Friday, January 13, 2012

4 Benefits of Kombucha Tea

Kombucha, a tea product traditionally associated with Asian cultures, is made by fermentation of black or other tea varieties with a several species of bacteria and yeasts. The kombucha microbe culture, which forms a solid mass at the surface of the tea, secretes a variety of bioactive substances, such as acids, enzymes, amino acids and antioxidant compounds. Many health benefits have been attributed to the consumption of kombucha, some of which have been supported by recent research.

Kidney Protection

Kombucha may protect kidneys from damaging effects of environmental pollutants, according to an Egyptian study published in the November 2009 "Chinese Medicine" journal. In the study, laboratory rats that received kombucha along with trichloroethylene -- an industrial solvent -- had significantly fewer indicators of oxidative stress, including oxidized lipids, free radicals and elevated liver enzymes, and higher levels of the antioxidant glutathione than a control group that did not receive kombucha. The researchers concluded that kombucha consumption may also benefit individuals with renal impairment.

Liver Protection

Liver-protective effects of kombucha against the toxic effects of the cleaning solvent carbon tetrachloride were demonstrated in an Indian study on rats published in the April 2009 "Journal of Microbiology and Biotechnology." Levels of liver enzymes and malondialdehyde, a toxic byproduct of lipid oxidation, were observed to decrease in response to treatment with kombucha. The study also compared kombucha to black tea and tea processed to contain fungus enzymes and found that, while all three teas have the ability to reverse liver damage caused by carbon tetrachloride, kombucha was the most effective.

Anticancer and Antibiotic Properties

Kombucha exhibited anticancer and antibiotic properties in a Serbian study published in the July-September 2008 "Journal of the Balkan Union of Oncology." The study compared two different types of tea plants, black tea and winter savory tea, as well as fermented -- kombucha -- and unfermented forms of the teas. Kombucha teas had antibacterial effects against all investigated bacteria except one. Comparable tumor-inhibiting properties were obtained from kombucha teas made from both tea plants, with the fermented form of winter savory tea showing 20 percent greater inhibitory activity than its unfermented form.

Combination with Kefir

Bacteria in kefir -- a fermented milk product -- promoted the production of the major functional bacteria in kombucha in a Chinese study published in the January 2010 "Applied Biochemistry and Biotechnology" journal. The symbiotic relationship prompted the researchers to recommend a mixture of kefir cultures with kombucha cultures in the development of starter cultures for the manufacture of kombucha, thereby combining the health benefits of the two fermented products without the dairy components of kefir, which may be objectionable to some consumers.

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