Kombucha is a fermented tea that has been consumed for thousands of years.
Sometimes referred to as “mushroom tea”, homemade kombucha is fermented by a colony of bacteria and yeast, which react to form a mushroom-like mass on top of the tea. Once fermented, kombucha becomes slightly effervescent, with a vinegary smell and tart taste.
Fresh fruit juice and other flavors may be added to kombucha at the end of the brewing process to make the drink more palatable as drinking it straight is an acquired taste, to say the least.
Kombucha is typically classified as a “functional beverage”, or a nonalcoholic beverage with supposed health benefits.
Not only does it have the same health benefits as tea — it’s also rich in beneficial probiotics.
Also contains antioxidants, can kill harmful bacteria and may help fight several diseases.
Kombucha Is a Rich Source of Probiotics
Kombucha is thought to originate in China or Japan.
It’s made by adding specific strains of bacteria, yeast, and sugar to black or green tea, then allowing it to ferment for a week or more.
During this process, bacteria and yeast form a mushroom-like film on the surface of the liquid. This is why kombucha is also known as “mushroom tea.”
This blog is a living symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast, or a SCOBY, and can be used to ferment new kombucha.
The fermentation process produces acetic acid (also found in vinegar) and several other acidic compounds, trace levels of alcohol and gases that make it carbonated.
A large amount of probiotic bacteria is also produced during fermentation.
Probiotics provide your gut with healthy bacteria. These bacteria can improve many aspects of health, including digestion, inflammation and even weight loss.
For this reason, adding probiotics foods like kombucha to your diet might improve your health in many ways.
May Help Protect Against Cancer
Cancer is one of the world’s leading causes of death. It is characterized by cell mutation and uncontrolled cell growth.
In test-tube studies, kombucha helped prevent the growth and spread of cancerous cells due to its high concentration of tea polyphenols and antioxidants.
How the anti-cancer properties of tea polyphenols work is not well understood.
However, it’s thought that the polyphenols block gene mutation and growth of cancer cells while also promoting cancer cell death.
For this reason, it is not surprising that tea drinkers are much less likely to develop various types of cancer.
However, whether kombucha has any anti-cancer effects in people has not been confirmed. Further studies are needed.
Help Manage Type 2 Diabetes
Type 2 diabetes affects over 300 million people worldwide. It is characterized by high blood sugar levels and insulin resistance.
A study in diabetic rats found that kombucha slowed down the digestion of carbs, which reduced blood sugar levels. It also improved liver and kidney function.
Kombucha made from green tea is likely to be even more beneficial, as green tea itself has been shown to reduce blood sugar levels.
In fact, a review study of almost 300,000 individuals found that green tea drinkers had an 18% lower risk of becoming diabetic.
Further human studies are needed to investigate the benefits of kombucha for blood sugar control.
Teeming with enzymes and bacterial acids, kombucha is believed to aid in natural detoxification. Gluconic acid, which is found in kombucha as well as in fruits and veggies, may bind to toxins to help expel them from the body, according to scientific evidence.
Glucaric acid, also a product of kombucha tea fermentation, may boost the efficiency of the liver?s detoxifying tracts. While for some, that may be more than enough reason to purchase their own scoby or starter culture, others might need a few more reasons before adding regular kombucha to a healthy diet.
Another powerful compound found in kombucha is glucosamine, which can stave off and treat all types of arthritis. Glucosamines enhance hyaluronic acid production, which may help to protect cartilage and reduce arthritic pain.
Kombucha May Reduce Heart Disease Risk
Heart disease is the world’s leading cause of death.
Rat studies show that kombucha can greatly improve two markers of heart disease, “bad” LDL and “good” HDL cholesterol, in as few as 30 days.
Even more importantly, tea (especially green tea) protects LDL cholesterol particles from oxidation, which is thought to contribute to heart disease.
In fact, green tea drinkers have up to a 31% lower risk of developing heart disease, a benefit that may also apply to kombucha.
Can Kill Bacteria
One of the main substances produced during the fermentation of kombucha is acetic acid, which is also abundant in vinegar.
Like the polyphenols in tea, acetic acid is able to kill many potentially harmful microorganisms.
Kombucha made from black or green tea appears to have strong antibacterial properties, particularly against infection-causing bacteria and Candida yeasts.
These antimicrobial effects suppress the growth of undesirable bacteria and yeasts, but they do not affect the beneficial, probiotic bacteria and yeasts involved in kombucha fermentation.
The health relevance of these antimicrobial properties is unclear.
When our healthy microbes are depleted, obesity and diabetes can result. The natural acids and antioxidant properties found in the beverage may promote fat loss.
Kombucha, like apple cider vinegar, is thought to increase metabolism when consumed before meals. The green tea and black tea varieties of kombucha are particularly effective by combining the antioxidant power of the tea and the symbiotic colony in the kombucha.
Antioxidants are substances that fight free radicals, reactive molecules that can damage your cells.
Many scientists believe that antioxidants from foods and beverages are better for your health than antioxidant supplements.
Kombucha, especially when made with green tea, appears to have antioxidant effects in your liver.
Rat studies consistently find that drinking kombucha regularly reduces liver toxicity caused by toxic chemicals, in some cases by at least 70%.
While no human studies exist on this topic, it does seem like a promising area of research for people with liver disease.
Kombucha May Provide the Benefits of Green Tea
Green tea is one of the healthiest beverages on the planet.
This is because green tea contains many bioactive compounds, such as polyphenols, which function as powerful antioxidants in the body.
Kombucha made from green tea contains many of the same plant compounds and presumably boasts some of the same benefits.
Studies show that drinking green tea regularly can increase the number of calories you burn, reduce belly fat, improve cholesterol levels, help with blood sugar control and more.
Studies also show that green tea drinkers have a reduced risk of prostate, breast and colon cancers.