What Nutritionists Don't Tell You About Kombucha
Kombucha is all the rage right now in the nutrition world, but are they telling us everything about this drink? Can I use it to my benefit, as an athlete? Or is it better to stay away?
For those of you who haven’t dipped your toes into the fizzy probiotic drink that is Kombucha, here is a quick review to keep you up to date.
What Is It?
It is a drink that is produced by fermenting black or green tea with a culture of yeast, sugar, and bacteria. Yes, we did say bacteria (some bacteria can be beneficial to help balance out our gut). This sounds like an odd fizzy drink… Why would anyone ever want to drink it?
Similar to our collagen peptide friends, Kombucha can offer many healthy aids, as it is said to improve digestion, and promote healthy skin and nails. It also has some other benefits specific to athletic people, including raised energy levels, can help fight colds, regulate our metabolism and joint pain. It is also packed with probiotics.
Being athletes, this drink sounds extremely beneficial to us, so we decided to read the fine print and dive deeper. Here is the low-down on some of the controversial benefits for us athletes.
1. Low Sugar:
First things first, sugar… When kombucha is made, there is sugar involved...as with most fermented things. Many kombucha brands were previously highlighting the lack of sugar, saying that most of the sugar in the drink was used in the fermenting process... leaving 1-2 grams left.
Recent studies have shown that this isn’t always the case. Kombucha companies now have to print the amount of sugar that was used in the fermenting process, just incase it didn’t completely ferment out. So you are looking at 2-7 grams of sugar per serving (8 oz). That honestly, doesn’t sound like that much, especially if you are drinking it as a replacement for sugary drinks, such as soda.
1 oz of soda typically contains 3 grams of sugar, where 1 oz of kombucha contains 1 g of sugar. Overall in terms of sugar, this drink is a great alternative to soda, but stay away if you predominantly drink water. Don’t use Kombucha as a hydration source or replacement for your typical water intake.
2. Probiotics/ Gut Health:
Another benefit for athletes, are the probiotic benefits and gut health. This drink is perfect for people who don’t eat dairy. For those of you who eat dairy plain yogurt has about the same amount of probiotics. Sauerkraut and kefir also offer great amounts of probiotics.
3. Immune Support:
Because Kombucha can be loaded with Vitamin C, it increases your immune system support, and protection from inflammatory diseases. This keeps you healthy even through the mid-season sickness we all seem to contract. Essentially, it keeps our bodies powering on all cylinders and helps you stay healthy throughout the season.
4. Joint Pain Relief:
Some Kombucha contains glucosamine, an amino sugar that is great for alleviating joint pain. (In ancient China it was used to help rid one of arthritis) Some athletes even claim that their body recovers faster after workouts and practice with Kombucha.
Overall, these benefits have not been scientifically proven. If you are experiencing joint pain, or need to boost your immunities, maybe give Kombucha a shot and see if it helps you. They key is taking it consistently and taking it in moderation.
Most nutritionists recommend that when you first start drinking Kombucha stick to 4 oz. per day. You can see how it makes you feel and adjust accordingly from there. As you continue to drink more most people will have 8 oz. per day. GT’s and Health-Ade make a good brew of Booch if you think that this magic juice will change your life.