Kombucha has become an extremely popular “health drink” due its numerous reported health benefits – but is it worth the hype?
Kombucha is a type of fermented tea that has actually been around for over 2,000 years and was known by the ancient Chinese as the “Immortal Health Elixir”. It is made by combining a SCOBY (Symbiotic Culture Of Bacteria and Yeast), sugar and tea and then letting it ferment for 1-2 weeks.
What are the health benefits?
1. Vitamins & antioxidants
Kombucha contains a variety of vitamins, including vitamin E, C and B vitamins (including vitamin B12, vegans rejoice!). Like black tea, kombucha also contains polyphenols and other compounds with antioxidant powers, and due to the fermentation process, actually has higher antioxidant power that unfermented teas.
2. Improves overall gut health
The fermentation process means that kombucha is rich in probiotics, which are similar to the good bacteria that is found in the gut. Probiotics have been found to treat diarrhoea and may also ease irritable bowel syndrome.
3. Cancer risk
4. Infection risk
A type of acid called acetic acid, also found in vinegar, is produced when kombucha is fermented. Kombucha has been found to have the ability to kill microbes and help to fight a range of bacteria before they are absorbed into the body.
5. Mental Health
Research has shown a strong link between mental health and gut health, suggesting that drinking probiotic drinks, such as kombucha, can improve overall mental health. There are also strong links between inflammation and depression, so the anti-inflammatory effect of kombucha can also assist in relieving symptoms.
What about the risks?
Kombucha can be very acidic if brewed for too long and can damage the enamel on your teeth, so be sure to brush after you buch!
Over-fermentation or contamination may also cause health problems, so it may be safer to buy kombucha in a store than to make it at home.
The pros seem to certainly outweigh the potential cons, so it seems fair to say that including kombucha in a balanced diet is something we should all do!