Kombucha has become all the rage in the health world in recent years. You might wonder if it’s really that good for you? We will list the top four kombucha health benefits that you and your family can experience by drinking kombucha.
We first tried kombucha about eight years ago, when a friend brought some bottles over for dinner. I had heard of kombucha, but never tried it prior. Even though my husband was initially skeptical about a “hipster drink,” he tried and loved it!
My first sip of kombucha was mixed. I normally prefer non-carbonated drinks, but the flavor intrigued me. Since my husband kept buying kombucha afterwards, I quickly overlooked my usual disdain for carbonation and grew to love kombucha as well.
Soon after, we started making our own kombucha to save costs and to increase supply. We make 5-gallon batches now, because we also share with family and friends who have become hooked! Like my husband and in-laws, many people are initially skeptical about what they consider a “health drink,” but are pleasantly surprised.
Even our kids enjoy drinking kombucha, which they liken to fruit soda. (My sister-in-law sometimes adds cream for a “cream soda” effect.) Thus, convincing your friends or family to try and like kombucha may not be hard. After reading this article, you can also educate them on kombucha health benefits and other tidbits!
As an aside, if you haven’t tried making your own kombucha yet, you should read our Easy Beginner’s Guide: How to Make Your Own Kombucha. The process is actually quite simple.
Otherwise, let’s dive into what kombucha is, kombucha health benefits, and possible concerns you may have about consuming too much.
What is kombucha?
The SCOBY looks like a large, slimy mushroom top, which grows over time. It contains living beneficial bacteria and yeasts, however, which is crucial for kombucha fermentation. The yeasts and bacteria work together in a “symbiotic” relationship.
The sugar that is initially present in the tea serves to feed the yeast. Alcoholic fermentation occurs when the yeasts break the sugar down into alcohol and carbon dioxide.
The bacteria then converts the alcohol into various beneficial organic acids, including acetic acid. (Acetic acid also forms vinegar, which is why kombucha can develop a vinegar-like flavor).
Since you probably came her to learn more about kombucha health benefits than the science behind kombucha, I won’t go any further about the process. However, this article is pretty comprehensive if you want to read more about the fermentation process.
The Top 4 Kombucha Health Benefits
Kombucha Health Benefit # 1: Gut Health – Probiotics
The #1 kombucha health benefit that most people tout is the rich probiotic content. As discussed in our prior section, kombucha is made from live and active bacteria. It’s still fermenting even in the fridge, so definitely contains living, healthy bacteria.
Until more recent years, gut health has largely gone unnoticed as a contributor to many ailments, and to some degree, still is. This medical article relates how gut health can contribute to ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease, celiac disease, irritable bowel syndrome, obesity, and diabetes. This other article also links gut health to autism.
I didn’t list all of the conditions tied to gut health, but the point is that more conditions are being linked and researched with time.
Kombucha Health Benefit #2: Essential Vitamins
Research has shown that kombucha contains the following essential vitamins:
- Vitamin B1 (Thiamine): important for your heart, brain, and nerve health. It helps your body convert food into energy.
- Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine): a vitamin that your body can’t produce, so must get from other sources. It is important for metabolism and your central nervous system.
- Vitamin B12 (Cobalamin): another vitamin that your body can’t produce. It is important for your nervous system, red blood cells, and DNA formation. Thus, it can help prevent anemia.
- Vitamin C (Ascorbic Acid): important for your immune system, heart health, eyes, and skin.
Kombucha Health Benefit #3: Essential Minerals
Research has also shown that kombucha contains the following essential minerals:
- Zinc: Zinc is best-known for it’s ability to improve your immune system. It is important for other reasons as well, such as DNA production and healing wounds.
- Copper: important for producing red blood cells and maintaining your nervous and immune systems.
- Iron: important for forming hemoglobin (which transports oxygen through your body) and your immune system.
- Manganese: important for your brain and nervous system, among other functions.
- Nickel: believe to be important in regulating iron absorption, metabolism, and calcium use.
- Cobalt: believed to be important for stimulating bodily defenses and suppressing inflammation.
Kombucha Health Benefit #4: Antimicrobial Properties
This study found that acetic acid and other compounds in kombucha inhibited the growth of certain pathogenic microorganisms, including Staphylococcus, Salmonella, Listeria, and E. Coli.
Thus, kombucha shares acetic acid with apple cider vinegar, which is also touted for its antimicrobial properties. However, if you’re like me, you’d probably prefer to drink kombucha over apple cider vinegar!
Possible Concerns You May Have About Kombucha
Sugar Content in Kombucha
All kombucha contains sugar, because fermentation does not convert 100% of the sugar. However, the yeast converts most of the initial sugar during fermentation. Thus, kombucha ends up with a lot less sugar than the brew initially starts with before fermentation.
This site estimates 1 cup of kombucha contains up to 6 grams of sugar. However, calculating exact amounts can be difficult, particularly with home brews.
Kombucha tends to have less sugar than most sugared drinks out there, but if you are sensitive to sugar consumption (e.g. diabetic), then you may want to limit your kombucha consumption. If the rest of your diet is healthy and clean, drinking a cup of kombucha daily shouldn’t detriment you, but you are the best judge for yourself..
Alcohol Content in Kombucha
Since fermentation creates alcohol as a byproduct, all kombucha will contain some level of alcohol. However, the alcohol content is very low, unless you purposely prolong fermentation to increase alcohol content.
Homemade kombucha may contain up to 3% of alcohol, but again, you can control how alcoholic you make your kombucha.
Personally, I am an alcohol lightweight who almost never drinks alcohol (aside from kombucha!). Yet, drinking kombucha never gives me a “buzz” – even if I drink 16 oz. in one go. Thus, I’m not at all concerned about kombucha containing significant alcohol.
Caffeine Content in Kombucha
Because kombucha is made from caffeinated tea, it contains caffeine. Black tea has a higher caffeine level than green tea, so kombucha made from the former will have more caffeine. However, fermentation breaks down some of the caffeine.
Due to variations on fermentation, estimating the exact amount of caffeine in homemade kombucha can be hard. One estimate is that one serving of kombucha contains 1/3 to 1/2 the amount of caffeine in regular tea.
So, if you can handle a cup of black tea or coffee without caffeine issues, you could can certainly handle any caffeine in kombucha.
Summary on Kombucha Health Benefits
As you can see, kombucha has many purported health benefits. It’s also super delicious, so I see drinking it as a win-win!
Yes, kombucha has sugar, caffeine, and alcohol, but the content of each is insignificant. If you are particularly concerned about consuming any of these substances, however, you should limit your kombucha consumption to how you see fit.
We tend to drink about 8 oz. a day each. Bottles sold in stores are usually over 16 oz., so there’s no real “norm” as to how much to drink at a time. Drink however much you feel comfortable. I sometimes drink a full 16 oz. in one day!
So there you have it. If you have any questions on kombucha health benefits, or if you think I omitted anything, please comment below. Or if you want to tell us anything else related to kombucha, like how much you love it, please do so!