What is kombucha and why would I want to try it? That was a question I asked years ago when in a friend’s kitchen I saw something liquid growing in a jar on her countertop and heard the word S.C.O.B.Y.
What is it?
Kombucha (a fabulously fermented beverage) is pronounced kom·bu·cha and is affectionately called “booch” by regular users, or maybe I made that up! It’s quirky, slightly sweet, somewhat vinegary taste is made from sweetened, fermented black or green tea. And like my friend tried to explain to me as she described the contents of the murky looking substance in the jar, the “starter” also called SCOBY (Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria and Yeast) is the foundation for this unique beverage.
The long and the short of it is that our digestive system benefits from both Prebiotics and Probiotics. These are two very important aspects of gut health provided by foods, but what are they? How do they work? And where do they come from?
Probiotics are live microorganisms. They're considered one of the "good guys" of gut bacteria and they are known to supplement your body's natural gut flora (AKA: microbiome), the delicate ecosystem of microorganisms that live inside your digestive tract that help support digestion. Prebiotics are the healthy foods that feed the good gut bacteria to keep them strong and effective.
Why would I want to try it?
The fermentation process produces the beneficial enzymes its known for and here are just a few of the benefits research offers:
- Promotes detoxification
- Positively affects cholesterol
- Aids digestion
- Helps fight infection
- Promotes immunity health
- Helps protect our bodies from free-radical damage
- 70% of your immune system is in your gut. Another reason to keep it healthy and balanced!
Feeling good starts in your gut, so it is important to understand how to keep our digestive system working smoothly. We have 39 trillion bacteria living in our body and 90% of them are in our digestive track.The microorganisms living in your body play a significant role in the health of your digestive system ... and your overall wellbeing.
Note: If this gets too “geeky” or detailed, just skip to the end and see the ones that I think are worth a try!
Here are the three major steps of the digestive process and some simple tips that may help maintain a balance in yours.
Phase 1: Cephalic Phase – This phase uses the Mind: what we See, what we Smell, and what we Taste, which is why most don’t get past this phase when it comes to Kombucha ... but please hang in there! Not all kombucha is created the same. If you have tried one in the past, please keep trying, because there will be one for you!
Phase 2: Gastric Phase – The food is eaten, and the body produces acid and enzymes to break down the foods that enter the intestine to feed our systems.
Phase 3: Intestinal Phase – Villi & microvilli move nutrients into the bloodstream to be delivered to the organs that need them.
Eating a wide variety of plant-based foods rich in fiber along with adding a daily serving of probiotics can boost your body's microbiome. Fermented foods and beverages (Kombucha) may contain live and active cultures as well as probiotics a.k.a. "good" bacteria that are beneficial for health and wellness, but read the labels to be sure.
Kombucha comes in many flavor combinations and is offered by many “brewers.” Here are a few of my favorite ways to boost my healthy microbiome to keep digestion and systems running smooth. They are in order of my preference and cost about $3 to $4 a bottle, and are well worth the investment. You won’t drink a whole bottle at a time if you are new to the concept (2 oz. at a time as you investigate).
1. GT’s Synergy Raw (Unpasteurized) Kombucha
Flavor: Watermelon Wonder
Calories: 70 per bottle
Sugar: 18 g per bottle
If you drink kombucha, you've tried GT's. It's one of the most widely available brands on the market, and that's a good thing. If you’ve been searching for a healthier (low sugar) kombucha, G&T’s synergy blend will sit well with you and your gut. Their products are made with 95% raw kombucha and organic fruit to give it that perfect amount of sweetness. This is my favorite!
2. KeVita Sparkling Probiotic
Flavor: Strawberry Acai Coconut
Calories: 40 per bottle
Sugar: 9g per bottle
Light and blissfully sweet, KeVita Strawberry Acai Coconut is a refreshing treat. KeVita Sparkling Probiotic drinks are light and refreshing with a delicious fruit taste. Fermented with their proprietary water kefir culture, KeVita Sparkling Probiotic drinks have billions of live probiotics. This is an easy “starter brew” for the newbie interested in giving booch a try. Start with 2 oz. and serve it in a champagne flute for fun and effect!
3. Kevita Masterbrew Kombucha
Calories: 40 per bottle
Sugar: 8g per bottle (also contains stevia)
This is a solid booch that might appeal more to first-time drinkers. Its sweeter, more approachable taste is accomplished with the addition of stevia. For purists, though, it may come across as artificial, but it's organic and it is probiotic-packed.
4. GT's Trilogy Kombucha
Original, Trilogy, Gingerade
Calories: 60 per bottle
Sugar: 4g per bottle
Like Health-Ade, it's organic, raw, and keeps sugar content low while packing big flavor and fizz. The original is deliciously simple with a subtle tea flavor, and Trilogy is fruity with only 4g of sugar per bottle.
Calories: 94 per bottle
Sugar: 24g per bottle
Bucha is where I started, so it makes the list because it's organic and contains probiotics. It has the highest sugar content of kombuchas, so while it's a good alternative for soda drinkers to replace the damaging effects of sodas with the great benefits of kombucha, consume less of this one and move your way through the list!
- If you take the challenge to try it, you may want to start with #2 Kevita Strawberry Acai Coconut and begin with a 2-4oz. pour.
- If you’ve tried Kombucha but didn’t love it, keep trying until you find one you like.
- Make it an experience! Use a champagne glass for fun!
- Do not shake the closed bottle or you will end up with more on you then in you!
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– Stephanie Wolfe, NBC-HWC
Health Advisor | Email Stephanie