The rise of the 'healthy eating' era has been extremely beneficial for the large majority of people, but also extremely confusing and misleading for others. It seems like in every isle at the supermarket has some type of superfood that we have to get our hands on. Anything from kombucha to sauerkraut to hemp seeds and goji berries. Are these foods, specifically fermented foods, really that good for us?
For anyone that's been living under a rock for the past few years, here's a quick recap of one of the most popular fermented foods - kombucha:
Kombucha is a fermented beverage made on either green or black tea consumed by many for health reasons. This probiotic rich drink originates for China and has been around for centuries, however has only become popular in Western societies in the last few years.
It can taste a bit sour with a hint of sweetness depending on whats added to it. The base is the tea and then sugar is added to it along with a bacteria or yeast strain which makes it ferment. The live culture eats the sugar that is added to the drink which is why the sugar content on some is often lower than expected. The process is similar to making beer or wine and other fermented products.
Many people consume this drink thinking that they are doing a good think for their health, particularly their gut health as they contain probiotics. This isn't always an issue, however most people are walking around with a bit of a bad gut with anything from a bacteria shift to IBD. Consuming fermented products such as kombucha can often make these conditions worse. If you have a yeast overgrowth in the gut or have had candida then its probably a good idea to steer clear from fermented products for the time being.
The sugar content in a lot of commercial kombucha drinks can still be quite high despite the yeast eating the sugar during the fermentation process. This one in particular contains 4.9g of sugar PER SERVE - this bottle contains 2 serves so most of you are consuming 10g of sugar per bottle, or 2 1/2 teaspoons of sugar. Compared to a can of coke that contains around 53g of sugar, komucha is definitely a better alternative if you want something sweet and bubbly but should not be consumed on a daily basis.
They way that the komucha is stored and transported is still an area of concern. As the probiotic culture is live, it must remain chilled in a cool environment other it will die and is then useless. The majority of the kombucha beverages out there available to us are unfortunately transferred from shop to shop without being kept at a cool temperature and some are even found on supermarket shelves, not in the fridge. This turns the once healthy and probiotic rich drink into nothing more that bubbly tea. In addition to this, some popular brands are now starting to use plastic bottles instead of glass which is another cause for concern, especially for the environment!
If you are after a little treat then kombucha is definitely a better alternative than a can of soft drink - just beware of the so called health claims and make sure you choose a brand that ticks all the boxes!