Where did you first hear about kombucha? Let me guess, was it the marketing strategy that this was a power drink, or a detox drink, or was it the reverse psychology that this is better than soda? Either way, that got your attention, right? So how legit are these claims? And is Kombucha good for you?
In this article, I’m going to lay it all down. I’ll explain in detail the science behind this power drink so the next time you grab one, you’re making an informed choice. And guess what, I’ll even teach you how to make yours at home, should you conclude that Kombucha is worth the Hype.
What is Kombucha?
This power drink wasn’t introduced to us until recently and I’m sure you are wondering where it started or why it took so long to be a hit. The future looks very bright as well, with major Kombucha companies competing for the market share alongside big brands like Coca-Cola.
So, let me explain.
The fermented tea is a common drink in some Asian countries. After brewing their green or black tea, they introduce a leaf of a certain plant that does the fermentation.
Now, in the Western countries, Kombucha follows the same rule except instead of the leaf they use scooby, a jelly like symbiotic culture of yeast and bacteria. In addition, this “modern” Kombucha has additives including vitamins and minerals.
We will discuss the production process in detail shortly.
Is Kombucha Good for You?
I will let you answer this question at the end of this discussion, which should be pretty obvious.
#1: Kombucha Contains Probiotics
Just like any fermented drink (including yogurt), Kombucha is rich in probiotics. Probiotics are good for your gut. They slow down “gut transit time”. This gives your body more time to digest and consequently absorb nutrition from the foods you eat. This concept is why they say kombucha treats diarrhea, IBS (irritable bowel syndrome), H. pylori (a key cause of ulcers), UTI (urinary tract infections), and other stomach related complications.
One thing I must mention is that probiotics come in different strains and each type does a specific job. And while you may experience some of these benefits, another person might not.
#2: More Vitamins and Amino Acids
For Kombuchas with real fruit additives, you will benefit from the extra vitamins. The fermentation process results in amino acids as well. Amino acids are responsible for muscle build-up, nutrients transportation, necessary chemical reactions in the body among other functions.
A deficiency in Amino acids could result in several illnesses including digestive problems, lower mental alertness, decreased immunity, fertility issues, etc. So now you understand why they claim Kombucha can cure several illnesses, right?
#3: A Great Anti-oxidant
Fermentation results in the production of Polyphenols especially flavonoids. Polyphenols generally protect your body’s tissues against stress resulting from oxidation and associated pathologies which include inflammation, coronary heart disease, and cancers. Flavonoids specifically regulate cellular activities and keep you off free radicals which are the key causes of oxidative stress.
Commercial Production of Kombucha
SCOOBY (yeast and bacteria culture) is introduced in sweetened tea. This is left to ferment for 7-21 days. After fermentation, permitted food additives and colorings are added before it’s bottled for another 14 days under room temperature to allow a natural release of carbon dioxide (a by-product of fermentation), for carbonation. Then it’s shipped to your favourite stores and kept refrigerated to slow down the fermentation and carbonation processes.
That is why when you open a bottle of kombucha, it fizzles, just like soda.
However, the 14 days after bottling could result in the release of excess Ethanol (another by-product of fermentation) if not well regulated. So you end up getting high on Kombucha. For this reason, always watch out for the alcohol note from your favorite brand. Anything below 0.5% ABV is considered a non-alcoholic beverage.
The Homemade Version
If you want to enjoy Kombucha on a low budget, try this recipe.
- 31/2 quarts boiling water
- 1 cup sugar
- 8 tea bags
- SCOOBY (symbiotic culture of yeast and bacteria)
- Fresh fruit cuts (optional for flavoring purpose)
Dissolve the sugar in the hot water and add the tea bags, steep the tea for 3 minutes. (This is just like how you’d make your own tea). Remove the tea bags and pour the resulting drink into an airtight jar. Add the SCOOBY and cover the jar. Leave it at room temperature for the next 7-14 days.
Filter the liquid and transfer it to storage containers which should be airtight. It is in these bottles that you add your fruit cuts and any other sweetener that you require. However, that is totally optional. Close the bottles tightly and leave them at room temperature for 3-6 days.
Be careful with this stage because that is when the alcohol forms. You cannot leave it for longer. When you achieve your desired flavor, store these bottles in the fridge and consume them within 3 days. That was easy, right?
Is It OK to Drink Kombucha Every Day?
What do you think; is Kombucha Good for You? Well, they say too much of everything is poisonous. How poisonous is kombucha if you drink it every day?
Sadly, a by-product of fermentation is lactic acid. This is what your muscle produces when you’re not breathing in enough oxygen to match your physical activity (like when you’re swimming or running). In scientific terms, we refer to this as anaerobic respiration when your body cells need to produce energy without oxygen around.
Lactic acid causes your muscles to pain; you feel fatigued and experience muscular cramps. If you drink Kombucha daily, you will experience the effects of this acid buildup. Note that lactic acid is good for your body, it regulates PH, but in excess, it can be toxic.
Ethanol is yet another by-product of fermentation. If not well regulated, over-production of ethanol means you’re consuming alcohol, unaware. This would have adverse results if taken daily, especially for pregnant women.
Generally, you will be fine consuming a 200ml bottle of homemade Kombucha every other day. However, if you’re drinking the store-bought version, be careful of the brands you invest in and regulate your consumption.
The Bottom Line
So is Kombucha Good for You? For people on a weight loss plan, or looking for alternative nutrition, or battling various gut-related ailments, Kombucha would be an ideal drink. However, for people with liver complications, severe allergic reactions, acidosis and pregnant women, and children, Kombucha is not good for you.