Happy New Year! Welcome to a new year, which means a new slate of possibilities and opportunities. Are you excited? I know I am!
I’ve been talking a lot about food, cooking, and meal planning lately because those things are often top of mind for many people these days, especially at the start of a new year. Today, I’m exploring many kombucha benefits, and I’m positive that you’ll be as intrigued as I was when I first discovered kombucha!
Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock lately, you’ve probably heard someone talk or say something about kombucha. If you’re like me, you probably said, “what’s that?” the first time you heard it. I was first exposed to it while attending a food conference a few months back. After seeing everyone drinking it, I just had to sample it for myself.
What is Kombucha?
Kombucha is a fermented tea, filled with bacteria and sugar (I’ll talk a little more about that later). It’s been around for years–like 2,000 years or so when it was used in China as a remedy for arthritis and to ward off cancer. It is a little tart to taste and some say it smells like vinegar. But stay with me, you’ve got to give it a chance! Kombucha has a number of health benefits (which is why it is quite the rage these days), and you can make it yourself or you can buy it at grocery stores or health food stores.
I mentioned earlier that kombucha has sugar in it. Manufacturers use sugar, along with bacteria and yeast in the fermenting process. After the fermenting process, only 1-2 grams of sugar per 8oz remain. That’s not too bad, right? Also, the fermenting creates SCOBY (a film of bacteria/yeast that looks like a mushroom), fizziness, various acidic compounds, probiotic bacteria, and small amounts of alcohol.
What are the Benefits of Kombucha?
Kombucha has many benefits, so let me give you my top 3 reasons to try it now:
Reason #1: Kombucha Contains Probiotic Bacteria.
Probiotics provide your gut with healthy bacteria. This means probiotics can help with digestion and weight loss. You can find probiotics in food (e.g., yogurt), drinks like kombucha, or you can add them to your diet via supplements.
According to WebMD, probiotics may keep you healthy by:
- Helping you replace “good” bacteria in your body after you’ve taken antibiotics.
- Helping you to balance your “good” and “bad” bacteria and keep your body working the way it should.
Reason #2: You Get the Benefits of Green Tea
If made with green tea, kombucha has huge health benefits such as the antioxidant catechin for which green tea is known. For this reason, green tea has been used to fight cancer, heart disease, and liver disease. It has also been used to treat obesity, type II diabetes, and cardiovascular risk factors. [via]
The antioxidants work by reducing the formation of free radicals in the body and protecting cells and molecules from damage. This is a really good thing because the free radicals are known to play a role in aging and all sorts of diseases. [via]
Even if you’re not battling a disease, green tea has been known to increase your calorie burn, reduce belly fat, improve cholesterol levels, and help control blood sugar [via]. It truly is a powerhouse!
Reason #3: Kombucha Kills Bad Bacteria
That’s right. Manufacturers use bacteria to make kombucha, but it actually kills bad bacteria that can lead to infections. This is due to the acetic acid in kombucha (produced in fermentation). You’ll find acetic acid in vinegar too, and you know how effective vinegar is.
Kombucha has a ton of other benefits. Just check out this infographic:
What Should I Be Aware Of?
Just like you’d look at labels for your food, get in the habit of checking your kombucha labels too. Here are things to look out for: sugar content, serving size, and unpronounceable words. Some brands contain more sugar than others, so here’s a good benchmark: 5g or less of sugar per serving. Serving sizes can also be misleading, so examine the label for that too. And similar to food, mysterious added ingredients are often those that you can’t pronounce. Be on the lookout for those too as you read labels.
Kombucha does contain trace amounts of alcohol too. Most store-bought brands contain less than 0.5% alcohol by volume (ABV). You may find kombucha varieties that contain more alcohol. Those varieties are classified as alcoholic beverages and are only sold to individuals 21 or older).
Earlier, I mentioned that you can make your own kombucha at home. That will save you some money, yes. However, there are some safety concerns that you should be aware of before you commit to making your own kombucha. First, the alcohol content may be a lot higher (like up to 3%). Second, it is possible to contaminate and/or over-fermented the tea. This is really not a good situation because it could lead to serious health issues. And by serious, I mean it could even result in death. So…., to be on the safe side, I highly recommend buying kombucha versus making it yourself.
Now that we’ve explored the many benefits of kombucha, how can you enjoy it as a beverage? Sure, you can drink it straight from a bottle. You can also make it into a cocktail (which I think is definitely more fun)! Check this out
Kombucha Cocktail Recipe
This recipe was originally created by The Rising Spoon, but I slightly adapted it the other night out of sheer laziness! I really liked the results, so I’m excited to share it with you here!
Here’s a super simple way to spruce up your next kombucha drink. Turn it into a cocktail!
- 10 leaves Mint Leaves crushed or chopped into small pieces
- 1/2 cup frozen blueberries
- ice cubes
- 15 ounces blueberry ginger flavored kombucha
- blueberry flavored sparkling water
Divide mint leaves equally (i.e., 5 leaves per glass). Using the back of a wooden spoon, crush the mint leaves to bring out the flavor. Alternatively, you can chop the leaves into smaller pieces and crush them with the back of a wooden spoon before adding. Place crushed leaves in the bottoms of two glasses.
Do the same with the frozen blueberries, crushing them gently to bring out some of the juices and flavor. Fill both glasses with ice cubes, then pour in the kombucha. Fill both glasses the rest of the way with sparkling water and serve with a straw!
The original recipe calls for optional sweetener, but I didn’t use any. I think it tastes great without it. But if you would like to add a sweetener, you can add raw honey, maple syrup, or simple syrup.
As a final thought, I’ll pass along some advice that I received from a foodie friend. If you try one variety that doesn’t taste and/or smell appetizing, I encourage you to try a different brand. Some brands taste better than others. It’s worth trying out a couple brands to find what you like.
Mrs. Traylor is a Fitness Instructor, NASM Certified Personal Trainer & Nutrition Coach, AFPA Certified Prenatal and Postnatal Fitness Specialist, wife, and momma who provides actionable advice for positive lifestyle changes with fitness, nutrition, and wellness. Read about Wendy’s inspiring entrepreneurial journey, and subscribe to Wendy’s newsletter here!