The Science Behind Kombucha

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By: Stephanie Jean 

Within the past year, Kombucha tea has been one of the trendiest nutritional food items sold in supermarkets. I still remember when I first saw kombucha drinks lined up in the grocery stores, wondering what exactly kombucha was. Could it be a practical and nutritional addition to people’s diets, or was it just a new trendy drink that was coined with a catchy name? As a nutrition student, I was eager to plunge into the health benefits of kombucha to fully understand what kombucha was and how it got a name for itself.

Kombucha is thought to have originated in Asia around 212 BC and has gained widespread popularity throughout the years1. It is a fermented drink made with tea, sugar, bacteria, and yeast1. Because of this, the production of kombucha involves various food science principles that can be practiced at home. The process begins by brewing green or black tea and adding real sugar1. After it cools, yeast (SCOBY) and kombucha tea from a previous batch is added1. The mixture will then ferment in a glass jar for about 7-14 days1. The resulting taste is slightly sour and vinegary, so it is definitely a taste based on preference.

Preparing kombucha at home is the cheapest way to drink the beverage. However it may not be advised to do so. Home-brewed and unpasteurized kombucha prepared in nonsterile conditions can be dangerous. There is risk of unhealthy bacteria getting into the tea2. The FDA cautions that home-brewed kombucha is at higher risk for contamination therefore, it is advised to purchase the beverage that is commercially prepared and pasteurized2.

According to a study published in the February 2014 issue of the Journal of Medicinal Food, kombucha has detoxifying properties, that protects against free radical damage, has energizing capabilities, and promotes immunity.1 Additionally, kombucha’s popularity can be associated with its association as a probiotic2. Studies show that it can improve digestion and boost immunity. Although, yogurt may be a better option due to the additional nutrients that it contains, such as calcium and vitamin D2.

kombucha-nutrirecipes


References:

  1. Orenstein B. For Your Information: The Wonders of Kombucha Tea – Is it Healthful or Hazardous? – Today’s Dietitian Magazine. Today’s Dietitian. http://www.todaysdietitian.com/newarchives/060415p20.shtml. Accessed May 15, 2017.
  2. Zelman KM. The Truth About Kombucha. WebMD. http://www.webmd.com/diet/features/truth-about-kombucha#1. Accessed May 15, 2017.
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