Kombucha is a huge craze right now! If you don't live in an urban/semi-urban area with a bunch of yoga hippies and people concerned about their gut bacteria (like me, haha!), you may not know what kombucha is. Let me enlighten you. It's a fermented beverage made from tea, sugar, and a culture of yeast and bacteria, called a mushroom, or SCOBY (acronym for symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast). Fresh pressed fruit juice can be added to it as well to enhance the flavor. The reigning brand of store bought kombucha is GT's Kombucha (you can make your own, but really, ain't nobody got time for that!). They are everywhere. About 5 years ago I went to a health food store with my cousin, and she bought a kombucha. I had never heard of it before (gasp, and I was even living near LA at that time!) so I tried it, and I really liked it! It's sour and tastes fermented, almost like a light alcoholic cider. I got a little kick from it, from the caffeine, probiotics and small alcohol content I'm sure. It has very small amounts of caffeine, maybe up to 20 mg in a bottle. But it's hard to say, since a true kombucha just keeps brewing and fermenting once it's bottled (if it's unpasteurized). It's also impossible to contain the alcohol content of it unless it goes through pasteurization.
A few years ago, GT's Kombucha pulled it's product and had to re-label it, since it was found to contain more than 0.5% alcohol per bottle. In the US, if an item has more than this amount, it's considered an alcoholic beverage. So, they came out with a "light" version that contains less than 0.5% alcohol, basically it's just watered down, and their "original" was labeled for 21 and over, and yes, you have to show your ID to buy it. Crazy! Well, I went on drinking it, and would sometimes get the "light" version, sometimes the "alcoholic" version because I could honestly not tell the difference. I do not drink alcohol or caffeine, so once in a while, I liked the little jolt that the kombucha gave me. Plus, it's a fabulous alternative to soda, and tastes really good when it's super cold on a hot day! (sounds kinda like a beer, huh?)
At $3-5 a pop, kombucha IS NOT CHEAP!! Why would I pay this ridiculous amount for a beverage that's gone in 5 min or less?? Who knows, to look cool while I'm drinking one, for the flavor because I like it, or just for fun. Kind of like a Starbucks, no one really wants to pay that much, but they do because it fulfills some emotional hole or need. Yeah, so I really had no reason, and it really is like flushing money down the toilet! I tried to tell myself that I wasn't drinking it very much (maybe 4-6x a month), that I was getting the benefits, like the probiotics, the B12 vitamins, the gut balancing bacteria ... but at that price, it's honestly just not worth it. I truly believe that kombucha is mildly addictive as well. Even though I have the restraint to not consume it anymore, just writing about it right now makes me want one! That, my friends, is addiction.
So, what do I do instead of kombucha? Fermented food! Fermented herbs! Probiotics that work! Shakeology! I'll explain each one briefly:
- Fermented food (cultured vegetables) contain probiotics, beneficial bacteria and vitamins, minerals and enzymes that become potent during the fermentation process. If you are beginner, Bubbies is a good gateway kraut. My favs include Farmhouse Culture and Oregon Brineworks.
- Fermented herbs, also called Living Herbs. This fabulous tonic comes from Kefiplant, a company in Canada, that finds the highest quality herbs and ferments them for at least 3 months in their patented process. The result exponentially releases the healing quality of the herb, as well as provides beneficial bacteria, vitamins, minerals, and enzymes. I LOVE these and go through a bottle about every 2 weeks
- Probiotics, Garden of Life 100 Billion. This stuff does the trick. If you need to fight off candida, balance the gut, improve digestion, get regular, it works!!
- Shakeology is a synergistic blend of whole foods, herbs, plant protein, antioxidants, phytonutrients, adaptogens, pre & probiotics and digestive enzymes to deliver maximum nutrition, nutrient absorption, and dense nutrient goodness for very little calories. Made from the best raw super foods on the planet, each ingredient has been hand selected from growers around the world who produce the highest quality items, from chia seeds, sacha inchi, goji berries, acai berries, ashwagandha, to acerola cherry and spirulina ... the amount of goodness in each serving is almost too much to handle!! I have experienced so many benefits from Shakeology that I could (and will) do a whole blog article on it. It is not a "protein shake" or "meal replacement". It's a nutrient dense, alchemical, alkalizing blend of the most amazing ingredients on the planet for optimal health and vitality. Yes, it is that amazing!
What finally did me in to totally stop consuming kombucha was when I got one the other day where I had to be carded to buy it. I didn't think anything of it, and I thought it was silly! Then I really read the label on the bottle. I wish I had a picture of it. It said that it contains AT LEAST 0.5% alcohol. Hmmm. Then I realized that the kombucha will keep fermenting once bottled, and the alcohol content can't really be regulated or definitively declared. Ok, then this was the kicker. I saw a little blip on the label that said "This item is considered a beer" WHAT?!?!?! As someone whose faith promotes not drinking alcohol, and as someone who practices my faith and religion, I was a little jaded by this little blip on the label. I was drinking a beer. And wow, did this one affect me!! I only drank half of it and I was definitely buzzin for about half an hour. The next day, I had the rest of the bottle and felt the same. That is not the effect of 0.5% alcohol!! So, I threw it out, said my good-byes to kombucha, and I'm done with it!
I can get high quality probiotics from other sources, I already do, so that is what I will continue to do. I remember asking my instructor at the Nordblom American Institute of Footzonology what she thought of kombucha. She said that it could have a slight health benefit, but really it's only for entertainment. Well, there you go. I don't need to spend $3 on entertainment that lasts 5 min! Good-bye kombucha, I will be just fine without you ;)