Last Updated December 20th, 2021
A Historical Health Elixir
Over the last few years, fermented foods and drinks are catching the attention of proliferating health and fitness industry. The rich concentration of probiotics in fermented food items provides an extensive range of health benefits to consumers. Advancements in the food & beverage industry in conjugation with growing health concerns of the modern world population are the major factors responsible for increasing demand for probiotics-rich fermented food items across the globe.
Fermentation is not a new technique for the food & beverage industry, over the years; it has been used to produce a variety of edible products such as wine, cheese, yogurt, etc. However, a new age fermented beverage “Kombucha Tea” is gaining popularity all around the world.
The origins of Kombucha
Kombucha tea is actually, an old age beverage which is rebranded by the beverage industry as a fancy new age drink. It is actually a 2000 years old beverage which was originated in the Eastern part of the world. Initially, it was brewed in China and gain popularity as a health drink. The multitude benefits of Kombucha helped it in grabbing attention from countries like Japan and Russia, respectively.
In the 20th century, this fermented beverage gravitates the attention of Europeans and soon became a fascination amongst health buffs all around the world. Currently, the value-based market of Kombucha tea is estimated at around 900USD million and is expected to exhibit strong growth over the next few years due to its increasing popularity as a healthful drink all around the world. As a market trend, flavored Kombucha is expected to experience higher growth in demand as compared to non-flavored one, due to increasing preference for refreshing taste amongst its consumers.
Making of Kombucha Tea
In simple terms, Kombucha tea is a fermented beverage made by an amalgamation of black/green tea, sugar, water, and SCOBY. SCOBY stands for symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast, it is a culture comprising of live yeast & bacteria. Scoby is added to sweet tea mixture to carry out the fermentation process and produce Kombucha tea. During fermentation, yeast colonies present in SCOBY feeds on sugar resent in tea mixture, this breaks down sugar and probiotics bacteria are released in the tea mixture. Fermentation and release of probiotics bacteria in Kombucha tea cause carbonation due to which it tastes fizzy.
Above-mentioned are constituents of a simple, unflavored Kombucha, one can add flavors to make this health beverage more tasteful. Addition of freshly squeezed lime juice, ginger juice, crushed berries, pomegranate juice in Kombucha tea increases its palatability without compromising with the health benefits offered by this drink.
Nutritional Profile of Kombucha
It is a fermented tea with probiotics; a basic Kombucha tea serving of 6 ounces contains less than 10 calories. One serving of this drink contains three grams of sugar. This drink also contains vitamins that belong to B-complex categories such as niacin and thiamin. It is commercially available in pasteurized as well as unpasteurized forms; however, unpasteurized one contains probiotics whereas probiotics get killed in pasteurized variants.
Irresistible Health Benefits of Kombucha Tea
Rich Source of Antioxidants
Metabolic processes occurring in human boy are required to sustain life; however, these processes also produce damage-causing free radicals which cause oxidative damages. The impact of this damage can be minimized by increasing the consumption of antioxidants in a regular diet. It is advisable to have an antioxidant-rich diet, rather than depending on antioxidant supplements as they have side effects on health.
According to research, regular oral intake of Kombucha tea has the potential to significantly reduce oxidative damage of liver without being toxic. Moreover, it can be used as a curative measure against liver toxicity as it has demonstrated its potential to reduce toxicity by a maximum of 70% in multiple studies. Scientists have observed during research study that the use of green tea instead of black tea in Kombucha can significantly increase the concentration of antioxidants in this health drink.
Provide Protection against Bacterial Infection
During the fermentation process of Kombucha, acetic acid is produced which has the ability to suppress the growth of a wide range of pathogens. The high amount of polyphenols and acetic acid present in Kombucha help in inhibiting the growth of multiple bacteria and yeast species. According to research, Kombucha has an anti-microbial effect on multiple infections causing bacterial species such as E.coli, Salmonella typhi, Cm. jejuni, and Salmonella Enteritidis
Saves your Heart from Fatal Heart Ailments
Heart diseases are closely associated with cholesterol imbalances, particularly, due to the disproportion of LDL (low-density lipoproteins) and HDL (high-density lipoproteins) in the human body. Research studies indicate that Kombucha tea has the capability to reduce LDL and increase HDL content significantly. This improves liver and kidney functioning of tea drinkers, thereby improving the overall cardiac health of tea consumers.
Manages your Type-2 Diabetes
Diabetes is a very common lifestyle disorder that has affected millions of people across the globe. Medical practitioners find it difficult to counter with fluctuating blood sugar levels in diabetes patients. As per research study conducted on diabetic rats, oral administration of Kombucha tea on regular basis helps in reducing the abrupt rise in blood glucose level by slowing down the carbohydrate breakdown process. Green tea is already known for its benefits regarding maintenance of glucose level; therefore, Kombucha tea made with green tea instead of black tea is more likely to reduce increased glucose level more efficiently than an ordinary Kombucha tea.
