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Kombucha is a fermented tea drink that manufacturers claim has many health benefits such as improving digestion, reducing blood pressure and detoxing the body. Commercially available kombucha is often sweetened and flavoured to make it more palatable, though dozens of people still flock to consume it because the fermentation process results in the formation of probiotics.

Lately, there has been a lot of hype around kombucha, probiotics and their positive impact on a myriad of health concerns. But is all the hype warranted? We’ve put together a summary of the current research for you.

Benefits for Gut Health

In 2021, we are no stranger to the importance of gut health. More and more research highlights the value of a healthy gut microbiome for all different aspects of our health. From having positive impacts on mental health, immune function and even our risk of developing chronic illnesses.

Probiotics have shown some promise in being able to positively affect our gut microbiome, and there are now many products on the market which contain probiotics. For probiotics to have an impact on our gut bacteria though, they need to reach the large intestine, and this is where the problems can arise.

There are numerous factors that affect the probiotics ability to remain intact until reaching the large intestine:

  • The acidity of the upper gastrointestinal tract
  • Level of oxygen in the product
  • Fermentation conditions
  • Sensitivity to metabolites produced by other bacteria.

There is some evidence to support the idea that probiotics delivered in a dairy-based product are more likely to survive and reach the large intestine as they endure the acidic environment better than probiotics in foods and beverages such as kombucha.

Should I include Kombucha?

More research is needed around probiotics in kombucha and their ability to positively impact gut bacteria. If the taste is something you enjoy, then you can still include Kombucha as part of a healthy diet.

Here are a few ways that kombucha can be beneficial:

  • Swapping a soft drink for kombucha (that uses artificial sweetener over sugar) can be a great way to reduce energy intake.
  • Swapping for kombucha over a fizzy drink (so, reducing energy intake) can also help to reduce the risk of developing chronic illnesses such as Diabetes.

Other Ways To Improve Your Gut Health

Improving the variety of your gut microbiome can have many positive health effects, such as improving our body’s ability to digest food and improving immunity. There is also some emerging research to suggest it may help to reduce the likelihood of developing mental health conditions and reduce symptoms associated with poor mental health.

The biggest impact you can have on your gut microbiome is to eat a diet with a lot of plant foods and variety, as research shows that the more variety in your diet, the more likely you will have a higher variety of gut bacteria.

  • Aim for at least 30 different plant foods each week.
  • Try including different veggies, fruit, grains, nuts and seeds each week. E.g. add olives and sunflower seeds to your salad, legumes to your soups and curries, herbs to your roast veggies.
  • Include fermented foods such as sauerkraut, pickled vegetables, tempeh, kimchi and miso

Start by adding a few new vegetables to your diet each week to slowly increase your diet variety and gut bacteria. 🙂

If you’d like to learn more about how to optimise your physical and mental health with food, explore our latest online nutrition programs. The self-guided courses were developed by Fuel Your Life’s Accredited Practising Dietitians and focus on improving your life, work performance and mental health. For more personalised nutritional advice, chat with one of our experienced dietitians and get started today.