Though kombucha is now practically a household word for many health-minded folks, a decade ago comparatively few Americans were aware of this unique beverage. Called the “Immortal Health Elixir” by the Chinese, kombucha originated in the Far East around 2,000 years ago.
This fermented or “cultured” beverage is typically made from black tea—though green or white tea are also used—along with some form of sugar, which facilitates the fermentation process. The result is a naturally carbonated drink with a slightly tart flavor, rich in many beneficial compounds. Here are some compelling reasons to enjoy this age-old elixir:
The Benefits of Drinking Kombucha
1. It’s a great source of probiotics
Probiotics are beneficial bacterial that have been shown in numerous studies to support a healthy digestive system, among other benefits. These gut-friendly microbes are found in all naturally fermented/cultured foods and beverages, and kombucha is an especially rich source. In fact, the bubbly drink is said to contain billions of probiotics. To ensure plenty of live “good” bacteria make it past your stomach acid to support your gut, it’s helpful to consume diverse strains. One study found kombucha to typically contain gluconacetobacter, acetobacter, lactobacillus and zygosaccharomyces.1
2. It’s a functional food
In the 1980s, the Japanese government created a class of "functional foods" which described items with wellness benefits beyond basic nutrition. Meanwhile, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics defines functional foods as: "Whole foods along with fortified, enriched or enhanced foods that have a potentially beneficial effect on health when consumed as part of a varied diet on a regular basis at effective levels based on significant standards of evidence." Either way, kombucha fits the bill, offering not only healthy hydration, but also rich levels of probiotics, plus polyphenols, enzymes, antioxidants, B-complex vitamins, beneficial acids and more.
3. It supports a healthy microbiome
Hippocrates once said that "all disease begins in the gut." Your intestinal tract contains trillions of bacteria and other microbes, collectively referred to as your microbiome. Probiotics have been shown to help to nurture a healthy microbiome and to support proper digestion, a normal immune response and the production of important enzymes and vitamins. Conversely, a lack of these helpful microbes can lead to dysbiosis—an unbalanced ratio of “good” vs. “bad” bugs in the gut. A recent study found that dysbiosis of the gut microbiota is associated with intestinal disorders such as inflammatory bowel disease, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), and celiac disease, as well as extra-intestinal disorders including allergies, asthma, metabolic syndrome, cardiovascular disease,and obesity.2
4. It's an ideal summer elixir
Whether you prefer to avoid alcohol, or just want cool ideas for delicious summer hydration, naturally delicious mocktails and elixirs rock! They can be created from any combination of tea, fresh juice and/or kombucha with endless refreshing variations. One example is a 50/50 blend of lemonade and Lemon-Ginger kombucha, garnished with orange slices. Or perhaps Ginger-Berry kombucha with fresh-cut strawberries, a squeeze of lime and liquid stevia to taste? You might also try a luscious mélange of Tart Cherry kombucha and fresh-squeezed lime juice spiked with agave inulin, a natural, low-glycemic sweetener made from soluble agave fiber. Garnish with fragrant fresh mint and enjoy.
5. It's a fun cocktail mixer
Commercial cocktail mixes often contain refined sugar, artificial colors, flavors and other dubious additives. Fortunately, a healthier “craft” cocktail is easy to make. The key is choosing good-for-you mixers, such as iced tea, fresh juices, and/or some delicious kombucha, available in numerous flavors. Imagine Lemon-Ginger Drops, made by blending vodka with fresh lemon juice, Lemon-Ginger kombucha and maple syrup to taste. Or add Bacardi to a berry-flavored kombucha, plus raw, organic honey. Blend with frozen berries, daiquiri style and enjoy! How about Coconut-Lime kombucha combined with fresh lime juice, a fine tequila, and a touch of raw, organic agave nectar?
Once you start to fully appreciate kombucha, it’s hard to beat this amazing, highly refreshing beverage for optimal vitality—this summer and all year round!