Kombucha and the Benefits of Good Gut Health
Melissa Blackburn Borg CNP (Hons.), Holistic Nutritionist, Canadian Health Recovery Centre
6 July 2016
Kombucha is the health drink your gut is begging for! It seems just about everywhere you go these days someone is talking about kombucha. What was once a mysterious liquid, whose benefits were only known to the savvy few that roamed the health food aisles, is now becoming a household name. Although some of the health benefits of kombucha are becoming more well known, there is still some mystery that not only surrounds its origins but also some of its benefits.
The mysterious tale of the origins of kombucha begins around 221 BC during the Tsin Dynasty where its use was first recorded as the “Tea of Immortality.” From China, it would travel the tea routes and eventually found itself in Japan. It is said that in Japan in 415 AD, the “Tea of Immortality” was used to treat Emperor Inyko and received its modern name, “Kombu” after the Korea physician who treated the Emperor and “cha” meaning tea. Legend has it that the Samurai carried it in wine skins to give them the energy they needed for battle. From there, kombucha would travel the tea routes into Russia and the rest of Europe where it would be used for centuries.
Kombucha, or “booch” as it is affectionately known, is an effervescent living health drink that is made from fermenting tea with the help of sugar and a culture known as a SCOBY or symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast. As the SCOBY digests the sugar, it produces a wide range of organic acids (acetic, gluconic, and lactic), B vitamins, vitamin C, amino acids and enzymes which can be linked to with the following health benefits.
- Detoxification and Immune Health
- Improved Digestion and Gut Health
- Balanced Mood
Detoxification and Immune Health
One of kombucha’s greatest health benefits is aiding the body in the detoxification process. Detoxification is an integral part of addiction recovery, as drugs and alcohol create free radicals that can cause wide spread inflammation throughout the body. Kombucha is rich in enzymes, vitamin C and organic acids that your body needs to detoxify your system, lessening the burden on your liver. Vitamin C is a natural antioxidant that helps scavenge toxic substances, such as heavy metals, and render them harmless so they can be removed from the body. Vitamin C is also key to supporting immune health as it helps eliminate free radicals in the body as well as protect against cell damage and inflammatory diseases.
Improved Digestion and Gut Health
Benefits to digestion and gut health are possibly the most well-known benefits of kombucha. This is because it contains high amounts of organic acids, enzymes, and natural probiotics that are found in kombucha that make it so beneficial to gut health. Enzymes play a role in almost every bodily function, including the break down of food for energy. While the body manufactures a supply of enzymes, obtaining enzymes from food is important so the body doesn’t become overwhelmed. Probiotics play an important role in our gut health, as they help feed and fill our gut with the good bacteria that are necessary for not only gut health but also immune health as 70% of our immune system is in our gut.
The important probiotics found in kombucha goes beyond gut health, as gut bacteria have been found to play a significant role in the communication that happens between your brain and your gut. Recent studies have shown that certain bacteria in the gut have the ability to promote a “feel good mood”. How is it that our guts can influence our mood? Well, microorganisms in your gut secrete a large number of chemicals such as serotonin, dopamine and gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) used by neurons to communicate and regulate mood. Serotonin, for example, plays a role in regulating mood, appetite and sleep, the right amount of serotonin produces a relaxed positive feeling, and 80- 90% of it is made in our gut! Increasing the good bacteria in the gut can have a direct effect on increasing the amount of GABA receptors in the brain. With more GABA receptors available in the brain the more GABA is being put to use in the body. This is especially important when managing mood in addiction recovery as a decrease in GABA receptors has been linked to mood disorders like chronic depression and anxiety.
Melissa Blackburn Borg CNP (Hons.) is a Holistic Nutritionist at the Canadian Health Recovery Centre in Peterborough, Ontario
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