If you’re at all tapped into the wellness space (you’re here, so we imagine that means that you are), then you’ve likely heard a thing or two about kombucha. The hype surrounding the fermented, gut-friendly beverage has been going strong for quite a bit of time now. But like any health craze that confidently waltzes onto – and hunkers down on – the wellness stage, we always like to take a closer look at the trend to understand if there’s reason to proceed with caution. And sure enough, like with most health trends, kombucha, despite its abundance of benefits when enjoyed in moderation, leaves plenty of room to go a little overboard.
But before we get into all of that, let’s start at the beginning, shall we? Namely, what is kombucha, exactly? Broken down, kombucha is made up of yeast, sugar, and black tea. After mixing the ingredients, the blend is set aside for a week or longer, during which time bacteria and acids – along with a small amount of alcohol – form in the fermented beverage.
Now, while the mainstream popularity of kombucha may have soared in recent years, the drink has actually been around for thousands of years. And it’s no wonder, given that the drink is full of beneficial bacteria (probiotics), acids, and vitamins that help do everything from improve your gut health to lower your risk of heart disease.
Cool, so load up on kombucha and you’ll reap health benefits galore. Simple as that, right? Not quite.
For starters, in addition to being packed with antioxidants and plenty of probiotics, kombucha is also loaded with sugar and caffeine. So already, if you’re going a little overboard on your kombucha consumption, it means that you’re also having more caffeine and sugar (hello, fast-absorbing calories) than you need to be having in a day.
Beyond that, there comes the issue of safety. As mentioned before, preparing kombucha involves letting bacteria grow in a liquid. Much of the bacteria formed during the process are probiotics, but if it’s not prepared properly, harmful bacteria or mold can grow in the drink. So for those who try to make their own kombucha, for example, failing to use proper containers (preferably glass or stainless steel) or failing to keep your hands clean during the process could easily make it so that your blend is packed with bacteria that you definitely don’t want to be getting in your body instead of the good bacteria that boosts your gut health.
Even in the best case scenario – i.e. you’ve got some good quality kombucha with very few added sugars – it’s important to ease your way into kombucha and take it easy when it comes to your regimen. Especially when you’re first starting out, all of that bacteria in the drink can actually leave you feeling a little more bloated and could throw your digestive system out of whack a bit.
Moral of the story: Yes, kombucha is great, but like most good things, it’s best enjoyed in moderation.