Kombucha: Health or Hype?
You may have seen this trendy drink gaining popularity recently, but this fermented tea has been around for centuries. With its claimed beneficial probiotics, antioxidants, and ability to help reduce stomach issues while boosting our immune system, it is no wonder this beverage has earned recognition. An estimated one-fourth of consumers are including more functional foods and beverages in their diets this year since the pandemic started. The pandemic has also increased society’s concerns about health and wellness, as well as increasing ways to support their immune system. So how does Kombucha help our bodies?
The slightly sour, fizzy concoction can be a great alternative to other sugar-sweetened beverages since it is a fermented product. Fermented foods produce probiotic bacteria that at specific concentrations can potentially help boost gut health and improve digestion. Several studies on probiotics suggest they even help improve mental health due to the association of the gut-brain axis. However, studies are limited and more research is in need to confirm if Kombucha contains the exact concentration to deem an effective probiotic. Commercial products may have less probiotic effect due to pasteurization, which destroys harmful bacteria as well as “good” probiotic bacteria. You can include other probiotic-containing foods such as yogurt, sauerkraut, kimchi, and kefir in your diet for increased gut health.
Kombucha is high in antioxidants, which help protect our bodies from oxidative damage caused by free radicals. The key to minimizing free radicals is to consume foods and beverages high in antioxidants. Kombucha is a fermented tea and tea, especially green tea, is said to be rich in certain antioxidants hence the theory that it is good for our overall health. To ensure you are reaping these benefits, check the label of your Kombucha. It should list tea in the ingredients list and not state it is a “Kombucha-like” product.
Kombucha can be a great alternative to soda or other sugar-sweetened beverages, but make sure to check the label. It also contains small amounts of caffeine and alcohol (less than 0.5%). In conclusion, more long term, extensive studies are in need to confirm the proclaimed health benefits but the drink is fine to consume daily in moderation. It also has a great vinegary-sour (maybe fruity) taste!