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8 Health Benefits Of Kombucha

What Is Kombucha?

Kombucha is a fermented beverage consisting of black tea and sugar (from various sources, including cane sugar, fruit or honey) that’s used as a functional, probiotic food. It contains a colony of bacteria and yeast that are responsible for initiating the fermentation process once combined with sugar.

After fermentation, kombucha becomes carbonated and contains vinegar, B vitamins, enzymes, probiotics and a high concentration of acid (acetic, gluconic and lactic). These bacteria are known as “cellulose-producing bacteria,” meaning they produce cellulose, which acts as a shield to cells.

The sugar-tea solution is fermented by bacteria and yeast commonly known as a “SCOBY” (symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast). Although it’s usually made with black tea, kombucha can also be made with green teas. Contrary to common claims, a SCOBY is not a kombucha mushroom.

Interested? Where to buy kombucha can get a little complicated, but it’s generally available for $3-5 at natural health food stores and some grocery outlets. Others make it at home.

Some people find it a healthier substitute for sodas, satisfying that craving for a fizzy drink. There are even some soda-flavored varieties — but watch the sugar content.

The following probiotics make up this health elixir:
•Gluconacetobacter (>85 percent in most samples)
•Acetobacter (<2 percent) •Lactobacillus (up to 30 percent in some samples) •Zygosaccharomyces (>95 percent)

Pasteurized vs. Unpasteurized Kombucha

There is some debate about the benefits of unpasteurized kombucha because of the 20th/21st century notion that pasteurization makes drinks “healthier.”

It’s not true for milk, and the same holds for kombucha.

The bacteria killed during the pasteurization process is the same stuff that can help your gut function more efficiently. “Pasteurized kombucha” should probably be called “kombucha-flavored tea” because the benefits of healthy bacteria have been lost during that process.

One consideration is that pasteurized kombucha is not continually fermented. This means that if a commercial unpasteurized kombucha product is left on the shelf too long, the alcohol content (initially below .5 percent for most products) may rise somewhat.

Be sure to purchase your kombucha from trustworthy sources and drink it within a relatively brief time after purchasing. If you make kombucha at home, the same rule applies.

8 Benefits of Kombucha

1. Helps prevent a wide variety of diseases

While a lot of health claims for kombucha focus on the way it heals the gut (which, in itself, contributes to boosted immunity), there is also a fairly well-confirmed body of evidence that kombucha contains powerful antioxidants and can help to detoxify the body and protect against disease.

Related to this disease-fighting power is the way these antioxidants help to reduce inflammation, at the root of most diseases. This inflammation-reducing, detoxing quality is probably one reason kombucha might potentially decrease the risk for certain kinds of cancers.

One reason this happens is because antioxidants reduce oxidative stress that can damage cells, even down to DNA. Being exposed to a lot of processed foods and chemicals within your environment can lead to this stress, which in turn contributes to chronic inflammation.

While normal black tea does contain antioxidants, research shows that the fermentation process of kombucha creates antioxidants not present in black tea, like glucaric acid.

Kombucha may specifically influence the activity of two important antioxidants known as glutathione peroxidase and catalase. It was also discovered to contain isorhamnetin, a metabolite of quercetin, in December 2016. Quercetin is associated with a long lifespan and massive anticancer properties.

Research from the University of Latvia in 2014 claims that drinking kombucha tea can be beneficial for many infections and diseases “due to four main properties: detoxification, anti-oxidation, energizing potencies and promotion of depressed immunity.”

2. Supports a healthy gut

Naturally, the antioxidant prowess of this ancient tea counteracts free radicals that create mayhem in the digestive system. However, the greatest reason kombucha supports digestion is because of its high levels of beneficial acid, probiotics, amino acids and enzymes.

Some research has shown kombucha’s ability to prevent and heal stomach ulcers.

Kombucha can also help heal candida from overpopulating within the gut by restoring balance to the digestive system, with live probiotic cultures that help the gut to repopulate with good bacteria while crowding out the candida yeast.

Although kombucha does contain bacteria, these are not harmful pathogen bacteria. Instead, they are the beneficial kind (called “apathogens”) that compete with “bad” pathogen bacteria in the gut and digestive tract.

Candida and other digestive problems can sometimes be complicated issues to fix, and symptoms might actually get worse before getting better. If you feel like kombucha is exacerbating the problem, consider that gut problems aren’t always a straight path to healing and at times some patience or trial and error is needed.

3. May help improve mental state

Kombucha doesn’t just help your digestion; it might be able to protect your mind, too. One way it can accomplish this is by the B vitamins it contains. B vitamins, particularly vitamin B12, are known to increase energy levels and contribute to overall mental wellbeing.

Its high vitamin B12 content is one reason supplements sometimes contain dry kombucha products.

The gut-repairing function of kombucha also plays a role in mental health. Depression may be a major symptom of leaky gut, specifically due to the way that bad gut permeability contributes to inflammation.

A 2012 study published in Biopolymers and Cell examined kombucha as a functional food product for long-term space exploration (yes, you read that right).

Among other various features, kombucha’s ability to regulate the “communication of the gut-brain axis” suggested it would be useful in preventing or minimizing the effects of anxiety and depression, particularly for astronauts and others under extreme work conditions (like miners).

