Are you an avid tea drinker? Do you like to experiment with different types of tea, or are you constantly looking for innovative ways to remain healthy? If so, let me recommend kombucha tea.
The name kombucha may sound like a catchphrase you’d shout after winning a board game, but this fermented drink is rich in probiotics, and helps improve digestion and energy.
Kombucha is a “colony” of yeast and bacteria—kombucha tea is made by fermenting a mixture of kombucha, sugar, and tea.The beverage originated in Northeast China and eventually made its way to Russia in the early 1900s, before finding its way to North America. Kombucha became known as a popular health food in the 1950s and 1960s.
Health Benefits of Kombucha Tea
Kombucha tea is widely known as an immunity-booster that can help strengthen the body against many diseases—it is even said to slow the aging process. As a result, it is a popular beverage among the elderly and for people with serious illnesses, such as HIV or cancer. Even former president Ronald Reagan drank kombucha tea in 1987 to stop the spread of cancer in his body!Three main health benefits have been linked with drinking kombucha tea:
Detoxification can result in a healthier liver and aid in cancer prevention. Kombucha tea’s greatest benefit is the ability to detoxify the body. The tea is filled with rich enzymes and bacterial acids that your body naturally produces and uses to detoxify itself. Kombucha tea reduces the load on your pancreas and eases the burden on your liver.
Kombucha also contains glucosamine, which can help ease arthritic pain and even help to prevent arthritis. Glucosamine increases the amount of synovial hyaluronic acid that is produced in the body. This hyaluronic acid is then used to aid in the preservation of cartilage structure and prevent arthritic pain.
Digestion and Gut Health
Researchers at Harvard Medical School discovered that our guts have over 100 trillion different types of microorganisms representing over 500 types of species. Kombucha tea is a naturally fermented beverage with strands of bacteria, yeast, and over 50 types of probiotics.It can improve your digestive system, fight candida, and it has also been known for reducing, or even eliminating, symptoms of fibromyalgia, depression, and anxiety. Because kombucha improves your digestive system, the nutrients and antioxidants it contains can give your immune system a boost.For instance, it contains an antioxidant called D-saccharic acid-1,4-lactone (DSL), which is said to be very beneficial towards cellular detoxification.
More Health Benefits of Kombucha Tea
We have really just scratched the surface of the benefits of drinking kombucha tea. A 2014 study published in the Journal of Medicinal Food, conducted by researchers at the University of Latvia, attested to more proven health benefits of kombucha:
1. Diabetes: Research dating back to the 1920s shows that consuming kombucha can lower blood sugar levels. A more recent study found that kombucha reduced blood sugar levels in diabetic rats by a significant margin.
2. Gastric Illnesses: Some non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs that are consumed can be toxic to the gut, which can result in ulcers. Researchers believe that fermented tea, such as kombucha tea, can protect the mucin content of the stomach. The presence of kombucha’s antioxidants can also protect the lining of the gut.
3. Obesity: Consuming kombucha will help balance your metabolism. Studies on animals have shown that the tea may actually cause weight loss by promoting calorie restriction.
4. Energy: Drinking kombucha tea will help invigorate you! Through a process called “chelation,” the iron that you are lacking from black tea is set free when you drink kombucha tea. The iron will help increase blood hemoglobin levels and improve oxygen flow to the tissues, which will in turn improve your energy levels.
5. Endothelial Function: Stress can damage the lining of the blood vessels. The damage that is caused is a precursor to atherosclerosis—and a direct threat to the heart. The antioxidants in kombucha help promote the regeneration process of cellular walls in the blood vessels.
6. Atherosclerosis: In a recent clinical trial, 52 atherosclerosis patients with high levels of cholesterol were introduced to kombucha. The results? It helped normalize their levels of cholesterol. Another recent study involved ducks that were introduced to kombucha—it found that kombucha helped reduce the ducks’ LDL cholesterol levels (the “bad” cholesterol) and, at the same time, raised their “good” HDL cholesterol levels.
7. Hypertension: Kombucha has been said to prevent headaches and dizziness caused by hypertension.
8. Anemia: The organic acids found in kombucha can actually prevent an iron deficiency. Kombucha converts trivalent iron compounds from plant sources to divalent iron ions. The presence of vitamin C in kombucha also increases iron absorption. Researchers have suggested that kombucha is best suited for the elderly and vegetarians, based on the fact that it enhances iron absorption and reduces the chances of an iron deficiency.
9. Nervous System: Kombuchacontains amino acids, such as methylxanthine alkaloids (caffeine, theophylline and theobromine), ascorbic acid (vitamin C), and B vitamins. These amino acids are necessary to promote a normal metabolism in the nervous system. They can help prevent nervousness and epilepsy. For the elderly, they can also help prevent depression.
