Kombucha tea originated in East Asia, where it is used to treat a variety of health conditions. Kombucha made its way to Germany in the early 1900s and has since spread to most countries. You'll find the bottled tea for sale in health food stores and brewing in kitchens of those who tout its health benefits. Although scientific research on kombucha tea is limited, it may help to boost your immunity and improve your digestion.
Kombucha is made by fermenting a sugar-sweetened black tea. A kombucha culture made of yeasts and bacteria, which looks like a flat pancake, consumes the sugar. According to the American Cancer Society, the resulting fermented tea contains acetic acid, a small amount of alcohol and a range of probiotics, or beneficial bacteria. Depending on the brewing time, the flavor of kombucha varies from slightly sweet and somewhat sour to a potent vinegar flavor. Many producers of kombucha alter the flavor of the final beverage by adding fruit juices or herbs.
Fermented foods, such as kombucha, contain probiotics. These beneficial bacteria live inside your digestive tract. According to Harvard Health, over 100 trillion microorganisms reside in a healthy gut. About 500 different varieties of the microflora exist, and most are beneficial. They help to fight off harmful microorganisms and pathogens, aid in digestion, help you absorb certain nutrients and promote a healthy immune function. Probiotics may also relieve symptoms of diarrhea, irritable bowel syndrome, ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease. In addition, they may be helpful in female problems such as yeast infections and urinary tract infections.
If you struggle to maintain a healthy cholesterol or triglyceride level, drinking kombucha tea may help. According to a study published in the journal "BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine," rats that were fed kombucha had a delayed absorption of both low-density lipoprotein cholesterol and triglycerides. As an added benefit, supplementing with kombucha tea also increased high-density lipoprotein levels. HDL cholesterol helps to scavenge and remove extra cholesterol from your blood. A high HDL level means you're at less risk for having a heart attack, according to the American Heart Association.
Kombucha contains antioxidants from the tea itself and some that form during the fermentation process. These antioxidants may help to prevent oxidative stress that occurs as a result of diabetes, according to an article published in the journal "Food and Chemical Toxicology" in July 2013. As a result, drinking kombucha tea may help to prevent or improve diabetes and blood sugar control. In the study, diabetic rats where supplemented with kombucha, which produced antidiabetic effects. More research, however, is needed to determine the safety and efficacy of treating human diabetics with kombucha.
- BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine: Hypoglycemic and Antilipidemic Properties of Kombucha Tea in Alloxan-Induced Diabetic Rats
- Food Chemical Toxicology: Effect of Kombucha, a Fermented Black Tea in Attenuating Oxidative Stress Mediated Tissue Damage in Alloxan Induced Diabetic Rats
- American Cancer Society: Kombucha Tea
- NBCNews.com: Trendy Fizzy Drink Is Mushrooming
- Harvard Medical School Family Health Guide: Health Benefits of Taking Probiotics
- American Heart Association: Good vs. Bad Cholesterol