Kombucha - what's all the hype about?
Updated: May 29, 2021
Everyone knows soft drinks are bad for you. But do we really understand the long-term impacts of drinking them? Many scientific studies have proven that high-sugar soft drinks can increase oxidative stress in the body, leading to a multitude of diseases such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, respiratory disease, kidney disease, rheumatoid arthritis, liver diseases and micronutrient deficiencies. In addition to this, soft drinks also significant change the ratios of bacteria in your gut microbiome, and not for the best. So what do you do when you’re craving a cool, fizzy, tasty drink on a hot summers day, or when you’re out with friends?
What is kombucha?
Kombucha is a fermented tea beverage, fermented using what is called a “SCOBY,” which stands for a “Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria and Yeasts.” . Normally, sweet black tea is used as the base, consisting of brewed black tea and sugar. ‘Sugar? But you just said sugar was bad for you!’ I hear you say. The thing is, once the sweet tea has cooled down, the SCOBY is added to the mix. Over time (normally 7-10 days), the SCOBY consumes most (sometimes all!) of the sugar and can produce a carbonated drink. The SCOBY also produces many beneficial compounds including B vitamins, probiotics, enzymes and acids. The benefits of these are described below.
What are the health benefits?
Strong antioxidant qualities that protect your liver.
Free-radicals are harmful substances that can damage cells and DNA. Kombucha contains antioxidant substances that counter these dangerous compounds, and protect us from oxidative stress. Through this mechanism, kombucha has been shown to protect liver cells (known as hepatocytes) from various toxins. With an optimally functioning liver, we can continually detox our body of harmful compounds, as well as improve digestion and store energy!
Protects against cardiovascular diseases
A recent study showed that Kombucha can increase your “good” cholesterol (HLD-C) and decrease your “bad” cholesterol (LDL-C). With around 2 million Australians (as of this writing) being prescribed statin drugs to reduce cholesterol levels, kombucha could provide a natural, preventative alternative. With its naturally low sugar levels, kombucha is also a perfect drink for diabetics who are trying to reduce their blood sugar levels.
Antimicrobial (aka. Fights infections!)
Kombucha tea contains substances that can actively destroy or disable many pathogenic microorganisms (Including Salmonella and E.Coli!). This may be due to the acidic nature of kombucha, and with antibiotic resistance on the rise, it is vital for society to find alternative ways of killing off infectious pathogens!
Helps with digestion
Because of the probiotic content of kombucha, it helps to modulate our gut microbiome, consequently helping you digesting your food better! Studies have also shown that kombucha can help heal stomach ulcers and reduce excessive acid production. For individuals who struggle with indigestion, kombucha is definitely something worth trying!
Through the fermentation process, the SCOBY produces compounds that are actively anti-inflammatory. In fact, studies have shown that kombucha significantly reduces pro-inflammatory chemicals and modulators in the body. Inflammation leads to a multitude of diseases (arguably, almost all diseases!). The fact that kombucha is anti-inflammatory means that we should all be drinking it regularly!
Assists in mental health
Many mental health conditions, including major depression (MDD) have strong links to inflammation. Kombucha's anti-inflammatory action, as well as its ability to help modulate and improve the diversity of our gut microbiome, contribute to its ability to significantly improve mental health issues.
Boosts your immune system
Kombucha has been shown to actively increase the activity of our immune system when it has been depressed. Therefore, drinking kombucha regularly can help you keep infections away by building up your immune defence!
Where do I find kombucha?
Kombucha has risen in popularity recently, and can be found in most major supermarkets and health food stores. Look for organic kombucha with low sugar levels (less than 4g per serving), that don’t contain any artificial flavours or colours. You can also make it yourself! Click Here to find details about my upcoming workshop on how to make kombucha!
Haven’t tried kombucha before? I hope my list of benefits above shows you that it’s definitely worth giving a go. The acidic, tangy flavour might take a little getting used to, but after a while you won’t be able to drink anything else!