The Kind Life is a community around Alicia Silverstone and The Kind Diet where friends, doctors, experts in green living, and members share vegan tips.

Kind 101

My Take on Kombucha

Kind lifer Jenee posted a question in the forum asking if kombucha is healthy. I wanted to post about it, because this question comes up a lot.

What Is Kombucha?

Kombucha is a cold carbonated beverage made by fermenting bacteria, yeast, sugar, and tea.

Is Kombucha Good For You?

Some people believe that kombucha has a variety of health benefits, including improving immune system, cleansing toxins, improving digestion and liver, preventing arthritis, and even preventing cancer. Some also say that it gives them a calm energy. The Chinese have been drinking it since 221 B.C.

My husband was on a kick quite a few years back and it didn’t do him any good. On the other hand, there is evidence it can be harmful. Christina Pirello said kombucha is too rich in bacteria for the intestines and can cause bloating. It has also been linked to dental and gum problems.

In general, it’s my understanding that carbonated beverages are not healthy (according to Dr. Fuhrman, soda can cause bone loss).

Warren Kramer explains, “The effect of carbonation over time will weaken the intestines and will pull calcium out of the body. The reason why people are so attracted to it is because it in fact is so yin or expansive and relaxes people quickly but at the same time is weakening if consumed day to day. Having it now and then is not an issue for most people.”

My Take On It

I’m not against it, I just don’t choose it for myself. For me, kombucha is just not a health food. I think many people drink it because they think it is healthy. If you are drinking it because of that, you don’t have to. If you drink it because you love the taste, and it’s a nice treat for you, then go for it. Enjoy.

What Can You Have Instead?

If you are looking for a good source of probiotics, I would not recommend kombucha. Instead, follow a superhero diet, which includes fermented foods such as miso and unpasteurized pickles, kim chi, or sauerkraut. See page 97 of The Kind Diet for more on going superhero.

What do you think about kombucha? Tell me in the comments below.

 

Photo source: flickr.com / Saucy Salad

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  • Rommel Angus

    If I do get thirsty and crave sodas, I reach for kombucha from time to time. Drinking kombucha everyday can be a problem for many so I take it couple of times a month. My ultimate vegetable/salad intake would be kimchi. It’s my go-to staple.

  • Sarah Labrum Speier

    I’m glad you addressed this. I’ve been hearing a lot of hype about kombucha and was curious whether it was just that, hype. I wasn’t digging the extra sugar in it since I’ve been avoiding that kind of thing and mainly just drink water, though sometimes hot or iced tea. Glad to know my life will go on without kimbucha!

    • Kacey

      Her information could not be more incorrect. A quick Google search will prove that. And if you let it ferment for the full 30 days there isn’t much sugar left at all.

    • Steph

      Please do your own research, as this article is poorly research and is misleading readers. There is almost no sugar left because the SCOBY eats the sugar.

  • Jill

    I forced myself to drink one a day a year or so ago when I read that they are good for digestion and give you lots of energy. It didn’t seem to have any effect on me at all. But I enjoy a kombucha now and then.

  • VEGA Skincare Studio

    I was very resistant to the kombucha craze at first, even outright refusing to drink it because it was another unproven health fad that had more demonstrable risks than benefits. But then I tried it. I was an instant convert. The taste took a some getting used to, but I felt amazing – less hungry, more energetic, less cravings for things like sugar and diet soda. I drink it when I feel like I’m getting sick, and I feel like it helps to ease my cold symptoms, and it’s an amazing hangover remedy… for me. I do know people who experience bloating and upset stomach, but I am personally a fan.

  • Michele

    There is not much carbonation if any at all when you make your own kombucha. When you use green tea it is loaded with antioxidents as well. Everything in moderation though friends.

  • Kacey

    Dr. Weil, The Mayo Clinic and a vast number of other reputable real food doctors and holistic health practitioners would disagree with your statement about carbonation being bad. It’s not the carbonation that robs your body of calcium, but caffeine from carbonated beverages.

    Please check, re check and triple check your facts before you put harmful and inaccurate information like this online. Kombucha is NOT bad for you. Just because you don’t like it, or it didn’t do anything for you doesn’t make it bad. So disappointed with your lack of research on this issue.

    • Principessa

      Kacey, you might want to take your own advice. Your statement suggests you can drink carbonated beverages, as long as there’s no caffeine in them and that is definitely not true.

  • Steph

    Carbonation is an artificial process. The bubbles in kombucha occur after natural fermentation. huge difference.

  • Victoria

    Kombucha isn’t always carbonated , I grow and harvest Kombucha mostly drinking it before the natural litte bubbles apear when it is fresh and untampered , the feeling of stomach pain is the same as when you pour alcohol on a wound , it may feel like you’ve just taken a shot of tequila but really its cleaning out toxins and harmful bacteria . But of coarse like most things its different for every body , Kombucha is healthy , but if your body in particular disagrees dont drink it , like almonds are healthy but some people are alergic ..Simple .

