The health benefits of kombucha
Is kombucha tea healthy, what are the potential side effects, and what is a ‘scoby’? We explore the science behind this fermented fizzy drink. Fermented food has soared in popularity in recent years, in part thanks to the ever increasing interest and research into gut health.
Kombucha, a mildly fizzy, slightly sour drink, has become popular with health conscious consumers looking for an alternative to processed fizzy drinks that are often packed with sugar or artificial sweeteners. But is kombucha really good for you, or does it fall short of the media hype?
We take a closer look at the potential benefits and side effects of this beverage.
What is kombucha?
Kombucha is a fermented drink made from sweetened tea and a specific culture known as a scoby. Scoby stands for ‘symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeasts’. The bacteria and yeasts convert the sugar into ethanol and acetic acid. The acetic acid is what gives kombucha its distinctive sour taste.
Is kombucha a good source of probiotics?
Fermented foods such as yogurts, sauerkraut and kefir all contain live microorganisms. As kombucha is the product of fermentation, a number of probiotic bacteria are produced. At specific concentrations, probiotic bacteria can help to balance the gut microbiome in humans and improve digestion. However, to date, there have not been enough studies to confirm whether kombucha contains enough beneficial bacteria to be deemed an effective probiotic.
Is kombucha high in antioxidants?
Antioxidants are substances that protect the body from oxidative damage caused by free radicals. Free radicals are a normal by-product of processes in the body, but the key is to minimise their impact by having a diet rich in antioxidants. Tea, especially green tea, is rich in a group of antioxidants called polyphenols. It is suggested that the fermentation time has an impact on the antioxidant properties of kombucha, however, to date there is little evidence to suggest a significant benefit to human health.
Does kombucha contain vitamins and minerals?
Kombucha contains small amounts of vitamins and minerals which are produced when the yeast breaks down the sugars, including vitamin C and B vitamins B1, B6 and B12.