Kombucha…what is it?…should I use it?
So maybe you have heard of Kombucha (com-boo-cha), tasted it or even have made your own home brew. No matter your familiarity with it, I’m going to provide a little bit of history and potential benefits (and words of caution) to this so called Kombucha.
First things first, what the heck is Kombucha? It’s a fermented drink made with tea, sugar, bacteria and yeast. Kombucha has been consumed for thousands of years. Some believe that it originated in China during the Tsin Dynasty in 212 BC. Through travelers and trades it spread to India and Russia. Japan may have been introduced to it by a Korean physician by the name of Kombu or Kambu around 415 AD. He treated the Emperor Inyko with the tea and it took his name, “Kombu” and “cha”, meaning tea.
Regardless of its origins, it has been around the world in various forms for centuries in many different cultures and known by many different names. Proponents of the beverage drink it for its beneficial probiotics, organic acids, vitamins and antioxidants.
Taking a closer look at this tea, Kombucha is basically a colony of bacteria and yeast. The colony is referred to as a SCOBY (symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast). Kombucha tea is made by adding the colony to sugar and tea, allowing the mix to ferment. This fermentation process takes seven to twelve days depending on the temperature and the strength of the SCOBY. Over 90% of the sugar is used up in this process (the sugar is food for the SCOBY).
As Gunther Frank, author of ““Kombucha - Healthy beverage and Natural Remedy from the Far East” states,
Kombucha is a popular health promoting beverage and natural folk remedy made by fermenting tea. The Kombucha culture looks like a white rubbery pancake. It is a symbiotic culture of yeast and other microorganisms. The culture is placed in sweetened black or green tea and turns the tea into a sea of health giving acids and nutrients. The Kombucha culture feeds on the sugar and, in exchange, produces other valuable substances which change into the drink: glucuronic acid, glucon acid, lactic acid, vitamins, amino acids, antibiotic substances, and other products. The Kombucha culture is, therefore, a real tiny biochemical factory.
It is said that Kombucha is wonderful at supporting the body in various ways. Some of the benefits it’s said to have are:
* Increased energy
* Better digestion
* Improved mood (helps with anxiety)
* Liver detoxification
* Weight loss
It is explained that it has these benefits because it contains probiotics, enzymes and beneficial acids. A healthy gut will have over 100 trillion microorganisms from 500 different identified species. These beneficial bacteria, enzymes, and acids help keep the gut in balance. In addition to finding them in Kombucha, they can also be found in other drinks and food like Water Kefir, Milk Kefir, sauerkraut, and Kimchi.
Are all of the said benefits of Kombucha backed by science? Not so much. WebMD.com is putting some caution to all the claims Kombucha is said to have. WebMD.com states,
Benefits of kombucha tea are primarily based on personal reports and a few animal studies. There are no clinical trials or sound scientific evidence to substantiate the numerous claims. That is not to say there are not any benefits from drinking the tea; it simply means there is no evidence that proves the benefits it claims.
Kombucha’s popularity is in part due to the probiotic content of good-for-you bacteria that studies show can benefit digestion and boost immunity. In order to maintain the probiotic benefits, the tea must not be pasteurized, which also increases the risk of contamination.
Drinking 4 ounces daily of commercially available pasteurized kombucha tea is generally considered safe for healthy people. However, it would be prudent for pregnant women, elderly people, children, and anyone with a compromised immune system to avoid it.
A good resource for everything Kombucha is KombuchaKamp.com. You will want to take care if making your own; there is some evidence that if not made correctly, it can be harmful. This website can help you.
I have and will continue to drink Kombucha in moderation. I enjoy it and find it refreshing and even tasty. The kind I’ve consumed I’ve purchased from the grocery store. Look for it in the health section of your grocery store or WholeFoods. Take a look on my Facebook page for the kind I use.
What about you? Have you tried Kombucha? Made your own?
Let’s hear about it.
Please go to my Facebook page and leave your experiences and/or questions.
To your journey,
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