Utonic Kombucha is made with a base of sweetened green tea. A symbiotic culture of acetic acid bacteria and yeast, known as SCOBY ferments the tea and this is when the magic happens. Yeast converts the sugar to alcohol and the bacteria convert the alcohol to acetic acid. The resulting effervescent slightly sour drink, contains very little sugar and very little alcohol (less than 0.5% alcohol by volume) (Food Standards Australia New Zealand classifies drinks below 0.5% as non-alcohol). The fermentation process also results in the generation of healthy bacteria which are thought to be beneficial to gut health and health in general. So what does this all mean?
Our gut is made of billions of bacteria and microorganisms, commonly referred to as our gut microbiome which can influence many aspects of health (Flint et al 2013). Everyone has a different microbiome and there is no one ideal ‘healthy gut’ however achieving a good balance of beneficial bacteria can be beneficial to health (Flint et al 2013. The microbiome begins to develop very early in life and later in life is influenced by many factors. Nutrition has a major role in shaping the composition of microbiota especially the macronutrients (carbohydrate, protein and fat) and types of foods we eat (Conlon 2015). Exercise can also impact microbiota with as study in athletes showing an increase in the diversity of gut microbial populations in response to exercise and a prescribed diet (Clarke 2014). Stress impacts colonic motor activity via the gut-brain axis which can alter gut microbiota profiles, including lower numbers of potentially beneficial Lactobacillus (Lutgendorff et al 2008). The gut-brain axis is also bi-directional, involving both hormonal and neuronal pathways (Grenham et al 2011), and so changes in the gut microbiota may influence brain activity, including mood (Clarke et al 2011). These are just some factors that play a role.
Gut health and nutrition
Consuming a range of fibres, minimising food high in saturated fat and reducing excessive meat intake may be the best way to a healthy gut. Including foods containing live beneficial bacteria from fermented foods such as Kombucha, kefir, kimchi and probiotic supplements may also be of benefit however this benefit may only last while they are being used and therefore need to be continued in the long-term (Conlon et al 2015).
Studies using probiotic containing foods such as kombucha and their direct effect on human health are limited however studies using probiotic supplements are increasingly showing beneficial effects on health. Although supplements contain different strains of bacteria and in greater numbers, the bacteria in fermented foods may contribute to human health in a manner similar to probiotics (Marsh et al 2014).
Kombucha has a number of beneficial properties. The obvious being its microbial content. A study looked at the bacterial diversity of kombucha and found that the samples analyzed mainly contained Acetobacterand Gluconacetobacter. These are both genera of bacteria that can produce acetic acid and are responsible for the vinegar flavor that comes through in a lot of kombuchas.A prominent Lactobacillus population was also identified (Marsh et al 2014). These levels will differ between different Kombucha beverages.
Organic acids also contained in kombucha may also be of benefit through its role in improved detoxification (Wang et al 2014). Vitamin B and folic acid as well as the phenols natural found in tea are also present (Dufresne et al 2000).
Ingredients: Green tea, sugar*, yeast, symbiotic culture of acetic acid bacteria (SCOBY)
*The sugar in Utonic Kombucha is used during the fermentation process leaving zero sugar in the final product.
Clarke, G.; Grenham, S.; Scully, P.; Fitzgerald, P.; Moloney, R.D.; Shanahan, F.; Dinan, T.G.; Cryan, J.F. The microbiome-gut-brain axis during early life regulates the hippocampal serotonergic system in a sex-dependent manner. Mol. Psychiatry 2013, 18, 666–673.
Clarke S.F, Murphy E.F, O’Sullivan O, Lucy A.J, Humphreys M, Hogan A, Hayes P, O’Reilly M, Jeffrey I.B, Wood-Martin R et al. Exercise and associated dietary extremes impact on gut microbial diversity. Gut 2014, 63, 1913-1920.
Conlon MA and Bird AR. The impact of diet and lifestyle on Gut Microbiota and Human health. Nutrients. 2015, 7, 17-44.
Dufresne C and Farnsworth E. Tea, kombucha and health: a review. Food Research International, 2000, 33:6, 409-421.
Flint HJ, Scott KP, Louis P, Duncan SH. The role of the gut microbiota in nutrition and health. Nature Reviews Gastroenterology and Hepatology, 2012, 9, 5770589.
Gleeson M, Bishop N.C, Oliveira M, Tauler P. Daily probiotics (Lactobacillus casei Shirota) Reduction of infection incidence in athletes. International Journal of Sport Nutrition and exercise metabolism, 2011, 21:2 55-64.
Grenham, S.; Clarke, G.; Cryan, J.F.; Dinan, T.G. Brain-gut-microbe communication in health and disease. Front. Physiol. 2011, 2, 94.
Lutgendorff, F.; Akkermans, L.M.A.; Soderholm, J.D. The role of microbiota and probiotics in stress-induced gastrointestinal damage. Curr. Mol. Med. 2008, 8, 282–298.
Marsh AJ, O’Sullivan O, Hill C, Ross RP, Cotter PD. Sequence-based analysis of the bacterial and fungal compositions of multiple kombucha (tea fungus) samples. Food Microbiology, 2014, 38, 171-178.
Wang Y, Ji B, Wu W, Wang R, Yang Z, Zhang D et al. Hepatoprotective effects of kombucha tea: identification of functional strains and quantification of functional components. Journal of the science of food and agriculture. 2014, 94, 265-272.
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