8 Powerful Ways Kombucha Benefits Your Health
Everyone is drinking kombucha these days, but you might be wondering what exactly the drink is and if there's any reason you should drink it too. Here's everything you need to know about the bubbly beverage.
What is kombucha?
Although kombucha has been gaining popularity recently, it has been around for over 2,000 years and dates back to ancient China, partly thanks to its potential probiotic benefits—here are some compelling health reasons to get more probiotics. Kombucha is a slightly bubbly, sour-tasting drink that consists of a combination of yeast, sugar, and black tea or green tea that has been allowed to ferment. “While it sits, a metabolic process produces bacteria, gases, and acids, otherwise known as fermentation,” says IU Health Registered Dietitian Katherine Hake. “Think sauerkraut, kimchi, and pickles.”
Why do you need probiotics?
Our gut bacteria is responsible for digestion of food, absorption of vitamins and minerals, and removal of toxins. Probiotics are live microorganisms—also considered the “good'” type of bacteria—that can improve our intestinal health. Check to see if you have any of these clear signs that your gut bacteria is imbalanced. “The bacteria responsible for some kinds of fermentation are similar or identical to some bacteria found in the human body,” says Alex Lewin, author of Kombucha, Kefir, and Beyond. “By ingesting these bacteria, we can strengthen our own biological processes, such as digestion and immune function.”
Kombucha Benefit: Improves your gut health
“The gut of a healthy person is 85 percent good bacteria and 15 percent bad bacteria, but sometimes this ratio gets out of whack, which leads to health problems,” says Tanya Zuckerbrot MS, RD. “Consuming probiotic products helps to ensure this ratio stays in place, aka it reflorates the GI tract with good bacteria.” (Don’t miss out on trying tepache, kombucha’s cousin that’s also packed with gut health benefits.)
Kombucha Benefit: Eases your digestion
Kombucha benefits your stomach, as it can make foods more digestible. “The probiotics found in the drink can help with gastrointestinal health, and it can even help alleviate symptoms for those with irritable bowel system,” says Hake. Here are some diets to consider if you have digestive problems.
Kombucha Benefit: Delivers antioxidants
Because the drink is made from tea, it naturally contains antioxidants, but a study from the Indian Journal of Experimental Biology found that kombucha actually contains more antioxidants than regular tea, as the fermentation process creates additional antioxidants. “Antioxidants reduce oxidative stress that can damage cells,” says Zuckerbrot.
Kombucha Benefit: Boosts your immunity
The probiotics found in the drink support your immune system, as they absorb nutrients and fight infection and illness. “Kombucha may improve resistance against cancer, prevent cardiovascular diseases, promote digestive functions, stimulate the immune system, and reduce inflammatory problems,” says Zuckerbrot.
Kombucha Benefit: Increases your energy
Many people experience gastrointestinal issues from drinking coffee, and switching to kombucha can help you stay alert while also mending your tummy. “It can give you energy,” says Hake. “Kombucha does contain caffeine, anywhere from 8 to 14 mg depending on the type and brand.” You might also want to try these other energy-boosting foods.
Kombucha Benefit: Provides B vitamins
Kombucha is a good source of B vitamins. “These vitamins, such as vitamin B12, help with the creation of red blood cells,” says Hake. “A lack of vitamin B12 can leave you feeling tired, weak, and lead to other negative symptoms. It’s often found in animal products, so the drink can be a good source of B12 for vegans and vegetarians.” Watch out for these signs you’re not getting enough vitamin B12.
Kombucha Benefit: Helps you absorb nutrients
This fermented drink can help make nutrients more bio-available. “Fermentation can break down compounds—phytic acid, for instance—that bind minerals and make them impossible for our bodies to use,” says Lewin. Better digestion can also help improve nutrient absorption. Remember: Make sure you avoid these eight foods that are bad for your digestion.
Kombucha Benefit: Eliminates some sugars
Drinking kombucha tea can help you cut extra calories and sugars out of your diet. “With only 30 to 60 calories per bottle, and less than five grams of sugar, it is a healthier alternative to soda, frappuccinos, and juices,” says Hake. Here are some other ways you can help crack your sugar addiction.