Kombucha has been getting a lot of attention lately for its alleged health benefits. Some of its popularity may be due to its suggested probiotic content. Probiotics are still on an upward trend with only more and more people realizing the importance of a healthy gut microbiome. But what exactly is kombucha and should any of us actually be drinking it?
Kombucha is a drink created through fermenting bacteria, tea (usually black tea), and sugar. It’s origins of use date as far back as 2000 years ago from the Chinese and can actually be created right at your own home. Through the fermentation process bacteria and yeast are added with sugar to produce vinegar, b-vitamins, and ezymes, and a high concentration of acid acetic, gluconic and lactic.
Dr. Axe goes through a fantastic and quick explanation of what kombucha is and how it could potentially benefit you.
He lists 7 Health Benefits: (Click this link for an in-depth look at each of these benefits from Dr. Axe)
1.) Helps the digestive system with probiotics
2.) Fights cancer with Glucaric Acid
3.) Strengthens immune system with anti-oxidants
4.) Boosts energy with enzymes and B vitamins
5.) Detoxifies the body with gluconic acid and probiotics
6.) Eases joint pain and helps prevent arthritis with glucosamines
7.) Weight loss with acetic acid and polyphenols.
Bhattacharya D1 and colleagues wanted to explore alternative medicines with traditional foods and drinks due to multi-drug-resistant enteric pathogens. They compared kombucha effect against specific pathogens: enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli, Vibrio cholerae, Shigella flexneri and Salmonella Typhimurium and found:
To the best of our knowledge, this is the first report on the presence of isorhamnetin in Kombucha. The overall study suggests that Kombucha can be used as a potent antibacterial agent against entero-pathogenic bacterial infections, which mainly is attributed to its polyphenolic content. – Curr Microbiol. 2016 Dec;73(6):885-896. Epub 2016 Sep 16.
Critics aren’t so sure though. The Mayo Clinic says there isn’t any real evidence for it’s benefits yet, scientifically, and it’s best to steer clear of it until more supporting evidence is gathered. They site upset stomachs, allergic reactions, and infections as possibilities. The Mayo Clinic also gives warning if the kombucha is made at home. For instance, if the wrong material is used, like ceramic pots when brewing, lead poisoning could occur.
Shape.com also states how dangerous brewing at home versions can be and to always double check the alcohol content of the drink due to the fermentation process before buying. Although the do list several benefits and some rat studies, I’d say they are on the fence with this one but do tell you to buy store bought if anything.
If you’re convinced about the health perks and don’t mind the sour, vinegary taste, stick to store-bought bottles and skip home brews, which can easily go awry. – Shape.com
WHAT TO DO?
1.) If buying from a store:
If you decide to try komucha out and obtain it from a store brand, you’re probably good to go. It got some backlash recently due to the questioning of the fermentation process still occurring after bottling. This then increased the alleged alcohol content making some high enough to have Whole Foods pull it off the shelves until it could be properly labeled and requiring 21 y.o. ID to purchase.
Most kombucha, however, is labeled at 0.05% alcohol and range anywhere from $3-5. Synergistic is the one I’ve bought recently and it runs about $3 per bottle. On the label is says 2 serving sizes = 2 (8oz.) servings but I’ve only been drinking 2-4oz at a time so $3 isn’t all that bad really.
2.) If buying from a farmer’s market or making at home:
Ask several questions and do your research. This isn’t like making homemade guac. You put to much of this ingredient or let it sit out to long etc. — with guac you’ll probably be fine or it turns brown…
but with kombocha…
you are dealing with a fermentation process to grow a bacteria culture. Letting it set out or under the wrong conditions can have serious negative side effects.
WHAT DO WE DO?
We started out by buying kombucha from the store and drinking 2-4oz per day after talking with some local brewers of it. They noted the same things as upset stomachs etc. when drinking to much at one time due to its alleged detoxifying properties.
If you start off going the store bought route and everything is fine, you could easily note the differences if you then decided to try an @ home brew from a local resident or friend and problems occurred. The whole idea is to strengthen your immune system and grow a healthy gut microbiome, not further disrupt it.
Right now we are enjoying a local brew by Awaken Kombucha in Vero Beach, Florida. We bought two 10oz flavors, one for me and one for Erin so we could each try it out and see how we do. It’s only been 2 days so no resounding affects to report yet. But, either way, the flavors are pretty solid.
WHAT’S MOST IMPORTANT?
As with all of the articles on SFP, our whole goal is to get you unbiased info, let you know our experience with the topic and let you decide for yourself if it’s worth a shot. Remember n=1.
In other words, what works for you won’t always work for your friend, family member or significant other. What we may use or do and see extreme results with, you may not see or feel any with.
Even for us, we aren’t going to undertake making any kombucha of our own. I would have to do more research and really feel comfortable knowing what I was doing and speaking with people before undertaken something of this magnitude. Until then I’ll keep buying from Awaken Kombucha and trying out their awesome flavors.
Have you tried kombucha or do you plan to? Are you for or against it? Undecided?
What’s your thoughts? Share them with us. We love hearing from you!