Over the last few years, kombucha has emerged as one of the most popular health drinks, touted for its probiotic bacteria that can improve digestion and boost immune systems. But this popular beverage might not be as “healthy” as you think. Here are some pros and cons to drinking kombucha.
First of All… What Is Kombucha?
Kombucha is a fermented drink made from black or green tea (or a mix of both), sugar, and SCOBY (a symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast). Since the drink is fermented, it takes time to produce. The result is a fizzy, tangy, and colorful beverage.
While kombucha is labeled as tea, you should know that it does contain alcohol! The bacteria in kombucha turns sugar into alcohol and CO2, then breaks down the alcohol into an acid that gives kombucha its signature flavor. While the kombucha you buy in stores typically has a very low alcohol content, home-brewed kombucha could potentially pack a punch since it is harder to monitor bacterial growth at home than in controlled factory settings.
Benefits of Kombucha
Kombucha is a naturally low-calorie, fat- and cholesterol-free drink, and it is a low-sugar alternative to fizzy drinks like soda. In addition, it’s rich in probiotics, which can help your gut health, decrease inflammation, and support the immune system. It’s also high in antioxidants and a good source of vitamins and minerals.
Risks of Kombucha
There’s not a high risk associated with drinking store-bought kombucha, but there have been a few reports of kombucha poisoning. Typically, you only have to worry about this for made-at-home brews that have less-controlled fermentation processes. Kombucha is also naturally caffeinated, though the caffeine content is typically much lower than you’d find in a cup of coffee.
Another thing to look out for is added sugar. Some brands sweeten the drink to appeal to more taste buds. Plus, like any other carbonated drink, it can also cause gas and bloating in some individuals. Some health conditions like renal, pulmonary, and liver disease can also make kombucha a risky drink. And it is not recommended for pregnant women.
How to Drink Kombucha
If you want to drink kombucha, look for a low-caffeine variety with little to no added sugars or flavors. The Center for Disease Control recommends drinking just four ounces of kombucha, no more than one to three times a day.
If you’re looking for a miracle health drink, there’s no proof that kombucha is it. However, it is a tasty treat that can provide good vitamins and minerals when consumed safely. Use these tips to help you select the right kombucha drink and test the benefits yourself!