Is Kombucha a good source of probiotics?
Let’s explore the link between Kombucha and Probiotics. Probiotics have long been a popular health trend, but are not just a passing fad. There is plenty of research out there now that clearly shows the link between consuming probiotics and your overall health and wellbeing. A quick google search will turn up all kinds of […]
Let’s explore the link between Kombucha and Probiotics. Probiotics have long been a popular health trend, but are not just a passing fad. There is plenty of research out there now that clearly shows the link between consuming probiotics and your overall health and wellbeing. A quick google search will turn up all kinds of interesting studies like this one from Harvard, which links probiotics and gut health.
There are numerous ways to include probiotics in your diet, such as taking supplements, consuming fermented foods, yoghurts and more. In this blog, we will take a closer look at the benefits of probiotics, why Kombucha is a good source of probiotics and how Kombucha compares to other sources of probiotics that you could get your hands on!
- What are probiotics and why do we need them?
- What’s the difference between probiotics and prebiotics?
- What are the best foods for probiotics?
- Kombucha vs probiotic supplements
- Why nutritionists recommend Kombucha as a great source of probiotics
What are probiotics and why do we need them?
Probiotics are live bacteria and yeasts promoted as having various health benefits. According to the NHS, probiotics are thought to help restore the natural balance of bacteria in your gut (including your stomach and intestines) when it’s been disrupted by an illness or treatment. Commonly known as ‘good’ or ‘friendly’ bacteria, some of the key benefits of probiotics include relieving symptoms of IBS, helping our bodies synthesise vitamins and minerals to fight off illness and improving our skin.
Probiotics are especially important nowadays with the modern diet leading to damaged gut health. There are so many processed foods and drinks that we consume that can have a negative impact on our gut microbiome, and foods rich in probiotics may be one way of helping this. For those of you wanting to dive deeper, we discuss some of the health benefits of consuming a diet rich in living, fermented food and drinks in some of our previous blogs, such as Kombucha and IBS, the health benefits of fermented tea, and Kombucha skincare benefits.
What’s the difference between probiotics and prebiotics?
It’s worth mentioning at this stage that probiotics and the other term you may have heard, prebiotics, differ. In a nutshell, probiotics are the foods or supplements that contain live bacteria to balance the microflora of the gut. Prebiotics, on the other hand, are any foods that feed that microflora. Prebiotics are typically high fibre foods that help the healthy bacteria grow inside your digestive tract. Ideally you need a diet that contains both!
What are the best foods for probiotics?
So, what food and drinks can we consume if we want to up our levels of probiotics? Top sources include:
Ideally organic, bio-live yoghurts that contain living bacterial cultures and yeasts
Traditionally made, living kefir (again we prefer organic), is a great source of probiotics
Obviously on our list is Kombucha. Is Kombucha a good source of probiotics? Yes, Kombucha is a fantastic probiotic, containing beneficial live microorganisms that can help improve gut health, but a word of caution here. The kombucha has to have been traditionally brewed and fermented in order for the living bacterial cultures to contain helpful probiotics. Not all kombuchas are fermented properly and in some cases, probiotics are added in after a pasteurisation or filtration process. It’s always worth doing your homework into how a Kombucha has been brewed before you assume it contains healthy probiotic cultures.
Made from fermented cabbage and other vegetables, during the fermentation process helpful probiotics grow.
A fermented cake made from partially cooked soybeans, tempeh is fermented with a type of mould called Rhizopus that causes probiotic cultures to develop
6. Sourdough bread
A classic, sourdough bread is fermented using probiotic cultures that ensure it is much more friendly to our gut than other breads.
Miso is considered to have both prebiotic and probiotic qualities, and is made by fermenting soybean paste with salt and a mould-culture known as koji.
8. Some cheeses
Cheese like cheddar, feta and gouda are common probiotic cheeses. Looking for labels that state ‘raw’, ‘unpasteurised’ or ‘probiotic’ will let you know if you are purchasing the right products
Kombucha vs probiotic supplements
There is always the choice of choosing probiotic supplements if you find your lifestyle simply doesn’t allow you to purchase or consume probiotic rich foods and drinks on a regular basis. Of course, there are many pros and cons to taking supplements, rather than eating them in tasty foods and drinks, like Kombucha, such as:
Over the years, we have found that it is almost always the delicious taste of our organic Kombucha that has turned Kombucha sceptics into Kombucha evangelists! Not only can you explore different flavours for each season of the year, but you can also use Kombucha as a living, healthy and delicious swap for many other drinks, such as juice, soft drinks, and alcohol. Supplements on the other hand, whilst convenient, are pretty boring in terms of adding flavour to our eating and drinking habits.
A good, high quality probiotic supplement can cost a lot of money, especially from specialty health food shops. Probiotic rich foods and drinks like Kombucha can be bought in multiple formats and pack sizes, which can save you money in the long run – like our multipacks or create your own boxes.
Of course, we are all made differently and no one person’s gut microbiome is the same as another’s. This is one of the challenges when taking a probiotic supplement, as they often contain extremely high doses of probiotic cultures that can upset your stomach and digestion, (I can speak from experience on this one!). On the other hand, organic, raw, unpasteurised drinks like traditionally brewed Kefir and Kombucha contain naturally occurring beneficial bacteria that tend to be gentler on your gut and help to create overall health and wellbeing over time.
There is also the small issue of stomach acid when it comes to taking probiotic supplements. If you wish to try these, we recommend choosing a supplement with an enteric-coated capsule to make sure it gets to the gut alive!
Probiotic supplements are only designed for one thing, bringing bacteria to your gut, whereas other natural supplements – like Kombucha, kefir and yoghurt – have a multitude of benefits such as supporting our overall health and immune system, as well as assisting in better sleep and boosting our overall mood.
Why nutritionists recommend Kombucha as a great source of probiotics
In our recent guest blog James Hudson from Nutrition for Energy talks in detail about the link between Kombucha and sports. As well as diving into the various health benefits of a traditionally brewed Kombucha , he also talks directly to the benefits of the probiotics found in kombucha.
“Kombucha can be described as a probiotic drink because it contains live health-promoting bacteria that are beneficial for our microbiome. Our microbiome is the complex makeup of all the bacteria that live on and in us. We have a relationship with our bacteria where we help them, (by providing them food and a place to stay), and they help us (by protecting us from illness, helping to synthesise vitamins. The bottom line is, if we look after them as best we can, they can do the same to us.”
We must emphasise here that everyone is different, which means what works for someone else may not work for you. Whether you like drinking Kombucha, eating fermented vegetables or taking supplements, it’s important to have probiotics and maintain a healthy gut. If you want to see how kombucha can have a positive impact on the health of your microbiome, why not try creating your personalised case, full of the flavours that appeal to you the most?