Kombucha is a fermented, lightly fizzy sweetened tea with health benefits like aiding in digestion, promoting weight loss, facilitating detoxification, lowering cholesterol levels, boosting heart health, controlling diabetes, and protecting the liver. It also aids in reducing arthritis pain and providing relief from gastric ulcers.
What is Kombucha Tea?
Kombucha tea is a refreshing beverage obtained by the fermentation of sweetened tea with a symbiotic association of acetic acid, bacteria, and specific yeast cultures. Believed to have originated in northeast China during the third century BCE, this miraculous tea has been valued for its unique, refreshing taste and impressive range of medicinal benefits. It is famously known as the ‘Immortal Health Elixir’ in ancient Chinese literature. Other names for kombucha include Manchurian mushroom tea, Russian tea, Kargasok tea, spumonto, tea beer, tea cider, and tea kvass.
Kombucha Nutrition Facts
Kombucha contains a range of yeast and bacterial species with polyphenols, amino acids, and organic acids. Post the completion of the fermentation process, the tea develops into a nutritional powerhouse with the richness of minerals like sodium, numerous beneficial enzymes, a range of vitamins such as vitamins B1 (thiamin), B2 (riboflavin), B3 (niacin), B6 (pyridoxin), B9 (folic acid), B12 (cobalamin), vitamin C (ascorbic acid), and many healthful chemical constituents such as gluconic acid, oxalic acid, acetic acid, glucuronic acid, usnic acid, fructose, and lactic acid.
Health Benefits of Kombucha Tea
Let’s take a closer look at the many health benefits of kombucha.
Detoxifies the Body
Kombucha contains large amounts of organic acids like glucuronic acid and powerful antioxidants which help in shielding the body from oxidative damage. The antioxidants present in it look out for free radicals and neutralize their effects, thereby repairing and protecting the body from chronic diseases and inflammation. Furthermore, it prevents the harmful effects of pollution caused by the petroleum products along with plastics, pesticides, resins, and heavy metals.
Kombucha is fermented with a live colony of bacteria and yeast, so it works as a probiotic by sustaining gut health and provides relief from various abdominal disorders including chronic constipation and diarrhea. The digestive enzymes present in it enhance the effects of glucuronic acid and aid in the breakdown of proteins and saccharides, making the digestive system more efficient.
Promotes Weight Loss
Kombucha tea boosts metabolism. A high metabolic rate helps in weight loss as it makes you feel more energized, and more likely to engage in regular physical exercise. Also, the sugar and calorie content in this fermented tea is very little, five times lesser than a fizzy drink.
Kombucha possesses the remarkable ability to detoxify the body. It contains a powerful detoxifier glucuronic acid which binds the toxins by entering the liver and eliminates them via kidneys. This helps in reducing the burden on the pancreas and keeps the liver healthy. A research study has shown that this tea helps in restoring the levels of glutathione and is remarkably effective in reducing hepatotoxicity. A comparative study conducted on black tea, kombucha tea, and enzyme-processed black tea has proven the superiority of kombucha tea in providing hepatic protection against toxicity due to the antioxidants in it.
Maintains Cholesterol Levels
Another superb benefit offered by kombucha tea is the maintenance of healthy levels of cholesterol. Research studies have provided qualitative evidence regarding the anti-lipidemic properties of this tea which help in reducing the absorption of LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol) and triglycerides, and elevating the levels of HDL (good cholesterol) in the body.
Prevents Heart Diseases
Studies show that drinking kombucha can be beneficial for the heart as it regulates cholesterol as well as lowers triglyceride levels in the blood.
Kombucha is a natural therapeutic agent which helps in suppressing the factors that cause diabetic conditions. A comparative study involving black tea and kombucha has revealed that kombucha has better inhibiting properties as compared to black tea and aids in a superior deterrence of the elevated blood glucose levels. The study has also suggested that the tea exerts healing action on the pancreas of diabetic individuals and helps in guarding their liver and kidney functions by reducing the concentration of urea and other unfavorable activities occurring in the plasma membrane.
The antioxidant-rich tea possesses anti-microbial properties and prevents conditions such as cancer as it contributes productively to maintaining cellular health and strong immune defense. Studies have shown that glucaric acid present in it is quite effective in the prevention of various types of cancer including pancreatic, colon, and breast cancer. As stated earlier, the detoxification qualities of the drink also contribute to the prevention of different cancers.
