Top 6 Health Benefits of Kombucha Tea + How to Drink It Safely Tips
8 minute read
Kombucha is a slightly effervescent, vinegary drink that’s made by fermenting sweetened tea. You’ve probably seen a whole refrigerated section of it at the grocery store, filled with dozens of different flavors. However, at its root, kombucha is simply tea, sugar, and the bacteria and yeast that ferment it.
This brew results in gut-loving probiotics, antioxidants, B vitamins, and even some antimicrobial properties. There is also support for kombucha aiding in the fight against cancer and type 2 diabetes. Here’s what we know about the health benefits of kombucha.
1. Probiotics for More Than Digestive Health
Yogurt. Kimchi. Sauerkraut. If you’re trying to up your probiotic game, you’re likely familiar with these probiotic-rich mainstays. Kombucha joins the lineup with high levels of the beneficial bacteria, especially Lactobacillus, as shown in this study.
Probiotics are most well known for being good for your digestive system, and studies have shown that they can help treat and even prevent a wide swath of gastrointestinal diseases.
A healthy gut and balance of probiotics in your body can also help boost your immune system, improve your cardiovascular health, and aid in weight loss.
If you’re not in the mood for sauerkraut, reach for a bottle of refreshing kombucha to get your probiotic fix and an overall health boost. And if you don’t want to start drinking kombucha everyday, taking daily probiotics supplements can also be very helpful and effective.
2. Antioxidant Protection
Your body is constantly creating free radicals, which are a natural byproduct of a lot of the body’s chemical processes. These free radicals are unstable atoms, and too many of them can cause harm to your cells and even change their structure and function through a process called oxidation.
Several studies support the theory that having too many free radicals in your body, called oxidative stress, plays a part in most degenerative diseases like cancer, diabetes, and senile dementia.
Kombucha is made up mostly of tea, and tea is rich with powerful antioxidants called flavonoids. Antioxidants function as the free radical clean up crew. They are able to make free radicals stable again, without become unstable themselves. This protects your cells from the damage that can lead to disease.
Flavonoids from tea have been found to be extremely effective at increasing the antioxidant capacity in the blood, which reduces the amount of damage that free radicals can do to your body, especially your DNA.
3. Essential B Vitamins
B vitamins are a crucial part of keeping your body healthy and operating at its best. They each have specific functions, but overall, B vitamins play essential roles in metabolism, DNA production, cell growth, red blood cell production, cell division, and neurological function.
Basically, B vitamins are absolutely vital to the basic activity of your cells.
An 8-oz serving of commercially made kombucha provides the following B vitamins:
♦ Vitamin B1 - 20% DV
♦ Vitamin B2 - 20% DV
♦ Vitamin B3 - 20% DV
♦ Vitamin B6 - 20% DV
♦ Vitamin B9 - 25% DV
♦ Vitamin B12 - 20% DV
For vegetarians and vegans, this is especially good news because vitamin B12 is mostly found in animal products, and as a result, vegetarians and vegans are at risk for a vitamin B12 deficiency.
Whether or not you eat meat and dairy, kombucha provides you with an energizing B-vitamin boost.
4. Antimicrobial Acetic Acid
Kombucha has a wonderfully refreshing, slightly sour taste that comes from acetic acid, which is also the active compound in vinegar.
Acetic acid has antimicrobial and antifungal properties that are effective against several illness-causing microbes and Candida species, but don’t harm the beneficial probiotic bacteria that are also present in kombucha.
This study shows that because kombucha is effective against such a wide variety of harmful bacteria, it is thought that it has other antimicrobial compounds other than just acetic acid.
Though we don’t fully understand how the antimicrobial properties of kombucha function or where they come from, there’s strong evidence of how well it works against pathological microorganisms.
5. The Fight Against Cancer
Cancer, in its many forms, is cells whose DNA have undergone mutations. This often results in out-of-control growth that makes up tumors.
The damage to cells and DNA that is caused by free radicals may play a role in in the development of cancer. The powerful antioxidant flavonoids from the tea in kombucha help reduce the amount of free radicals in the body, thus reducing the amount of damage and oxidative stress.
This study that was done on prostate cancer showed that kombucha helped kill off cancer cells by inhibiting angiogenesis. Angiogenesis is the process that cancer cells use to manipulate the surrounding tissues into forming new blood vessels that feed the tumor. Solid tumors need a steady supply of blood in order to grow, so the disruption in angiogenesis can help get cancer under control.
6. Taking On Type 2 Diabetes
While this study was done on rats, it shows promising results in how kombucha can be beneficial to those with type 2 diabetes.
After 30 days, kombucha helped to reduce blood glucose spikes and protected the liver-kidney function of the diabetic rats in the study. More research will need to be done in this area, but kombucha certainly has potential as a way to help treat and prevent diabetes.
Consume Kombucha Safely
Kombucha is made by adding a symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast (SCOBY) to sweetened tea. You can buy a SCOBY, which looks like a large flat disc, and make kombucha at home, but there are risks involved with homebrewing.
If made incorrectly, if it’s contaminated, or if it’s over-fermented, kombucha can cause serious health problems, even death. Quite the opposite effect from the health-boosting properties you want from your kombucha.
Homebrewed kombucha can also have up to 3% alcohol, a byproduct of the fermentation process, which may or may not be a concern for you.
Many people brew kombucha at home, but it is much safer to buy it. Kombucha is readily available online and grocery stores.
Commercially made kombucha is safe to consume and comes in both alcoholic and non-alcoholic (less than .5%) varieties. Some brands or varieties may have lots of sugar in them, so be sure to check the labels when you’re perusing the kombucha section.
The Bottom Line
Kombucha is an ancient fermented drink that’s made from tea and is a good source of probiotics, antioxidants, and B vitamins. Research looks promising for kombucha being an effective complementary treatment for conditions like cancer and diabetes.
While it’s possible to make kombucha at home that is much more economical than the store-bought kind, you run the risk of illness or even death from improperly homebrewed kombucha.
Be sure about the safety of your kombucha by buying it from the store, and enjoy the many health benefits of this fizzy, refreshing drink.
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