Is Kombucha the Superfood that it is Made out to be?
Ahhhh Kombucha, the drink that is quickly becoming more and more popular in grocery stores and cafes despite it originating in China thousands of years ago. What it is, is a fermented green or black tea with yeast forming SCOBY, a certain type of bacteria. It has a tangy, fizzy taste that shocks the tastebuds. It is supposed to be very rich in probiotics, low in calories, and very beneficial long term with claims of it lowering cholesterol, detoxifying blood, counteracting cancer, and preventing the risk of diabetes.
However, many people have made their concerns about Kombucha known. Some argue that many brands take advantage of the advertised health benefits and add too much sugar for it to make any healthy differences. Drinking too much has been known to lead to lactic acidosis¹. This is when lactic acid builds up in the blood stream and can be fatal. Some brands also contain alcohol. Others claim to have side effects of nausea, head and neck pain, and allergic reactions. Needless to say, there is a debate over this trendy drink.
What are we to do with these conflicting opinions? Well, I tried drinking Kombucha every day for a week so that you don’t have to. Normally, I skimp on breakfast (yes, yes, I know it is the most important meal of the day, but I’m lazy and busy). Anyway, I usually have some small snacks for lunch and when I come home, I will eat a bag of chips or a not-so-healthy snack before dinner. My dinner usually consists of a protein and a vegetable. Instead of having a caloric snack I was used to, I replaced all my calories, except dinner with Kombucha. Its main effects are supposed to be weight loss, better digestive health, better moods², cleaner teeth, and more hydrated skin. I decided to go with the brand of Kevita in order to test this drink. Kevita claims to be non-alcholic and is only about $2.99 per bottle and has 16 grams of sugar. It is suggested to drink about 7-15 ounces a day. Here is what happened.
Day 1 - Sunday
I started drinking it after dinner on Sunday, when I would usually reach for some desert or popcorn. The taste was oddly satisfying and did curb my desire for something sweet.
Flavor - Raspberry Lemon Master Brew (70 calories)
Taste - It smelled like a sauce that you would get at a Chinese restaurant, but did not taste like it. It was pretty fizzy and took a while for my mouth to get used to it. It was not one of those drinks that you have to keep sipping because it is so good, but it was appetizing enough to finish the bottle.
Other foods and exercise - It is important to mention the other foods in my diet and the exercises I did to see if they contributed to the effect of the Kombucha. I ate crab cakes for dinner with a side of spinach. I also hit the gym for about two hours.
*Since it was the first day, I did not experience any of the benefits yet.
Day 2 - Monday
Flavor - Pineapple Peach (70 calories)
Taste - This one smelled a lot better and tasted better too. There is still a little twang that is signature of Kombucha, but it was a lot sweeter.
Effects - When I weighed myself, I was surprised to find that I had already lost three pounds. Not only that, but my digestive health did feel a lot better and I did not have any stomach pains. I felt lighter and like I had more energy. The bubbles on my teeth did make them feel better, but that could have just been temporary. It did make me a little nauseous, but that could have been from drinking too fast.
Other foods and exercise - I had a Starbucks grande salted caramel mocha to get me through the day. I also did my usual pilates and for dinner, I had salmon and spinach.
Day 3 - Tuesday
Flavor - Blueberry Basil (60 calories)
Taste - This one was also very sweet and I thought it would taste worse because of the basil in there, but it mostly tasted like blueberries.
Effects - I started drinking it at lunch and seemed to fill me up. In the afternoon, when my unhealthy cravings usually come, the Kombucha curbed them. My weight was now down five pounds from the original weight. I can’t decide if that is from the absence of junk food or addition of Kombucha to my diet.
Other foods and exercise - I ate some frozen kung pao chicken and edamame from PF Chang’s for dinner and did my usual pilates for exercise.
Day 4 - Wednesday
Flavor - Citrus (70 calories)
Taste - This one was by far the weirdest tasting flavor. It was like a very potent flavor of sprite. It burned a little going down.
Effects - The Kombucha started to make me a little nauseous, but helped my digestive system and did make my teeth feel cleaner.
Other foods and exercise - I had salmon for dinner with spinach and did pilates.
Day 5 - Thursday
Flavor - Lavender Melon (70 calories)
Taste - This one tasted more mellow that the others and was probably one of my favorites.
Effects - There are no obvious effects other than the same feeling of having more energy. My taste buds are slowly starting to get used to the fizzy nature of the Kombucha and I am not feeling nauseous anymore.
Day 6 - Friday
Flavor - Raspberry Lemon (again)
Effects - The effects stayed the same. Once it is in your mouth, the fizziness will clear up anything on your teeth. The calories in it made me feel more energized. It also stopped my cravings for junk food and put me in a better mood, since I had not eaten yet today.
Day 7 - Saturday
Flavor - Tangerine (30)
Effects - This flavor was less in calories and felt lighter. It also tasted pretty good and gave me energy.