Is it just us, or does it seem like everyone and their grandma are brewing and drinking kombucha these days? Enthusiasts will tell you kombucha is a wonder health tonic that boosts our nutrition, improves our health and treats all matter of ailments. But hang on – how much of that is really true?
If you’ve been living under a rock, we better first tell you that kombucha is an effervescent, fermented drink made from sweet tea base. The active ingredient is called a SCOBY, which sounds kind of cute until you understand what the acronym means and actually see one of these furry fellas bobbing around in your drink. SCOBY stands for Symbiotic Culture Of Bacteria and Yeast – it’s actually a living thing! But let’s get back to examining some of the nutrition claims made about kombucha:
Because it contains a live culture, kombucha can act as a probiotic (which means it has the potential to confer a health benefit to the kombucha drinker). Studies have shown probiotics can improve digestion, help protect against disease and enhance immune function. BUT there’s certainly not a lot of scientific evidence nailing down the exact probiotic qualities of kombucha. Depending on the SCOBY and growing conditions, different brews would be expected to have widely varying end results. It would be very difficult to know what you’re getting!
A nice by-product of fermentation is the production of organic acids (including acetic acid), which can improve our blood sugar levels after meals, and have been shown to inhibit the growth of pathogenic bacteria including Salmonella, Bacillus cereus, E. coli and Staphylococcus aureus.
Being made from tea, kombucha will be a rich source of polyphenols (naturally occurring plant chemicals) that have antioxidant properties and can protect our bodies against inflammation and damage.And there you have it – the short story of kombucha. Perhaps not the answer to all our health woes, but a nice drink, lower in sugar than soft drinks, thirst quenching (we think it’s delicious) and potentially good for your guts.