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What is Kombucha and What are the Benefits?

By: Jenn Moss

Kombucha has been around for thousands of years but has only recently become extremely popular in the last ten. If you take a look at the beverage cooler in pretty much any grocery store, you will find an array of flavors and companies producing kombucha. More and more kombucha “breweries” have been popping up as well. But what exactly is kombucha? And what makes this drink, with a funny name, so desired?

Kombucha is a fizzy drink that is made from fermented tea. That is right, this drink is fermented, like beer or other alcohol types. However, unlike beer, wine, etc, kombucha holds only a very small amount of alcohol, at .5 percent, making it a non-alcoholic drink. Many are drawn to kombucha for the fermented and effervescent qualities it has.

A SCOBY or symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast is used to ferment the tea into kombucha. The byproducts of the SCOBY, contain powerhouse health benefits. Here are a few:

1. High Levels of Lactic-Acid Bacteria

You may read the word bacteria and automatically have bad connotations. However, there is good and bad bacteria, this acetic acid (also found in vinegar), qualifies a good one. The bacteria produced in kombucha is advantageous and has been known to provide probiotic functions to the gut. It also helps fend off bad bacteria from forming and hindering your health.

2. Helps in Digestion

The increase in probiotics in the gut, combined with the carbonation, helps the body breakdown and digest food. Similar to drinking soda after a heavy meal, kombucha provides the same experience, but in a much healthier way. In addition, kombucha helps reduce bloating and feelings of discomfort.

3. Provides a Small Kick in Your Step

Because kombucha is derived from tea, there is a small amount of caffeine, around 15mg per 14 fluid oz, depending on the brand. An average cup of coffee contains 95mg, so kombucha falls more along the lines of a decaf option. Just enough caffeine to add a little pep in your step, but not enough to increase anxiety or jittery feelings.

What is also increasing in popularity is producing your own kombucha at home. While this might be a great way to save on money, it is important that all rules are followed diligently, as a contaminated batch may be harmful to the body, and make things worse instead of better for your overall health.