The kombucha cult has spread far and wide over the past few years. Now, the fermented beverage isn't just found at organic grocery stores, it can be bought at mega-stores like Walmart. But how healthy is kombucha?
Medical journals haven't backed up the claims of kombucha lovers; on the contrary, some researchers go as far to say people shouldn't drink it at all, as kombucha isn't healthy. Indeed, there have been plenty of documented medical cases with kombucha to blame.
Celebrities and true believers in the kombucha cult may say otherwise, regardless of which side science is backing. After all, it's touted as a cure-all for almost anything, loaded with good-for-you probiotics and bacteria.
Despite anecdotal evidence claiming otherwise, you may not want to forgo your antibiotics just yet.
Kombucha Probably Isn't Curing You, But It Can Kill You
Celebrities may swear by kombucha, but the proven reality tells a different story. Besides, Lindsay Lohan is probably not someone you should take health lessons from.
There have been documented cases of home-brewed kombucha causing hepatitis and an enlarged liver. Though those victims were saved, kombucha has also been linked more than once to lactic acidosis, which can be life-threatening. One woman even died from cardiac arrest brought on by lactic acidosis.
Kombucha contains several types of acid, and drinking too much of it can cause that acid to build up. Lactic acidosis is caused when your body can't get rid of those acids, and can lead to death. So, if you do insist on drinking kombucha, maybe just take it easy?
All About SCOBY (No Relation To Scooby)
The clumps in your kombucha are part of the "mother," AKA "SCOBY," AKA "symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast." The SCOBY is responsible for protecting the kombucha from air, and it also creates the alcohol found in kombucha.
Other than looking pretty gross, the SCOBY is what proponents of kombucha credit for the drink's healing, probiotic qualities.
Who Knew Yeast Could Cause So Much Trouble?
Yeast: great for beer and baguettes, not so great other times. There are many different types of yeast, and the yeast in kombucha isn't the same yeast you're using in your bread machine. Kombucha can contain a strand known as Z. bailii.
So, what's the problem with Z. bailii? Well, it's actually kind of scary. Z. bailii can live off food preservatives, so the food industry isn't a fan of it. Z. bailii also contributes to the production of acetaldehyde. a group one carcinogen that's also found in cigarettes, and that might be a main contributor to your hangover.
Besides Z. bailii, kombucha can also contain Candida. While Candida occurs naturally in your body, too much of it is not a good thing, as it can cause yeast infections, allergies, skin problems, athlete's food, and much more.
There Are A Couple Good Ingredients...
If black tea and green tea are so good for us, and kombucha is brewed from tea, why is the beverage so contentious?
Well, kombucha does have ingredients that are good for you. Probiotics, along with the same antioxidants found in tea, are both ingredients in kombucha. However, you can reap those same benefits from foods like yogurt, kefir, and actual tea, all of which present fewer potentially negative repercussions.