Kombucha has been around for thousands of years, but it’s just now starting to become popular among the media and other health ‘nuts’ like myself.
Have you heard of Kombucha? What in the world is it?
Known as the “Immortal Health Elixir” by the Chinese and originating in the Far East around 2,000 years ago, kombucha is a beverage with AMAZING health benefits. Not sure why it has taken us this long to discover it!
Kombucha is a fermented beverage of black tea and sugar (from various sources including cane sugar, fruit or honey) that’s used as a functional food.
It contains a colony of bacteria and yeast that are responsible for initiating the fermentation process once combined with sugar.
After being fermented, kombucha becomes carbonated and contains vinegar, b-vitamins, enzymes, probiotics and a high concentration of acid (acetic, gluconic and lactic), which are tied with the following effects:
- Improved Digestion
- Weight Loss
- Increased Energy
- Cleansing and Detoxification
- Immune Support
- Reduced Joint Pain
- Cancer Prevention
The sugar-tea solution is fermented by bacteria and yeast commonly known as a “SCOBY” (symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast). Although it’s usually made with black tea, kombucha can also be made with green or oolong tea.
You can make kombucha yourself at home or buy it for $3–$5 a bottle at most health food stores and some coffee shops.
So how does it work?
In research published in the Journal of Medicinal Food 2014, researchers from the University of Latvia say the following about the health benefits of kombucha:
It is shown that [kombucha] can efficiently act in health preservation and recovery due to four main properties: detoxification, anti-oxidation, energizing potencies, and promotion of boosting immunity.
Let’s delve into that a little bit, shall we?
Check out all of the AMAZING health benefits of drinking kombucha and learn why you should be drinking it every day!
The detoxifying capacity of kombucha is immense. A perfect example is in its ability to counteract liver cell toxicity.
In one study, the liver cells were protected from oxidative injury and actually maintained their normal physiology, in spite of being exposed to a toxin!
According to researchers, this was “probably due to its antioxidant activity and could be beneficial against liver diseases, where oxidative stress is known to play a crucial role.”
It’s pretty fascinating that a drink has that capability!
Naturally, the antioxidants in this ancient tea counteract free radicals that create mayhem in the digestive system – just like our Oolong.
However, the greatest reason kombucha supports digestion is because of its high levels of beneficial acid, probiotics and enzymes.
Some research has shown kombucha’s ability to prevent and heal leaky gut and stomach ulcers.
In some instances it’s even proven to be as effective as drugs like Prilosec, which are commonly prescribed for heartburn, GERD and ulcers.
Kombucha can also help heal candida yeast from overpopulating within the gut because it helps restore balance to the digestive system.
Kombucha is a great way to fight candida because it contains live probiotic cultures that help the gut to repopulate with good bacteria while crowding out the candida yeast.
Kombucha does have bacteria, but these are not harmful pathogen bacteria, instead they are the beneficial kind (called “apathogens”) that compete with “bad” pathogen bacteria in the gut and digestive tract.
One thing to mention here is that candida or other digestive problems can sometimes be complicated issues to fix and symptoms might actually get worse before getting better.
This doesn’t mean that kombucha isn’t effective or is exacerbating the problem, just that gut problems aren’t always a straight path to healing and at times some patience or trial and error is needed.
Kombucha’s ability to invigorate people is credited to the formation of iron that is released from the tea during the fermentation process.
It also contains some caffeine (although in very small amounts) and b-vitamins, which can energize the body.
Through a special process known as chelation, the iron released helps boost blood hemoglobin, improving oxygen supply to tissues and stimulating the energy-producing process at the cellular level.
In other words, by helping the body create more energy (ATP), the ancient tea can help those who regularly drink it stay energized.
4. Immune Health
The overall effect that kombucha has to modulate the immune system is best seen in its ability to control free radicals through antioxidant measures.
Clinically proven to decrease oxidative stress and related immuno-suppression, a powerful antioxidant known as D-saccharic acid-1, 4-lactone (DSL) was discovered during the kombucha fermentation process that’s not found in tea alone.
Scientists suspect that DSL and the vitamin C present in kombucha are its main secrets in protecting against cell damage, inflammatory diseases, tumors and overall depression of the immune system.
Also, we know the probiotics found in kombucha support the immune system.
5. Joint Care
Kombucha can help heal, repair and prevent joint damage in a number of ways.
Kombucha is loaded with glucosamines, which increase synovial hyaluronic acid production. This supports the preservation of collagen and prevents arthritic pain.
