Why Is Kombucha Tea Elevated to Super Food Status?

Tea, on its own is pretty powerful; add fermentation and you get a “functional food.”

You’re probably hearing a lot about Kombucha health benefits. These health benefits go hand in hand with the larger discussion around a healthy gut, which many believe will result in a happier, healthier you!

I would tend to agree because it’s in your gut where food is processed and then moves along to do good (or bad), whichever the case may be.

Whenever you can increase the value of the food you eat, you decrease your grocery bill, and quite possibly your doctor and prescription medical bills.

After all, for thousands of years, people have believed you are what you eat. Food is your medicine.

So, what is it about Kombucha that moves it to the category of a “super” food?

 

Kombucha: Fermented Tea

First, let’s get the “what is kombucha” question out of the way. It’s a bubbly beverage with a slightly acidic flavor made by fermenting sweet tea with a culture of bacteria and yeasts.

Sounds yummy, right?

At first sip, it may seem a little strange. It’s naturally carbonated so your sense of sight, smell, and taste are all confused. But it’s the bubbles and acidity that create the healthy magic.

Tea, on its own is pretty powerful; add fermentation and you get a “functional food.”

Functional foods have a preventive function. They reduce the risk factors that cause diseases. Some of these foods improve intestinal microbiota, regulate nutrient absorption, and/or reduce the risk of chronic non-communicable diseases.

In fact, there is an agency in Japan devoted to the regulation of functional foods.

As with many things in life, it’s about prevention. In other words, it’s easier to prevent negative health effects or obesity rather than correct it once it has occurred. So, why not start with the food we put into our system every day and choose the best options.

Functional foods can taste great, or you can acquire a liking to the flavor. Their true benefit is providing optimal health and well-being, regardless of nutritional value.

In other words, it’s not all about calories in and calories out when it comes to health and fitness.

 

Why is Tea Healthy?

You already know that green tea is an antioxidant, right? But what, exactly does that mean. And is it only green tea that gets this label?

Tea comes from the Theaceae family known as Camellia sinensis. The leaves are used to make three varieties of tea based on how those leaves are processed:

Black Tea: The leaves are crushed and left exposed to high humidity.

Green Tea: Steam is used to heat and inactivate enzymes which prevents fermentation.

Oolong Tea: Produced by partially fermented Chinese tea that is oxidized and is made by wilting fresh leaves by sun, then slightly bruising.

Because of how the tea leaf is processed, each type of tea has a different composition and health benefits.

They all contain various components in different levels including caffeine, alkaloids, amino acids, carbohydrates, proteins, chloropyll, fluoride, aluminium, minerals and trace elements.

The catechin content are credited for the health benefits of black and green tea. These act as potent antioxidants and protect against the development of disease.

How do they do that?

This explanation may help understand the whole idea around oxidation (think rust) and your body’s cells. According to an article in the CyTA – Journal of Food (Volume 16, 2018-Issue 1)

“Tea catechins are molecules with a high capacity to scavenge free radicals and even metals, which is also known as redox potential…When metals like iron and copper are found in a free state or not bound to proteins, they possess a pro-oxidant effect, which can damage lipids, proteins, and nucleic acids when they are oxidized. The chelating property of the antioxidants in tea, i.e. its combination with free metals, decreases their likelihood of damaging vital molecules that participate in physiological processes.

In addition, tea polyphenols have demonstrated great potential in protecting against the development of some types of cancer, by inhibiting enzymes and halting processes that result in the growth of cancer cells.”

In addition to their potential preventative properties with cancer, tea polyphenols inhibit the oxidation of low-density lipoproteins (LDL). This is a boost to heart health!

 

Why is Kombucha Healthy?

The nutritional value of Kombucha is discovered in the details.

There are a host of nutritional compounds, vitamins, minerals, polyphenols, and organic acids including:

“acetic, gluconic, and glucuronic acid (GlcUA), although citric, L-lactic, malic, tartaric, malonic, oxalic, succinic, pyruvic, and usnic acids may also be found; sugars (sucrose, glucose, and fructose), water soluble vitamins (B1, B2, B6, B12, C), amino acids, biogenic amines, purines, pigments, lipids, proteins, hydrolytic enzymes, ethanol, acetic acid bacteria and lactic acid bacteria, carbon dioxide, polyphenols, minerals (manganese, iron, nickel, copper, zinc, plumb, cobalt, chromium, and cadmium), anions (fluoride, chloride, bromide, iodide, nitrate, phosphate, and sulphate), D-saccharic acid-1,4-lactone (DSL), and metabolic products of yeasts and bacteria.”

All of this works together to help your body protect against cell oxidation.

 

What About Kombucha Health Risks?

Some reports suggest that daily use of kombucha may not be healthy for small children because of lead. A small amount of lead in an adult’s system is okay. For children, not so much.

In other words, Kombucha in small amounts may be okay; however, more may not equal better.

Others have reported dizziness and nausea after consumption of kombucha. Lead poisoning and gastrointestinal toxicity was found on at least two people after drinking the beverage for six months. Other complications have also been reported but it is not clear if they resulted from the beverage, from the containers the tea was in, or the process of preparing it.

If you’re pregnant, ask your doctor before consuming kombucha. There may be component in the tea that inhibits blood clotting, which could be harmful.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in a 1994 report, the daily consumption of 4 oz. of kombucha does not present a risk for consumer’s health.

 

Resources for Kombucha and Tea Benefits:

Resources: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/19476337.2017.1410499%20