  • NoelieTREX

    I just can’t stand the taste : For me it’s nothing like soda, more like sour champagne (also not my favorite). I go for a good water infusion with fruit or cucumbers or aleovera any day!

  • SA

    Its just another fad. People will be onto something else soon. Alicia’s posts are like a blog. She’s not writing for the NY times. Who cares if she did any research or not. It’s just her opinion you can take it or leave it.

  • Mandinita

    thanks you for sharing. Is there a link that supports this?

    • Anna Kulow

      Actually, here’s a link that disputes it: http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/84/4/936.full

      If you read the conclusion, the research indicates that the consumption of non-cola carbonated beverages did not affect bone density in women.

      The culprit is most likely phosphoric acid, which is used in commercial soda, but is not present in naturally carbonated beverages like beer, champagne, and kombucha, prevents calcium absorption.

      This information is also readily available on Wikipedia and includes citations to relevant research: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phosphoric_acid#In_soft_drinks

  • Rebecca Ratliff

    Carbonic acid is acidic no matter how it occurs. Alicia is correct that the carbonation, in any form, is bad for you. Obviously moderation is key, but completely cutting carbonated beverages out of one’s diet would not be a bad thing.

  • RachelJane

    It’s my understanding that you’re not supposed to drink an entire bottle of kombucha, but rather a very small glass. My mother makes her own Kombucha and we enjoy about 1/2 a cup of the drink after a meal. We don’t do it at every meal, but maybe once a day (and not EVERY day).

    Just like with any craze, people tend to go overboard with Kombucha and that’s not good.

  • JLG

    I started drinking kombucha actually as a way to try Chia seeds. After blindly going into it I discovered that not only did I love Chia, but the kombucha gave me great focused energy, a more positive outlook, and overall sense of wellness which is sustained and consistent as I drink it with regularity. I’d strongly advise people to give it a chance and judge the results for themselves. Additionally, I must say that I am over the obsession with completely cutting out things- like carbonation and sugar. Life is too short, and in truth there is very little sugar left after the fermentation process in kombucha is complete. Better to seek a balanced life than one full of walls and body obsession.

  • Alaina Bruner

    I eat miso and kim chi all the time! I had no idea I was getting probiotics from them :)

  • AJ Grossman

    as a sufferer of Ulcerative Colitis & celiac this stuff is poison to me. I eat a very raw vegetarian type diet and know what works and what does not for my condition. In fact for some with my condition it can be lethal. I am tired of people who just started out in the healthy eating lecturing me that Kombucha will detox my system, so be warned for those who celica, colitis or crohn’s this tea will exacerbate your conditon

    • WF

      Hi, I also have UC and Coeliac – recently diagnosed with both. My accupuncturist recomended Kombucha and I have brewed some ready to drink a small glass every day. What happened to you when you drank it? Im willing to try it (willing to try anything!) but there is an awful lot of confusing and conflicting advice around Kombucha!

    • Douglas O Smith

      As a person with past issues with Crohns I disagree. I have found Kombucha to be very helpful. Raw foods are also known to be problematic by the way. Maybe we should not make sweeping claims for all people.

  • Todd Dacey

    As a way better alternative coconut water kefir is outstanding . can be made from the grains orDonna Gates at Body Ecology sells a super powder that makes 7 generations plus
    Enjoy Superfood Chef Todd

  • Laura Roehrick

    I have been making kombucha and jun for months and love it… I am a nurse and always look to pub med to see what research has been done. I think that you need to really back up opinions with science…

    this is from pub med

    It is shown that KT can efficiently act in health prophylaxis and recovery due to four main properties: detoxification, antioxidation, energizing potencies, and promotion of depressed immunity. The recent experimental studies on the consumption of KT suggest that it is suitable for prevention against broad-spectrum metabolic and infective disorders. This makes KT attractive as a fermented functional beverage for health prophylaxis.

  • Bryan Dopp

    Some of the basic effects of Kombucha. 1. cleansing: it’s many acids cleanse the body and liver of many toxins, including the heavy metals lead, mercury and cadmium. “. Refreshing: It’s sugars are broken down, not like corn syrup in soft drinks, and provide a little lift, and a little caffeine is still present from the tea. 3. Antibiotic. It’s acids are antibiotic, killing staph, strep, Candida and many harmful invaders. Stomach bacteria are more resistant to acid, and are protected. I haven’t had to use antibiotics at all in the years I’ve made Kombucha. 4. Nourishing. Studies show that Kombucha has a high protein density, and it makes some B vitamins. 5. Connective tissue repair. Important for Arthritis recovery, the proteins in Kombucha are base proteins for cartilage and tendons. After Kombucha cleanses polluted joints, it helps the body with collagen building blocks, and joints can recover more quickly. That’s some of the basic information for how Kombucha helps. As for the acids and the teeth, the acids will also cleanse bad bacteria from the teeth, but one should recalcify with calcium chew tabs, and brush with flouride tooth paste.