Is kombucha safe to drink?

With the rise of gut health nutrition, new products are readily available in our supermarkets. Have you seen or tried kombucha? Do the health claims stack up?

Kombucha is a fermented tea-based beverage believed to contain many nutrition and health benefits. It’s made using a traditional fermentation method involving a colony of yeasts and bacteria. It begins as a sugar-tea solution before a living culture of bacteria and yeast transforms these ingredients through aerobic fermentation over 7-10 days into the tangy drink. The combination of bacteria like acetic acid and lactic acid bacteria as well as yeast is commonly known as ‘SCOBY’ (Symbiotic Colony of Bacteria and Yeast). The yeast metabolises the sugar turning it into carbon dioxide, giving kombucha its fizzyness, and tiny amounts of alcohol. The bacteria turns this alcohol into organic acids like acetic acid giving kombucha its tangy taste.

The final nutritional composition and taste of the kombucha depends on factors like the bacteria and yeast species, initial sugar and tea concentrations, oxygen and carbon dioxide levels, fermentation time, and temperature used. Many companies claim their Kombucha contains probiotics, organic acids, vitamins and antioxidants beneficial for gut health.

Unfortunately, there is a current lack of good scientific data to back up these nutrition and health claims. However, it is safe to say that drinking kombucha will not cause any harm to your health.

A few cool facts about kombucha,

1) Kombucha retains the tea’s well-known polyphenol antioxidant activity7 and one such polyphenol – catechin – also has anti-microbial effects. Read more about antioxidants here

2) Minerals generated as a result of the fermentation process may include small amounts of manganese, iron, nickel, copper, zinc and chromium.

So next time your hanging for something sweet and tangy – give kombucha a go. It is a good alternative to soft drinks, but keep in mind that it is not a miracle drink!

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