10. Asthma: As we know, theophylline is present in kombucha. Theophylline is a bronchodilator, which means that it increases the flow of oxygen from the lungs to the brain, so it can prevent or even treat asthma.
As you can see, there are many health benefits of kombucha tea. The real test is learning how to maintain your dosage and diet. It is not something you can take once in a while and expect the benefits to kick in—you need to maintain your dosage in order to reap its benefits, or it’s just going to be another hot beverage.
There Is a Downside
If you have been diagnosed with any medical condition, you should always consult your doctor before taking kombucha. In certain cases, if kombucha tea is not made properly, some people may experience pain and bloating. Also, because kombucha is high in natural acids, it can be very harmful to the teeth, as it can wear away at the enamel.
If you are drinking kombucha tea, make sure you do it in one sitting. Then rinse your mouth with clean water and do not brush your teeth within 20 minutes after drinking kombucha tea.
Let’s take a look at a few homemade kombucha recipes that will help you reap its therapeutic benefits:
1. Kombucha Soda
- 1 clean, gallon-sized glass jar
- 1 gallon of brewed, sweetened tea (I use regular black tea, but you can also use green or herbal teas.)
- A SCOBY (Symbiotic Colony of Bacteria and Yeast) and a half-cup of liquid from a previous batch of kombucha tea
- A coffee filter or thin cloth
- A rubber band
1. Start by preparing the sweet tea. I use eight to10 standard-size tea bags (or 1 family-size bag) per gallon of water. Add one cup of regular sugar (preferably organic) per gallon of tea. Do not use honey.
2. Let the tea cool to room temperature—make sure it is really cool! This step is important, because if the tea is too hot, it can kill your SCOBY.
3. Once the tea is completely cool, pour it into the glass jar, leaving just over an inch of room at the top. Pour in the liquid from a previous batch of kombucha, or if you’re starting from a dehydrated SCOBY, pour in a half-cup of store-bought kombucha.
4. With very clean hands, gently place the SCOBY at the top of the jar of tea. It should float, but if it doesn’t, just let it sink. Don’t stick your hands in the tea!
5. Cover the jar with the coffee filter or cloth and secure it tightly with the rubber band.
6. Put the jar in a warm (around 70 to 75 degrees is best) corner of the kitchen—make sure it’s a few feet away from any other fermenting products.
7. Let it sit to ferment for around seven days, although the length of time may vary depending on your temperature. You can test the taste of the kombucha by placing a straw in the jar carefully (slide under the SCOBY) and sipping. The liquid should taste tart, but slightly sweet.
8. At this point, your kombucha is ready for a second ferment. If you aren’t doing the second ferment, just pour the kombucha into another jar, or jars, with airtight lids and seal until you’re ready to drink them.
There are various methods online for making your own kombucha SCOBY. Alternatively, you can get your SCOBY from someone who is already brewing kombucha. Another option is to order it online—just make sure the source you are getting it from is reliable and trustworthy.
2. Kombucha Barbecue Sauce
Kombucha barbecue sauce is healthy and tasty—a double treat for all you meat lovers.
- 1 cup of kombucha tea
- 1 tablespoon of brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon of sea salt
- 1/2 teaspoon of cayenne pepper
- 1 teaspoon of crushed red pepper
1. Combine all of the ingredients in a bowl and mix thoroughly.
2. Refrigerate for at least four hours prior to using to allow the flavors to meld.
The Bottom Line
The Japanese must be onto something—more Americans are incorporating kombucha into their diets, and why not? It’s rare that a substance can be refreshing, delicious, and have so many health benefits.
If you want to boost your immune system, then you should think about consuming kombucha tea. The side effects are minimal and can easily be avoided with proper fermentation practices and thorough dental hygiene.
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“Kombucha,” Wikipedia web site; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kombucha, last accessed April 28, 2015.
Borreli, L., “What Is Kombucha: Magical Elixir Of Life Or Hocus Pocus Tea?” Medical Daily web site, April 14, 2015; http://www.medicaldaily.com/what-kombucha-magical-elixir-life-or-hocus-pocus-tea-329098.
Katie, “The Benefits of Kombucha,” Wellness Mama web site; http://wellnessmama.com/23994/kombucha-benefits/, last accessed April 28, 2015.
King, M., “18 Health Reasons to Sip Kombucha,” GreenMedInfo.com, August 14, 2014; http://www.greenmedinfo.com/blog/18-healthy-reasons-sip-kombucha.
“Kombucha BBQ Sauce,” Cultures for Health web site; http://www.culturesforhealth.com/kombucha-bbq-sauce-recipe, last accessed April 28, 2015.