What Actually Is Kombucha? Demystifying The Myths With Emily Hardman
HEALTH FEATURE // THE BUCHA OR BYRON
Kombucha has appeared in a lot of fridges over the last 12 months and is said to have some pretty phenomenal health benefits. So we’re taking a look at what it really is and the true health benefits as well as a couple of epic little recipes to enjoy with your friends on the beach at the end of a day in the water.
We didn’t just compile a whole lot of Dr. Google information from semi-credible sources, we went straight to the professionals. Meet Emily Hardman an accredited and practising dietitian with a Bachelor of Nutrition and Dietetics and daughter of 2 x World Champion Damien Hardman. Emily believes that eating well is about choosing foods that make your body and mind feel good and that there is no one size fits all approach.
WHAT EXACTLY IS KOMBUCHA?
The easy answer is, it is a sweetened, fermented tea. A little deeper, it is a fermented tea drink using SCOBY or Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria and Yeast. “The SCOBY eats the sugar and converts it into alcohol,” says Emily. BUT the actual amount of alcohol is so low that it’s usually between 0.5% and 1.15%. This is also the level it must be below for it to be classified as a non-alcoholic beverage. For a drink to be classed as ‘low sugar’ Choice.com.au and the Food Standards Code state that the drink must contain less than 2.5g sugar per 100g (one teaspoon of sugar is 4g).
*Bucha of Byron contains 2.5g of sugar per 100g and less than 0.5% alcohol.
“With kombucha, every batch is different, the SCOBY, the temperature it’s brewed at, the tea, fermentation and sugar levels determine the benefits. Most of the time with the sugar content is used up in the fermentation process, so when it is ready to be consumed there are minimal levels of sugar left, although some companies now add sugar for taste. Kombucha is a great alternative to sweet drinks and juices, even coconut water which can have double that of kombucha.”
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The live micro bacterial properties and cultures of kombucha can act as probiotics that can assist with digestion and liver function. They also combine with the naturally occurring antioxidants that remain intact from the base teas used to make the drink. Kombucha made with green tea is said to have a higher anti-microbial effect than that with black tea.
Despite there being lots of articles and stories on the magical health benefits of Kombucha in curing cancer and other serious illnesses, as well as having major positive impacts on our health, there haven’t been any conclusive or independent studies on humans to support the claims. And of course, it’s always best to consume anything in moderation to stay healthy. A healthy diet is made up of a great variety of foods and drinks of all colours, textures and flavours.
“Even though it hasn’t been researched extensively yet, there are so many benefits of kombucha. There is so much potential and so many benefits that we don’t know about yet that are sure to be uncovered and released by the governing health bodies in the next couple of years. When I educate clients in my practice, especially with immunity and gut health on the list, I do recommend them to try kombucha because the central ingredients contain probiotics that are great for digestion, immunity and gut health.”
THE BEST THING ABOUT KOMBUCHA IS…
In most cases, but check the bottle or ingredients first, it’s a low-sugar, probiotic, alcohol substitute that is widely available these days in cafes, restaurants and even on tap along-side beer taps in your favourite pubs and bars. It has said to reduce sugar cravings, assist with hangovers in that it alleviates the pressure put on the liver after excessive alcohol is being processed as well as assisting with the absorption of nutrients and minerals into the body due.
“You can think of kombucha similar to Yakult or a probiotic supplement but in a much smaller dose. So when you’re looking for a refreshing, low-sugar, alcohol-replacement and healthy alternative drink it’s the pick above the rest. But it’s still very individualised and should always be consumed in moderation.”
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HOW TO DRINK IT
Chilled and straight up from the bottle after giving it a little stir, to mix up all the culture goodness. The taste, although often naturally sweet, can be tart so we’ve knocked up a couple of east and sensational serving suggestions for mocktails and a sneaky drop to make them into a quick cocktail.