A LOOK AT THE HEALTH BENEFITS OF THIS “MIRACLE DRINK”
As with most fads, many of us have been taught to throw caution to the wind, although caution often blows merrily along with the breeze when it comes to matters involving dieting, anti-ageing, and get-rich-quick schemes. But the elder-millennial to, let’s say, baby-boomer generations might remember this fermented tea from the early 2000s, when it graced the shelves of most good health shops and niche supermarkets. So it’s not like it’s anything new. What is it that keeps us coming back? And is it really the cure-all tonic it’s cracked up to be?
WHAT DOES YOUR GUT FEEL?
For something that’s been “mainstream” for at least twenty years, there’s not a lot of research out there on kombucha. But its benefits are rooted in gut health. Essentially, kombucha is a drink of fermented green or black tea, combined with sugar, yeast and bacteria, rendering it a natural probiotic. It’s said to contain in the vicinity of a billion probiotics, but probiotic supplements contain about 450 billion. This would seem to disqualify kombucha from the race but bear in mind that when taking a probiotic supplement, a lot of that “good” bacteria is killed off by your stomach acids. Some studies have found that drinking kombucha regularly may improve irritable bowel, syndrome, inflammatory bowel disease and constipation.
DOES IT HELP YOU LOSE WEIGHT?
The popular media might have touted kombucha as that natural alternative to diet pills, but think about it, that’s a lot of pressure to put on what is basically an iced tea. However, the fermentation process “eats” much of the sugar contained in the drink (but beware: some manufacturers add a bit extra during the bottling process to get you hooked). Kombucha is supposed to be slightly sour, so if it tastes more like a soft drink than vinegar, just get that Fanta you really wanted instead. But while drinking kombucha doesn’t burn fat, it has been proven to help kick-start your metabolism.
IS MORE, MORE?
The question of how much kombucha to drink is a tricky one. As we know by now, its probiotic count is but a fraction of that of a probiotic supplement, which means you can probably mainline the stuff, right? Not so fast. As a fermented drink, it does contain trace amounts of alcohol. While this might sound like a lockdown loophole, it’s only 0.5% alcohol per the average serving. Nevertheless, many healthcare practitioners suggest starting with about 125 ml per day and working your way up gradually to about 350 ml – about the volume of an average soft drink can.
IS IT AN IMMUNE BOOSTER?
The link between a healthy gut and a healthy immune system has been long established. As the lining of the intestines produces a great deal of antibodies, your gut accounts for roughly 70% of your body’s total immune system. If consumed in the right amounts – and presuming your overall diet doesn’t undo the good work kombucha is doing for your body – kombucha can boost your immune system.
WHAT’S THE SKINNY ON KOMBUCHA?
With benefits linked to better gut health, kombucha is considered to offer some relief for conditions such as depression, inflammation and constipation. In the end it comes down to a matter of taste. There are other foods and beverages that offer similar benefits, like sauerkraut, kimchi and kefir water. So, if you’ve never had it, try it out. See if it does anything for you. And if it does, make it part of your life.