Kombucha is a fermented tea. Sounds pretty funky, right? It’s made by adding a culture of bacteria and yeast to a concoction of tea and sugar. It also undergoes pasteurization to ensure that any harmful nasties are killed off. The final product is a slightly fizzy and tart drink with a hint of sweetness.
Kombucha has been hailed as a magic elixir, curing everything from AIDS, cancer, diabetes and digestive issues to poor libido and arthritis. It is interesting to note that none of these claims are based on peer-reviewed research on humans. That being said, the probiotics present are likely to bestow a positive effect on our digestive system.
Probiotics are live micro-organisms that include bacteria, yeasts and fungi. Studies have shown that probiotics can boost the immune system, improve digestion and protect against disease. Some studies have even shown that these microorganisms can reduce the severity of irritable bowel syndrome - positive news for the almost 15% of the population with digestive troubles. In addition to kombucha, probiotics are also found naturally in yoghurt, kefir, sauerkraut, tempeh, pickles and sourdough bread.
So, should you include kombucha in your diet? While the jury is still out on its healing and curative properties, drinking it is probably not going to do you any harm. Include it if you wish, just don’t think that it’s going to cure all your health ills.