Whether you’re going the DIY route and making kombucha at home or sipping on a kombucha-based cocktail at a trendy bar, chances are you’ve tried and maybe even grown to love this delicious fermented beverage.
From arthritis to Crohn’s disease, kombucha is credited with being a cure-all drink for anything that ails you, and many people swear by its healing properties. Although many of these claims are still in need of corroborating research, there are definite benefits to drinking kombucha besides its addictive fruity–sour taste, so grab a glass of your favorite fizzy kombucha and let’s toast to your health and these five benefits of the trending elixir.
It’s alive! But just what the heck is kombucha?
In basic terms, kombucha is a fermented drink that’s made by combining a SCOBY with sweetened green or black tea. “But what on earth is a SCOBY?” you might be asking yourself. It's an acronym, for starters.
It stands for symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast and it’s the foundation (otherwise known as the mother) of any batch of kombucha. A SCOBY is a living culture, which means it feeds off of the sweetened tea as it ferments, giving kombucha its delightful fizziness.
To fully take advantage of kombucha’s health benefits it’s important to drink raw or unpasteurized kombucha, as the pasteurization process kills off the healthy bacteria that are naturally formed. Make sure that any unpasteurized kombucha you drink is from a reputable source to prevent contamination; meaning, maybe avoid the kombucha your friend is making in their basement.
1. Make friends with the probiotics in kombucha.
Just like yogurt or kimchi, kombucha is fermented, which means it contains billions of friendly bacteria that are commonly referred to as probiotics. Probiotics have been shown to have a positive effect on chronic digestive issues, bladder infections, and yeast infections and are also known to promote overall gut health.
2. A Vegan Source of Complex B Vitamins
As with other fermented foods, kombucha is potentially a good source of vitamin B12, especially if you eat a largely plant-based diet. Naturally occurring vitamin B12 is responsible for turning our food into energy and is almost exclusively found in meat, fish, and dairy products. Give yourself a pat on the back the next time you’re sipping kombucha, and remind yourself you’re consuming this vital nutrient.
3. Antioxidant Power
Kombucha made with black or green tea is an excellent source of antioxidants, surpassing even fruits and vegetables in its free radical–destroying abilities. In addition to regular use of black and green teas in beauty products, the same antioxidants found in kombucha have been shown to have a positive effect on heart health, cholesterol levels, and stroke prevention.
4. An Impressive Immune Booster
The same probiotics that are found in kombucha and other fermented foods have shown promise in clinical studies researching their immune system–boosting properties.
Studies have shown a positive correlation between gut health and a strong immune system, and probiotic supplementation, like drinking kombucha, can have a positive impact on your digestive system.
5. Keep your blood sugar under control.
A study summarized by the American Institute for Cancer Research that originally appeared in the journal Molecular Nutrition & Food Research has shown that the compounds found in green tea, which might just be a component of your favorite kombucha flavor, may be beneficial for people who have high blood sugar or type 2 diabetes.
In fact, kombucha is sometimes recommended to patients with diabetes, and current research suggests it could play a high-impact role in diabetes treatment in the future.