut healing to gut inflaming.
The biggest difference in kombucha brands is the sugar content. While sugar is used in the fermentation process it is almost entirely eaten up by the starter and turned into healthful goodness, as long as the fermentation step is long enough and no sugar (even in the form of juice) is added in afterwards. I highly recommend checking the sugar content before consuming any kombucha and only buying those with 5g of sugar or less per cup.
One of the bi-products in the kombucha fermentation is some alcohol, however commercially available kombuchas are usually around the 0.5% of alcohol (equivalent to non-alcoholic beer). If they are higher than this they are sold as alcohol.
And then there’s caffeine. As with sugar the starter will eat up a good portion of the caffeine but often times there is about 1/3 of the original caffeine remaining. So if you are sensitive to caffeine or find it irritates your tummy, go easy on the ‘buch’!
While I touted numerous amazing health benefits of kombucha above, there are times that it does not always sit well with certain people at this point in their digestive health journey. I have seen people where it increased their gas/bloating, inflamed their eczema or sent them running for the bathroom. So if you find it doesn’t work for you, don’t force it. There are so many other amazing fermented foods and beverages to choose from to support your digestive health.
Should I start drinking it?
If kombucha is new to you and you would like to start giving it a go then I highly recommend you go slow, make sure it sits well in your tummy and of course look for low sugar brands as discussed above.