If you have ever shopped at your local grocery store or even just scrolled through your Instagram feed, chances are you’ve already come upon a kombucha. The wonder drink has soared in popularity the past couple of years, not only because it is trendy but more because of its health benefits.
What is a kombucha? Kombucha, sometimes called “booch”, is a fermented drink made up of tea, sugar and scoby (short for symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast). The process of fermentation makes it rich in live cultures and healthy microorganisms.
While it has become a trendy millennial drink, the kombucha has actually been around for a long time. Fermented tea began in China more than 2,000 years ago but the modern kombucha drink started surfacing in the 1990s.
These days, you can find it on the shelves of most grocery stores or served in cafes and restaurants. With a distinct flavor that’s packed with a lot of healthy stuff, the kombucha drink is definitely worth a try.
Here are 10 health benefits you can get from kombucha:
1. It is a great source of probiotics.
Probiotics are live microorganisms that are good for the health. These friendly bacteria are often taken as supplements to strengthen the gut. Because the gut houses about 70% of the immune system, it is important to ensure that it is healthy.
To keep the balance of gut bacteria in check, it is essential to feed the body health-boosting microorganisms like probiotics, which are known to promote the growth of “good bacteria”. Probiotics and prebiotics can be found in fermented products such as cheese, kefir, apple cider vinegar and sauerkraut.
Kombucha is loaded with probiotics. When kombucha is made, a blob-like symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast (SCOBY) is formed during the process of fermentation. This film contains a large amount of healthy bacteria that is added into the mixture of tea, sugar and other flavours.
Everytime you drink kombucha, you are actually replenishing the “good bacteria” in your body.
2. It contains many antioxidants.
Kombucha is great for detoxification because it contains many antioxidants, thanks largely to its tea component. These substances can reduce liver toxicity and fight off free radicals that can be damaging to your cells.
Although little is known about free radicals, studies have shown that they are related to a number of diseases including Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, autoimmune diseases and cancer. It is also believed that these harmful atoms contribute greatly to aging.
Antioxidants fight off free radicals and strengthen the defense system of the cells. As a person ages, more free radicals accumulate, which means the body becomes more susceptible to get chronic diseases. To keep the cells balanced and resilient, a diet rich in antioxidants is key.
3. It can kill harmful bacteria.
This might come as a surprise to you but your body is full of bacteria. The human body has trillions of living microorganisms and they actually outnumber human cells. Don’t worry; these are not harmful. In fact, many of them are essential to our survival.
A small portion of microbes called pathogens found in air and the surroundings are dangerous to humans. These can cause illnesses and spread viruses. A healthy immune system can fight off common pathogens but a weakened immune system is susceptible to being infected.
One of the main components of kombucha is acetic acid – an acid produced by fermentation that has strong antimicrobial properties. Acetic acid has shown to effectively inhibit growth of pathogenic microorganisms such as E. Coli and Staph.
Aside from the acetic acid, the tea in kombucha also contains polyphenols – plant compounds that fight off harmful bacteria too. This powerful combination can effectively boost the defense system of the body against illness-causing bacteria.
4. It can aid in weight loss.
These days, it has become extra hard to lose weight. With all the fast food options and the surge in people having sedentary lifestyles, more and more are becoming overweight or suffering from obesity.
In the US alone, over 70 million adults are considered obese. The number seems to be growing more every year. Obesity is linked to a number of diseases including diabetes, high blood pressure and heart diseases. Without proper treatment and healthy lifestyle changes, being overweight can drastically deteriorate your body and lead to obesity.
Many people incorporate drinking kombucha into their healthy-eating routine because it can aid in weight loss. It is packed with several substances that have been proven to be effective in helping with losing weight.
Green tea – a major ingredient in kombucha – can help burn calories, according to one study. The high level of acetic acid in the drink also has the power to curb hunger, reduce bloating and preventing the body to turn food into fat.
With less cravings, you would be able to regulate your food intake more.
5. It relieves stress and improves mood.
Do you feel stressed all the time? You are not alone! It’s a common problem that everyone experiences occasionally.
While stress and anxiety are not seen outright like other physical ailments, this does not mean that they are not as harmful to the body. In fact, chronic stress can put your health at serious risk as much as any other sickness.
Stress is actually a natural reaction of the body to external factors, surroundings and experiences. For some people, this is a fleeting problem that goes away after a while.
However, in cases of prolonged stress, the body continuously releases stress hormones, sending the system into overdrive. This can lead to other medical problems like headaches, insomnia, high blood sugar, a weakened immune system, depression and more.
An effective way to fight off stress is by taking B-vitamin supplements. These vitamins boost the brain chemistry and balance neurotransmitters so that it can release mood-boosting hormones like serotonin.
Kombucha is rich in healthy enzymes and vitamins such as B1, B6 and B12 – all of which are great in regulating mood and also improving concentration. It also contains vitamin C, which suppresses the release of the stress hormone called cortisol. This drink also has high bioavailability, which means all of those nutrients can be easily absorbed by the body.
