Kombucha is becoming more and more popular these days and widely available in health food stores or farmers markets. It is advertised as the “healthy choice” drink. Is this really true? What do we exactly know about kombucha? Let’s try to find out a bit more about it and determine if it is truly good or bad for us.
Let’s start from the very beginning. Kombucha is formally defined as a fermented tea drink made by using black or green tea and a symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast. It originates from China where it is recognized as a great energizing and detoxifying drink. The name of this drink combines two words. The first one is “Kombu”, and it is the name of the person who discovered the properties of this drink. Second one is “Cha” meaning drink in Japanese.
Kombucha contains sugar, fibers, organic acids, amino acids, polyphenols, enzymes, vitamins B and C and mineral ingredients such as: Iron, zinc, potassium, manganese and copper. This drink has a low pH resulting in some antiseptic properties. We need to remember that kombucha also contains some alcohol (usually less then 0.5%). This level can increase with duration of fermentation.
Now, knowing the composition of kombucha we can take a closer look at its properties. It is recommended for people with insomnia, memory problems, lack of appetite, high blood pressure and for those who are permanently tired and exhausted. It is also said that this drink intensifies operation of the immune and digestion systems, as well as helping support organs including the liver, kidneys and bladder. It is also advertised as the drink that can accelerate detoxification and has some anti carcinogenic properties. This all sounds great but the truth is – kombucha has never been properly tested and its properties have never been scientifically confirmed.
On the flip side, there were numbers of adverse effects reported after drinking kombucha for long periods of time. These included headaches, nausea, stomach upset and breathing problems. As it turns out, drinking too much of this drink can lead to lactic acidosis which can ultimately lead to heart failure. Based on these adverse effects, there seem to be some contraindications regarding the supposed power of kombucha. This drink should be avoided by people with a compromised immune system, those diagnosed with monilia disease, diabetes, oxalate kidney stones or diarrhea. It is not safe for pregnant women and we cannot offer it to children as it contains alcohol.
As you can see, everyone should use caution and common sense when choosing this drink. Remember that anything consumed in excessive amounts can be harmful to our bodies. It is important to do your research before indulging and most importantly – know yourself and listen to what your body is trying to tell you. Tell us what you think about kombucha. Please share your opinion on the discussion forum at bctalk.ca