Kombucha the Health Drink
Kombucha has been around for a least a couple thousand years in Asia and other countries. The Chinese called it an “immortal health elixir”. Because it’s fermented, you get billions of powerful probiotics in your system when you drink it. Kombucha comes from black and/or green tea, water, and sugar. During fermentation, the bacteria and yeast in the SCOBY, “symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast”, actually ‘eat’ up most (not all) of the sugar and part of the caffeine, creating vinegar and other acidic compounds, with trace amounts of alcohol, and gases that make it carbonated.
The colony of friendly bacteria that ferments the tea—looking like a giant mushroom, known as the SCOBY and often referred to as the mother. While the tea ferments, the SCOBY helps create b-vitamins, enzymes, acetic acid, (found in apple cider vinegar), gluconic and lactic acid, and a ton of great probiotics!
Kombucha is a powerhouse that contains acetic acid (similar to apple cider vinegar), many amino acids, enzymes, polyphenols (antioxidants), antibiotic type substances, and a whole array of phytochemicals that are beneficial to your health. Kombucha has been scientifically studied for its ability to:
Detox the liver
Boost immune system
Help prevent or fight cancer
Aid in weight loss
Improve mood—decrease anxiety and depression
In research published in the Journal of Medicinal Food 2014, researchers from the University of Latvia did say the following about the genuine health benefits of kombucha:
“It is shown that [kombucha] can efficiently act in health preservation and recovery due to four main properties: detoxification, anti-oxidation, energizing potencies, and promotion of boosting immunity.”
Detoxification–Kombucha is known for its detoxifying capabilities, especially in the liver. One study , http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23716136, reported that kombucha could actually decrease levels of toxins known to cause liver damage. Another study, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19420997, of kombucha on animals showed similarly decreased levels of certain toxins that are known to cause liver damage. And one other study , http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11723720, evaluated toxicity, anti-stress capability, and liver-protective properties on rats with very favorable results.
Kombucha can overcome ‘Bad’ bacteria and yeasts—Since kombucha contains acetic acid, similar to vinegar, it appears to have strong anti-fungal and antibacterial properties, http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1745-4514.2011.00629.x/abstract
particularly against infection-causing bacteria, and harmful yeasts, like Candida. Some people may avoid kombucha because it contains yeast, but the important thing to know is that kombucha contains beneficial yeasts and bacteria, which help to crowd out and cut off the harmful pathogens, like candida, in the body.
Increase Energy–Kombucha has the ability to invigorate and energize people. This is one of the reasons I have always loved drinking kombucha. It’s very energizing! It is thought that this energizing effect is from the formation of iron and B vitamins that are created from the black tea during fermentation. The iron from the tea helps to boost hemoglobin in the blood, which improves oxygen in the body’s tissues, which in turn, is very energizing.
Digestion–Kombucha’s high levels of acid, probiotics and live enzymes aid in digestion and are especially helpful if you have any type of digestive disorder like leaky gut, irritable bowel disease, celiac disease, food allergies, and imbalances due to things like a poor diet or previous antibiotics. Kombucha is also naturally high in live enzymes that help the digestive process. Kombucha helps to repopulate the digestive system with beneficial bacteria and yeasts protecting it from the more harmful types that may exist in the gut.
Immune Boosting—Because kombucha is naturally high in antioxidants and probiotics, it helps to support and strengthen the immune system. Scientific studies, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4006993/, show probiotics’ power in fortifying the immune function, and since a large portion of immune function is a result of gut health, it only makes sense to be sure to keep the digestive tract supplemented with a wide variety of beneficial bacteria. Kombucha also contains massive antioxidants like D-saccharic acid lactone (DSL) which results from the fermentation of the tea. DSL is known for its ability to detoxify cells.
Cancer Prevention— A study published in Cancer Letters found that consuming glucaric acid found in kombucha reduced the risk of cancer in humans, as well as the antioxidant, DSL. In test-tube studies, kombucha helped prevent the growth and spread of cancerous cells, due to its high concentration of tea polyphenols and antioxidants. Scientists theorize that the DSL and the vitamin C often found in kombucha are its primary oxidation weapons, protecting against inflammation, tumors, and overall depression of the immune system. As you may know, immune function is one of the body’s main protection systems against most cancers.
Weight Loss—Evidence shows that kombucha can improve and speed up metabolism (partially due to the small amount of caffeine it contains). Since kombucha is high in acetic acid (similar to apple cider vinegar), probiotics, and polyphenols, it can help with weight loss through various mechanisms, including through improved digestion and nutrient absorption. Some research also shows that acetic acid can help with weight loss by lowering blood sugar, decreasing insulin levels (which favors fat burning—instead of fat storing), and helps to suppress appetite.
A Japanese human study on acetic acid and weight loss over 12 weeks, it was found that the subjects averaged 3.7 lbs weight loss, 0.9% decreased body fat, 0.75 inch waist circumference reduction, and a whopping 26% decrease in dangerous triglycerides! Biosci Biotechnol Biochem. 2009 Aug;73(8):1837-43. Epub 2009 Aug 7
can vary widely, so be sure to check label for lowest sugar content. most brands of kombucha only range from 2 grams of sugar to 7 grams of sugar per 8 oz. … compared to 30-40 grams in most soft drinks. ,... Home brewed versions have less sugar the longer time they ferment, and more acetic acid, making them ideal for weight loss and other health benefits.
Mood boosting—Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that controls and stabilizes your mood and functions in your brain….our gut produces about 95% of your serotonin, keeping your gut healthy and ‘well fed’ with beneficial bacteria and yeasts should help boost your moods
Healthy bacteria, in the form of fermented foods …. help to restore the delicate balance of the gut microbiome...a direct link between gut health and mental health—primarily anxiety and depression.
antioxidants in the tea, the polyphenols (green tea is known to be high in these as well), and the beneficial bacteria..
In an article published from the Journal of Food Microbiology, it was found that the following probiotics are generally found in kombucha—although the actual amounts and types of organisms in the culture can vary widely, based on geography, preparation, temperature, climate, local bacteria in the environment, and yeasts present.
Gluconacetobacter- An anaerobic bacteria unique to kombucha. It feeds on nitrogen that from the tea and produces acetic acid and gluconic acid, as well as building the SCOBY.
Acetobacter-Bacteria that produce acetic acid and gluconic acid, along with the actual SCOBY mushroom. Acetobacter xylinoides and acetobacter ketogenum are two of the usual strains you find in kombucha.
Lactobacillus-A type of bacteria sometimes in kombucha that produces lactic acid.
Saccharomyces–includes a number of yeast strains that produce alcohol and are the most common types of yeast found in kombucha.
Zygosaccharomyces-A yeast strain unique to kombucha. It produces alcohol and carbonation as well as contributing to the mushroom body.
The different types of bacteria and yeast in kombucha are what make it behave and appear the way it does, including the fizz and its somewhat unique flavor.
Warning: if you are pregnant or have a compromised immune system, it is probably best to avoid kombucha, since some of the yeasts and bacteria may be more harmful to a weakened immune system than good.
Making it at home, as long as you adhere to very clean standards and avoid contaminating it, creates the freshest kombucha with the most active enzymes and ingredients. Commercially prepared kombuchas lose many of their antioxidants when stored for long periods of time, and some varieties have far less beneficial bacteria in them.