The lively acidic and fermented beverage that we’ve come to know and love as kombucha has become popularized in the U.S. in the last couple decades and for good reason—it’s full of beneficial probiotics that can support your digestive tract, help you absorb nutrients, and boost your immune system. Kombucha is classified as a probiotic because it contains a symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast known as a SCOBY (a tea fungus) that’s needed to combine with black or green tea and sugar to ferment and make larger volumes of kombucha. And the good, health-promoting bacteria that thrive in this health drink are responsible for killing other more pathogenic or disease causing microorganisms that may reproduce in our gut.
According to The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH), probiotics can be defined as “live microorganisms that are similar to beneficial microorganisms found in the human gut. They are also called ‘friendly bacteria’ or ‘good bacteria.” Since approximately 70-80% of our immune system is located in our digestive tract, drinking kombucha can keep our immune systems running strong by absorbing nutrients and beneficial probiotics. Therefore, here are five more reasons to go out and stock your fridge with this healthy beverage.
1. Kombucha is a powerful antibacterial agent.
Due to the kind of bacteria found in this health drink, kombucha destroys pathogenic organisms that are responsible for causing infections in the body. According to lab studies, kombucha has been found to have antibacterial outcomes against such bacterial strains as staphlococcus aureus, E.coli, salmonella, Sal. enteritidis, Sh. sonnei and Cm. jejuni. This is why consuming kombucha can be particularly helpful at preventing foodborne illnesses as well as common food poisoning symptoms.
2. Kombucha can help prevent a spectrum of diseases.
The antioxidants present in this fermented drink are excellent at reducing inflammation in our bodies, which is the root cause of most diseases. And since modern Western medicine tends to focus on treating symptoms rather than addressing the root cause of these issues, incorporating kombucha into your diet can help prevent various diseases from occurring or metastasizing. According to research conducted by the University of Latvia in 2014, kombucha is “suitable for prevention against broad-spectrum metabolic and infective disorders…due to four main properties: detoxification, anti-oxidation, energizing potencies and the promotion of depressed immunity.”
3. Kombucha helps maintain a healthy liver.
It’s true, drinking kombucha has been found to produce hepatoprotective effects or the ability to prevent damage to our livers. The antioxidants available in this beverage may protect our livers from oxidative stress and damage from acetaminophen overdose that’s found in over-the-counter as well as prescription painkillers. Acetaminophen overdose is the leading cause for calls to the Poison Control Centers every year and it accounts for more than 56,000 emergency room visits, 2,600 hospitalizations and an estimated 458 deaths each year according to this study. (For more ways to promote liver health, check out these herbs, mushrooms, and foods.)
4. Kombucha may improve mood & mental wellbeing.
While we’ve already discussed that kombucha can heal and repair our guts, a new study published by the Polish Academy of Sciences confirms that there is a gut-brain barrier that may affect our mood and mental wellbeing. Specifically, it correlates a poorly kept gut to an inflammatory response that may also induce depressive symptoms. Therefore, by drinking kombucha we can help prevent inflammation in our guts as well as major depression symptoms.
5. Kombucha helps manage diabetes.
The antioxidants present in kombucha may also help alleviate diabetes symptoms associated with increased oxidative stress. In a 2013 study published in Food and Chemical Toxicology, the insulin levels of diabetic rats were lowered as kombucha was found to be more efficient than regular black tea at alleviating diabetic symptoms. However, for best results, it's crucial to look for kombucha brands and flavors that do not contain high levels of sugar.
For more information on the different brands of bottled kombucha available on the market, read here to spot a stellar kombucha beverage from an imposter. While some people enjoy the adventure of experimenting with their own homemade kombucha, store-bought kombucha comes in a wide variety of flavor profiles from lavender and ginger to blueberry, carrot, mango, turmeric, pomegranate, apple, grape and even jalapeño. So next time you reach for a bottle of kombucha, you can rest assured you’re reaping the benefits of a healthier gut and increased immunity.