If you haven’t already tried kombucha, you’ve likely at least heard about it—even if you aren’t totally sure what kombucha is. Popping up all over health food stores and making its way into nearly every influencer’s daily routine, kombucha tea is officially a trendy wellness drink—but does it really have as many health and beauty benefits as its fans claim? And is drinking it regularly even healthy at all? Because really, between your regular skin care routine, vowing to get more sleep, following a healthy diet, and participating in regular exercise, do you really need to add another item to your wellness roster? We dug into the scientific research on kombucha to sort out fact from fiction and find out whether or not you should drink up.
WHAT IS KOMBUCHA?
First off, what on Earth is kombucha? This dark-tinted, fizzy drink is actually fermented tea (typically green or black teas) and sugar, according to the Cleveland Clinic. The fermentation process leaves the drink ripe with probiotics, similar to other fermented foods like yogurt, kefir, and sauerkraut. It is these probiotics that are responsible for many, if not all, of kombucha’s benefit claims. And although it’s sometimes called mushroom tea, it doesn’t contain any mushrooms. Rather, according to the Mayo Clinic, it gets this nickname because the colony that grows on top of the tea during the fermentation process resembles a mushroom.
So, kombucha tea supposedly contains all of these beneficial probiotics, but what about the taste? Different people will tell you different things—some love it, and others recoil at the taste, per the Cleveland Clinic. It’s a mix of slightly sweet and slightly acidic, but beyond that, you’ll just have to try it out for yourself to find out whether or not you like it.
DOES KOMBUCHA HAVE HEALTH BENEFITS?
Is kombucha good for you? According to the Mayo Clinic, kombucha lovers claim that this fizzy drink helps maintain a healthy lifestyle for those with health-related concerns. However, most of these health claims are not supported by scientific research. Still, there is some research that provides some promise that kombucha may offer limited health benefits. Per the Mayo Clinic, limited evidence has shown that kombucha may offer similar benefits as probiotic supplements. According to the Cleveland Clinic, it’s likely that the benefits of kombucha can be attributed to the polyphenols that the tea contains. Polyphenols are antioxidants, a substance that reduces damage due to oxygen, such as that caused by free radicals.
Kombucha also contains B vitamins and some essential minerals and organic acids. Still, there just hasn’t been enough quality research to support the hype behind kombucha, including its purported health benefits. That’s not to say they aren’t potentially real, but perhaps they just aren’t as miraculous as kombucha enthusiasts would have you believe.
DOES KOMBUCHA HAVE BEAUTY BENEFITS?
Again here, research is limited—but there is some good news. Per the Cleveland Clinic, kombucha is rich in probiotics, and according to new research published by the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD), probiotics aren’t just beneficial for digestive health. It turns out that they can also help with the appearance of skin. What is it about probiotics that benefits the look of skin? According to the AAD, probiotics may help against isolated incidents of inflammation, redness, and bumps. When applied topically, probiotics can help keep harmful bacteria from irritating the skin.
Researchers are still studying how probiotics should be used—either applied topically or taken orally—for best results, which means more research is required to know whether or not consuming drinks such as kombucha can play any beneficial role in your skin care routine. So, if you are curious about kombucha, just keep in mind that more research needs to be done to determine if it offers any health or beauty benefits.
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