The simplest description of kombucha is that it is fermented tea. Sure, we all know what tea is, but what exactly is fermentation? And how could a whole generation of Americans have been raised thinking “fermented” means “rotten and moldy” or “alcoholic” when for millennia fermentation has been inextricably linked to human survival? The good news is that fermentation’s stock is on the rise, and kombucha is a big reason why.
The stress response is one of the body’s most valuable defense mechanisms. When our body perceives a threat, a snap decision must be made — fight or flight. Adrenaline and cortisol are released to increase heart rate, sharpen the senses, and prepare muscles for quick action. This is exactly what we need when surviving in the wild.
The modern human, however, confronts multiple stressors — almost always non-life-threatening — on a daily basis, and this over activation of the stress response has proven detrimental to our health, creating a host of adverse effects on the body.
While many medications and treatments can alleviate the symptoms of chronic overstimulation of the stress response, they don’t tend to address the source of the problem, which is that modern humans are stressed out to the max. There are solutions: making time for exercise, getting enough sleep, enjoying the company of good friends, communing with nature, taking time to unplug from the doom-and-gloom news and electronic media. Adding kombucha to the mix can help too! Here are five ways kombucha relieves stress.
1. Kombucha is an adaptogen
An adaptogen is a plant or plant-based derivative (fermented tea in this case) that normalizes and balances the body, benefiting the entire physiology rather than a specific organ or system. Adaptogens are generally very good sources of antioxidants, which eliminate free radicals that cause oxidative stress. They also provide liver protection, reduce cravings for sugar and alcohol, and boost immunity, energy, and stamina.
2. Kombucha supports healthy digestion
Kombucha regulates the digestive system by increasing the acidity of the gut. Gut acidity is crucial for easing digestion and absorbing nutrients from food. Stress often manifests in the gut as irritable bowel syndrome or ulcers, both of which are aided by improved digestion and acidity.
3. Kombucha contains B vitamins and vitamin C
Kombucha contains vitamins B1 (thiamine), B6, and B12, all of which are known to help the body fight depression, stabilize mood, and improve concentration. It also contains vitamin C, which suppresses the release of cortisol (one of the stress hormones). Higher levels of cortisol in the blood contribute to hypertension, depression, and impaired mental clarity.
Moreover, while these vitamins are found in kombucha in trace amounts, they are bioavailable — that is, they are in a form that the body has evolved to assimilate instantly. In contrast, oftentimes the vitamins in supplements are not easily assimilated by the body; they lack the cofactors or enzymes found in whole foods that are needed to catalyze the absorption process.
4. Drinking kombucha can reduce caffeine and sugar intake
Choosing kombucha over coffee as your morning eye-opener means less caffeine in your system. And the L-theanine in tea counteracts the harmful effects of caffeine, providing focused, calm energy.
5. Low amounts of alcohol have a beneficial effect on the body
Kombucha is not an alcoholic ferment like beer or wine, but it does contain trace amounts of alcohol. These naturally occurring low levels of alcohol increase feelings of well-being and decrease stress. Numerous studies show that moderate consumption of alcohol has many positive benefits.