General Health

10 Science-Backed Health Benefits of Kombucha Tea

Let’s face it – the beverage aisle at the grocery store is pretty intimidating.

There are hundreds of choices available.

And it gets even more confusing when you’re trying to choose a beverage that might benefit your health.

If you have blood sugar problems and don’t want a drink that will spike your sugar levels, then the choices become even more daunting. 

One of the healthier alternatives you might have heard about in recent years is kombucha tea.

Kombucha tea has the potential to be a healthy beverage and a better option than many of the sugar-laden drinks on the shelves.

Some potential kombucha tea benefits include improved gut health, better cholesterol levels, and even the potential to improve blood sugars, which might earn it a spot in your grocery cart.

What is kombucha tea?

Kombucha tea is a fermented tea beverage that has been around for a long time; approximately 220 B.C., to be exact.

It originated in Northeast China and was popular for its potential healing properties, causing its expansion to Europe.

Kombucha tea gained popularity in the 1990s and was compared to yogurt in terms of its potential health benefits.

Kombucha tea is made by combining a SCOBY (symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast) with green or black tea and adding sugar to feed the kombucha SCOBY.

The fermentation process can last anywhere from one week to a month. After the initial fermentation, you can add additional fruits, herbs, and spices to give the mixture a more distinct flavor.

The formation of bacteria and yeast on the surface of the tea looks like a mushroom cap. This gives kombucha the term “mushroom tea”.

During the fermentation process acetic acid is produced, as well as a small amount of alcohol and carbonation. 

10 Potential Health Benefits of Kombucha Tea

1) It may be good for your gut health

The fermentation process can produce probiotics. These are live bacteria and yeasts that can benefit the digestive tract and have other potential positive impacts on health.

Probiotics are healthy bacteria, which are important for healthy digestion.

Some people like to consume probiotics when they have to take a course of antibiotics. However, this can kill the healthy bacteria in your gut when it targets the bad bacteria.

When your gut bacteria become unbalanced, you may experience constipation, diarrhea, fatigue, unintentional weight loss, or weight gain.

Certain chronic health conditions may be partly due to an imbalance in gut bacteria.

This includes autoimmune disorders like type 1 diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, and thyroid disorders.

Not all fermented food contains probiotics, such as wine and beer. However, certain kinds of kombucha tea can contain probiotics from the lactic acid bacteria.

2) It might help to reduce your risk of some significant health problems

When you make kombucha tea from green tea, you also gain the potential health benefits of this well-known “superfood.”

Scientific research has found that green tea may reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and certain cancers, as well as help to promote healthy blood pressure levels.

3) It could be good for your blood sugar

There aren’t extensive studies on the effect drinking kombucha tea has on humans with diabetes.

However, a study on diabetic rats found that kombucha slowed the digestion of carbohydrates by inhibiting the enzyme that breaks down carbs, therefore reducing blood sugar levels.

Kombucha made with green tea may be especially helpful for blood sugar regulation because green tea has already been found to lower blood sugar and insulin levels.

4) Potential cholesterol-lowering benefit

In an animal study, rats were fed a high-cholesterol diet and given kombucha tea.

The results showed that kombucha tea might have a promising effect on cholesterol levels by increasing good cholesterol, reducing bad cholesterol as well as improving liver and kidney functioning markers.

Green tea has also been studied for its benefits on cholesterol levels, which is one reason kombucha tea might have a similar effect.

5) It can fight germs

Kombucha tea has potential antimicrobial benefits due to its acetic acid content.

Studies have found kombucha to effectively fight numerous pathogens, including Staphylococcus aureus and Escherichia coli (E. coli). 

6) Lower in sugar than many soft drinks

Sugar-sweetened drinks are one of the leading sources of added sugar in the typical Western diet.

The American Heart Association recommends limiting added sugar to 24 grams or day per less for women and 36 grams or less per day for men.

Yet, the average daily consumption of added sugar is 77 grams per day.

While the sugar content of different flavored kombucha teas varies widely, there are many low-sugar versions available.

Kombucha has to contain some sort of sugar for the fermentation process, but it’ll still be much better than a sweetened coffee or soda if you choose one of the lower sugar varieties.

7) It may protect against certain cancers

Kombucha contains antioxidants from the teas used to make them.

Studies suggest that green tea may help reduce breast cancer risk in women.

Test tube studies suggest that kombucha may also have anti-cancer properties, though more expensive research on human subjects would need to be done.

8) It may lessen symptoms of lactose intolerance

Lactose intolerance occurs when the digestive tract doesn’t produce enough lactase enzyme.

The lactase enzyme helps break down lactose; without it, symptoms such as gas, bloating, and diarrhea can occur as bacteria ferment the lactose in the gut.