In the same way it supports joint collagen, it also supports collagen of the entire body and reduces the appearance of wrinkles on the skin. BONUS!
6. Cancer Prevention
As if the first 5 benefits weren’t enough to convince you, kombucha is also beneficial for cancer prevention and recovery.
A study published in Cancer Letters found that consuming glucaric acid found in kombucha reduced the risk of cancer in humans.
President Reagan even reportedly drank kombucha daily as part of his regimen to battle stomach cancer. Who knew?!
7. Weight Loss
Data from a study in 2005 showed evidence that kombucha improves metabolism and limits fat accumulation.
Though we need to see more studies before we can confirm these results, it makes sense that kombucha supports weight loss since it’s high in acetic acid (just like apple cider vinegar is) and polyphenols, which are proven to help increase weight loss.
Coupled with our oolong tea and you will have an amazing fat-burning beverage at your fingertips!
Kombucha’s Possible Side Effects
Along with any natural health product, comes possible side effects. Here are the things to look out for when trying kombucha for the first time.
Most people experience GREAT benefits drinking kombucha and have NO negative side effects.
However, there are possible interactions and side effect symptoms to be aware of, mostly in populations that already have weakened immune systems and digestive problems.
Side effects seem to be more of a risk when making homemade kombucha because contamination is possible and the SCOBY disk and finished products both aren’t tested for quality control, like they are when larger manufacturers produce them.
If you’re going to brew your own, pay careful attention to using sterile equipment, clean working spaces and high-quality ingredients.
A small percentage of people have experienced stomach upset, infections and allergic reactions when drinking kombucha. Because kombucha has a high level of acidity, it’s possible that this can cause problems for people with digestive problems like stomach ulcers, heartburn, or any sensitivity to very acidic foods.
It’s a good idea to always check with your doctor before adding in anything new.
If your doctor gives you the OK, start with a small amount of kombucha in moderation and gradually work your way up to drinking more in order to see if you have any negative reaction to it.
Stick to about 8 ounces per day, especially in the beginning. To limit your risk, buy pre-made kombucha that’s been tested for bacterial contamination.
Other groups that might want to limit their kombucha consumption include: people with leaky gut syndrome, those with very poor immune systems and pregnant women.
Now can you see why kombucha is know as the “Immortal Health Elixir?”
Yes, it can be rather expensive to buy in the stores for an everyday beverage, so why not make it at home? It takes some time, but it’s well worth the wait.
Click here for instructions on how to make your own kombucha at home!
Have you tried kombucha? If so, what are some of the ways it has helped you?
Let me know in the comments below!
Yours in Health & Happiness,
P.S. If you make kombucha with oolong tea, make sure you always have enough tea on hand! Stock up now and never run out!!
- American Cancer Society. Kombucha Tea. Available at: http://www.cancer.org
- Bhattacharya S, et al. Protective effect of kombucha tea against tertiary butyl hydroperoxide induced cytotoxicity and cell death in murine hepatocytes. Indian J. Exp Biol 2011; 49: 511–524.
- Bhattacharya S, et al. Hepatoprotective properties of kombucha tea against TBHP-induced oxidative stress via suppression of mitochondria dependent apoptosis. Pathophysiology 2011; 18:221–234.
- Banerjee D, et al. Comparative healing property of kombucha tea and black tea against indomethacin-induced gastric ulceration in mice: possible mechanism of action. Food Funct 2010; 1: 284–293.
- Danielian LT. Kombucha and Its Biological Features. Meditsina, Moscow, 2005.
- Dufresne C, et al. Tea, kombucha and health: a review. Food Res Int 2000; 33: 409–421.
- Fu NF, et al. Clearance of free silica in rat lungs by spraying with chinese herbal kombucha. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med 2013; 2013:790792.
- Marsh AJ, et al. Sequence-based analysis of the bacterial and fungal compositions of multiple kombucha (tea fungus) samples. Food Microbiol 2014; 38:171-8.
- Rashid K, et al. An update on oxidative stress-mediated organ pathophysiology. Food Chem Toxicol 2013; 62:584-600
- Sai Ram M, et al. Effect of kombucha tea on chromate(VI)-induced oxidative stress in albino rats. J Ethnopharmacol 2010; 71: 235– 240.
- Vīna I, et al. Current Evidence on Physiological Activity of Kombucha Fermented Beverage and Expected Health Effects. J Med Food 2013; [Epub ahead of print]