Fermented foods are somewhat of a health food miracle. But are they that good for us?
If you’ve been keeping up with the latest health trends, you may have noticed that fermented foods are making a few waves.
One fermented food, in particular, has caught the eye of many health-conscious moms and health bloggers lately, causing a mini-revolution in the health industry, and that fermented food is kombucha.
Either you've seen it for a hugely marked up price in your local grocery store, or you've come across a small stall of it at your local farmers market. If you've been lucky enough, you've even seen it peeking around the corner of your best friends' pantry in the form of a SCOBY.
SCOBY, or Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria and Yeast, is the bread and butter of kombucha. It's this weird, alien-like thing that sits floating in its own juices in the dark recesses of your pantry for a minimum of seven days.
This is after you’ve swirled it with a wooden spoon five and a half times and added the other necessary ingredients that will come together and create nothing short of a miracle for the gut.
Jokes aside, kombucha is an excellent alternative to those nasty sugary drinks that have dominated the advertising market for the past twenty years. The trillion billion live bacteria you can’t see swimming around will eventually find their way to your gut where they’ll begin the gargantuan task of reversing all the damage you’ve done to it thus far.
Don’t get me wrong, it really is great. We’re all being told we need to think about our guts more and kombucha is the way forward. It tastes great – kind of like champagne without the alcohol – and it’s inputting a bunch of good bacteria into your body.
However, like everything in life, it's got some disadvantages, too. Every time a new health craze comes along, it can be tempting to be gung-ho about it and pale at the thought of tarnishing it with a downside.
I remember doing this with green tea when I first realized just how amazing it was. I was pumping so much green tea into my body that I may as well have been drip feeding it. It wasn’t until I was a few months in that I realized how much caffeine green tea has, which forced me to reduce my hourly intake.
The reality is, though, that there’s rarely a health craze that doesn’t have a downside, and this applies to fermented foods as much as anything else. Remember that saying ‘too much of a good thing’? Well, it’s real, and it applies here.
There are two main reasons why it's worth approaching fermented foods like kombucha with a little sprinkling of reality. The first is your gut. While kombucha may be the new natural gut health remedy, it needs a healthy diet to do its thing.
If you’re drinking kombucha and then eating burgers and pizza for dinner, there’s not a lot it can do for you and your gut. It’s not a shortcut to amazing gut health. This is because kombucha isn’t an alternative to feeding our gut healthy food. The bacteria in kombucha are going to benefit you a lot more if they’re being complemented with a varied diet that includes lots of fiber.
Secondly, you’ve still got to watch out for the sugar content. Yes, one of the biggest ways kombucha is now being marketed is the claim that it’s a non-sugary alternative to soft drinks and juice. However, the sugar content of commercial kombucha can vary greatly, which means you still need to check the label before you buy it.
I thought I would surprise you with a bonus downside to kombucha – I'm feeling somewhat sassy today. Another reason why you need to be wary about your fermented foods intake is that of the acid. Kombucha contains high levels of acid, which can quickly start to wear away at your teeth if you're not careful. This would be a good time to get out the bamboo straws.
In saying all this, kombucha is still a much better option for drinking juice and soft drink. However, like anything we get sold on these days, it's worth shopping around and getting to know both sides of the story.
You’ll find that when it comes to fermented foods, there’s nothing that can replace a healthy, varied diet. If you complement your diet with fermented foods like kombucha, you’ll end up with great gut health.
When it comes to making your own kombucha, I recommend the Kombucha Homebrew Kit which you can get here. If you’re interested in learning more about kombucha and how it helps the gut, check out The Big Book of Kombucha.
Subscribe for more ways to complement your healthy, varied diet. What’s your favorite of the fermented foods? Let me know!