Kombucha: What is it & is it Good For Me?

Kim T Blog

[KOM-BOO-CHA]: The latest beverage craze among health nuts. This ancient, bacteria-rich drink can be found in just about any supermarket today, but what gives? If it's ancient - why is everyone talking about it now? Is it really healthy for me or is it just the latest fad?

What is it?

Kombucha dates back to ancient China, where it was regularly consumed to ward off inflammation and related ailments. It is a fermented beverage made from black tea and a little bit of sugar (from either fruit, sugar cane, or honey).

This mixture is then fermented by "SCOBY" - symbiotic colony of bacteria & yeast. Due to the fermentation process, the drink becomes carbonated and contains a healthy dose of probiotics from the bacteria, as well as B vitamins and vinegar.

Bacteria?

Yes. While you might be used to cream & sugar in your tea, bacteria will do you much more good. These are not harmful pathogen type bacteria. They are the beneficial kind that we need in our bodies to compete with “bad” pathogen bacteria in the gut and digestive tract. The more healthy bacteria we have in our gut, the better our digestion and the better our ability to fight pathogens.

Why should we care?

Because of the live bacteria contained in the drink, kombucha contains a punch of probiotics, significantly more beneficial than what you will get from yogurt. Probiotics like those in kombucha have incredible health benefits, from your heart and brain, and especially to your gut! If you experience any kind of digestive issues, kombucha will produce very noticeable results!

Some specific benefits include:

-reduces inflammation
-supports immune system
-supports healthy digestion and gut microflora
-helps maintain a healthy liver
-helps cardiovascular health
-can prevent stomach ulcers

What does it taste like?

Here's the thing: for most people, it is an acquired taste, like beer. Many people claim it tastes alcoholic. It is fizzy, and pretty acidic, with a slight sweet taste. Some have added flavors like ginger, fruit juice/rind, or other flavor enhancers. You just have to try it.

So...it's healthy?

YES, but...
you want to make sure you are getting a kombucha without tons of sugar added. Because of the bitter and acidic nature of the drink, many producers will add a lot of sugar in order to make it more palatable. Although a small amount of sugar is required to activate the fermentation process, no more is necessary. Read your label, the sugar should be around 2g per serving, and that 2g is just the small amount that has been used for the fermentation. Some brands will have upwards of 12g of sugar per serving. Not as much as soda, but that's still a lot of added sugar! All that added sugar can actually counteract the benefits of the probiotics. As with anything new in your diet, start by drinking small amounts, and slowly work your way up.