The latest health food craze is one of the easiest fitness pitfalls out there. Being entirely honest, after spending countless hours reading the most recent articles available, slaving over the details, and even using myself as the test subject for many of these different schemes I've come to a solid conclusion: Nine out of ten of these silver bullets are nothing but snake oil. I've come to conclude that even with modern technology we understand astonishingly little about the human body, let alone the perfect fitness diet. That being said let's talk about the one out of ten that makes the grade. Kombucha! It passed my test, and if you give it a shot i believe that it could pass yours as well.
It’s probiotics, plain and simple. They are the exact opposite of the much more familiar antibiotics. Antibiotics kill bad bacteria and that’s a good thing, that is very true but it’s not the whole of the story. Most antibiotics really don’t care who they kill as long as it’s bacteria, which is a great thing for getting rid of a bacterial infection. However bacteria aren’t all bad guys. As it turns out the average human being’s total mass and body weight actually has a surprisingly large amount of it expressed as bacterial growth. Have you ever heard the concept that humans are mostly water? well let’s add on to that by saying that humans are mostly water and bacteria. So if you take antibiotics to kill off the bad guys so you won’t be sick anymore, plenty of good guys get caught in the crossfire and end up being innocent casualties in the process.
Recent studies show that the bacteria that colonize the small and large intestines as well as the colon are responsible for much more of the digestive process than we were really aware of before. So much so, that some scientific studies have even begun to suggest that the bacteria in our gut can lead us to make judgment calls that will lead the human host into choosing certain foods that those bacteria prefer! Whether or not these statements are true is not what I’m after here. I pointed that out so that I could stress to you how important our gut bacteria is, how little we actually know about it, and that it is usually an under appreciated topic of health and fitness.
There are many forms of probiotics out there, yogurt is a well known source. They are easily found on the shelves at a pharmacy in pill form. I’m a fan of Kombucha because I’m also a fan of tea. Kombucha has become easier and easier to find as it’s popularity has grown lately. You can get it at most grocery stores and now even gas stations have started carrying it. I would recommend you give one a try sometime. Here’s some do’s and don’ts as well as what you can expect.
So far what I’ve seen is 12oz bottles going for about $2-$5 and most of them are in a tea form. There are a few brands labelled as a probiotic drink, I prefer the teas. From what I’ve researched a few things you want to look for when choosing a bottle of kombucha are Certified organic, non GMO, Gluten free, and live biotic cultures are all words that should be printed somewhere on the label. These things are all naturally occurring in a good batch of kombucha and means that the manufacturer did their legwork to make their product legit. If it says kombucha on the bottle but you don’t see something like “Live biotic cultures” or a long taxonomic label such as lactobacillus chances are that it doesn’t contain the good guys you are hoping for. Brands Like Dr. Brew, Hummm, and Kevita are pretty legit and safe, but they aren’t the only brands out there. please bear in mind that Alcohol is naturally occurring in the fermentation process that makes it the good stuff it is. Usually less than %1 overall but still enough that most will have to state it on the label. So if you are avoiding alcohol for personal, religious, or health purposes this might not be for you. It’s not enough to get you drunk or even buzzed even if you slammed a case, but it’s still there. Which leads me to the next point. You might not like the taste, It’s an acquired taste to be sure, but one that I’ve come to enjoy. It has a “Funk” is the only way I can describe it. Once you hear there is trace amounts of alcohol in it, the funk makes total sense. Some people don’t like that taste at all but I actually have come to love it. There are particles in most Kombucha that settles at the bottom, a lot like Blue Moon beer has. Again this is from the fermentation process, most bottles will recommend that you do not shake the bottle, and keep it refrigerated. Because the bottles will foam up pretty good and spray everywhere much like a beer would.
I’ve started drinking a bottle of Kombucha about three times a week for six months and I am a huge advocate. After a terrible injury and a very aggressive cycle of antibiotics my guts where a nightmare. I couldn’t digest any foods properly, I had terrible indigestion, and I was visiting the bathroom on an almost comical basis for about two years after taking the antibiotics. I tried over the counter probiotic supplements and eating lots of yogurt. However it wasn’t until I heard about Kombucha on a podcast, happened upon a bottle at the local corner store and gave it a try that I had any real relief. It really was a life saver and helped me get back to normal. So if you have recently finished a cycle of antibiotics and need a helping hand give this a shot. It really helped me, and I bet it will help you too. However, you don’t have to be sick to the stomach to enjoy the benefits. Pick up a bottle and come to kombucha. You might just enjoy it!