6. It helps heal ulcers.
A healthy stomach has the right level of acidity to break down food. But when the acidity gets too high, this can cause ulcerations in the lining. If this condition is not treated, it can lead to internal bleeding, blockages and infection.
In a study published by the Food & Function journal, researchers have found out that the fermented black tea and kombucha culture were able to heal rats that had ulcers.
The healing ability is attributed to the high antioxidant content of the drink. Additionally, the kombucha culture also effectively reduces the gastric and acid secretion of the stomach, leading to a more neutral pH.
Healthy consumption of kombucha, along with a wholesome diet, can greatly improve digestive health and neutralize the acidity of the stomach.
However, too much kombucha can also be harmful, especially for those who may be sensitive to alcohol. Most natural health practitioners have no problem with daily intake of the fizzy drink but it is still important to be careful. If you are not accustomed to fermented drinks, it is best to drink it in moderation and let your palate and stomach get used to its taste first.
7. It can make skin healthier.
Kombucha skincare is one of the biggest trends right now. Yes, you read that right. Kombucha not only does wonders for your guts, it is also great for your skin. In fact, many beauty lines in the market now use kombucha as an active ingredient in their skincare products.
The probiotics present in the fermented drink is able to effectively restore and balance out bacteria. Applied topically, this can help regulate the skin’s pH level and microbiome, which makes it great to treat skin conditions like acne and eczema.
Kombucha has a lot more than probiotics to offer, of course. It also has vitamins B1, B6, B12 and C – all antioxidants that can boost cellular function and repair oxidative damage. The result is a healthier, more elastic skin that also has strong barrier function.
Keep in mind that kombucha as a skincare is made in topical form and not in the drinkable liquid. Kombucha-infused skincare is usually mixed in with other ingredients to make it more formulated for the face. Don’t go and start using the kombucha drink in your fridge as a face toner because that is not going to do anything for your skin!
8. It helps with joint pain.
Dealing with joint pain can be unbearable. This can give great discomfort, which often gets worse as you age. It can also affect your day-to-day living and prevent you from doing fun physical activities. If you want to live a high quality life, it is crucial that you take care of your bone health too.
A lot of athletes and physically active individuals have added kombucha into their regular regimen of health drinks. It is well known to reduce and relieve pain associated with arthritis and gout.
This is because of the glucosamine – a major component that has been noted to be an effective treatment against arthritis. This natural compound is known as an amino sugar, which is naturally produced by human and animal tissues. It helps maintain the cartilage of the joints and prevents joint disorders and inflammations.
In one study, cyclists were given glucosamine supplements daily and this resulted to 27% reduced collagen degradation in the knees. While the glucosamine component in kombucha is not as high as it is compared to oral supplements, it is still significant enough to make positive results.
9. It can aid in constipation.
Feeling constipated all the time? Add a bottle of kombucha to your daily regimen to help you find relief. This drink does not only regulate your digestion, it can also help you do “your business” easier.
Keep in mind, though, that it is not a laxative and will not have instant effects. Just like other supplements, this works better when taken regularly. The probiotic content is what makes the drink so healthy for the digestive system. It has all the necessary bacteria that your body needs to function optimally.
If you are new to drinking kombucha, it might take a couple of days for your stomach to adjust. Introducing healthy probiotics into your gut might cause a drastic shift in your digestive flora. It is best to let your body adjust slowly first and drink kombucha in moderation.
10. It boosts energy.
Many people notice that they get a spike in energy after taking a regular dose of kombucha. This drink contains a small amount of caffeine because of the brewed tea.
The strength of the caffeine depends on what kind of tea is used. Some varieties of tea – such as black tea – have stronger caffeine content than others. The fermentation process also plays a part in how much caffeine stays in the final product.
Aside from the caffeine, kombucha also has a couple of helpful B vitamins that further contribute in increasing energy levels. Vitamin B12 is one of the nutrients that convert food into energy. When the body does not get enough nutrients, low energy can happen.
Resolve low energy problems by eating nutritious meals, taking supplements and drinking kombucha regularly.
Kombucha is more than just a trendy drink. Because it is packed with nutrients, enzymes and vitamins, it has also become a go-to health supplement for many people. Some of its most notable health benefits include balancing the gut flora, boosting the immune system and reducing stress.
In the recent years, the kombucha culture has also branched out and spread into the skincare industry because it has the ability to repair damage.
Keep in mind, though, that this drink not only has caffeine, it also has a small alcoholic content. While the amount is too small to get you buzzed, drinking too much kombucha can cause problems for your stomach. So, it is still best to consume it in moderate quantities.
In essence, the popular tea drink definitely has several health benefits but it is not a cure-all. Think of it more like a supportive treatment rather than a magical elixir for health issues.