By now you’ve probably heard of kombucha or seen it in the grocery stores. What is this crazy stuff anyways? Kombucha is a popular beverage and natural folk remedy made by fermenting tea.
The Kombucha mushroom is thought to have originated in Asia during the Chinese Tsin dynasty in 212BC. It was referred to as the ‘Remedy for Immortality’ or the ‘Tea of Immortality’.
The kombucha or fermented tea is made from a culture or ‘mushroom’. This culture feeds on the sugar and tea and in exchange produces other substances: enzymes, various acids, vitamins, antibiotic substances, and small amounts of alcohol. The ‘mushroom’ is not really a mushroom at all, but a symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast (SCOBY).
If you really want to geek out, here is a list of the actual ingredients in the fermented tea: various enzymes, Acetic acid, Carbonic acid, Folic Acid, Gluconic acid, Glucuronic acid, Lactic acid, Usnic acid, Amino acids (various), Hydroxy acids (various), Vitamin B1 (Thiamin), Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin), Vitamin B3 (Niacin, niacinamide), Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine), Vitamin B12 (Cobalamin, cyanocobalamin), Vitamin C (from Lactic acid).
There are many health benefits that come from drinking kombucha. My favorite is that it is a much healthier alternative to sugar-laden sodas, not to mention super-duper refreshing.
Here’s a list of how kombucha does a body good:
Detoxification – Glucuronic acid is normally produced by the liver in sufficient amounts to neutralize toxins in the body. However, if the liver becomes overloaded, additional glucuronic acid from kombucha can aid in our body’s natural cleansing process.
Digestion– Kombucha contains high levels of beneficial acids, probiotics (healthy bacteria) and enzymes. For optimal health, the intestinal microflora must be carefully balanced between good and bad bacteria. Foods we eat, stress and especially antibiotics can all disrupt our bacterial balance because they can kill off the bad bacteria as well as killing off the good bacteria. Probiotics taken regularly can help maintain levels of good bacteria by altering the pH of the large intestine to a slightly more acidic level and the unhealthy bacteria tend to be inhibited or destroyed.
Energy – Kombucha has the ability to invigorate people which may be credited to the formation of iron that is released from the black tea during the fermentation process. It also contains some caffeine and B vitamins, which can energize the body.
Immune Health – Kombucha is full of antioxidants and probiotics. Antioxidants control free radicals and probiotics keep our GI tract healthy, which both support the immune system.
Joint Care – Kombucha can help heal, repair and prevent joint damage. It is loaded with glucosamines, which increase synovial hyaluronic acid production. This supports the preservation of collagen and can help prevent arthritic pain.
Cancer Prevention – Kombucha has been linked to cancer prevention and recovery. A study published in Cancer Letters found that by consuming glucaric acid found in kombucha reduced the risk of cancer in humans.
If you’re feeling adventurous, here is the recipe!
For more information on kombucha, including research, references, and recipes check out these sources:
Nourishing Traditions: The Cookbook that Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition and the Diet Dictocrats by Sally Fallon