Relieves Arthritis Pain
Kombucha contains glucosamines which are beneficial in the prevention and treatment of all types of arthritis. Glucosamine present in it stimulates the production of hyaluronic acid, which helps in the maintenance of cartilage structure and provides relief from the pain associated with arthritis. Hyaluronic acid aids in reducing the free radical damage, lubrication, and elasticity of the joints by empowering the connective tissue to bind the moisture.
Kombucha has a variety of amino acids, methylxanthine alkaloids (caffeine, theophylline, and theobromine), ascorbic acid (vitamin C), and B vitamins (including B1, B6, B9, and B12), which are needed for a healthy nervous system. This helps in inhibiting the release of stress hormone cortisol, battling depression, balancing mood, and enhancing concentration. Regular consumption of this tea can also help you overcome sleep disorders. Depression is one of the symptoms of a leaky gut. Drinking the tea can rewire the gut-brain axis and heal gut inflammation to promote mental health.
Kombucha is rich in numerous antioxidants that strengthen the immune defense and boost the energy levels of the body. The anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial properties of this tea help in fighting various bacterial and viral infections. A study conducted on this tea has validated the fact that intake of this drink may help in boosting the immune system.
Kombucha tea has anti-microbial properties which may prove effective against a variety of pathogens. An investigative research has revealed that apart from acetic acid, it contains other anti-microbial components, which even at neutral values of pH, provide protection against a range of microorganisms including Staphylococcus aureus, Staphylococcus epidermis, Escherichia Coli, Salmonella enteriditis, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Listeria monocytogens, and Helicobacter pylori.
Heals Gastric Ulcers
Kombucha provides relief from discomfort caused by gastric ulcerations. Studies conducted have revealed that antioxidants and phenols present in this tea help in protecting the mucin content in the gastric tissues and decrease the secretion of excess gastric acids. The same study also suggested that the efficacy of the tea in healing gastric ulcers is at par with the commercially available drug, omeprazole.
Improves Cellular Health
Kombucha helps in maintaining cellular health which is vital for the healthy functioning of the body. A study performed on its tea has shown the protective effects against induced cytotoxicity and demonstrated positive results with respect to the factors implicated in the reduction of cellular toxins.
Finally, kombucha drink has a revitalizing effect which helps retain the natural color of the hair, keeps the skin firm and improves the feeling of overall health and vigor. It is an effective wound healer, which is also known to improve eyesight. Apart from a plethora of health benefits mentioned above, kombucha culture can also be utilized to manufacture artificial leather.
How to Prepare Kombucha Tea?
Kombucha tea is prepared by mixing the colony of bacteria and yeast (called SCOBY, which is an acronym for “symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast”) into sugar and tea, which is followed by fermentation in suitable and sterile conditions.
While sometimes referred as kombucha mushroom, there is no mushroom associated with kombucha. The SCOBY is also called the kombucha mushroom or Mother. This live yeast present in the beverage provides it an active life which carries on even after transferring it into the storage containers. The culture includes Candida stellata, Zygosaccharomyces baili, Brettanomyces bruxellensis, Saccharomyces cerevisiae, Torulaspora delbrueckii, and Schizosaccharomyces pombe yeasts.
After fermentation, the resultant fluid is a healthy beverage containing a wealth of vitamins, vinegar, and many powerful components.
Side Effects of Kombucha Tea
Although kombucha has been valued as a phenomenal healer, brewing the tea under non-sterile conditions can cause contamination and spoilage which can be extremely harmful.
- Ceramic pots for brewing: Usage of ceramic pots during the brewing process of the kombucha tea can raise the risk of lead poisoning. The tea, while brewing, has the potential to elute lead from the glaze coating used in the ceramic pots making it unfit for consumption.
- Gastrointestinal toxicity: Another side effect of kombucha tea is gastrointestinal discomfort, which can cause the onset of symptoms including nausea, vomiting, jaundice, and headaches.
- Lactic acidosis: Consumption of this tea can result in lactic acidosis in some individuals which can further lead to severe circumstances.
- Suppressed immune system: While kombucha can activate the immune system, it is not suitable for those on immunosuppressant medication.
Prior to considering kombucha for therapeutic usage, it is always advisable to consult a medical professional to better understand its effects.