A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about the importance of adding fermented foods to your diet to improve your gut health. One of the fermented foods that makes almost a daily appearance in my life is kombucha. Kombucha is a naturally carbonated, fermented beverage filled with amino acids, probiotics and a spectrum of B vitamins. Black or green tea is combined with filtered water, sugar and a scoby (a symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast) and then left to ferment. After 7-10 days of fermentation, you are ready to bottle your natural health elixir.
Some of reported benefits of kombucha are:
Alkalizing effect on body
Can help skin rashes and eczema with topical use
Cures cancer and HIV
Soothes arthritis, gout and asthma
It is important to remember that Kombucha is not a “miracle” drink but it brings the body back in balance, helping it heal itself. All of these benefits have varying levels of contradictory research to support or disprove them- your best bet is to gradually add kombucha to your diet and make note of your body’s response.
While I love kombucha there are some potential reasons to be cautious with consuming it.. Kombucha is a “wildly fermented” beverage, meaning it relies on the naturally occurring yeasts and bacteria present in the scoby and environment to ferment. Some recommend for people with compromised immune systems or candida consume ferments from controlled, known starter cultures to avoid unwanted bacteria. Controlled kefir grains are available. Kombucha does rely on sugar for fermentation. Those avoiding sugar may be wise to choose a different fermented food. However, a longer brewing time will reduce the amount of sugar in Kombucha. Kombucha does retain some of the caffeine from the tea. If you are sensitive to caffeine other fermented beverages like coconut or water kefir might be better tolerated. Longer fermentation or decaffeinating the tea before fermentation will decrease the caffeine level. While relatively low, kombucha does contain some alcohol. Pregnant women and those avoiding alcohol for other reasons might want to explore other fermented products.
Ultimately, the best advise is to try a variety of ferments, paying attention to your body’s reactions so you can make an informed choice about which is best for you.