Kombucha and Cultured Foods
In 2015, I detailed my quest to optimize my diet by finding the ratio of carbohydrate to protein that had the most beneficial effects on my heart rate, central nervous system function, cognitive performance, physical fitness, sleep and body composition. Last year, I performed a similar experiment to optimize my fat consumption. These two self-experiments gave me a wealth of data on how different foods affected my body. In looking at which foods had the most positive outcomes after I ate them and which had the most negative outcomes, I noticed that cultured foods like kombucha, sauerkraut and Greek yogurt kept showing up on the positive side. In most instances, meals that contained those foods were followed by positive changes in the variables I was measuring.
Cultured foods are those that contain probiotics, i.e. bacteria or yeast that are beneficial for human health. In most cases, probiotics result from fermentation. The food is allowed to steep for a period of time, which encourages the growth of bacteria. The bacteria consume the sugars in the food and produce lactic acid and carbon dioxide as a result. Lactic acid gives cultured foods their tart flavor; carbon dioxide provides the fizziness. Because these bacteria produce lactic acid, the process is known as lacto-fermentation. Lactic acid production also increases the acidity of the food, which kills off any harmful bacteria.
The remaining probiotics in cultured foods have a variety of health benefits. Bacteria live everywhere on the human body, outnumbering human cells ten to one. The more probiotics, or “good” bacteria, you have in your body, the fewer “bad” bacteria will be able to survive because the probiotics will outcompete them for resources. Probiotics work in a harmonious symbiotic relationship with your body to maintain overall health. They exist in your gut and throat and even on your skin, and their activity has a variety of benefits. Research has shown that probiotics improve intestinal tract health, enhance the immune system, synthesize and improve the bioavailability of nutrients, reduce symptoms of lactose intolerance, decrease the prevalence of allergies in susceptible individuals, and reduce the risk of certain cancers.
Kombucha results from the fermentation of sweetened black or green tea. The fermentation begins when a SCOBY (symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast) is added to the tea. The bacteria and yeast consume most of the sugar in the tea, resulting in a carbonated, slightly sweet, slightly sour, probiotic beverage. Kombucha has some sugar, but far less than do fruit juice or soda (about 4 grams per 16 fluid ounces of kombucha compared to over 50 grams per 16 ounces for apple juice or soda).
As for its health benefits, multiple studies in rats have shown that kombucha consumption reduces liver toxicity caused by noxious chemicals, improves symptoms of diabetes and reduces LDL cholesterol while increasing HDL cholesterol (so-called “bad cholesterol” and “good cholesterol,” respectively). Kombucha also kills a variety of harmful bacteria and destroys prostate cancer cells.
Of the cultured foods I regularly consume, kombucha is my personal favorite. I think it tastes sweet and tangy, although regular soda drinkers may find it a little sour. I consider it a treat and incorporate it into my diet two to three times per week. That’s why I’m excited that kombucha producer GT’s has offered me several kombucha coupons to give away to one lucky KineSophy reader. One winner will receive a prize pack of coupons which includes:
- Three coupons, each for one complimentary bottle of GT’s Kombucha
- Four coupons, each for 50% off one bottle of GT’s Enlightened Kombucha
GT’s is the kombucha brand I buy most frequently. It’s organic and raw and comes in a variety of flavors. My personal favorite is the gingerade. I can’t remember the last time I drank ginger ale, but I imagine it tastes like GT’s gingerade kombucha. So whether you’re a longtime kombucha lover or you’re intrigued by the recent kombucha craze, here’s an ideal opportunity to stock up on a variety of flavors.
To join the giveaway, enter your email address in the widget above. Doing so will unlock additional entry options to improve your odds of winning.