Benefits of Kombucha
Updated: Nov 10, 2018
Kombucha (pronounced Kom-Bu-Cha) has gained much deserved popularity in the recent years due to its gut-health benefits. Did you know that this fermented tea contains various, much-needed probiotics and has been around for the past 2000 years?! We briefly touched on kombucha in our Gut-health blog post series, but we wanted to give kombucha the spotlight this week as we are questioned on a daily basis: “What is kombucha and why should I drink it?”
The beginning stages of kombucha starts with the fermentation process. The SCOBY (Symbiotic Colony Of Bacteria and Yeast) contains the bacteria and yeast that give kombucha its gut-healthy benefits. This is formed after bacteria, yeast, and sugar have been added to either black or green tea. This process takes about a week or so. Not only is the SCOBY formed during this process, probiotics (which give kombucha its amazing qualities) are made. When reviewing clinical literature on the benefits of kombucha, there seems to be more benefits coming out of kombucha when its fermented with green tea versus black tea. This is most likely because green tea already has its own positive properties such as improving cholesterol, controlling glucose, and reducing belly fat (1, 2, 3)
So why should you start drinking kombucha on a daily basis? Keep reading and I’ll tell you!
Probiotics, which are produced during the fermentation process of kombucha, have many gut health benefits such as decreasing inflammation, improving digestion, decreasing bloating and gas, and aiding in weight loss. The difference between kombucha probiotics and the capsules that you buy at the store is that, with kombucha, you have various amounts of strains that are differ with each serving. The capsuled probiotics have set strains that your gut is receiving every day, eliminating the “surprise factor” and allowing your gut to keep guessing and not expecting.
As I said above, kombucha made with green tea seems to be an unstoppable duo. The mixture of the gut-healthy bacteria and yeast along with the benefits of green tea makes these two a health food fighting machine. There have been clinical studies, on rats, that have shown that drinking kombucha on a regular basis significantly decreases liver toxicity against toxic chemicals. There have not been any studies conducted with humans as of yet, but, in time, those will likely come to fruition.
Kombucha also has been studied and concluded to have such benefits as lowering bad cholesterol, raising good cholesterol (4), protecting against heart disease, and improving glucose readings in type 2 diabetic patients. In one clinical study performed on diabetic rats, kombucha slowed down the digestion of carbohydrates thereby reducing glucose levels. There was also an improvement in kidney and liver function (5). Kombucha seems to have even better effects on heart disease and type 2 diabetes when it is made with green tea as green tea brings its own properties and health benefits. Like I said, its a “dynamic duo!” (6 7 8)
Kombucha is also being studied in cancer prevention and treatment. Kombucha has not been directly tested in patients with cancer, rather against the cancer cells themselves. In these studies, kombucha was placed with cancer cells in test tubes and it was noted there was not a continuous production of cancer cells (and in one study against prostate cancer it actually reduced the number of cancer cells!) as the polyphenols and antioxidants (which are highly concentrated in kombucha) prevented it (9). If the kombucha is made with green tea, as said many times before, this makes the benefits even stronger. The antioxidants and polyphenols in green tea produced similar results in studies looking at cancer prevention and treatment. Now this doesn’t mean if you or someone you know have cancer you need to run out and drink all the kombucha you can find. This means that there may be some benefit to incorporating an 8-16oz serving a day into your dietary regimen.
Despite all of the great benefits that kombucha provides, there can also be some negative effects to drinking kombucha daily. You know the saying “Too much of a good thing can be a bad thing”? Well kombucha is no different. Sometimes, if you drink too much or not introduce it slowly, your gut will rebel. What does this mean? It means that you could develop abdominal bloating, gas, irregular bowel movements, and pain, and you will not feel very good. If this does happens, I would recommend cutting whatever you drank in half and sticking with that for about a week. If this reaction happens, just know that your gut became overloaded and responded the only way it knows how to against an “enemy”. But if you reduce the portion size and introduce it slowly, you should not have anything but positive effects from it. Next, you want to check and make sure your kidney and liver function tests are within normal range. While kombucha can be very hydrating, it produces acetic acid during the fermentation process. This acid can be a good thing as it can kill bad microorganisms (bacteria, yeast, viruses), but can potentially harm your kidneys and liver IF you already have problems with these in the first place. I would recommend having a discussion with your primary practitioner prior to introducing kombucha. And with that being said, any time you change your diet drastically or add any type of supplementation (this includes kombucha!) you should always discuss it your provider. This keeps you out of harms way and allows your provider to stay in the loop.
I hope you enjoyed this blog post and if you have any questions please email us or contact us through our various social media platforms (Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook). And please, share with us your kombucha journey if this blog post has inspired you to start drinking it on a daily basis! Some brands we suggest are GTS (Whole 30 approved by the way!), Healthade, Humm, and Big Easy. But we are always wanting to try out different ones, so let us know what you find!
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