What is Kambucha and is it good for me? It has so much sugar?
KambuCha, a fermented tea, is ages old and was found to be in ancient Chinese history as far back as 200 BC. Fermentation is commonly associated with beer and wines as the process can produce ethanol, and while kambucha has some, not nearly enough to mention. What kambucha does have is a powerful impact on health.
Kambucha has been found to have beneficial impact on blood sugar levels and circulating cholesterol levels (LDL), on liver and kidney functions (1) as well as effectively neutralizing free radicals and repairing damage from oxidative stress (2). Repairing damage is a top-notch skill.
This ancient discovery has recently been found to promote detoxification, antioxidation, energizing potencies, and immunity. What does all that mean? Kambucha helps your liver remove toxins, helps to balance oxidative stress that increases many chronic health diseases, can lessen fatigue and improve your immune system. Not bad. Seems like the magic bullet, but not so fast.
While kambucha has amazing health properties, drinking mass quantities of kambucha will not entirely offset poor nutritional and lifestyle choices. In fact, overdoing the consumption of kambucha can alter the pH balance in your body too much, making you sick with a condition called lactic acidosis. This is a rare situation, and while I can’t find any research that gives a ballpark amount that might cause this condition, I would assume that you would need to drink a significant amount every day. Drinking 1-2 servings of kambucha daily seems to be acceptable, well below any harmful levels, and in the range to support and promote an existing healthy lifestyle.
The sugars in kambucha are necessary to start the fermentation process and feed the bacteria. However, as food manufacturers pick up health trends, they seem to undo much of the health properties and promote sound bytes. Some kambucha may have added sugars in excess to feed your sweet tooth. Check the total amounts of sugars per serving and aim for 5-10g per serving. For the microbial enthusiast, you can brew your own to control the added sugars, similar to home-brew beer.
The newer chapter being evaluated is the impact kambucha has on gut microbes. This emerging field is shedding much light on how we obtain nutrients and perhaps why we choose the foods we do. Resetting our gut biome may prove to be one of the more important and fascinating topics of our time.
For individuals without a history of pH balance issues, lactic or metabolic acidosis, try to include some fermented foods and beverages in your daily routine as part of a healthy lifestyle.
1. Hypoglycemic and antilipidemic properties of kombucha tea in alloxan-induced diabetic rats. Chin Med. 2009; 4: 23.Published online 2009 Nov 27. doi: 10.1186/1749-8546-4-23
2. Effects of Kombucha on oxidative stress induced nephrotoxicity in ratsBMJ Case Rep. 2017 Dec 2;2017. pii: bcr-2017-221702. doi: 10.1136/bcr-2017-221702.