De-stresses your Digestive System
Probiotics present in Kombucha aids in improving the overall health of the human digestive system. Probiotics are equivalent to healthy gut bacteria, both of these are known to act against harmful bacteria which enters in the digestive tract of humans. Several types of research have indicated that probiotics have a strong potential to treat stomach ulcers, diarrhea, and symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome. Additionally, it suppresses the overproduction of candida (fungus) in the human body to prevent digestive system disorders. In a nutshell, probiotics present in Kombucha restore a good balance between healthy and unhealthy microbes present in the human gut.
Drink Kombucha to Ditch Depression
Kombucha tea has a direct as well as indirect impact on the mental state of a human. This beverage being rich in vitamin B-12 plays a significant role in maintaining optimum energy levels and overall mental health in humans. In addition to this, it has the potential to support communication between the digestive tract and brain, which subsequently is able to reduce anxiety, particularly in harsh working conditions. Disease like leaky gut can lead to depression; however, regular intake of this health elixir is believed to maintain & repair the health of the human digestive tract. Thereby, it also effectively prevents gut damage and depression caused due to digestive problems.
Potential to Protect Lungs against Diseases
The most unexpected and least studied benefit of Kombucha is its ability to treat silicosis. Silicosis is an occupational hazard known to affect people working in the silica industry, it occurs due to overexposure of silica. It has been studied that regular inhalation or drinking of Kombucha may prevent the occurrence of silicosis and other fatal lung diseases that are majorly caused due to overexposure of silica.
Anti-Cancer Effect of Kombucha
Being extremely rich in anti-oxidant and polyphenols, this drink has a plethora of health benefits. This health tonic has strong potential to inhibit the uncontrolled growth of cancer cells. Laboratory stage studies revealed that Kombucha effectively suppressed growth and spread of cancer cells by intervening in their signaling mechanisms. The high concentration of polyphenols in Kombucha is believed to instigate death of a cancer cell by blocking its gene mutation & growth.
Precautionary Measures before Drinking Kombucha
- In addition to the nutritional value of ingredients, the healthfulness of any health drink strongly depends on manufacturing practices that are followed during the production process. Kombucha drinks are easy to produce due to which they are manufactured commercially as well as at home. Home-made Kombucha drinks are prone to contamination or overfermentation due to lack of expertise in manufacturing skills, this may also lead to serious health concerns. Also, the alcohol content in homemade Kombucha is estimated at around 3% which is way higher than alcohol content present in commercially available Kombucha.
- People already suffering from heartburn, stomach ulcers or very weak digestive systems may feel nauseated or bloated after consuming Kombucha tea, due to the acidic nature of this drink. In a few extreme cases, it has been found to be a culprit for causing liver problems and lactic acidosis.
- People with extremely compromised immunity should avoid Kombucha, as it contains yeast which can promote the growth of harmful bacteria in the body and aggravate infections.
- Consumption of Kombucha is linked to health benefits, however, evidence related to its effects on human health are limited due to a lack of research studies conducted with the human participants.
- Kombucha is majorly an unpasteurized drink, contains a minute amount of alcohol and caffeine, therefore it should be avoided by pregnant as well as lactating women.
Is Kombucha a Boon or a Bane for Human Health?
The numerous benefits that are associated with Kombucha tea cannot be neglected; however, these benefits come with a little bag of a burden too. A person needs to be cautious and well aware of his own health before including Kombucha in a regular diet. Few points need to be kept in mind before including Kombucha in regular diet:
- In order to gain maximum health benefits, one should prefer commercially available Kombucha tea as it contains very low alcohol content which is less than 0.5%.
- One must prefer low sugar variants of Kombucha tea that are commercially available in the market. Majorly Kombucha drinks are low in calories; however, few brands manufacture it with high sugar content containing around 120 calories per pack. Additionally, excessive consumption of Kombucha may cause weight gain as liquid calories are less filling and rapidly consumed.
- Appropriate dosage of Kombucha depends on various factors such as age, immunity and overall health of a person, therefore one needs to consult a medical practitioner before consuming kombucha on a regular basis.
- There is no fixed recommendation regarding the consumption quantity of Kombucha, however, majority drinkers prefer to consume between eight to sixteen ounces per day.
- In comparison to traditional tea, Kombucha has very low caffeine level; however, excessive drinking of this drink can lead to increased caffeine consumption. A 240 ml serving of green tea based Kombucha contains around 8 to 14 mg caffeine, this is way lower than caffeine content which is present in a similar serving of black tea.
- Overall kombucha is a health drink enriched with probiotics and it is safe to consume for a healthy individual. However, it should not be used to treat medical conditions.
- Kombucha is not a weight loss magic bullet, one can consume it for improvement of overall health and immunity; however, depending on it to achieve weight loss goals would not be advisable. It improves, maintains and restores the health of the digestive tract and subsequently leads to enhanced detoxification of the body. Therefore, it can aid weight loss by flushing out toxins but cannot guarantee it.
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