Who doesn’t want a healthy gut? One that is free from bloating, distension, gasiness, nausea, diarrhea, constipation, and free of any type of gastrointestinal health problem. Most of these problems could be normal, intermittent stomach pain, or the result of stress or anxiety causing our tummy to go into flip flops, but they could also signal a problem for other underlying concerns. It’s best to talk to your doctor if these symptoms persist, but if you’re looking for a great choice of drinks that can help improve your gut environment, look no further than the health food industry’s newest beverage obsession. : the kombucha.
Kombucha is a fermented drink made from black or green tea, sugar and a symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast (or “SCOBY”). The newspaper Antioxidants explains that kombucha is made through a five-step process: tea infusion (brewing for 5-30 minutes), tea leaf removal and filtration, added sugar, SCOBY (which includes acetic acid bacteria or lactic acid) and fermentation from 6 to 14 days.
In fact, although kombuchas aren’t carbonated, that fermentation naturally makes the product fizzy, so don’t move it too far before opening the cap, or you may have a mess to clean up (and waste the product)! Keep in mind that yeast fermentation can result in a small amount of alcohol (up to about 0.5%) in the product.
Although kombucha contains live cultures, not all types of kombucha use microorganisms classified as probiotics. Probiotics are defined as live microorganisms which, when administered in adequate quantities, confer a health benefit to the host. The main genres of probiotics to look for include Lactobacillus and Bifidobacteriumbut also Streptococcus, Saccharomyces, Bacillus, Enterococcus and Escherichia.
These probiotics are associated with benefits in the prevention or treatment of eczema, inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), certain types of diarrhea, high cholesterol, and possibly even obesity. Unfortunately, there isn’t enough evidence to confirm whether probiotic-free fermented foods or drinks provide significant health benefits.
Look for these things when choosing a kombucha:
- Less than 50 calories per 8-ounce serving
- Less than 10 grams of added sugar per 8-ounce serving
- Less than 15 milligrams of caffeine per 8-ounce serving
- Contains real probiotics (eg. Lactobacillus, Bifidobacterium, etc.)
- If the type of microorganism is not specified on the label, call the manufacturer!
- Aim for 1 billion “colony forming units” (CFUs) per serving
Water should always make up the bulk of our fluid intake, but including a drink of kombucha a day to reach your hydration goals is a fantastic way to help maintain a healthy gut.
READ MORE: 17 things you need to know about Kombucha