What Is Kombucha?
Kombucha is a fizzy sweet-and-sour drink made with tea. Many people say it helps relieve or prevent a variety of health problems, everything from hair loss to cancer and AIDS. There’s little scientific evidence to back up the claims, but some elements of the drink may be good for you.
Kombucha has been around for nearly 2,000 years. It was first brewed in China and then spread to Japan and Russia. It became popular in Europe in the early 20th century. Sales in the United States are on the rise because of its reputation as a health and energy drink.
The basic ingredients in kombucha are yeast, sugar, and black tea. The mix is set aside for a week or more. During that time, bacteria and acids form in the drink, as well as a small amount of alcohol. This process is known as fermentation, and it’s similar to how cabbage is preserved as sauerkraut or kimchi, or how milk is turned into yogurt.
These bacteria and acids form a film on top of the liquid called a SCOBY (symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast). You can use a SCOBY to ferment more kombucha.
Kombucha bacteria includes lactic-acid bacteria, which can work as a probiotic. Kombucha also contains a healthy dose of B vitamins.
Kombucha Health Benefits
Advocates say it helps your digestion, rids your body of toxins, and boosts your energy. It’s also said to boost your immune system, help you lose weight, ward off high blood pressure and heart disease, and prevent cancer. But there’s not a lot of evidence to support these claims.
Claims about kombucha’s power to aid digestion come from the fact that fermentation makes probiotics. Probiotics help with diarrhea and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), and they may even strengthen your immune system.
When kombucha is made from green tea, you get its benefits, too. This includes bioactive compounds, such as polyphenols, that act as antioxidants. Antioxidants protect your cells from damage.
Green tea may also help you burn fat and protect you from heart disease. Studies in animals show that the drink lowers cholesterol and blood sugar levels, among other things. But research hasn’t shown that it has the same effects in people.