Have you heard of Kombucha, the beverage the ancient Chinese called the “Immortal Health Elixir?” It’s been around for more than 2,000 years and has a rich anecdotal history of health benefits like preventing and fighting cancer, arthritis, and other degenerative diseases. “Divine Che”, “Mo Gu”, “Cajnii grib”, “Hongo”, “Manchurian Tea” or “Kargasok Tea”, are just some of 100-odd names by which the slightly sweet/tart beverage produced is known and which every fortnight doubles its production capacity, which is why it is often given away as a gift and has been called “Le champignon de la charité”, the “fungus of charity”. Consumption of Kombucha was first recorded in 220 BC in Manchuria, from whence it spread throughout the Far East, Pacific, India, Russia, Germany, eventually to the rest of Europe, to Africa and more recently across the entire globe.
As mentioned, this tangy fermented beverage contains beneficial probiotics and acids. It is lower-calorie than other carbonated beverages like soft drinks, with only about 30 calories per cup (8 ounces). Kombucha is fat-free and does not contain any protein.
One cup does contain about seven grams of carbohydrates and about 20% of the daily value of B-Vitamins, according to the label of the popular GT brand. Eight ounces also provides:
Bacillus coagulans GBI-30 6086: 1 billion organisms
S. Boulardii: 1 billion organisms
Glucuronic Acid 10mg
L(+) Lactic Acid 25mg
Acetic Acid 30 mg
Kombucha Benefits and Probiotics
This ancient health tonic is attributed with several health benefits. The nutrients it contains are wonderful at supporting the body in various ways. To be clear- it isn’t some magic pill or silver bullet, but it may help the body function well by supporting:
Improved pancreas function
Improved mood (helps with anxiety/depression)
Reducing Candida (yeast)
Helps nutrient assimilation
May be beneficial for weight loss
These benefits could be partially due to the concentration of beneficial enzymes and acids present in kombucha, including Gluconacetobacter, Lactobacillus and Zygosaccharomyces.
1. Improving Digestion
The research is still out on the specific way Kombucha affects digestion, but we do know that it contains probiotics, enzymes and beneficial acids and these have been researched for their health benefits.
Harvard Medical School explains that a healthy gut will have 100 trillion + microorganisms from 500 different identified species. In this sense, we truly are more bacterial than human. There has been a lot of emerging research on the dangers of an overly sanitary environment and how overuse of antibiotics and antibacterial soaps and products is literally changing the structure of our gut.
Drinks like Kombucha, Water Kefir, Milk Kefir, and fermented foods like sauerkraut contain billions of these beneficial bacteria, enzymes and acids that help keep the gut in balance.
2. Natural Detoxification and Liver Support
The liver is one of the body’s main detoxification organs. Kombucha is high in Glucaric acid, which is beneficial to the liver and aids its natural detoxification.
As Kombucha also supports healthy gut bacteria and digestion, it helps the body assimilate food more easily and provides quick and easy energy without caffeine.
3. Immune Boost
Kombucha is naturally high in antioxidants and supportive of the immune system. Again, there is no magic pill or silver bullet when it comes to immune function- it is best to support the body in its natural immune process.
It contains a compound called D-saccharic acid-1,4-lactone (or DSL for short) that has amazing antioxidant properties. This compound is not present in unfermented teas (though many teas are high in other antioxidants). DSL has been specifically identified as beneficial for cellular detoxification.
4. May Support Joint Health
Kombucha is a natural source of compounds called glucosamines, which are often recommended for joint health and to alleviate joint pain. Glucosamines naturally increase hyaluronic acid in the body and helps protect and lubricate the joints. In some trials, hyaluronic acid provided relief similar to over the counter pain killers.
5. More Nutritious Alternative to Soda
Kombucha is a great alternative to sugar-laden drinks like soda. It is naturally carbonated. This means that the secondary fermentation process naturally produces bubbles and carbonation. Sodas, on the other hand, are artificially carbonated by forcing carbonation into the liquid.
This fizzy fermented tea is an attractive alternative to other carbonated beverages and provides probiotics and nutrients not present in soda. Kombucha also contains less sugar than soft drinks. The sugar in the recipe is simply the food for the beneficial bacteria and is largely consumed during the fermentation process.
There are anecdotal reports of its benefits and many people love its taste and the energy it gives them. Don’t expect kombucha to solve your health problems, but it is a great refreshing drink with some added probiotics.
Sugar is used in making kombucha, and for this reason many people are concerned about the sugar content in the finished tea. Fortunately, the majority of the sugar ferments out during the fermentation process. Because the sugar is the food for the bacteria, it is not possible to make without any sugar at all. For this reason, sugar substitutes like stevia and xylitol do not work either.
Kombucha does contain a very small amount of alcohol, which has been a source of much controversy in recent years. Sources estimate that store bought brews contain 0.5% to 1.0% alcohol. Homemade kombucha also typically contains more alcohol than store bought, though still not much. In fact, a bottle of kombucha would have a comparable alcohol content to an over-ripe banana.