Kombucha – we’re all drinking it. We’re all paying (up to) $4 a pop for it. But do you ever wonder, “ok…why am I drinking this?” Is it just because it’s on the shelves at Whole Foods or because we saw super fit people reaching for it? “It MUST be good for us!!” is probably the reason I started to drink it.
I definitely had not done my research when I bought into the kombucha fad, I just liked the flavor and it seemed to be all the rage in Austin, Texas where I lived at the time. So yes, peer pressure. But let's not fly blindly anymore, people. Let’s drink with purpose! I took some time to compile some quick, TRUE facts about kombucha so we can be #educated. Spoiler alert: I'm still on the kombucha train and don't plan on getting off anytime soon.
Kombucha is fermented black tea made with a yeast and bacteria culture + sugar (bacteria food). These cultures present in the ‘buch give it probiotic effects, aka giving healthy bacteria to the intestines. A healthy gut is also associated with improved digestion, fighting bacteria growth, mood improvements, and can even help fight anxiety and depression.
There’s even been some correlation between daily kombucha consumption and cancer resistance – which can be due to the tea polyphenols and secondary metabolites formed in fermentation, or it could be due to its ability to balance pH in cancer patient’s blood. But woah woah woah, don’t go assuming this is the cure for cancer all together. But there IS evidence that it can provide benefits to cancer patients, can reduce cell damage that may lead to cancerous activity, and has the potential to inhibit tumor growth.
Let’s talk detox – first of all you can’t detox. You can’t 24 hour juice cleanse your self free of toxins. However, you can help your liver (that’s job is to detox) do what it does best. And lucky enough for us, kombucha compounds (glucuronic acid, specifically) can provide your liver with some needed support so it can do its job better.
Last but not least, kombucha has some great antioxidant power. This is mainly due to the tea leaf compounds that come to life during the fermentation process. So, make sure you’re using green tea or black tea if you’re making your own kombucha for those benefits. Not sure what antioxidants are? Basically snatching up all of the harmful molecules in your body before they do damage. Yep, that’s a good thing - learn more here. There is also evidence that kombucha consumption can help stabilize blood glucose levels (think – diabetes) and lower blood pressure.
However for me and my gut health journey, I found a time where kombucha was doing more harm than good. I started to notice MORE stomach pain with consumption than when I previously found relief. I stopped drinking kombucha for about a year, and can now drink it about 1-2 times per week and feel great!
PRO TIP: Make your own! A sweet gal pal + fellow dietetic intern taught me how to make my own Kombucha and I spent a period of my time making my own to save money. I usually use a Pomegranate tea so I don't have to add any additional flavors when it's ready!
Learn more about here.
Caution: although kombucha claims to have no adverse health outcomes – it is not recommended for pregnant or lactating women or those with kidney problems. If making your own kombucha, be sure to brew it in a glass jar to avoid harmful substances from leeching into your ‘buch from ceramic jars! It’s also very easy for making your own kombucha to go WRONG because of bacteria and other contamination…be sure you know what you are doing if you try to make your own.
More kombucha research here and here.