Health benefits kombucha How to Make This Gut-Friendly Beverage
Health benefits of kombucha: Probiotics and a high concentration of acid (acetic, gluconic and lactic). These bacteria are known as “cellulose-producing bacteria.” This means they produce cellulose, which acts as a shield to cells.
The sugar-tea solution is fermented by bacteria and yeast commonly known as a “SCOBY” (symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast). Although it’s usually made with black tea, kombucha can also be made with green teas — or both. Contrary to common claims, a SCOBY is not a kombucha mushroom.
Interested? Where to buy kombucha can get a little complicated, but it’s generally available for $3–$5 at natural health food stores and some grocery outlets. Others make it at home (which I’ll discuss a little later on).
Some people find it a healthier substitute for sodas, satisfying that craving for a fizzy drink. There are even some soda-flavored varieties — but watch the sugar content.
This health elixir has the following probiotic content:
- Gluconacetobacter (>85 percent in most samples)
- Acetobacter (<2 percent)
- Lactobacillus (up to 30 percent in some samples)
- Zygosaccharomyces (>95 percent)
How it’s made
Kombucha is made from either a green or black tea base. Added to that is white sugar, which has been fermented with a type of “tea fungus” called a symbiotic culture of acetic acid (vinegar) bacteria and yeast, or SCOBY, for one to two weeks.
Detailed scientific recipes are available for how to prepare kombucha. The taste of the kombucha changes during fermentation from a pleasantly fruity sour-like sparkling flavor, to a mild vinegary taste after a long incubation period.
The fermentation process is important, as the SCOBY changes the polyphenols– compounds normally found in tea, fruits, and vegetables – into other organic compounds. This increases the acidity, which prevents other micro-organisms from growing.
It is these new organic compounds that are claimed to provide health benefits beyond those already found in green or black tea.
Kombucha Nutrition Facts
I commonly hear people getting concerned about kombucha calories. While nutrition facts differ between brands and homemade brews, here is the breakdown of what one popular brand includes in a 16-ounce bottle of unpasteurized, organic kombucha:
- 60 calories
- 14 grams carbohydrates
- 4 grams sugar
- 20 milligrams sodium
- 100 micrograms folate (25 percent DV)
- 0.34 gram riboflavin/vitamin B2 (20 percent DV)
- 0.4 milligram vitamin B6 (20 percent DV)
- 0.3 milligram thiamine/vitamin B1 (20 percent DV)
- 4 milligrams niacin/vitamin B3 (20 percent DV)
- 1.2 micrograms vitamin B12 (20 percent DV)
Benefits of Kombucha
1. Beneficial for the lungs
A (probably) unexpected benefit of kombucha is its use as a potential treatment method for silicosis, a lung disease caused by repeated exposure to silica particles. Chinese scientists discovered that inhalation of kombucha could be a way to treat this and other diseases of the lungs caused by inhalation of dangerous material. That said, I would recommend you drink it, rather than inhaling it.
2. Powerful antibacterial agent
This one seems a little counterintuitive, doesn’t it? But it’s true — because of the type of bacteria found in kombucha, drinking the live cultures actually destroys bad bacteria responsible for infections.
In lab studies, kombucha has been found to have antibacterial effects against staph, E. coli, Sh. sonnei, two strains of salmonella and Campylobacter jejuni. The last of those is probably the most common cause of food poisoning in the U.S. It can sometimes be followed by a condition called Guillian-Barré syndrome, where the immune system attacks the nervous system. Because of the immense dangers of food-borne infections and significant costs to treat, the FDA is very interested in potential treatment methods for C. jejuni.
3. Helpful in managing diabetes
Although some practitioners warn against kombucha for diabetics, it seems that some research suggests just the opposite. This is assuming, of course, that you consume kombucha without a high sugar load.
Particularly due to the functions of antioxidants in it, it seems to help alleviate diabetes symptoms in research studies using animal subjects — and more efficiently than the anti-diabetic black tea from which it’s fermented. This appears to be especially true in terms of liver and kidney functions, which are generally poor for those with diabetes.
4. Good for the cardiovascular system
Kombucha has been considered to be beneficial to the heart for some time, although research efforts in this area have been scarce. However, it seems clear that, in animal models, kombucha helps lower triglyceride levels, as well as regulate cholesterol naturally.
5. Helps maintain a healthy liver
Since the liver helps filter and convert harmful compounds, it’s a vital component in digestion and overall health. The antioxidants in kombucha may protect the liver from oxidative stress and damage induced by acetaminophen overdose.
flavors pair well with kombucha?
Generally speaking, thanks to its tart flavor, kombucha tastes, best when blended into sour drinks. But for expert intel on flavor combinations, for kombucha cocktails, we checked in with Erin Donnelly, the Regional Sales Manager for Rowdy Mermaid Kombucha.
“We’ve found that dry and spicy flavors, such as the fresh ginger and pepperberry in our, Living Ginger kombucha, lend themselves well to a traditional mule, or a smoky mescal margarita,” she says.
In addition, botanical flavor profiles like lavender, chamomile, rose petal, and basil-scented kombucha pair perfectly with gin. You can also mix these styles of kombucha into mimosas made with a dry prosecco. Berry-flavored ‘booch is a flexible dance partner, that blends equally well with all the staples, from tequila to whiskey to vodka.
When mixing, be sure to add your kombucha last to preserve the carbonation. For delicious kombucha cocktail ideas, check out Real Simple’s recipes here. Cheers!