What is kombucha?

October 17, 2015

I (Carolyn) was in the grocery store the other day and the woman in front of me was buying a lot of kombucha. The woman behind me knew her and said, “oh, are those for your kids?” The woman buying them said, “no, they are for me. I’m trying to stop drinking soda and drink these instead.” Then the woman behind me said, “what is kombucha?” The woman buying them didn’t really know, but she knew whatever it was…was better for her than soda.

Do you feel like you hear about things that are supposed to be healthy, but don’t really know why? Like, why do Adri and Carolyn put chia or flax seeds in all their smoothie recipes? Or, I keep hearing about probiotics, but what is the deal? Should I be taking them? That’s what we are here for. We want to help you navigate the crazy confusing food system and now confusing “health food” system. While we are so excited to see these things become mainstream…it is still important to know what the benefits are (and risks) of these health foods. Just like any food, it may not be for everyone, but it is good to be informed about what you put in your body.

During week 5 of our 6 Week Immunity Challenge, Dr. Michael Smith, Naturopathic Physician at Carolinas Natural Health, is going to do an entire call for us all about gut health and the importance of probiotics. If you haven’t signed up yet, sign up now! You can get this informative call straight to your inbox. For now, we are just going to talk about kombucha and what it really is and why you may want to try one if you haven’t already.

First, what is kombucha made of and how is it made?
There are a few simple ingredients in kombucha: tea, water, sugar, and SCOBY (symbolic colony of bacteria and yeast). To make it it, tea is steeped with boiling water and sugar. It is cooled, and then the SCOBY is added. It is covered and ferments for 7-30 days.

SUGAR?! But, you always tell us to watch our sugar?
Sugar is needed to feed the SCOBY and help the fermentation process. After the fermentation process, there is actually trace amounts of sugar left.

What are the health benefits of kombucha?
After the fermentation process, kombucha becomes carbonated and contains vinegar, b-vitamins, enzymes, and probiotics. Probiotics or the “good bacteria” are essential to a healthy immune system. Over 70% of our immune system lives in our gut. Without the optimal good vs. bad bacteria in our gut, our immune system, digestion, vitamin and mineral absorption, and more are all compromised. I might never finish this blog if I start talking about all the reasons we need good bacteria so I’ll let Dr. Smith cover it on his call. Sign up for the 6-week Immunity Challenge to hear it. The B-vitamins in kombucha are good for energy and enzymes aide digestion as well as the probiotics.

Does kombucha contain alcohol?
It is a fermented beverage so it will contain trace amounts of alcohol. Store bought kombuchas are regulated.

Kombucha is not cheap, but it is a great option for that 3 pm pick me up, if you are sick, digestion is off, or are trying to get off the soda train. You can make your own at home, but be forewarned, your house will smell like vinegar and more importantly there is a high risk of contamination and unhealthy bacteria getting into the tea. If you are going to try one, start with the store bought and go from there. If you are experienced with fermented foods and want to try and make your own, here is a great starter Cultures for Health Kombucha Tea Starter.

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