4. Beneficial for the lungs

A (probably) unexpected benefit of kombucha is its use as a potential treatment method for silicosis, a lung disease caused by repeated exposure to silica particles.

Chinese scientists discovered that inhalation of kombucha could be a way to treat this and other diseases of the lungs caused by inhalation of dangerous material.

That being said, It’s recommend you drink kombucha, rather than inhaling it.

5. Powerful antibacterial agent

This one seems a little counterintuitive, doesn’t it? But it’s true – because of the type of bacteria found in kombucha, drinking the live cultures actually destroys bad bacteria responsible for infections.

In lab studies, kombucha has been found to have antibacterial effects against staph, E. coli, Sh. sonnei, two strains of salmonella and Campylobacter jejuni.

The last of those is probably the most common cause of food poisoning in the US. It can sometimes be followed by a condition called Guillian-Barré syndrome, where the immune system attacks the nervous system. Because of the immense dangers of foodborne infections and significant costs to treat, the FDA is very interested in potential treatment methods for C. jejuni.

6. Helpful in managing diabetes

Although some practitioners warn against kombucha for diabetics, it seems that some research suggests just the opposite. This is assuming, of course, that you are consuming kombucha without a high sugar load.

Particularly due to the functions of antioxidants in kombucha, it seems to help alleviate diabetes symptoms, and more efficiently than the anti-diabetic black tea from which it’s fermented. This appears to be especially true in terms of liver and kidney functions, which are generally poor for those with diabetes.

7. Good for the cardiovascular system

Kombucha has been considered to be beneficial to the heart for some time, although research efforts in this area have been scarce. However, it seems clear that, in animal models, kombucha helps to lower triglyceride levels, as well as regulate cholesterol naturally.

8. Helps maintain a healthy liver

Since the liver helps to filter and convert harmful compounds, it’s a vital component in digestion and overall health. The antioxidants in kombucha may protect the liver from oxidative stress and damage induced by acetaminophen overdose.

How to Make Kombucha

Kombucha is simple to make yourself. It’s recommend you give it a shot because brewing your own unpasteurized kombucha is rewarding when you consider the cost of purchasing store-bought bottles.

Here is a simple recipe for making your own kombucha at home. This recipe makes about eight cups of kombucha, but you can also double the recipe to make more, and you still only need one SCOBY disk.

Kombucha Recipe

kombucha tea
Yields: 8 cups

You need:
•1 large glass or metal jar or bowl with a wide opening

Avoid using a plastic jar or bowl because the chemicals in the plastic can leach into the kombucha during the fermentation period. Ceramic pots might cause lead to leach into the kombucha once the acid comes into contact with the ceramic glaze. Look for a big metal or glass jug/jar/bowl and make sure the opening is wide enough to allow a lot of oxygen to reach the kombucha while it ferments.
•1 large piece of cloth or a dish towel

Secure this material around the opening of the jar with a rubber band. Do not use a cheese cloth, as it allows particles to pass through. You can even try using an old thin cotton t-shirt or some simple cotton fabric from any textile store.
•1 SCOBY disk

You can find a SCOBY disk in health food stores or online for relatively inexpensive amounts. A SCOBY disk can be vacuum-sealed in a small pouch and shipped directly to your house for only a few dollars, while still preserving all of the active yeast ingredients.
•8 cups of water

I would use filtered water, if possible, but using tap water is also a viable option. Some prefer using distilled water, which contains less contaminants or metals than tap water. Distilled water is inexpensive (around 88 cents a gallon) and can be found at most large drug or convenience stores.
•½ cup organic cane sugar or raw honey

It is important to use only organic cane sugar. There are reports of successful kombucha fermentation using raw honey, but most sources recommend cane sugar only.
•4 organic tea bags

Traditionally, kombucha is made from black tea, but you can also try green tea to see which you prefer.
•1 cup of pre-made kombucha

You’ll need to purchase your first batch or get a cup from a friend who has recently made homemade kombucha. For future batches, just keep a cup on hand for the next time. Be sure to purchase only organic, unpasteurized kombucha. Pasteurized varieties do not contain the appropriate live cultures you need.


1. Bring your water to boil in a big pot on the stovetop. Once boiling, remove from heat and add your teabags and sugar, stirring until the sugar dissolves.

2. Allow the pot to sit and the tea to steep for about 15 minutes, then remove and discard tea bags.

3. Let the mixture cool down to room temperature (which usually takes about one hour). Once it’s cooled, add your tea mixture to your big jar/bowl. Drop in your SCOBY disk and 1 cup of pre-made kombucha.

4. Cover your jar/bowl with your cloth or thin kitchen towel and try to keep the cloth in place by using a rubber hand or some sort of tie. You want the cloth to cover the wide opening of the jar and stay in place but be thin enough to allow air to pass through.

5. Allow the kombucha to sit for 7–10 days, depending on the flavor you’re looking for. Less time produces a weaker kombucha that tastes less sour, while a longer sitting time makes the kombucha ferment even longer and develop more taste. Some people have reported fermenting kombucha for up to a month before bottling with great results, so taste test the batch every couple of days to see if its reached the right taste and level of carbonation for you.

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