Over the past years you have probably run across or heard of Kombucha and its long list of potential health benefits (from preventing cancer, lower blood pressure, preventing degenerative disease, to name a few). Today I will focus on its potential health claims to promote gut health, aid with regularity, and improve immunity. Lets breakdown what Kombucha really is and the research out there.
Kombucha has been around for thousands of years and popular in a variety of different cultures.
WHAT IS KOMBUCHA ?
Kombucha is a fermented beverage prepared by combining:
Tea (often black or green tea)
Scoby (Symbiotic Culture Of Bacteria and Yeast)
Once combined the ingredients ferment for several weeks. The fermentation produces acetic acid. The result is a carbonated, tart/acidic beverage that contains sugar, organic acids (acetic acid) tea, vitamins, and minerals (source 1).
POTENTIAL MECHANISM TO BENEFITS:
For there to be conclusive results on Kombucha more research is needed. Several factors and proposed mechanisms for its improvements in gut and immune health include the potential anti microbial properties of tea and the benefits from the organic acids produced during the fermentation process (acetic acid) as well as the probiotics produced during fermentation. One study examined the microbial population of Kombucha and found Gluconacterobacter and lactobacillus were present in the largest percentages. Tea is a strong antioxidant especially green tea versions which do pose overall health benefits, but the exact benefits to gut health are not fully understood. While the organic acids produced during fermentation may pose health benefits the organic acid content or level is not listed on Kombucha making it difficult to know if the acid levels are where they need to be for those potential health benefits to occur.
Other studies have shown anti microbial properties of tea, however to reach the concentrations of tea the tea would need to be extremely concentrated and undrinkable.
FACTORS TO CONSIDER
Expensive - often $2.00-$4.00 dollars for a 12-16 ounce serving.
Is not a calorie or sugar free beverage should be taken into consideration for diabetics or monitoring blood sugars.
Much of the research done on kombucha is isolated and in animal studies which don’t always translate into humans
More research is needed to fully understand the benefits of Kombucha
If you enjoy Kombucha and it fits into your budget there could be potential as with other fermented foods for improving gut health.
For overall good gut health eat a variety of healthy food choices such as fruits, vegetables, and low fat yogurt. Many fruits and vegetables contain prebiotic fiber which essentially is food for the good bacteria in our guts.
For individuals with digestive diseases probiotic supplements are generally considered safe (excluding severely immunocompromised individuals) .
Determination and characterization of the anti-microbial activity of the fermented tea Kombucha.
C.J. Greenwalt, R.A. Ledford, and K.H. Steinkraus Department of Food Science Cornell University Ithaca, New York 14853.
What is Kombacha and how do the health claims stack up. http://theconversation.com/what-is-kombucha-and-how-do-the-health-claims-stack-up-87180