Kombucha is everywhere. From the health food store to the large grocery chains, you can find hundreds of choices. But exactly what is kombucha? Kombucha is a fermented beverage, made primarily with black or green tea and sugar as the base. To that, an odd, disc-shaped combination of bacteria and yeast is added to promote fermentation. This disc, or SCOBY, is where the kombucha magic starts. “SCOBY” stands for symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeasts. The brewing process is very unique to each brewer. The type of tea used, the sugar, the bacteria, and yeast in the SCOBY are all variables that create the many different varieties of kombucha on the market today.
There are so many different brands, blends, and flavors of kombucha, choosing one can be overwhelming. Probiotic-rich kombucha is credited as being a curative beverage full of beneficial bacteria. It is believed to support a healthy gut microbiome – the healthy bacteria in the digestive tract – and the immune system, as well as aid in healing. Whatever the reason behind drinking kombucha, its popularity has risen tremendously over the last 10 years, and it’s worth understanding both the pros and cons of adding it to your diet.
Is drinking kombucha a good choice for everyone? For sure, kombucha is believed to offer many health benefits. It is considered a probiotic, aiding in digestion and promoting healthy gut function. Some kombucha brands also add ginger and mint, which are two ingredients known to aid in digestion and ease stomach discomfort. Some also believe that kombucha is a curative elixir. Some just simply like the tangy, sweet taste and choose kombucha over soda to get the fizzy drink fix.
Although research is very limited, some studies suggest that kombucha can aid in reducing the risk of cancer, reduce the incidence of infection by supporting the immune system, aid in weight loss, promote healthy liver function, reduce inflammation, and even boost mental health.
With all of those positive attributes, you can see why kombucha has gained such a level of popularity. However, it is not safe for everyone because kombucha is not pasteurized, otherwise all of the healthy bacteria would be killed. That does leave the beverage open to the growth of other types of bacteria that may not be safe or healthy. Caution should be taken by anyone with a weak or compromised immune system when drinking a kombucha beverage.
Additionally, kombucha contains natural carbonation, which can cause bloating and discomfort. It’s also important to be aware of the sugar content and the type of sugar used in the brewing process in the kombucha variety you choose. And lastly, kombucha is fermented and contains FODMAPS, which are a specific type of carbohydrate. FODMAPS is an acronym that stands for “Fermentable, Oligo-saccharides, Di-saccharides, Mono-saccharides, and Polyol.” FODMAPS can be resistant to digestion and cause severe gastrointestinal symptoms.
Kombucha may not be for everybody, but it’s here to stay. Sticking with commercial varieties and brands you trust is an essential part of maintaining the health you are trying to promote by drinking kombucha in the first place.
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