Made from fermenting tea, kombucha is a member of the fungi family and is a combination of non-toxic yeast and bacteria. Added to green or black tea, kombucha is consumed as a health beverage, and is sweetened with natural sweeteners, mainly raw brown sugar. Rumour has it that kombucha has existed for approximately 2000 years, with its roots in Chinese Folk Medicine; however, many researchers note its resurgence at the beginning of the 20th century.
What are the alleged health benefits?
Kombucha is regarded as a powerful health tonic for its detoxifying properties. It contains the powerful glucuronic acid, which acts to rid the liver of harmful toxins, thereby promoting overall health and bodily function. Kombucha’s anti-microbial properties might also work to strengthen a weakened immune system and claims suggest that its probiotic components work wonders on the body’s digestion. But, the alleged benefits don’t stop there- research has been done to suggest kombucha’s ability to combat several ailments and diseases, such as cancer, arthritis, ulcers, high cholesterol and diabetes.
Are there any adverse side effects?
Certain studies demonstrate that kombucha beverages made with black tea have caused some patients to experience hepatotoxicity, or, chemical damage to the liver. Interestingly, these cases do not extend to kombucha beverages made with green tea, perhaps due to the different properties of the tea. When kombucha is made at home, risk of toxic damage increases significantly due to potential contamination of tools involved. Additionally, some researchers are quick to point out that studies in favour of kombucha’s health properties have been conducted using laboratory mice and may not, in fact, extend to human systems.
Due to a recent increase in popularity, a plethora of research has been conducted to get to the bottom of the kombucha fad. With a wide array of positive and negative reports, the true effectiveness of kombucha has yet to be undoubtedly confirmed.
Our conclusion? Until more definitive research is released, you are best to stick with your unsweetened, iced green tea as your go-to healthy summer libation.