Kombucha used to be only available in hippy cafes, but since word got out that it’s worth a try, it began filling up shelves in grocery stores, food markets, and mainstream cafes. It is this wonder-drink that a lot of people are gushing about because of its supposed health benefits and even celebrities are hooked to this beverage.
It has been touted as a superfood, metabolism booster, and even an elixir of youth, but does this quirky-tasting drink really live up to the claims, or are the promises just overblown?
What is Kombucha?
For those who are still unaware, kombucha is a fermented black or green tea, sometimes both, with yeast, bacteria, and sugar. To make yours, add a SCOBY or symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast to the tea and leave it for fermentation for a couple of weeks. After which, this will turn into a slightly sweet, slightly sour beverage and will separate from the SCOBY. Those who tried it said the drink has a distinct taste, while others say it has a hint of an apple cider.
During fermentation, the SCOBY changes the polyphenols, phytochemicals which are found in fruits and vegetables rich in antioxidant elements, in the tea. Along the way, it raises the acidity, prohibiting micro-organisms to grow. The process is also credited for the shelf-life of the beverage, as with other food and drinks. An example of this is wine, which becomes alcohol as it goes along the process.
Kombucha was said to have originated from China more than 2,000 years ago. It was consumed as a remedial drink. Then, it made its way to Russia and then to eastern European countries. It reached Germany during World War II and became widely known in France and North Africa in the 1950s. Scientists declared the beverage is as helpful to the tummy as yogurt in the 1960s.
Celebrity Fans of Kombucha
Kourtney Kardashian revealed in her app last year that she drinks kombucha and regards it as a treat. She said that it helps in giving good bacteria in the gut, which in turn is essential for healthy-looking skin. Goop founder Gwyneth Paltrow was also reported to be a fan – during the wellness summit in Culver City last year, the beverage was one of those served. “Legally Blonde” actress Reese Witherspoon, singer Madonna, and “Catwoman” star Halle Berry reportedly love the drink.
Experts Finally Reveal the Truth
Florida State University’s associate director of sports sciences and medicine Michael Ormsbee debunked myths that declare kombucha boosts the metabolic process, saying there’s yet a study to back this up. The doctor further explained that whenever we eat, our metabolism increases in the digestion and absorption of food, a phenomenon called the thermic effect of food.
“The Plant-Powered Diet” author Sharon Palmer urged the public to look at the potential health risks of kombucha, citing the numerous reported side effects like digestive problems and worst, death. The incident happened in 1995 when a middle-aged woman met her demise after suffering from a heart attack after she had been drinking the beverage for two months.
Meanwhile, a lot of experts believe that kombucha supports good gut health because of the probiotic properties that it gained after undergoing fermentation. Because of this, it could promote a healthy gut microbiome, but nutritionists say there needs to be more research done.