If you’re a health fanatic, you may have read about or come across kombucha. We’re here to dispel the myths, answer what it is and explore the health benefits of it.
There has been a huge spike of interest in fermented food in recent years due to the benefits it brings to gut health. Gut health has been a key subject of interest to dieticians and the health industry for the past few years, and for good reason; it plays an integral part in our overall health and wellbeing. Your gut health could directly impacts your brain health too– you can read more about the topic here.
Fermentation was once used as a method of preserving food but with that came some unexpected health benefits. The fermentation process sees starch and sugars converted to acids – this transformation heightens the volume of the natural probiotics (otherwise known as ‘good’ bacteria) found in these foods. Foods such as yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut and kombucha are considered to be the best of the bunch. Check out some vegan sources of probiotics here.
So, what is Kombucha?
Kombucha is a fermented drink made from black tea, cold water, sugar and something called a SCOBY. SCOBY stands for Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria and Yeast – it’s a pancake-shaped layer of rubbery substance that forms on the surface of kombucha. As it forms in the production of kombucha, you can use one made from another batch, or alternatively you can purchase them from organic shops. The fermentation process causes the liquid to become carbonated. It has a fizzy quality and has proved to be a fitting substitute for other sugary soft drinks.
What’s the history of Kombucha?
The precise origin of kombucha is unknown, however, the first documented use of the drink was from China in 221 BC. So it’s fair to say it’s been around for a good long while! Back then it was referred to as ‘The Tea of Immortality’ for its positive qualities. Use of the drink spread across Japan, Russia, Poland, Denmark and Germany until the drink fell off the radar around World War II. It was pulled back into recognition by a German doctor who used it to treat patients for various ailments.
What are the benefits of Kombucha?
It offers the body antioxidants
It contains a strong amount of antioxidants. Polyphenols are the reason for antioxidant properties in black tea. The fermentation process in kombucha encourages the growth of antioxidants which is why the drink is perceived as such a healthy beverage. In a nutshell, antioxidants work to protect the body’s cells from highly reactive molecules named ‘free radicals’ which can damage cell membranes and structures.
Studies and research are evolving in the field of gut health and the human immune system. The presence of antioxidants means that Kombucha could also help to support the body’s immune system.
It aids detoxification
Kombucha contains glucaric acid which aids the liver and its natural detoxification properties. The liver essentially acts as a filter and cleanser for the bloodstream - it detoxifies any bad chemicals which make its way through our bodies. Read more on the role of glucaric acid here.
It might improve our mental state
Kombucha contains B vitamins which help to boost energy levels and aids mental wellbeing, particularly the vitamin B12. This particular strand of the vitamin ensures the proper functioning of some neurotransmitters including dopamine which is linked to happiness and pleasure.
The reason for the word ‘might’ in this point is due to the fact there aren’t any scientific validation for kombucha specifically, instead this point is based on the ingredients it possesses.
It may improve digestion
Whilst there isn’t any scientific studies backing up the specific role of kombucha in aiding digestion, the properties it contains have proved to be beneficial for digestion. The strong presence of probiotics is testament to this claim - it essentially provides our gut with good bacteria which help to improve overall gut health and the role of the digestive system itself.
Making Kombucha at home
Kombucha is readily available in shops but due to the expense of the product from some retailers, many kombucha-lovers look to make it at home. As the drink is born out of a fermentation process, you need to approach making the drink with caution so ensure you follow a safe method and employ a hygienic approach to assembling and preparing the ingredients. One thing to be very careful of is fermenting the drink for too long, 7 – 10 days is the usual duration of fermentation, but some people allow kombucha to ferment for up to 30 days which means the resulting substance is more acidic. Some people are sensitive to acidic foods, so be particularly careful in choosing the duration of the process.
Kombucha is an acquired taste, but is no doubt a fantastic nutritional gem. Balance your tastebuds with one of our Nakd and TREK bars which come in an exciting range of delicious flavours, a perfect nutritional accomplice to a cup of Kombucha!