You may have heard of this fermented health beverage called Kombucha. I have been drinking it casually for years when I was feeling a bit off balance, but last year I took a class about fermented foods by Donna Schwenk and it transformed the way I looked at cultured foods, including this crazy fermented tea called Kombucha.
Donna explains in her book Cultured Food for Life that kombucha is a secret elixir of life existing for thousands of years. It is produced by adding a kombucha culture, otherwise known as a SCOBY, a Symbiotic Colony of Bacteria and Yeast, into a sweet tea mixture and allowing it to brew for about a week. That is it! The SCOBY processes the sugar much like yeast consumes sugar when making alcohol, except instead of beer or wine, the final product is a tart, carbonated beverage with very little sugar and a lot of health benefits.
So what exactly does this health tonic contain and what does it do for the body?
During the process of fermentation, the SCOBY produces glucuronic acid, which is a key nutrient the body naturally produces in the liver, used to eliminate toxins through the kidneys. Kombucha assists the liver and pancreas fight off toxicity in the body.
While detoxing alone can help the body fight off terminal diseases, studies have shown that glucuronic acid alone helps prevent cancer. Of course there is no magic bullet for cancer prevention, but detoxing and alkalizing the body are a big help.
Today’s American diet is full of sugar, meat, processed foods and alcohol, all very acidic foods. While not considered a disease itself, blood acidosis is the root of many prevalent diseases such as diabetes, arthritis and cancer.
Kombucha is an alkaline forming food, which brings balance back to the blood. Cancer cells can not grow in an alkaline environment so the more you balance your blood back away from acid towards basic (aka alkaline) the more resilient you’ll be against cancer, diabetes, high blood pressure and any number of health challenges seen with blood acidosis.
Digestive health and probiotics
One of the big benefits of adding kombucha to your diet is adding an army of good bacteria to your system to fight off the bad bacteria. As Donna explains in her book, when the bad bacteria start to outnumber the good bacteria, that is when disease sets in. But when you are in balance, and add probiotics to your diet, like kombucha and cultured vegetables, you will start to experience incredible health, well being, mental clarity and radiance.
One reason you’ll see celebrities like Gwyneth Paltrow, Reese Witherspoon and Heather Graham drinking kombucha is because of its reputation as a “beauty elixir”. One of the well known kombucha founders GT tells the story of how his mother was known as the kombucha lady because of her “healthy glow.” But the real benefit came when she overcame an aggressive form of breast cancer, drinking kombucha to keep her strong before, during and after her cancer experience.
Immune and energy boosting
In addition to the probiotics, kombucha contains high levels of B-vitamins and amino acids, which are important building blocks for all sorts of body processes. You’ll notice a boost of energy when drinking kombucha as the B-vitamins help convert food into energy. The more energy you have, the more you’re able to fight off colds, flus and other more serious diseases.
Additional health benefits of kombucha include:
- improving eyesight and cataracts
- relieving headaches and migraines (and hangovers)
- improved digestion
- help with seasonal allergies
- appetite suppression
- helping to heal ulcers (by killing h. pylori, a bacteria that causes ulcers)
- joint health (kombucha also contains glucosamines, which help to prevent arthritis)
The first step in trying this healthy elixir is to try some store bought kombucha from a brand like GT’s, which can be found at health stores all over. If you are interested in making your own kombucha, then you really start getting the benefits. I would recommend you check out Donna’s site for the basics and she can even set you up with all the basics, including a SCOBY of your own. All it takes is:
- a 1 gallon glass jar
- breathable cloth napkin to cover the jar opening
- rubber band
- SCOBY starter
- black or green tea
- sugar (preferably raw turbinado sugar)
You will boil one gallon of filtered water, add five tea bags for 15 minutes, add 1 cup of raw sugar, let the mixture cool overnight. (Always take care to keep everything as clean and sterile as possible and avoid any exposure to the air that is not necessary. We are working with a highly nutritive mix that some mold would just love to nest on if you’re not careful.)
When the tea is cool to the touch, add it to the jar, add the SCOBY and one cup of existing kombucha, rubber band the cloth over the top and let it sit 5-10 days on the counter. You’ll have to taste it occasionally to see when it is not too sweet and not too sour. When you have a good taste, you’ll bottle up the mix in individual glass bottles and put them in the fridge to stop the fermentation process. Voila! You’ll have kombucha by the gallon!
Cheers to your health, and please visit Donna’s site before you get started to ensure a fun, successful process!
- by Jon Heinrich
Schwenk, Donna. Cultured Food for Life, Hay House Publishing, 2013
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