I don’t know how many happy people’s lives I have changed by introducing them to the glorious beverage known as Kombucha, but it is a lot! Yes, I have a heart of gold, I know. It is a beverage of many talents, the most important is its ability to be an outrageously healthy, invigorating alternative to some of our greatest vices including soda, coffee and alcohol. So let’s find out why is kombucha so healthy!
The first time I tried Kombucha, I was convinced that it was red wine gone bad. Carbonated, slightly sweet and slightly bitter. But, despite its odd taste, I kept going back for more. I was curious… what was this odd drink that was not a juice, was not an alcohol and was not a soda? And more importantly, why did it make me feel so good?
Slowly Kombucha began an addiction that led me to standing at the front door of Whole Foods at the crack of dawn, waiting for its imminent opening. Coffee became pase, a mere afterthought of the past, that hardly held a light to the candle that was Kombucha. And, as all addictions must have, the justification was that the $3.79 I spent on them everyday was actually the same, if not cheaper, than any cup of coffee I was now no longer buying. Plus, yes there are so many pluses here, it was actually really healthy for me and it didn’t leave me with a energy crash or coffee breathe! Sold! Best addiction up to date.
So What Is Kombucha Anyways?
Kombucha is a fermented tea that contains live cultures of healthy yeast and bacteria that form what is called a “Mushroom”. Because it is fermented, it contains an insignificant amount of alcohol and is effervescent (sparkling). Kombucha is typically produced by placing a culture in a sweetened tea, as sugars are needed to create fermentation, and then waiting for it to ferment. Kombucha can be made in different variations; black tea is a popular choice, but green tea or white tea may also be used.
Kombucha seems to have a couple stories of origin, but the more popular seems to be from China. Legend has it that wise men would descend from high in the Himalayas to harvest spring tea in the valley below. According to a formula passed down from generation to generation, the tea was fermented to create an effervescent elixir said to restore health, promote longevity and bestow mental clarity to all who drank it.
Why is Kombucha so Healthy?
Known as “The Elixir of Life” or the “Tea of Immortality,” Kombucha has recently rose in its popularity for its health benefits and medicinal effects. While many of them are anecdotal, the basic components and nutrient profile of Kombucha are none less than impressive, leading one to bet on their validity.
1. High in Healthy Bacteria which Leads to a Healthy Digestive System and Immune System
Kombucha is a fermented beverage meaning it is high in beneficial bacteria. Much like yogurt, kefir or sauerkraut, it contains live strains of good cultures that help to re-populate the intestine. This is important because it is the good bacteria in the digestive system that protects you from the bad guys that lead to illness. These bacteria work the same way that probiotics do, which are key to a healthy immune system. This is where Kombucha and other fermented foods are so important and effective.
Fermented foods are an integral part of almost every other culture’s diet on the planet, except for America. They include sauerkraut, organic homemade yogurt and kefir, Kim Chi, miso, tempeh, Nama Shoyu, traditional pickled vegetables, and umeboshi plums.
* Fermented beverages and food, like Kombucha, will help with constipation, normal bowel movements and improved digestion
2. High in Organic Acids: Promotes Liver Detoxification, Improved Immune System…
Kombucha contains organic acids which have a wide range of health benefits in the body including:
Glucaric acid that promotes a more efficient detoxification process in the liver
Usinic Acid which is a natural antibiotic, ridding the body of impurities
Lactic Acid which has shown improved nutritional value of food, control of intestinal infections, improved digestion of lactose, control of some types of cancer, and control of serum cholesterol levels
Acetic Acid is useful as an antiseptic and for inhibiting harmful bacteria
Malic Acid which aids in the breakdown of liver and gallstones
Butyric Acid is food for the cells in the colon and has shown to inhibit tumor cells in the colon
3. Contains Live Active Enzymes
Kombucha contains high amounts of active enzymes which are an integral part of a healthy system. Enzymes are used in almost every process of the body from digestion and energy production to detoxification. Unfortunately, the majority of our foods today are highly cooked and therefore most of its naturally occurring enzymes are damaged. Furthermore, highly heated and processed foods require higher amounts of digestive enzymes to be processed, leaving our body’s enzyme deficient. As a result, health conditions and symptoms occur since we are always lacking proper enzymes for basic functioning. This also results in damage and stress to our organs (especially the pancreas) because they are constantly needing to produce more enzymes than they can handle.
* Other ways to include enzyme-rich foods in your diet is through sprouted and raw foods. This includes: sprouted bread, sprouted grains, sprouted nuts, sprouted seeds, raw sprouts, raw honey, homemade fresh juice, fruits and vegetables.
4. Rich in B Vitamins
B vitamins are essential to health in almost every aspect of life. Specifically a few highlights include: liver detoxification, adrenal health (especially during stress), hair and nail growth, brain function (focus and clarity), nervous system functioning, mood (happy feelings), feeling calm and energy.
5. Contains Glucosamine leading to Improved Joint Health
Kombucha contains a valuable amino sugar that has been extensively studied for its ability to improve joint health. Since glucosamine is a precursor for glycosaminoglycans, and glycosaminoglycans are a major component of joint cartilage and synovial fluid, supplemental glucosamine may help to prevent cartilage degeneration, and treat arthritis as well.
There is Sugar in Kombucha… Is That Bad?
Sugar is necessary for the fermentation process to occur. You cannot have fermentation without some type of sugar. With that being said, there are some Kombucha that have added sugar or flavor and I would steer away from those brands. I prefer High Country that uses just a little bit of sugar and herbs. In any event, the minimal amount of sugar present is outweighed by its benefits.
Should I Drink One Everyday?
I personally love to enjoy one everyday because I love the way I feel when I do. But more importantly, I think that Kombucha is the best alternative to stave off any alcohol, coffee or sugar craving. Instead of reaching for a health damaging drink, replace it with Kombucha and guaranteed you will be able to wean yourself off those bad habits. Not to mention, since it is a caramel color and is carbonated, it is a great alternative to sip at a cocktail party when avoiding alcohol (my boyfriend’s favorite remedy to a craft beer craving- he loves High Country Wild Root). Finally, it also is quite filling due to the carbonation, so it is a great way to hold you over between meals, especially when you’re trying to loose weight.
* Finance Tips: Don’t forget that you can always lower costs by making it yourself. You can find a kit here or you also have the option of buying it in bulk.