Probiotics can help lessen the symptoms of lactose intolerance. If kombucha tea is made to make it have a high probiotic content, then it may offer similar benefits.

9) It might help reduce inflammation

The antioxidants in black tea can help to fight cell damage and inflammation.

The specific types of antioxidants in black tea are polyphenols, which have been studied and found to exhibit numerous potential health benefits.

10) It could help your body better use insulin

Insulin resistance and prediabetes are widespread and are a major risk factor for developing type 2 diabetes.

Studies on black tea have found that it can help “improve the status of insulin” and promote healthy blood sugar levels in people with prediabetes.

Side Effects

Kombucha is generally considered a safe drink. However, some potential side effects could occur.

Homemade kombucha tea can contain more alcohol than store-bought bottled kombucha, which has to contain less than 0.5% alcohol to be non-alcoholic.

Homemade varieties can have up to 3% alcohol content, so people with alcohol sensitivities, those taking certain medications, or people under 21 should stick with store-bought kombucha.

Potential side effects of drinking kombucha include stomach problems, yeast infections, allergic reactions, yellow skin (jaundice), nausea, and vomiting.

These side effects may arise if you drink large amounts of kombucha tea regularly or have underlying health issues.

Kombucha often contains caffeine from black tea. Drinking too much caffeine can cause adverse side effects such as increased heart rate, anxiety, headache, and more.

So, you should be mindful of the caffeine content of the kombucha you choose to drink.

How to Make Kombucha Tea

To make homemade kombucha, you’ll need to start with a SCOBY. You can buy a SCOBY, get one from someone who has been making homemade kombucha, or you can make your own. But it will take a few weeks if you go that route.

Once you have your SCOBY, you’re ready to do your first fermentation. Be sure only to use glass bottles since metal or plastic can react negatively with the acid and interfere with the fermentation process.

One of the highest-rated Kombucha how-to guides explains what to do next.

The process of making kombucha is a bit detailed and complex. And there are several things to keep in mind as far as do’s and don’ts.

If you want to make your own kombucha tea at home, then read through the detailed instructions from someone who has successfully made their own kombucha and decide if it’s something you’d like to take on.

Conclusion

Kombucha mushroom tea is a drink that has been around for ages yet has gained popularity in recent years due to its potential health benefits.

You can make kombucha through the process of fermenting black or green tea.

As a result of fermentation, acetic acid is produced as well as a small amount of alcohol.

The fermentation process can produce probiotics, which is one of the major potential kombucha tea benefits.

There aren’t many studies on potential kombucha tea benefits in humans.

But there are studies on different aspects of kombucha that might promote better health.

Some of the potential kombucha benefits include improved gut health, lower risk of certain cancers, improved blood sugar levels, and better cardiovascular health.

Kombucha tea is generally a safe drink, especially when you purchase it at a store where alcohol levels are very low.

Homemade kombucha can have higher alcohol levels, so you should exercise caution when making your own kombucha tea.

There are other potential side effects of drinking kombucha. So you should be mindful of how much you’re drinking as well as your underlying health conditions. 

Next Up

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Sources

  1. Cabrera C, Artacho R, Giménez R. Beneficial effects of green tea–a review. J Am Coll Nutr. 2006. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16582024/
  2. Xu, R., Yang, K., Li, S. et al. Effect of green tea consumption on blood lipids: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Nutr J 19, 48 (2020). https://nutritionj.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12937-020-00557-5
  3. Sreeramulu G, Zhu Y, Knol W. Kombucha fermentation and its antimicrobial activity. J Agric Food Chem. 2000. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/10888589/
  4. Sun CL, Yuan JM, Koh WP, Yu MC. Green tea, black tea and breast cancer risk: a meta-analysis of epidemiological studies. Carcinogenesis. 2006. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16311246/
  5. Cetojevic-Simin DD, Bogdanovic GM, Cvetkovic DD, Velicanski AS. Antiproliferative and antimicrobial activity of traditional Kombucha and Satureja montana L. Kombucha. J BUON. 2008. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18979556/
  6. Kechagia M, Basoulis D, Konstantopoulou S, et al. Health benefits of probiotics: a review. ISRN Nutr. 2013;2013:481651. Published 2013. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4045285/
  7. Sharma V, Rao LJ. A thought on the biological activities of black tea. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2009. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19399668/
  8. Williamson G. The role of polyphenols in modern nutrition. Nutr Bull. 2017. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28983192/
  9. Rasheed Z. Molecular evidences of health benefits of drinking black tea. Int J Health Sci (Qassim). 2019;13(3):1-3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6512146/
  10. Live Eat Learn. “The Simple Guide to Kickass Kombucha” https://www.liveeatlearn.com/the-simple-guide-to-kickass-kombucha/

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