I Drank 4 Bottles of Kombucha Every Week For 3 Months… And It TOTALLY Changed My Stomach
by: gabrielle kassel
I walk into the local health foods store and turn left, add 4 avocados of various ripeness to my cart, and then turn right and smile. I scan the labels for my favorite flavors before adding two ginger, two pineapple, and two lavender-flavored Kombucha to my cart. This has become my weekly Sunday ritual: after my afternoon run, I walk sweat-damp to my favorite Brooklyn market to pick up the fruits, veggies, and other whole foods I’ll need for the week… plus the fermented tea I incorporated into my diet 3 months ago.
When it comes to health and wellness staples, Kombucha is as trendy as they come. And it helps that kombucha is one of the easiest ways to get a daily dose of gut friendly bacteria. But what exactly is Kombucha? Kombucha is a fermented tea that is naturally carbonated, filled with amino acids, loaded with probiotics, and has a number of natural healing properties. Kombucha has an acquired taste which non-lovers compare to vinegar, I found that the acidity is pretty easy to get used to once you have started drinking it on a regular basis. Now, I not only tolerate the taste, I crave it (and so does my body).
While I haven’t yet begun making my own Kombucha- yes, I live in Williamsburg and work at a fitness studio, but no, I’m not that hip, I have gotten into the routine of drinking a bottle of Kombucha every other day… and it completely transformed my stomach and my body. Here’s how that's possible:
1. Kombucha is an Adaptogen.
An adaptogen is a plant, herb, or plant based derivative , in the case of Kombucha, fermented tea, that normalizes and balances the body(thanks Google, for the definition!). These special plants help with stress, anxiety, sleep, your immune system, and more. They've been used in naturopathy, Ayurvedic medicine, and Chinese medicine for centuries, but there's also Western science to back them up. Studies have proven that adaptogens decrease stress and help build a strong immune system. Moreover, adaptogens are known for being good sources of antioxidants, provide liver protection, decrease cravings for sugar, and increase energy. While some nights I give into my cravings for white-chocolate covered reese's, I have found that even just a half bottle of Kombucha completely decreases my craving for the sweet, artificial stuff.
2. Kombucha is Full of Probiotics
This acidic drink supports healthy digestion because it is full of probiotics. While some good bacteria already live in our gut, we can boost our health and immune system by consuming even more (aka probiotics), which have been shown to boost our immune system and aid in digestion. Whoa, a drink can help my immune system? The way it works is that probiotics strengthen our intestinal barrier and stimulate disease-fighting proteins called antibodies. It is these antibodies that help keep us healthy when strep throat or the flu are “going around”.
Moreover, the healthy bacteria provided by fermented foods can be beneficial to our digestive systems. When it comes to our GI tract, probiotics keep the accumulation of harmful bacteria in check and (bonus!) reduces bloat... which (hooray!) means it's basically belly-flattener. While the fizz and sparkle of the drink tend to bloat me immediately after I drink a bottle, within two hours that bloat goes away, and I’m left with a flatter, less irritated stomach.
According, to the Mayo Clinic, “there's encouraging evidence that probiotics may help treat diarrhea, especially following treatment with certain antibiotics, prevent and treat vaginal yeast infections and urinary tract infections, treat irritable bowel syndrome, speed treatment of certain intestinal infections, and prevent or reduce the severity of colds and flu”. Not only have I not had a yeast infection or UTI since beginning my Kombucha “regime”, I also have stayed cold and flu-free during peak cold and flu season- a feat worth noting for someone who takes NYC public transportation and is constantly surrounded by people.
3. Kombucha is Full of Vitamins!
Kombucha is packed full of vitamins B1, B6, and B12, all of which are known to help the body fight depression, promote a fast metabolism, and even reduce the risk of stroke. Plus, Kombucha also contains vitamin C, which studies show suppresses the release of cortisol, one of the stress hormones. Higher levels of cortisol in the blood contribute to hypertension, depression, and impaired mental clarity. And Kombucha doesn’t just have trace amounts of vitamin C, it contains up to 3 to 6 times, the amount of vitamin C (depending on the Kombucha brand) as the Queen of C, OJ. Plus, while I’m making the OJ comparison, I should note that a typical serving of the juice typically contains 27+ grams of sugar, while a serving of Kombucha usually contains around 5-8 grams.
4. Kombucha Contains Trace Amounts of Alcohol.
According to the FDA, any beverage containing more than 0.5 percent alcohol is considered an alcoholic beverage. In a bottle of Kombucha, unless otherwise labeled or regulated as 21+, you’d find trace amounts of alcohol, but not enough to be labeled alcoholic. I’ve written before about how I don’t drink, however I wasn’t going to rule out Kombucha just because it contains trace amounts of alcohol, when in fact naturally occurring low-levels of alcohol have been shown to increase feelings of happiness and well-being and decrease stress.
5. Kombucha Is Good For Your Skin.
Kombucha is both fermented and full of probiotics, two things that have been shown to improve skin health. How is that possible? Well, it’s an antioxidant like many teas, a skin firmer thanks to the yeast, a skin brightener due to the sugar, and many proponents of the probiotic beverage as skin-toner say it’s good for creating a healthy (alkaline) pH. And in an interview with The Huffington Post, emerginC (which is on a Kombucha retailer), claims that the drink can detoxify, hydrate, and improve skin elasticity. They even argued that Kombucha can improve the tone and clarity of your skin and that it could help ward off wrinkles. While I haven’t begun using Kombucha as a facial toner and I’m too young to notice the effects it's having on future-wrinkle formation, some beauty experts swear by the fizzy drink as a facial cleanser. Yep, not only are people drinking the beverage for better, younger looking skin, their putting it on their faces. Though, I can’t knock it, because if I had the skill-set to brew my own Kombucha I would probably lather my skin with it, too.
6. Kombucha Fights Bloat.
For as long as I can remember I have at a very sensitive and easily bloated belly, while I haven’t officially been diagnosed with IBS, my gynecologist has hinted that that might be the reason my stomach is often gassy to the touch and filled with air even on a low-fiber eating day. Is it a coincidence that during the three months that I have been drinking Kombucha that I have finally had visible abs? It’s possible. But my managing my bloat, I have increased the likelihood that my stomach sports a 6-pack.