Kombucha — A Cultured Drink
Hippocrates, often referred to as the father of modern medicine once said, “all disease begins in the gut”. The well being of your digestive tract and gut flora directly correlates with your physical, mental, and emotional state of health.
Epidemiological research observes a person’s gut flora and their overall state of health has lead to many new and interesting scientific discoveries in this field of human health. The truth is that microscopic bacteria and fungi (including yeasts and molds) are in every breath we take and every bite we eat. Without them, there would be no life! An estimated 100 trillion microorganisms (more than 500 different species) inhabit every healthy digestive tract. These microbial cultures are essential to life’s processes and eating and drinking fermented foods increase the biodiversity of good bacteria present in the body. Healthy gut flora helps to boost immunity and fight off harmful bacteria, as well as parasites, viruses, infections, and disease. Digestive concerns are not a fun topic of conversation and many suffer in embarrassment, worry, and discomfort over their rumbling and gurgling stomachs and constant episodes of cramping, bloating, and gas. Other than resulting in spending too much, or not enough time in the washroom, digestive concerns if left untreated, can have harmful long-term impacts on your health.
Improving the health of the digestive system is often a long process that involves achieving the right balance of “good” bacteria in our gut – however it is worth noting that this does not mean that other bacteria are by definition “bad”. Bacteria in our bodies (like all things in nature) have a role to play and the road to healing involves understanding our bacteria/body’s messages and acting on what may have caused advantageous (and possibly harmful) bacteria to overpopulate the digestive system and put added stress on the immune system. Once the process of eliminating what has caused dis-ease within the digestive system begins, the next step involves colonizing the right bacteria into the digestive tract that can allow one to maintain/restore optimal health and well being.
Fermented foods and beverages have existed in virtually every traditional diet as they were often consumed for their perceived health benefits. In light of knowledge new and old, nutritionists, health professionals, and educational organizations now frequently recommend fermented foods – like kombucha – as an important addition to a healthy lifestyle and digestive healing protocol. Each mouthful of fermented food can provide trillions of beneficial bacteria that will aid in the proper digestion of food; which can be far more than you can get from some probiotic supplements. In addition, by consuming fermented foods you receive the many benefits of a diet that includes plenty of whole raw foods.
Live, unpasteurized, fermented beverages like kombucha carry beneficial bacteria directly into our digestive systems where they exist symbiotically, breaking down food, increasing nutrient content, and aiding digestion. Fermentation also is a form of pre-digestion as it allows microbial cultures to begin breaking down the food and beverage even before we consume it rendering the nutrients within more available for our bodies to use. Microbial cultures in fermented beverages like Kombucha also create B vitamins, which provide energy. The kombucha fermentation process yields what is sometimes referred to as tea vinegar or mushroom tea that is a source of l-lactic acid, glucuranic acid, and acetic acid produced from the Symbiotic Culture Of Bacteria and Yeast (known as a SCOBY) that is added to the steeped tea with sugar to create this probiotic rich beverage.
While scientific research on kombucha in human experiments is minimal, more favourable evidence comes from practitioner’s clinical experience and personal anecdotal evidence passed down from generation to generation, or from brew masters around the world who have more recently found their passion making flavoured and hand crafted versions of this ancient elixir of life.
Shannon Kamins & Shawn Slade are owners of Booch Organic Kombucha which is homegrown right here in London, Ontario. You can find their products at fine London establishments (like the Cafe of Life) or visit their booth at the Outdoor Covent Garden Market on Saturdays from 8am-1pm.