As health trends come and go, kombucha is one that’s seemed to stay in our supermarket counters and local coffee shop menus for a while. Starting as early as 2016, kombucha is now a regular item you can find bottled and stocked inside your local grocery store in all sorts of different flavors and colors. But what is kombucha? We’ll look into what it is, what it’s made out of, and some of the great health benefits it can offer your diet.
As well, we’ll dive into some ways in which kombucha can help with weight loss and balancing your daily nutrition.
What Is Kombucha?
Kombucha is typically a sweet and sometimes slightly bitter fizzy drink made from tea, sugar, bacteria and yeast. The process of making kombucha is similar to most fermented products, but it varies in that its base is typically a sweetened green or black tea. From there, it’s allowed to ferment with a symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast (SCOBY). During this process, the yeast in SCOBY breaks down all of the sugar in the sweetened tea and releases friendly probiotic bacteria. The fermentation process also produces acetic acid (also found in vinegar) and several other acidic compounds, trace levels of alcohol and gases that make it carbonated
While this might look like a recent health craze, kombucha has been on the menu for thousands of years. The earliest records of humans making kombucha was 220 B.C. in northeast China, where doctors and physicians would prescribe it to patients for its healing properties. It didn’t spread to Europe until about the 20th century, where it became popular in Russia and Germany.
It’s hard to nail down specific kombucha nutritional facts because each batch is typically made differently. Green tea kombuchas will hold different nutritional properties than black teas. From there, there’s a breakdown on the sugars used for the bacteria. Honey, for example, might provide different benefits from using juice sugars, or even plain granulated sugars.
It’s important that, if you’re purchasing a bottle of kombucha at a store, that you check the nutrition label for specific ingredients used. This can provide a deeper insight into the way it was produced and any specific nutritional facts of that kombucha. However, most teas do boast somewhat similar properties, and most kombucha will boast similar nutritional facts.
In an 8 oz glass of kombucha, it contains:
- Calories: 29
- Sodium: 10 mg
- Carbohydrates: 8 g
- Sugars: 8 g
- Fiber: 0 g
- Fat: 0 g
- Protein: 0 g
Let’s not forget those probiotics, which we’ll talk about more later. As well, kombucha contains a bunch of B vitamins such as thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, folate, B6, and B12. Just like pumpkins were the kings of vitamin A, a single serving of kombucha holds over 100% of your daily recommended serving of vitamin B.
If you feel like your food intake is lacking in vitamin B, then kombucha is definitely a must for your daily diet without changing what foods you eat. Kombucha comes in a ton of different flavors, so it’ll be easy to find one just for you.
Health Benefits of Kombucha
The biggest health benefit kombucha offers is its probiotic aspect and its wide variety of vitamin B.
There’s many strains of probiotic bacteria in kombucha. There are many lactic acid bacteria strains like the ones found in probiotic yogurt. These aid your digestive health by helping to add and support the diversity in your microbial gut biome. As well, these gut-positive bacteria can help cleanse any bad bacteria in your stomach that might be causing more chronic issues.
The diversity of vitamin B in kombucha is another one of its greatest strengths. Thiamine allows your body to use carbohydrates as energy. It’s essential for glucose metabolism, and it plays a key role in nerve, muscle, and heart function, keeping each one safe and healthy. Riboflavin allows the body to break down tons of different carbohydrates, proteins and fats, then uses them as energy. Niacin helps regulate your blood fat levels, which can prevent chronic cardiovascular issues such as blockages and clots in your blood stream. This diversity of vitamin B in kombucha makes it the one-stop-shop for those with a lack of vitamin B in their diets.
There’s a large quantity of antioxidants in kombucha. These antioxidants are known to better aid your body than the antioxidants found in supplements. These antioxidants also help detoxify your liver, allowing it to better do its job.
One of the main substances produced when kombucha is fermented is acetic acid, which is also abundant in vinegar. Like the polyphenols we find in most teas, the acetic acid found in kombucha is able to kill many potentially harmful microorganisms, helping to cleanse your gut of bacterial colonies that aren’t meant to be there.
While kombucha is a super healthy and nutritious drink, it does come with some things to watch out for.
While the probiotic aspects are great for your health overall, drinking too much kombucha can cause upset stomachs and can make you feel gassy and bloated.
As kombucha is a fermented product, this means that it’s slightly alcoholic. It’d be nearly impossible to become drunk off drinking kombucha. However, for those who are pregnant, it’s recommended to only drink kombucha in small doses at most. As well, it’s theorized that the lives bacterial cultures could be harmful to your child. If you’re pregnant or breastfeeding, it’s definitely recommended to talk to your doctor before incorporating kombucha into your diet.
How To Make Your Own Kombucha
Making your own kombucha is a mixed bag. On the one hand, you have complete and total control over what you’re making, what ingredients you’re using, and the flavors you add to it. It’s a fun experience getting to create this unique, one-of-a-kind drink in your own house. However, it can be a bit tricky, especially trying to brew something up with live cultures such as the SCOBY utilized in most kombucha recipes.
Thankfully, we’ve found that BrewBuch has a comprehensive guide to making your own kombucha, along with some great images and recommendations for substitutions in case you don’t have the “traditional” ingredients needed for kombucha brewing. Head over there to get started on your own mixing and brewing!
Kombucha: The Verdict
Kombucha is a powerful tool to add to your nutrition arsenal. The probiotics and variety and density of vitamin B make this a sure-fire way to diversify your drinks. Replacing a soda or sweet tea will help lower your sugar intake while providing you with some tasty and bubbly nutrition that’s sure to win you over with its variety of flavors and options.