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Is Kombucha Good for You? Health Benefits and Dangers

Aug 27, 2021 04:00PM ● By Boitumelo Masihleho
photo of various kombucha packaging and brands

Kombucha is a fermented tea that has been consumed for thousands of years. Kombucha tea is made by adding the colony to sugar and tea and allowing the mix to ferment. The resulting liquid contains vinegar, B vitamins, and a number of other chemical compounds. Kombucha has a long history—it’s estimated to have originated in China between 200 BC and 300 BC. 

It has the same health benefits as tea as it’s also rich in beneficial probiotics. Kombucha also contains antioxidants, can kill harmful bacteria, and may help fight several diseases. Over the past decade, it’s become the fastest-growing product in the functional beverage market, and globally, the kombucha market is set to reach $10.45 billion by 2027. Homebrewed varieties typically contain more alcohol as the bacterial growth has not been monitored as closely as in commercial manufacturing. Even still, commercial varieties of kombucha do contain less than 0.5% alcohol.

Probiotics in kombucha can help your gut.

The fermentation process produces acetic acid and several other acidic compounds, trace levels of alcohol, and gases that make it carbonated. A large number of bacteria also grow in the mixture. Kombucha contains several species of lactic-acid bacteria which may have a probiotic function.  Probiotics provide your gut with healthy bacteria. These bacteria can improve many aspects of health, including digestion, inflammation, and even weight loss.

It may reduce inflammation.

Chronic inflammation is involved in just about every health condition, including heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, allergies, and respiratory illnesses. Kombucha may complement your healthy diet, lifestyle choices, and medication regimen, because the teas used to make kombucha contain polyphenols, which are antioxidants that can lessen inflammation in the body.

Kombucha may provide the benefits of green tea.

Green tea is one of the healthiest beverages on Earth because green tea contains many bioactive compounds, such as polyphenols, which function as powerful antioxidants in the body. Kombucha made from green tea contains many of the same plant compounds and presumably boasts some of the same benefits which are increasing the number of calories you burn, reducing belly fat, and improving cholesterol levels.

It may help boost metabolism and aid constipation.

As a potential source of probiotics, one health benefit of kombucha is its ability to balance good bacteria in the gut and relieve some gastrointestinal issues. A study published in April 2014 in Food Microbiology examined the microbial components of kombucha and identified a “prominent lactobacillus population” in the drink. If so, drinking kombucha might improve irritable bowel syndrome, inflammatory bowel diseases, bloating, and constipation. Kombucha isn’t a miracle weight loss drink, but because of the epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG) found in the green tea of some types of kombucha, it may be a secret to a slightly faster metabolism.

Kombucha may reduce heart disease risk and play a role in helping prevent cancer.

There’s also growing evidence that kombucha may assist with the prevention of certain types of cancer, although more research is needed. The review in the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry notes that this claim is based on kombucha having antioxidant properties, which help rid the body of free radicals and other harmful substances that promote the growth of cancerous cells. According to a 2012 study, kombucha can greatly improve two markers of heart disease, “bad” LDL and “good” HDL cholesterol, in as few as 30 days. Even more importantly, tea such as kombucha and green tea protects LDL cholesterol particles from oxidation, which is thought to contribute to heart disease.

What are the negative effects of kombucha?

Although kombucha is widely marketed as a health drink, there have been some reports of kombucha poisoning. The risk is low when consuming kombucha from established brands. These risks tend to occur in homemade brews in which fermentation is not carefully controlled. Kombucha’s probiotics can come with a downside because some brands of the drink are unpasteurized and thus, you may end up with a seriously upset stomach. "Without pasteurization, you run the risk of harmful microorganisms taking over and causing serious problems, including food poisoning," says Ryan Andrews, R.D., a fitness, and nutrition coach with Precision Nutrition.

A frequently asked question is if you can drink kombucha while pregnant. Because it contains alcohol and caffeine, it might not be the ideal beverage if you’re expecting. It’s also not recommended for people with significant renal, pulmonary, or liver disease to consume kombucha. Drinking too much kombucha can have a negative effect. Headaches are another possible adverse side effect of drinking too much kombucha. Problems could also arise if you’re allergic to kombucha tea. Signs of an allergic reaction vary from person to person but might include shortness of breath, throat tightness, nausea, and dizziness after consuming the drink.


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Everyday Health

Brew Buch

 Boitumelo Masihleho is a South African digital content creator. She graduated with a Bachelor of Arts from Rhodes University in Journalism and Media Studies and Politics and International Studies. She's an experienced multimedia journalist who is committed to writing balanced, informative and interesting stories on a number of topics. Boitumelo has her own YouTube channel where she shares her love for affordable beauty and lifestyle content. 

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