As I was reading scientific research and review articles about the impacts of kombucha alone on health, I realized there aren’t that many valid sources of information to depend on. Although kombucha has existed for hundreds of years, there aren’t many facts yet about its effects on human health. There are, however, proven benefits to consuming fermented food products in general, a family of foods that include kombucha.
Keep in mind that as you read this, there is still more work to be done exclusively on kombucha.
In general, fermented foods such as kefir, sauerkraut, tempeh, miso, kimchi, and kombucha have largely grown in popularity in recent years.
Kombucha is a beverage that derives from tea (traditionally black tea), that is fermented by a variety of yeasts and bacteria called SCOBY. It is this specific fermentation process that creates the beneficial properties of kombucha, although the exact components and the development of different particles in the drink during fermentation aren’t yet completely defined. Some scientists say that the composition of kombucha can be compared to a small but complex community of symbiotic species.
The final product of fermentation, kombucha, can be described as a ”lightly carobanted, slightly sour, and refreshing drink, which is composed of several acides, 14 amino acids, vitamins and some hydrolytic enzymes.”
Here are just some of the potential benefits of drinking kombucha:
- Antimicrobial activity: it decreases the development of a variety of bacteria, such as E. coli, Salmonella, H. pylori (that causes stomach ulcers), and Staphylococcus (that causes throat infections).
- Antioxidant activity: certain components of kombucha have the ability to capture free radicals that promote inflammation in the body.
- Anti-inflammatory activity: suppression of pro-inflammatory molecules like TNF-a and IL-6
- Reduces high blood sugar and has anti-diabetic potential, according to a study conducted on diabetic lab rats. After administration of different concentrations of Kombucha extracts on a span on 45 days, scientists observed a decrease in average blood sugar (glycosylated hemoglobin) and an increase in insulin levels (which in turn regulates blood sugar).
Health warning: for those who make kombucha at home, you must be cautious of the procedure used to do so, to assure that no dangerous bacteria will grow in your kombucha before consumption. Some of these bacteria may cause nausea, dizziness, headaches, and other digestive issues.
It is also important to note that many of these benefits were observed in a controlled setting among lab rats. More research is necessary in order to confirm these benefits among humans.
Hope you learned something new today!
- Villareal-Soto, S. et al (2018). Understanding Kombucha Tea Fermentation: A Review. Journal of Food Science. Volume 83, issue 3.
- Sreeramulu, G. et al (2000). Kombucha fermentation and its antimicrobial activity. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. 48(6):2589-94.
- Dimidi, E. et al (2019). Fermented Foods: Definition and Characteristics, Impact of the Gut Microbiota and Effects on Gastrointestinal Health and Disease. Nutrients. 11(8).