Kombucha & Gut Health: Here’s What You Need to Know

Treat yourself to this fizzy probiotic drink.

By: Lexy Parsons

Fizzy and refreshing, kombucha is one of the trendiest drinks on the market. Full of gut-healthy probiotics, this fermented drink is just as delicious as it is healthy! In case you didn’t know, our gut — also known as our second brain — is essential for overall health. It plays a key role in immunity, mood, digestion, sleep, and so much more! With such a fundamental role in our body, of course, we want to keep our gut microbiome healthy and nourished. A simple way to do so? Feed it with all the gut-healthy nutrients! And that’s where kombucha comes in. Loaded with gut-boosting nutrients, kombucha is thought to make an excellent addition to a gut-healthy diet. But, as with anything else, not all kombucha is created equal! There are a few (very important factors) to consider when it comes to drinking kombucha for gut health. But, we get it — with so many brands and products on the market, it can be hard to know what to look for. 

So, what do you need to look for to make sure the kombucha you are drinking is as healthy as it’s made out to be? Ahead, we’re breaking down everything you need to know. 

What is Kombucha & How is It Made?

For starters, kombucha is a slightly-sweet, slightly-sour fizzy drink made from fermented tea. Unlike most fizzy drinks — like seltzer and soda — kombucha is filled with an abundance of gut-healthy bacteria — all thanks to the fermentation process. In fact, this fermentation process is what sets kombucha apart from other fizzy drinks when it comes to gut health! 

Fermentation & Gut Health

So, how exactly is kombucha made? The base of kombucha — typically green or black tea—– is combined with healthy bacteria, yeast, and sugar. This mixture is then left to ferment for a period of time. During fermentation, live bacteria feed on and break down the sugar, converting it into the gut-healthy beverage we know as kombucha. And yes, sugar is key to the fermentation process! But that doesn’t necessarily mean all kombucha beverages are sugar-rich. The sugar content is largely dependent upon the length of fermentation: the longer the mixture ferments, the less sugar there is. 

Extended fermentation time means more sugar consumed by yeast. This sugar is then converted to alcohol, which is then converted to acetic acid by bacteria. Sounds complicated, we know! But, all you have to know is if brewed mindfully, the amount of sugar remaining in the final kombucha mixture is typically low. This is why it’s important to shop mindfully! Because, as you can see, not all kombucha is created equal. 

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Healthy Kombucha: How to Shop for A Gut-Healthy Blend

It’s hard to go into any grocery store without finding countless different kombucha options. However, with so many options, how do you find a kombucha full of gut-healthy benefits? Knowing whether or not the kombucha you are drinking regularly is healthy can be as simple as taking a peek at the nutrition label. The great news is that everything you need to know in regards to added ingredients is going to be listed right on the back of the bottle. 

When it comes to determining the health benefits of store-bought kombucha, it all depends on the brand, quality, and of course, added ingredients. Here are some of the qualities that make kombucha healthy, along with ingredients to avoid.

Only Choose Kombucha That’s Refrigerated 

If your kombucha of choice isn’t in the fridge section, it’s an automatic no. Similar to other probiotic-rich foods (like yogurt and kefir), kombucha requires refrigeration — this keeps the healthy bacteria intact! 

Avoid Blends High In Sugar 

First things first, check the sugar content! Yes, sugar is a key ingredient in the kombucha process. So, naturally, it should be a prime ingredient on the label. But, remember: most of that sugar is going to be consumed during the fermentation process. That said, the final kombucha product can yield a sour and tart taste. Because of this, many brands add (a lot) of additional sugar to the mix. It’s this excessive amount of added sugar you’ll need to watch out for.

Steer Clear of Sneaky Ingredients 

Be on the lookout for unnecessary ingredients. If you can’t pronounce or recognize it — we’re looking at you artificial colors, preservatives, and additives —  steer clear! 

Any kombucha that contains artificial and unnecessary additives isn’t going to give you the health-promoting benefits a high-quality kombucha would. In fact, it could actually have the opposite effect on your health — causing more harm than good. 

Generally speaking, you’ll want to stick to brands that contain just the ingredients required to make the kombucha: water, tea, and sugar. Of course, natural additives — like ginger or lemon — are great too! 

The Best Store-Bought Kombucha Brands

Ready to sip on a refreshing and fizzy kombucha to promote better gut health? Here are some of our favorite brands. 

Feeling adventurous? Make your own kombucha using a home brewing kit you can find online or at your local health food store. 

The Bottom Line 

With a little know-how, shopping for healthy kombucha is easy. It makes an excellent gut-boosting beverage choice and can provide you with a hefty dose of probiotics. If you are mindful of the kind of kombucha you add to your diet, you can do wonders for your gut! Aside from sipping on a store-bought beverage, try using kombucha as the base for your mocktail or cocktail. It’s a yummy way to uplevel any beverage with a gut-healthy boost.