What is kombucha tea?
Kombucha is a fermented tea drink that originated from China in 220 BC, over 2000 years ago, as a health drink for its detoxifying and energising properties. It was taken from China into Japan and used as a digestive cure for the Emperor by his physician Kombu, and this is where the name started. Today, it is touted as a health drink and is growing massively in popularity. Let’s look at the studies behind it...
What’s in kombucha and why is it good for us?
When brewed, kombucha produces organic acids like vinegar which are sour and bitter, contributing to the health of our liver by stimulating enzymes and bile production essential for natural detox and cleansing by the liver. It also contains the vitamins B1, B2, B3, B6, and B12, which contribute to energy production and brain function. It also contains a small amount of vitamin C, which is an antioxidant and is essential for immune function. There are many amino acids which are the compounds of proteins needed for the repair of our cells. Polyphenols from tea contain antioxidants that stop our DNA from being damaged by external and internal pollutants, contributing to the process of disease. Most importantly, kombucha contains an array of beneficial bacteria and yeast strains that are a by-product of the fermentation of the sugar, and these feed our good gut bacteria and contribute to good mental health, immune health, and a healthy weight.
So, what does this mean to human health and the research behind it? Well, there have only been mice and rat studies, however, there are some interesting outcomes from these animal studies...
The majority of studies have been on balancing blood sugar. A beneficial effect on reducing weight and a beneficial effect on rats with induced diabetes, it stopped the spike of blood glucose levels and had a beneficial effect on cholesterol, lowering the LDL (bad cholesterol).
There are some studies on the role of antioxidants in kombucha. It increases the levels of our own levels of self-made antioxidants, which in turn boosts our immune system. When rats were induced with high doses of lead to induce oxidative stress (damage to DNA which can lead to disease such as cancer), those who consumed kombucha tea were protected against the DNA damage.
The impact on longevity has been studied in a three-year trial – both male and female rats lived longer than the non-kombucha drinking counterparts. In this study, the kombucha drinking mice also weighed less, ate less food, and did more voluntary exercise.
Mice were put under stress, and those who had kombucha before being exposed to the stress had lower cortisol levels. Cortisol is our stress hormone, released in the fight or flight state. Living in a daily state of fight or flight low-grade stress is a sure-fire way to ensure you create inflammation and disease.
One study shows that it has liver-protecting benefits. It reduced toxicity by 70% in those rats who consumed kombucha compared to those who didn’t and were given a high dose of lead.
Although animal studies do not mean the same outcomes will always be seen in humans, I still believe that kombucha gives our good bacteria a boost, which can only have a positive effect. I have been making and drinking kombucha for over eight months and I have had a stable mood over the gloomy winter months, with no colds or illness, and I have been less bloated after meals. Plus, it is a great replacement for alcohol!
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