Is Kombucha a Good Antioxidant?

Looking for a natural antioxidant? Discover the potential health benefits of Kombucha, a fermented tea beverage that may help fight oxidative stress.

Kombucha is becoming increasingly well known for its part in a healthy diet and the benefits it offers. As a fermented, probiotic-rich beverage, it far surpasses sugary, artificial beverages that many are finding affect their health negatively. More and more people are discovering how great kombucha is and, just as importantly, how delicious. But what about antioxidants? Is kombucha a good choice for amping up your antioxidant game? Let’s find out.

What Are Antioxidants?

According to Atli Arnarson, antioxidants are "molecules that fight free radicals in your body." While your body does have natural antioxidants, it's still important to make sure you're getting some from a different source. Many foods contain antioxidants such as vitamins C and E, which are present in kombucha too.

Antioxidants are found in everything, including animals and whole foods, giving our bodies a defense against the molecules that can harm our cells. Cells make up just about everything in our body from our skin to our bones.

It's safe to say that protecting our cells is vital to life, and fermented foods are a great source of antioxidants for this protection. These foods are full of essential antioxidants that help combat illness and disease. If our cells become damaged, it can lead to a lot of issues, such as cancer, diabetes, and heart disease, so making sure our diet is full of healthy options is essential. 

What Makes Antioxidants Beneficial?

There are several types of antioxidants and most are found in the foods we eat. Typically, the antioxidants in foods are absorbed more easily than the ones in supplements a person may take. Some antioxidants, and their benefits, include:

  • Selenium - This nutrient can be found in Brazil nuts, fish, poultry, brown rice, and barley. Not only is it an antioxidant, but it can also help improve cognitive function and fertility.
  • Vitamin C - This can be found in many fruits and vegetables, including oranges, broccoli, kale, strawberries, and tomatoes. It can prevent scurvy and promote the formation of collagen. 
  • Vitamin E - Almonds, spinach, red peppers, and peanuts are all great sources of vitamin E. Vitamin E is full of antioxidants and helps with scalp health and hair growth.
  • Zinc - Found in red meat, poultry, pumpkin seeds, and shellfish, zinc is necessary for nearly 100 enzymes to carry out important chemical reactions. 
  • Carotenoids - Carotenoids can be found in broccoli, apricots, oranges, peaches, and many more fruits and vegetables. Some of them can be converted into vitamin A, which is essential for growth.
  • Phenolic compounds - Phenolic compounds include quercetin, catechins, resveratrol, coumaric acid, and anthocyanins. 

What About Free Radicals? Why Does Your Body Need Antioxidants to Keep Them in Check?

Free radicals are molecules that can cause a variety of illnesses if our bodies don't have enough antioxidants to keep them in check. However, there are times when our bodies do need free radicals, such as when an immune system must use them to fight off infection. It's all about keeping a nice balance of antioxidants and free radicals within your body. 

In order to keep the balance healthy though, you need to have more antioxidants than free radicals. If free radicals outnumber the antioxidants in your body, it leads to a condition known as oxidative stress. Free radicals have an uneven number of electrons, meaning they're more reactive with other molecules in your body, so antioxidants are there to help balance the electrons in a free radical. 

What Happens if Free Radicals Are Left Unchecked?

If free radicals are left unchecked, they can potentially wreak havoc on your body. When your body has too many free radicals and goes into oxidative stress, the prolonged stress can cause damage to your DNA and may even kill cells. There are a lot of things that can lead to an excessive amount of free radicals too, so it's important to know exactly what to avoid when trying to maintain a healthy balance of antioxidants and free radicals.

That said, you don't want to have too few free radicals either, as they play an important role in fighting off infections. However, it's hard to consume too many antioxidants. In most cases, you won't be able to do this if the antioxidants in your body are absorbed from food and drinks. Taking an overabundance of supplements is typically the only way to have an excessive antioxidant count in your body. 

Main causes of oxidative stress:

  • Excessive alcohol consumption
  • Infections
  • Smoking
  • Air pollution
  • Antioxidant deficiency, or excessive antioxidant intake
  • Too much or too little oxygen
  • Excessive exercise
  • Radiation
  • Excessive intake of iron, zinc, copper, and/or magnesium
  • High blood sugar
  • Too many polyunsaturated fatty acids in the body

So What Makes Antioxidants So Helpful?

