The Connection Between Kombucha and Gut Microbiome
Kombucha is said to promote a healthy gut, which is important to the overall function of your body. The drink is filled with billions of probiotics to help support a healthy lifestyle and body, and it can even be a great alternative to soda. But that’s only one of the ways kombucha and the gut microbiome can work together.
Kombucha and the Gut Microbiome: What is Kombucha?
Before you can understand its connection to your gut microbiome, it’s important to know what kombucha is and understand some of its health properties. While you may have heard of it before, it’s not uncommon for people to confuse it with an ordinary iced tea. Make no mistake though; kombucha is made with tea, but there’s much more to it than that.
Kombucha is a fizzy fermented tea, giving it a different kind of fizz than what you’d find in a soda. The fermentation process does produce a little alcohol in the drink, but it’s not enough to consider the drink alcoholic.
The essential ingredients used for brewing kombucha are tea, sugar, and a symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast known as a SCOBY. Some natural kombucha brews are often mixed with fruit juices and other natural spices to give it a different flavor once it’s done fermenting.
Kombucha’s benefits begin with its fermented, probiotic-rich nature. Some even believe kombucha can be useful in preventing a variety of health conditions, though science is still exploring the potential benefits of kombucha and few studies have been done to further these claims.
That said, the benefits of fermented foods and probiotics have become quite well known, and kombucha drinkers far and wide take advantage of what this delicious fermented drink offers their gut health.
Kombucha and the Gut Microbiome
The microbiome is a “supporting organ” in your body. It’s made up of trillions of microorganisms, called microbes, with each playing a vital role in the overall function of your body and immune system.
Most of the microbiota are good for you, while others can be potentially harmful, such as pathogenic microbiota that carry disease or other illnesses. Symbiotic microbes benefit your health though, and these microorganisms gain benefit from you in return.
When microbiota function properly, they stimulate the immune system and break down potential toxins in the body. They also synthesize vitamins and amino acids, such as Vitamins B and K. Microbiota break down simple sugars too, like table sugar and lactose, but they cannot break down sugars from starch or fiber.
If your body is healthy, then the microbiome has a community of pathogenic and symbiotic microbes that coexist with one another. However, if there is a disturbance within your body, such as a poor diet, illness, or prolonged use of certain medications, dysbiosis will occur. When that happens, you become more susceptible to disease.
Why is Kombucha So Popular?
Over the past few years, kombucha consumption has been booming in the United States. Its popularity is mainly due to the health benefits it’s said to provide–one of these benefits being the billions of probiotics it contains in every serving, which are essential to gut health. As people become more aware of their own health, the harm processed foods can bring, and the benefits of organic and fermented foods, the popularity of kombucha as a delicious and healthy beverage choice continues to grow.
Raw Vs. Pasteurized
There are two main types of kombucha: raw and pasteurized. The difference between raw and pasteurized kombucha is simple: raw kombucha hasn’t been heated or manipulated to kill bacteria. This doesn’t mean raw kombucha is bad for you though. Many types of bacteria are actually good for us, and that’s what most of the bacteria in raw kombucha are.
Both types of kombucha start the same way. Every kombucha is made up of the same ingredients starting out; the basic ingredients include water, sugar, tea, and a type of yeast/bacteria called a SCOBY. Raw kombucha, though, is made through a precise process and mixture of certain ingredients. All raw kombucha sold in stores meets FDA regulations, so there’s virtually no need to worry the drink is harmful.
When kombucha is pasteurized, both harmful and beneficial bacteria are killed in the process. Most brewers will add other probiotics so the drink still has benefits, but it’s still considered pasteurized. Adding probiotics after pasteurizing kombucha is typically done by those who brew kombucha at home in order to remove any contamination that may occur where regulations aren’t put in place.
While alcohol is removed during the pasteurization process, raw kombucha can have the alcohol removed in a different way, without the use of heat. This means you can enjoy a refreshing, raw kombucha without worrying about its alcohol content. For most raw kombucha sold in stores, alcohol has been removed by some method that doesn’t involve heat.
In some cases, brewers will purposely create hard kombucha, but this is different from traditional kombucha. Hard kombucha is kombucha where no alcohol has been removed. The drink is in its complete raw form, though it is fermented longer than regular kombucha to increase the alcohol content of the drink. Brewers will often add more yeast or bacteria to increase the level of alcohol in this kind of drink.
What Is Fermentation?
Fermentation is a preservation process. It relies on good bacteria and yeast, turning sugar in the food or beverages we consume into acids and/or alcohol. It will change the way the food or beverage tastes, but fermentation also extends the life of these products significantly.
Fermented foods usually taste somewhat sour due to the level of acidity in the product, so they’re occasionally referred to as an acquired taste. That isn’t always the case though; many people love foods like yogurt because of the certain tang it gives our tastebuds. It’s simply a preservation process that changes the composition of food, providing healthy bacteria and a tangy taste many of us have come to love.
What’s So Great About Fermented Food?
As stated above, fermented foods contain antioxidants and antimicrobials. This doesn’t mean fermented foods will wipe out every single one of the microbiota in your gut; they just help eliminate the bad ones.
Since fermented foods contain probiotics, they can help you digest foods. After all, you do need good bacteria to help your body break down carbohydrates and other types of food.
Your body cannot make all vitamins on its own either. Specific vitamins, including all B vitamins and vitamin K, need help from an outside source to be produced. Fermented food provides the help your body needs for the production of these vitamins.
How Is Kombucha Connected with the Gut Microbiome?
As previously stated, kombucha contains antimicrobials, meaning it helps the gut microbiome get rid of pathogenic microbiota. Pathogenic microbiota are bacteria that cause disease and/or other illnesses that are harmful to your body. While a healthy gut does include pathogenic and symbiotic microbiota, it’s not a great idea to have too many pathogens running around in the microbiome.
A low pH is what gives kombucha its antimicrobial benefits. It’s acidic, which prevents the growth of harmful bacteria in your body.
Kombucha is considered a symbiotic beverage. It contains acetic acid and lactic acid bacteria, yeast with probiotic potential, and bacterial cellulose. The bacterial cellulose helps the listed probiotics function in the gut as a prebiotic. In case you don’t know, prebiotics are “specialized plant fibers that stimulate the growth of healthy bacteria in the gut”. A healthy gut is what makes a healthy you!
Why You Should Try Kombucha
Aside from the health benefits kombucha has, it’s a great-tasting drink and an amazing alternative for less healthy options. Many brewers will add fruit juices or other flavorings such as fruits and herbs to kombucha so the original flavor isn’t too strong; this makes it appealing to people who may not be used to the taste of kombucha right off the tap.
Considering the many ways one can customize kombucha, it can be said that the drink itself is extremely versatile. Many people use it in baking, cooking, and even in coffee! There are constantly new ways to use kombucha popping up around the internet. You just have to get out there and find them.
Show Your Gut Microbiome Some Love with Refreshing Kombucha
Here at Brew Dr., we strive to bring you only the best kombucha made from the finest ingredients available. We want you to keep your gut microbiome healthy by providing a delicious kombucha for you to enjoy. Our raw, organic, and probiotic-rich kombucha come in several flavors for you to choose from. You’ll almost certainly find something that satisfies your taste buds and keeps your microbiome thriving. Learn more today and find your new favorite brew.