Kombucha has really grown in popularity in recent years, especially among the health-conscious. Though it may seem like a new trend that’s taking up more space on local grocery store shelves, it has actually been around for thousands of years. Considering the numerous and substantial health benefits it offers, as well as its delicious taste, it’s not hard to understand why it has become a global beverage. If you’re wondering if this drink will fit into your own diet, then here is some information that will help you decide if it's right for you.
What is Kombucha?
Though the exact location is unknown, Kombucha originated in the East and has been around for roughly 2000 years. Simply put, it is a lightly sweetened, fermented tea (usually black tea, though sometimes green tea is used). It contains a colony of bacteria and yeast which is responsible for the fermented process once combined with sugar. The result is a rich-in-nutrients beverage that has a very low sugar content. It has a slight effervescent quality that makes it like a refreshing “sparkling” drink. There are numerous kinds of Kombucha on the market today with flavors like rose, apple, guava, raspberry, and pomegranate.
What are the benefits?
The helpful bacteria in Kombucha makes it most commonly known for its use as a probiotic. Probiotics support the digestive tract and aids in treating commonly known digestive issues, such as: constipation, diarrhea, irritable bowel syndrome and inflammatory bowel disease. Since digestive health affects numerous other processes in the body, such as the ability to effectively absorb nutrients that nourish and heal the body, Kombucha can play an important role in overall health.
Too much sugar intake is a big issue for many people, and a great deal of sugar is snuck into our beverages (even regular sweetened tea has an absurd amount added to it). One of the best ways to use Kombucha is simply as a replacement for other, less beneficial, beverages. Kombucha is both low in calories and has a fraction of the sugar (usually 5-12g) that other drinks have, such as juice, soda, or lemonade. The face that it contains vitamins, antioxidants and enzymes is just another reason why it's a great alternative to other sugar-loaded drinks.
There are a few vitamins and minerals found in Kombucha that are a natural energy booster, such as iron, b-vitamins and a little bit of caffeine. Because most of the energy it gives is not provided by caffeine and sugar, there is no crash afterwards. Black tea naturally releases iron when fermented, and kombucha contains B1, B2, B3, B6, and B12.
Kombucha is abundant in antioxidants including vitamin E, vitamin C, beta-carotene, D-saccharic acid-1 (glucaric acid), and other carotenoids. And like straight black tea, Kombucha also contains polyphenols and other compounds with antioxidant powers. But unlike straight tea, Kombucha is much more powerful due to the fermentation process. The amount of antioxidants has been found to be 100 times higher than vitamin C and 25 times higher than vitamin E. Antioxidants can help reduce inflammation, reduce oxidative damage to DNA, and fight free-radicals in the body.
The most effective way that Kombucha is used to help the immune system is due to its ability to help control free radicals through its antioxidant capacity. Antioxidants are known for decreasing oxidative stress and immunosuppression. The combination of these antioxidants (like vitamin C) and the probiotics in Kombucha help to support immune response. Saccharic acid and the vitamin C present in Kombucha are its main secrets in protecting against cell damage, inflammatory diseases,and weakness of the immune system.
All in all, Kombucha is a wonderful health drink with many benefits. However, if you know you need a certain vitamin supplement, it does not contain a high enough dose of vitamins to be used as a replacement for other supplements. Kombucha is a wonderful probiotic and a great alternative to yogurt and kefir, if you don't do well with dairy.
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