Kombucha: 5 health benefits for your gut, liver and more

Kombucha is a probiotic drink since its fermentation process adds gut-friendly bacteria to it. Know the amazing health benefits of kombucha!

Kombucha is a sweet, fizzy and fermented drink – a tea – that is considered good for your gut health, and has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. It has probiotics or friendly bacteria that benefit the digestive system and the overall system too.

What is kombucha?

Kombucha is a type of fermented tea made from bacteria, yeast, sugar, and tea. It has a yellowish-orange colour and tastes slightly sour. It becomes carbonated post the fermentation process, hence it’s fizzy.

Celebrity nutritionist Nupuur Patil explains, “Kombucha is a fermented tea beverage with a tangy taste, created by fermenting sweetened tea with a symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast (SCOBY). Its popularity stems from purported health benefits, including probiotics for gut health, antioxidants, and potential immune system support. It is known to aid in digestion, boosts energy, and detoxifies the body.”

Kombucha
Kombucha is the next best superdrink in town. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

What are the health benefits of kombucha

Since kombucha has high levels of probiotic bacteria, it is known to boost several health benefits, some of which are:

1. Kombucha is rich in probiotics

Kombucha is believed to have originated from China or Japan. Specific strains of bacteria, yeast, and sugar are added to black or green tea, and then it is allowed to ferment for a week or more. During this fermentation process, a large number of bacteria also grow in the mixture. Several species of lactic acid are found in kombucha that may have a probiotic effect on the gut. Probiotics make room for healthy bacteria in your gut that may enhance several aspects of health, including digestion, inflammation, or weight loss.

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2. May boost the benefits of green tea

There are several bioactive compounds like polyphenols found in green tea which act as powerful antioxidants in the body. Kombucha, which is made using green tea, has several of the same plant compounds and boosts several benefits like that of green tea. As per a study, regular consumption of green tea can increase the number of calories you burn, helping reduce belly fat, and improve cholesterol levels while also helping control blood sugar.

3. Kombucha may support liver function

Our body releases free radicals owing to several factors. These are harmful to the body and can even lead to the birth of chronic ailments in the body. Antioxidants are substances that fight these free radicals that can damage your cells. Kombucha made with green tea may have antioxidant effects on your liver.

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Probiotic tea drinks like kombucha support liver health. Image courtesy: Adobe Stock

4. Kombucha can kill harmful bacteria

As a result of the fermentation process, acetic acid is produced in kombucha as its main substance which is also found in abundance in vinegar. Similar to polyphenols in tea, acetic acid in kombucha has the potential to kill many harmful microorganisms. Kombucha which is made from black or green tea boosts strong antibacterial properties that can suppress the growth of unwanted bacteria in the body without affecting the beneficial probiotic bacteria or yeasts involved in the fermentation process.

5. May aid in managing type-2 diabetes

Millions of people are living with the chronic ailment diabetes, due to which people suffer from high blood sugar and insulin resistance. In a 2023 pilot study, 12 participants who were instructed to consume 240mL of kombucha product for 4 weeks, were analysed. Kombucha helped curb average fasting blood glucose levels in participants than baseline, while the placebo group did not.

Side effects of drinking kombucha

Caution is advised as kombucha can have side effects, especially for those with compromised immune systems or certain health conditions. These may include allergic reactions, upset stomach, and even rare cases of severe toxicity from harmful bacteria or excessive alcohol content if not properly brewed or stored.

You should also guard yourself against excessive consumption of kombucha. While purchasing packaged kombucha tea, watch out for the calorie count.

How is kombucha made?

Making kombucha involves brewing sweetened tea, adding the SCOBY, and allowing it to ferment for about 7-14 days. It is a straightforward process, but hygiene and careful monitoring of fermentation time and conditions are essential to avoid contamination and ensure a safe, tasty beverage, shares nutritionist Nupuur Patil.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is it good to drink kombucha every day?

If people have kombucha in moderation, it is still safe to consume. Your choice of kombucha- whether store-bought or homemade- ultimately decides the quantity you can drink without experiencing severe side effects. Kombucha is a carbonated drink which can cause bloating, if consumed in excess.

Also, some kombucha products have high sugar content which can aggravate inflammatory conditions in the gut, leading to an upset digestive tract.

Who should not drink kombucha?

Even though kombucha is rich in probiotics, people should also get in touch with a healthcare professional before consuming the drink if they suffer from conditions like irritable bowel syndrome, a weakened immune system, are pregnant or are nursing.