What Do Probiotics in Kombucha Do?
If you’re like most people, you’ve started hearing a lot of about probiotics. There are ads on TV talking about probiotics in yogurt, probiotic supplements, and even probiotics for pets.
However, while you might have been bombarded with the word, there’s a good chance you still don’t know exactly what they are. So let’s take a closer look at what probiotics are, and what the probiotics in foods and beverages like kombucha can do for you.
What Are Probiotics?
Probiotics are naturally occurring healthy microbes that are found in food, and that are used in our gut to digest food, protect our gut health and keep harmful bacteria in check.
This type of bacteria naturally occurs in foods, and particularly in foods that have gone through a fermentation process. This process transforms foods and beverages through the action of yeast and bacteria, and some of the by products of their activity are probiotics.
Why Don’t We Get Enough Probiotics from Food?
One of the great paradoxes of modern life is that while we’ve learned how to make food products a lot safer than they once were, we’ve also unwittingly taken some of the good things out of our food.
By processing foods, we reduce the risk of harmful bacteria and can preserve foods for a lot longer. But at the same time, we have to remove some of the good bacteria and yeast that naturally occurs in and on some foods.
So, while you’re less likely to get food poisoning from your food today, you also won’t get much good bacteria like probiotics.
Since we also don’t get as much fiber from our food, and many of our foods are highly processed, this can all cause all kinds of problems with digestion.
How Do Probiotics Get Into Food Products?
Since we’ve been working so hard to get bacteria out of our food, you might be wondering how foods the probiotics in some food get there.
In some cases, it’s artificial. Which means that after the product is made, manufacturers will add probiotics to the product. However, the jury is out about how beneficial that might be.
Other products are naturally fermented, which means that the probiotics you find in them are a natural part of the process of making that product. These include things like yogurt and kefir, and sauerkraut, pickles and kimchi.
Kombucha is also a naturally fermented product, and as long as it’s raw kombucha, it’s packed with probiotics that are produced during fermentation.
So, unlike some products, naturally fermented foods and drinks only have the good bacteria that comes from the fermentation process itself.
How Do Probiotics Benefit Health?
Now that you know why we don’t get enough probiotics from our diet anymore, and how probiotics get into various food products, the next thing you might be wondering is exactly how they benefit your health.
Recently, scientists and medical researchers have been discovering just how important our gut is to our health.
Poor gut health (and an unhealthy gut microbiome) has been linked to everything from digestive problems to some types of cancer and even mental health conditions. We still don’t know exactly how important gut health is to our overall health, but we’re learning that it’s a lot more critical than we ever imagined. In fact, you’ve probably heard about the gut / brain connection more than once.
However, while there’s still a lot of research to be done, there are many things we already know about the benefits of good gut health (and probiotics to support it.) Here’s what we do know:
- Keeping gut flora in balance – we have a lot of different bacteria and other microbes that live in our digestive tract and elsewhere, and when they are not in balance, we can experience all kinds of unpleasant effects – probiotics help to ensure that everything stays in balance.
- Treating diarrhea and constipation – many people are diagnosed with conditions like IBS these days, and gastrointestinal distress is a big part of that – probiotics can help to regulate digestive function naturally and keep those symptoms at bay.
- Offset the side effects of antibiotics – we know that antibiotics are lifesaving medication – but they do also kill healthy bacteria in our bodies. Probiotics help to restore that bacteria when we are taking antibiotics.
- Surprisingly, we know that probiotics can have a beneficial impact on mental health – when your gut is out of balance, you might experience mental health or even cognitive problems.
- Probiotics help to lower LDL or “bad” cholesterol – which means that eating or taking probiotics can also improve heart health and circulation.
- There’s some evidence that probiotics can help to prevent and treat allergies and eczema, which are often triggered by an imbalance in bacteria and other microbes in the body.
- Finally, there’s some evidence that probiotics can support gut flora in improving immune function.
As you can see, while you might think that probiotics are only good for digestion, they actually help to support our health from head to toe.
It’s also worth noting that while the biggest colony of microbes in our body live in the gut, there are beneficial microbes all over our bodies, including our skin, and in many other places. So it’s very important to make sure those healthy bacteria and yeasts are doing well and getting their very important jobs done.
Why Is Kombucha a Good Source of Probiotics?
You can get probiotics from various sources, and it’s always a good idea to eat more than one type of food with probiotics. However, there are some specific benefits to adding kombucha to your diet.
First, there’s the ease factor. We’re all busy. We don’t always have time to eat a balanced diet, and it can be hard to make healthy choices. Even if the rest of your day doesn’t include any probiotics, you can start it with kombucha (on it’s own or in a smoothie) and know that you’ve started the day right.
Next, there are natural, raw kombucha products on the market. When you buy foods and beverages with probiotics in them, you always want to make sure you’re getting products that have live cultures in them. If they’ve been treated with heat or have had certain preservatives and other chemicals added, the probiotics that were once in the product might have been killed.
Finally, there’s taste. No one wants to do healthy things if they have to suffer for it. Fortunately, kombucha tastes great – especially when it has natural flavors like fruit or spices added. Which means it doesn’t feel like you’re doing something good for your health against your will!
Can Anyone Drink Kombucha to Get Probiotics?
Most people can safely drink raw, natural kombucha for the probiotic benefits, but there are a few people who should be cautious.
Anyone who has an immune condition should speak to their doctor before they try kombucha and other fermented foods. It’s probably still completely safe, but it’s always a good idea to check.
Children, especially very young children, should probably not have raw kombucha. Not only can young immune systems not handle the same kind of probiotics as adults, but there is a small amount of alcohol that is created during the brewing process.
Finally, pregnant women should also avoid raw kombucha, both because of the alcohol and the very small chance that they might not be able to process the probiotics in natural, raw kombucha.
For everyone else, a well made kombucha drink is a tasty, safe way to get your daily dose of probiotics!
If you have any concerns at all, we always recommend that you check with your doctor, but for most healthy adults, naturally fermented kombucha is perfectly healthy and delicious.
Need to Know More?
There’s a lot to learn about kombucha, how it’s made and the probiotics you can find in it. We’ve been doing this for many years, and we’re still learning new things all the time. Whether it’s product development or new ways to use kombucha in the kitchen, we’re always excited to discover more!
There’s also a lot of research happening in the field of probiotics and gut health, and since we’re in the fermented beverage business, we spend a lot of time reading the latest research. It’s great to learn more about how products like kombucha can help people to live healthier lives.
So if you’ve still got questions about how kombucha is made, what kind of probiotics you can find in our beverages or anything else, we’d love to hear from you.We’re always happy to answer our customer’s questions, whether they’re about the brewing process, what flavors we offer or how to store your kombucha. Reach out to the team by phone or email, and we’ll make sure that all your questions get answered.