By now, any self-respecting natural health food aficionado has heard of kombucha, if not tasted it. You may know it comes from the mother mushroom, also called a scoby, and that it is a “functional” drink offering a bevy of health bennies. But kombucha is far more than just an alternative beverage to swig down your lunch with.
Kombucha proponents liken the drink to a fountain of youth that cures all ills; detractors denounce kombucha as dangerous magnet for microbial contamination. The truth lies somewhere in the middle.
While there is scarce scientific data to back up the claims that kombucha cures cancer, eliminates wrinkles and removes liver spots, reduces hot flashes during menopause, and helps muscle aches, joint pains, coughs, allergies, migraine headaches and cataracts, there is mounting evidence that the probiotics in kombucha do your body good. Kombucha contains live bacteria shown to support digestion and possibly even the immune system.*
Given the media’s tendency to decry or exaggerate, here are three health benefits of kombucha that I believe are legitimate.
Kombucha is made from a combination of yeast, bacteria, sugar and tea that ferments for at least a week. The fermentation of the tea, typically black tea, creates a minimal amount of alcohol (controversial but in fact negligible), and provides organic acids, enzymes, beneficial microflora and B vitamins. The organic acids support the digestive system’s ability to remove toxins from the liver and digestive tract. The enzymes optimize the stomach’s acid-alkaline balance, supporting waste removal and providing immune system support.*
Improved nutrient availability
Fermented foods, which are literally predigested by microorganisms, boost nutrient availability. Minerals become easier for our bodies to access, and dense, compound nutrients that can be difficult for our bodies to break down are primed for absorption.
Kombucha contains a high number of glucosamines that help to support joint health. Glucosamines offer joints moisture, lubrication and flexibility, protecting the connective tissue from free radical damage. Studies suggest that kombucha also produces vitamin B3, shown to support blood vessel health and blood flow.*
If you are still on the fence, the proof is in the brew. As fermentation expert Sandor Katz says, “Like any ferment, it contains unique metabolic by-products and living bacterial cultures that may or may not agree with you. Try some, starting with small servings, and see how it tastes and feels to you.”
*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.