Many patients walk into my office and want to know if there is any validity in some of the latest health crazies. One recently that I thought about was drinking Kombucha. On a out of house lecture recently at a local health food store they were selling this functional drink on draft. Which shows the big push for this product lately. Many people are consuming this beverage on a daily basis for its nutritional benefits. This leads me to a few questions, are there true nutritional benefits to this health toting drink? Is there a scenario when we should not drink this product? I hope to answer these questions in this post to the best of my ability.
Kombucha is a fermented beverage of black tea and sugar from various sources some of these are honey and cane sugar. By itself this tea normally has a very earthy taste that is why manufacturers are now adding juice to their drinks to make them more palatable. Some of this nutritional elixirs health benefits include improving digestive health, warding off cancer as well as joint health. No, human studies have been found as of yet to support these claims. The majority of these claims mainly come from personal reports or animal studies. Not to say there is no validity here, we have to start somewhere and normally animal studies and person reports are what bring about further studies.
Kombucha can be either pasteurized or unpasteurized, this drink also can easily be made at home. One risk of unpasteurized kombucha is the risk of contamination of bacteria in your system. Kombucha also contains alcohol although it is less than the 0.5% allowed. Caution should be taken especially of unpasteurized products in a child,someone who is pregnant or has a compromised immune system.
When further looking into this drink it became apparent that the state it is in will depend on if it actually contains probiotics which is the main reason I hear why people consume this drink. If you are drinking pasteurized kombucha sorry to say there are no probiotics in the drink.
While there are still many studies to be done on the nutritional fountain of youth. I do not think that consuming this drink other than the reasons listed above would be harmful. Actually, I think that this drink would be more beneficial to you. So, go get a cold one on draft to help with immunity and digestive health.