Kombucha: Magical Health Elixir Or Simply Funky Tea?

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Kombucha tea, a magical health elixir.

What is Kombucha?

Kombucha is a low-calorie beverage and a healthier and balanced alternative to other standard soft-drinks options such as soda and fresh fruit juice. Kombucha is probiotic, consists of antioxidants, and exhibits antimicrobial properties. Consequently, ingesting Kombucha may enhance your digestive system and immunity. One can locate Kombucha starting from every local café to the food store shelves. While it might appear like an all-new drink, fizzy fermented tea has been around for many years. Its origin dates back to 200 BC in China. Since then, it has been drunk for its supposed unique curative and cleansing properties. Nowadays, Kombucha is a mainstream item supplied worldwide in restaurants, shops, and online portals. It comes in a selection of flavors. Some consume it for its purported fitness advantages, whereas others may drink it for enjoyment. Many kombucha producers tout the drink for several fitness qualities, such as healthier food digestion and immunity.

In this article, you are going to discover the benefits of Kombucha before consuming this fashionable beverage. Kombucha is a lightly effervescent fermented beverage made with tea, sugar, yeast, and several mini organisms. A swarm of living microorganisms and yeast, referred to as SCOBY (symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast), is introduced to sweetened tea and left to ferment for one to three weeks.

Health Benefits of Kombucha

  1. Improves gut health: Kombucha contains probiotics or friendly bacteria. Probiotics are one of Kombucha’s thoroughly commended physical fitness benefits. Like other dishes and beverages prepared through an organic fermentation system, Kombucha contains a prominent Lactobacillus population [1], which improves digestion, gut fitness, and helps balance your microbiome.
  2. Reduces risk of infection: While preparing Kombucha, the fermentation process produces acetic acid, a major component present in vinegar. Acetic acid can kill several unsafe bacteria similar to Candida fungus yeasts and other infection-causing germs. While there isn’t any systematic study on humans supporting the claim that Kombucha can help us stay clear of these kinds of infections, acetic acid’s antimicrobial properties are well-studied. Studies[2, 3] have confirmed that Kombucha tea has antimicrobial properties. In other words, Kombucha might help you fight harmful microbes and help you to prevent infections by killing a range of bacteria.
  3. Reduces the risk of cell damage: Kombucha, especially the one made from green tea, is rich in antioxidants primarily due to the tea’s polyphenols. Antioxidants are substances that fight free radicals and reactive molecules and prevent cell damage. This effect has been confirmed through several rat experiments[4, 5, 6] where it has been observed that Kombucha reduces the toxicity of the liver.
  4. Reduces the risk of heart disease: In 2015, a group of researchers conducted experiments on rats[7] and found out that Kombucha tea, through its antioxidant activity, lowers the levels of heart-disease-causing cholesterols. However, there is no study to confirm the same effect on human subjects.
  5. Reduces risk of type 2 diabetes: A 2012 study on rats[8] suggested that Kombucha tea has hypoglycemic properties. In other words, Kombucha tea lowered blood sugar levels in diabetic rats. As before, this effect is yet to be confirmed on human subjects.

Often, the commercially available Kombucha tea contains a high amount of added sugar for better taste. However, this may not be good for your health. So, next, we discuss how to prepare your own Kombucha tea at home.

How to make Kombucha tea at home

Kombucha’s acidic contents might react with a metal container, and the plastic container might promote nasty bacteria to grow. Therefore, for Kombucha preparation, use a clean glass container. As described before, SCOBY is the mother of Kombucha. SCOBY provides the necessary bacteria and yeast to ferment the sweet tea and protects it from outside contaminants. The first step in Kombucha preparation is making SCOBY.

SCOBY Preparation

Ingredients: Water, Sugar, Tea, Store-bought unflavored Kombucha

Steps:

  1. To prepare tea, boil water in a clean pot.
  2. Add sugar to taste.
  3. Add tea.
  4. Let the tea cool down to room temperature.
  5. Mix the sweet tea and premade Kombucha in a glass container.
  6. Cover the glass container with tightly woven cloth and let the mixture ferment at room temperature in a dark place for 1 to 4 weeks, until a SCOBY has formed.

Kombucha Preparation

Follow steps 1 through 4 to prepare fresh sweetened tea and put the SCOBY in it, and let it ferment for a week or two based on your taste preference. The longer the fermentation duration, the less sweet it becomes.

Please note that it is imperative to take extra caution about cleanliness when making Kombucha at home. Fermentation for more than required or contamination due to a non-sterile environment might cause unnecessary health hazards.

Next, we shall discuss the best timing to drink Kombucha.

When is the best time to drink Kombucha?

Often people get confused about what is the best time to maximize the benefits of drinking Kombucha. Luckily, there is no hard and first rule. Kombucha can be enjoyed at any time of the day. You might drink it with your morning breakfast or after lunch. After a strenuous workout, Kombucha may be swallowed to quench your thirst. Or, you might pick it up as an alternative to a chilled beer after a long stressful day. It all depends on when you like it the most.

For most people, there is no severe hazard to consuming a low-sugar kombucha. However, excess Kombucha consumption has its own side effects. Next, we describe the side effects of too much intake of Kombucha.

Side effects of too much Kombucha consumption

  1. Weight gain: The commercially available Kombucha is often extra sweetened to enhance its taste. Therefore, excess consumption of Kombucha might lead to excess calorie consumption and weight gain.
  2. Sleep deprivation and mood disorder: The main ingredient for Kombucha is tea, which contains caffeine. Although Kombucha contains less caffeine than regular tea, excessive intake before going to bed may cause sleeplessness[9]. Also, excess caffeine might lead to anxiety[10].
  3. Bloating: Like any other carbonated beverage, drinking too much Kombucha increases carbon dioxide levels in the digestive system and causes bloating and excess gas.

How much Kombucha is safe per day?

As discussed, too much Kombucha intake might lead to several health hazards. Therefore, it is best to limit your ingestion to two servings of 8 oz (or 240 ml) per day. It is essential to buy low-calorie, low-sugar, high-quality Kombucha for daily use. Also, make sure to limit the calorie intake to 50 calories per serving.

Bottom line

Kombucha has the potential to provide a lot of health benefits. However, many of its properties are yet to be scientifically studied on humans. Several risk factors are associated with homemade Kombucha, as over fermentation or contamination might call for professional medical attention. Too much intake of Kombucha also has its side effects. To conclude, Kombucha is a healthy probiotic beverage if appropriately made and consumed within the limit.

Reference

  1. Sequence-based analysis of the bacterial and fungal compositions of multiple kombucha (tea fungus) samples
  2. Antioxidant and Antibacterial Activity of the Beverage Obtained by Fermentation of Sweetened Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis L.) Tea with Symbiotic Consortium of Bacteria and Yeasts
  3. Antibacterial and Antifungal Activities of Black and Green Kombucha Teas
  4. Hepatoprotective and curative properties of Kombucha tea against carbon tetrachloride-induced toxicity
  5. Lead Induced Oxidative Stress: Beneficial Effects of Kombucha Tea
  6. Hepatoprotective properties of kombucha tea against TBHP-induced oxidative stress via suppression of mitochondria-dependent apoptosis
  7. Protective effect of kombucha on rats fed a hypercholesterolemic diet is mediated by its antioxidant activity
  8. Hypoglycemic and antilipidemic properties of kombucha tea in alloxan-induced diabetic rats
  9. High caffeine intake in adolescents: associations with difficulty sleeping and feeling tired in the morning
  10. An update on the mechanisms of the psychostimulant effects of caffeine

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