It’s often on the list of top probiotic foods and a nutritionist favourite at happy hour, but is kombucha all it’s cracked up to be? Simply put, it’s fermented tea and has been lauded for its gut and digestion benefits and has been popping up on natural grocery store shelves everywhere. And for many good reasons. Here’s why you should consider adding kombucha to your grocery list, and stat:
1. It can heal and improve your gut
Improvement in gut health is its most prominent and widely-known benefit. “Kombucha is a sweetened tea beverage that, as a consequence of fermentation, contains ethanol, carbon dioxide, a high concentration of acid (gluconic, acetic and lactic) as well as a number of other metabolites and is thought to contain a number of health-promoting components,” write research authors in a study published in 2014. And its gut-healing benefits are the top health boost. Because probiotics mimic the activity of healthy bacteria in your gut, they help your digestive system properly function and process your foods.
2. It may help you lose weight
Because kombucha is made from tea, and most often green tea, it retains some of the benefits of the antioxidant-heavy drink. Previous studies have shown that green tea helps with weight loss and weight management, which means that if you consume kombucha that lists green tea as a top ingredient, you can expect some of those same benefits in return.
3. It can improve your heart health
Thanks to its antioxidant properties, kombucha is also known for its LDL and HDL cholesterol improvements. A 2015 study showed that kombucha can actually lower your risk of heart disease while balancing and levelling off your cholesterol numbers.
4. It can boost your mental health
The link between probiotics and improving mental health (namely, depression), has been attributed to the gut-brain axis. Because we know that the gut contributes to the health in every other organ, including the brain, it’s vital that we care for it properly. And because the microbiome has a direct link to the brain, getting a boost via kombucha means that you’ll also help heal your brain, including fighting depression, regulating your mood, and boosting brain development, a 2015 study shows.
While kombucha sure does seem like it comes with countless pros, there are some downsides to the famous elixir. If you choose to make it at home, beware. The alcohol count in homemade kombucha can often hit much higher numbers than the store-bought versions, so make sure you don’t over-ferment, and follow the time suggested on your go-to recipe to not overly saturate it with alcohol.
So while store-bought kombucha might seem like the way to go, especially with the possibility of a high alcohol count when making it at home, you’ll want to watch out for the sugar counts in bottled versions. Read the label and know the sugar count per serving to make sure you’re not consuming too many added sugars. Follow the serving suggestions per the label, and build up your consumption of the drink over time. Don’t overdo it at the start, and you’ll soon be able to consume it with ease.