8 Evidence-Based Health Benefits of Kombucha Tea
Kombucha is a fermented tea that has been consumed for thousands of years.
Not only does it have the same health benefits as tea, but it’s also rich in beneficial probiotics.
Kombucha also contains antioxidants, can kill harmful bacteria and may help fight several diseases.
Here are the top 8 health benefits of kombucha, based on scientific evidence.
1. Kombucha is a Rich Source of Probiotics
Kombucha is thought to originate in China or Japan.
It’s made by adding specific strains of bacteria, yeast and sugar to black or green tea, and then allowing it to ferment for a week or more (1).
During this process, the bacteria and yeast form a mushroom-like blob on the surface, which is why kombucha is also known as “mushroom tea.”
This blob is actually a living symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast, or a SCOBY, and can be used to ferment new kombucha.
The fermentation process produces vinegar and several other acidic compounds, trace levels of alcohol and gases that make it carbonated (2).
A large amount of probiotic bacteria is also produced during fermentation (3).
Probiotics provide your gut with healthy bacteria. These bacteria can improve many aspects of health, including digestion, inflammation and even weight loss.
For this reason, adding probiotics foods like kombucha to your diet can improve your health in many ways.
BOTTOM LINE:Kombucha is a type of tea that has been fermented. This makes it a good source of probiotics, which have many health benefits.
2. Kombucha Contains the Benefits of Green Tea
Green tea is one of the healthiest beverages on the planet.
This is because green tea contains many bioactive compounds, such as polyphenols, which function as powerful antioxidants in the body (4).
Kombucha made from green tea has many of the same chemical properties and therefore many of the same benefits.
BOTTOM LINE:Kombucha made from green tea has many of the same health benefits, and may help with weight loss, blood sugar control and more.
3. Kombucha Contains Antioxidants
Antioxidants from foods and beverages are much better for your health than antioxidant supplements (14).
Kombucha, especially when made with green tea, appears to have powerful antioxidant effects on the liver.
Unfortunately, there are no human studies on this topic, but it does seem like a promising area of research for people with liver disease.
BOTTOM LINE:Kombucha is rich in antioxidants and has been shown to protect the liver from toxicity, at least in rats.
4. Kombucha Can Kill Bacteria
One of the main substances produced during the fermentation of Kombucha is acetic acid, which is also abundant in vinegar.
Like the polyphenols in tea, acetic acid is able to kill many potentially harmful microorganisms (19).
One study of chickens found that kombucha had antimicrobial effects and similar growth-promoting effects as antibiotics (21).
The researchers even suggested that kombucha tea could be used as an alternative to the antibiotic growth-promoters typically fed to these chickens.
BOTTOM LINE:Kombucha is rich in tea polyphenols and acetic acid, which have both been shown to kill harmful bacteria.
5. Kombucha May Reduce Heart Disease Risk
Heart disease is the world’s leading cause of death (22).
BOTTOM LINE:Kombucha has been shown to improve LDL and HDL cholesterol levels in rats. It may also protect against heart disease.
6. Kombucha May Help Manage Type 2 Diabetes
Type 2 diabetes affects over 300 million people worldwide. It is characterized by high blood sugar levels and insulin resistance.
A study in diabetic rats found that kombucha slowed down the digestion of carbs, which reduced blood sugar levels. It also improved liver and kidney function (23).
In fact, a review study of almost 300,000 individuals found that green tea drinkers had an 18% lower risk of becoming diabetic (32).
BOTTOM LINE:Kombucha improved several markers of diabetes in rats, including blood sugar levels.
7. Kombucha May Help Protect Against Cancer
Cancer is one of the world’s leading causes of death. It is characterized by cell mutation and uncontrolled growth.
How the anti-cancer properties of tea polyphenols work is not well-understood.
However, it’s thought that the polyphenols block gene mutation and the growth of cancer cells, while also promoting cancer cell death (35).
BOTTOM LINE:Test-tube studies have found that kombucha has significant anti-cancer properties, much like green tea.
8. Kombucha Is Healthy When Made Properly
Kombucha is a probiotic-rich tea with many health benefits.
You can purchase it in the store or make it yourself at home. However, be very careful to prepare it properly.
The safer option is to buy kombucha at a store or online. Commercial products are good and considered alcohol-free, as they must contain less than 0.5% alcohol (42).
However, check the ingredients and try to avoid brands that are high in added sugar.