Antioxidants come from several essential vitamins. Some of these antioxidants are in foods we may not even realize. For example, we all know that vitamin C is in orange juice, but what does it do?

Aside from preventing scurvy, vitamin C is needed to form cartilage, muscles, blood vessels, and collagen. And, of course, it fights against harmful free radicals. You can get vitamin C from fermented foods like kombucha, citrus fruits, berries, potatoes and tomatoes, peppers, and a few green vegetables. 

In addition, nuts, berries, and vegetables are also great sources of antioxidants. Your body needs them to fight disease and produce essential parts of every system in you. 

Related: When Should You Drink Kombucha, and How Much?

How Does Kombucha Tie In?

Kombucha is a drink that has a lot of benefits, including probiotics and antioxidants. It can help keep your immune system in good shape, promoting a healthy balance of free radicals, antioxidants, and probiotics. 

The main reason kombucha has antioxidant properties is that it's often made using green tea. Green tea is believed to be one of the healthiest drinks in the world, containing many bioactive compounds that function as antioxidants. Kombucha made from green tea still contains many of these compounds after the fermentation process. 

Does That Mean Kombucha is a Good Antioxidant?

Yes! Kombucha is a good antioxidant, even when made with a different type of tea, though green tea is the best for antioxidants. Due to the inclusion of antioxidants, kombucha may even play a role in helping fight a variety of health issues.

Few studies have been done on the benefits of kombucha in humans though, so it's not clear to what degree kombucha can positively affect specific conditions. That said, one study, conducted with rodents way back in 2001 – even before kombucha soared in popularity – concluded that kombucha reduced liver toxicity in those rats by an astonishing 70%!

Even though some of the health claims haven't been proven, kombucha's natural and healthy ingredients make this fermented drink a great beverage to integrate into your diet.

Kombucha’s Additional Benefit: Probiotics

Probiotics colonize your gut and help your body digest food. They're usually found in fermented foods, and this includes kombucha. Like antioxidants, probiotics may be beneficial to your immune system.

Actually, there is some evidence probiotics could be potential antioxidants themselves. It's believed they can inhibit the growth of harmful bacteria that can make you sick. They also contain "good bacteria" that help balance the bacteria levels in your gut.

Together, the antioxidants and probiotics in kombucha pack a punch for your diet and that, along with its delicious and natural flavors, should make kombucha your go-to everyday beverage.

Related: What Type of Probiotics are in Kombucha?

Bring On The Kombucha (and Other Antioxidant-Rich Foods)!

Keeping a healthy balance of antioxidants and free radicals isn't as hard as you may think. You don't really need to be cautious about how many antioxidant-rich foods you're consuming, but you do need to make sure these healthy foods are included in your diet.  The body needs a continual supply of antioxidants to keep the balance of both antioxidants and free radicals at a healthy level, and kombucha is a great source of antioxidants.

In fact, eating foods that contain antioxidants is typically all you’ll need to do to maintain a good balance, unless you're consistently not eating enough antioxidant-rich foods, or your body has a harder time absorbing antioxidants than others. 

Here are a few more ways to keep a healthy balance of antioxidants and free radicals:

  • Limit your intake of red meats. Red meat is high in iron, which makes it vulnerable to oxidation. This doesn't mean you need to cut it out completely but, if you're not anemic, it's a good idea to be cautious of how often you consume red meat.
  • Avoid foods that contain refined sugars. A sugary dessert every now and then isn't likely to lead to oxidation, but it's not something you should consume on a regular basis. Fruit and food made from unrefined sugar and carbs is a better option.
  • Quit smoking and limit your alcohol intake to one or two drinks in a day.
  • Don't reuse cooking oil. While it may be tempting to reuse oil, cooking oil does oxidize when heated up. 
  • Drink kombucha!

Balance Your Body with an Antioxidant-Rich Kombucha

If you need a "pick-me-up" filled with antioxidants, try out Brew Dr.'s refreshing line of kombucha. Your body will thank you!

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