As you probably already know, kombucha is all the rage right now and cracking a crisp, cold kombucha after Pilates, is basically the wellness equivalent of what coffee is to men in Lyrca. Gone are the days of having to track down a random on Gumtree to exchange a scoby (that's a blob of symbiotic bacteria and yeast FYI) so you could brew your own at home. Kombucha is everywhere, it's expensive and it's bloody delicious. And we are kind of addicted.
Initially, we thought it was a great move to replace our craving for a sweet treat in the evening with a glass of fizzy tea. After all, it's not just a drink, it's a drink WITH health benefits (which makes justifying the price per litre easier). But then we found ourselves going a little too hard on the probiotic stuff. Had our good kombucha habit gone bad? Should we really be spending the equivalent of a new pair of shoes on kombucha a month? Is this habit even healthy?
In order to put our minds to rest, we consulted Dr. Sam Hay to get the low down on what gut health actually means, if too much kombucha is bad for you (or just your finances) and learn about the affordable healthy gut substitute most of us already have in our pantries.
Keep reading to keep your insides happy!
POPSUGAR AUSTRALIA: What does gut health mean?
Dr. Sam Hay: The meaning of gut health could be a number of different things — being regular, helping with nutrient absorption as well as a healthy microbiome. Good gut bacteria also helps in building our immunity and protecting us from illness and there is some emerging research that is suggests it may even help with the production of serotonin, which is a key player when it comes to influencing your mood.
PS: What are your general thoughts on kombucha as it relates to gut health?
Dr. Sam: Kombucha may have become mainstream, however not many Aussies know that it's been around for thousands of years! For those unfamiliar, kombucha is a sweetened tea that's been fermented with a scoby (symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast), making it full of great probiotics and good additional resource for maintaining good gut health.
PS: Is it possible to drink too much Kombucha?
Dr. Sam: Like with many things in life, it is possible to have too much of a good thing and it's important to maintain a good balance when it comes to your diet. While there haven't been any official reports against kombucha, it is important to remember that the ingredients used to make kombucha delicious can have other health concerns. For instance, depending on the type of kombucha you drink (some are flavoured), it does contain sugar as part of the fermentation process and can contain high levels of caffeine from the tea. Kombucha also contains lactic acid which, when consumed in excess, can impact your blood stream.
PS: What alternative supplements would you recommend instead of kombucha for gut health?
Dr. Sam: What many people tend to forget is that we can take great care of our gut health without all the supplements and superfoods, it doesn't need to be complicated. While probiotic foods such as yoghurt, kombucha and kimchi are great for adding in new good bacteria to help maintain a healthy gut — many people could be missing out on some every day goods that actually help to feed the good guys in our gut — foods with fibre. This means we don't need to break the bank buying expensive supplements to start improving out gut health, as there are plenty of affordable fibre rich foods available in the local supermarket. For instance, breakfast cereals with fibre are a great place to start and are a really affordable option for the whole family,
PS: You've mentioned gut bacteria requires fibre to survive, could you explain more about this process and why eating adequate fibre is important for gut health?
Dr. Sam: Fibre, especially grain fibre, is an important food source for the good bacteria living in our gut, however, less than half of us (47 percent) are aware of this fact, according to new research from Kellogg's. You might be drinking as much kombucha as you can every day and spending loads on probiotic supplements but at the end of the day, you need to be feeding your gut bacteria with fibre.
Fibre feeds the good guys in our gut and helps them to multiply.
When the good bacteria outnumber the bad ones, they tend to be put in their place and don't act up. This is because fibre makes it all the way to the colon still intact. This is where the good guys get to work and break it down, acting as a food source for good bacteria like Bifidobacterial and Lactobacillus (to name a few), helping them to survive and thrive.
PS: How much fibre should the average person be looking to eat a day for gut health?
Dr. Sam: While grains and a more balanced approach to eating it starting to make a comeback, according to the Grains & Legumes Nutrition Council, there's still a large percentage of Aussies (as many as 47 percent) who are limiting or avoiding grains due to concerns around preservatives, health issues, weight management and gluten avoidance. We know that around two out of three Australian adults, and one in two children, are not meeting their daily adequate intake for dietary fibre — which is 25 g for women and 30 g for men.
PS: Do we need to be spending our money on special drinks (kombucha) and supplements for optimal gut health?
Dr. Sam: To be honest, you don't. There are so many products in the market today that promise weight loss and healthy living, that is comes to no surprise to me that half of all Aussies (51 percent) feel more confused than ever when it comes to what foods are 'healthy'. With that in mind, to avoid confusion it's always best to keep it simple and stick to the basics. Having a balanced diet including vegetables, fruit and high fibre grains — like breakfast cereal or grainy bread — will help you maintain a healthier gut. What's the best about these foods is that you don't need to spend a fortune as they can be found at your local grocer, or even in your pantry.