Kombucha: The Good, The Bad & The Ugly

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Kombucha is a traditional drink that is nearly 2,000 years old, with origins that trace from 19th century Russia through Japan and China, into today’s health culture. Kombucha tea is a sour, effervescent beverage.What is Kombucha & How is it Made?Kombucha tea is brewed from what is called a “mushroom” or “mother culture,” which is a gelatinous substance made from tea, sugar, yeast and formed bacteria, which can be “created” at home or purchase for the purpose of home brewing.

Health Benefits of Kombucha

Kombucha carries high levels of B vitamins, which is believed to protect the pancreas and liver from the adverse effects of stress hormones. Kombucha is also proven to affect antioxidant levels and promote higher glucosamine levels that ease joint pain. Other supposed benefits include improved digestive health, appetite suppression and increased energy. Since it has moderate levels of glucaric acid, it is thought and believed by many to help prevent the spread and development of cancer cells. My favorite brand, GT’s Synergy Drinks, notes how it founded its product and why it began selling kombucha on every bottle – because it was believed to help his mother heal from cancer! In his autobiography, 1970 Nobel Prize-winning author Alex Solzhenitsyn also claimed that drinking kombucha helped cure his stomach cancer while imprisoned.

Adverse Effects of Kombucha

Kombucha can cause allergic reactions, or other adverse effects in those taking hormone replacements or other medications. Some studies have shown that repeated daily intake of kombucha at as little as 4 oz. can lead to lactic acidosis and myositis, both of which affect muscle inflammation and the buildup of muscle acid. Additionally, the possibility of fermentation or improper brewing can lead to the intake of the toxic fungus, aspergillus. In 1995 the Center for Disease Control named daily kombucha intake as a possible cause of the death and illness of two Iowa women who both suffered from severe muscular acid buildup. Repeated intake of kombucha can also cause liver damage, in that its effects on the pancreas and liver are quite strong. Thus, most doctors and health professionals suggest drinking Kombucha in moderation, perhaps starting with only a couple ounces a day.

What do I think?

I have drank Kombucha, at least once a month, for the last 3 years since being introduced to it while at a NY Deli which prepared its own concoction on-site. I felt super energetic afterward, that’s all I remember, but it was a warm Spring day and I’m not sure what played into my energy that day. I currently continue to drink a bottle of Kombucha, about once-twice a week, because I like the tea-like fizzy taste and also because of the purported health benefits. Plus, at 35 calories a cup, it’s a sweet treat without too much baggage. Try it for yourself and see what you think!

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