“Long-lived mushroom drink“, “living elixir”, “drink of immortality” … Kombucha has many titles, all flattering. In China, Mongolia and Russia, this fermented beverage has been consumed for more than 2,000 years: traditional healers even consider it a “ natural remedy “. Today, it is possible to buy kombucha in some organic stores or on the internet – count around € 5 per liter.
Le kombucha, kézako? Also called “Manchurian mushroom”, kombucha (which means “tea algae” in Russian) is actually a living mixture made up of bacteria (Acetobacter and Pichia) and yeasts (Saccharomyces, Zygosaccharomyces and Brettanomyces). All this organic little world is left to macerate in a mixture of green tea (or black) + sugar for 8 to 10 days. In the end, we obtain a slightly sparkling and alcoholic fermented juice, whose acid taste is reminiscent of vinegar, cider or bitter tea.
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Kombucha: health benefits … which are not proven
Fermented and unpasteurized, kombucha is a real cultured broth in which we find many nutrients good for health: enzymes, polyphenols, probiotics, B vitamins, amino acids, mineral salts, malic acid, lactic acid, butyric acid …
This cocktail would have an almost miraculous effect on the body: if we listen to the followers of kombucha, this fermented drink would be effective against oxidative stress (a ” detox effect Obtained from the antioxidants in tea), and could also improve our digestion (the probiotics, very present, would balance the intestinal flora), boost our immune system (in particular thanks to an antioxidant which would form during fermentation, D-saccharic acid-1, 4-lactone), improve our joint health, promote weightloss, fight against some cancers… In short, kombucha would simply be a must. Ditto in sports, where kombucha would be ideal for improving performance.
The problem is, these benefits are not scientifically proven. Asked by our colleagues fromAtlantico, Dr. Réginald Allouche explains: “ the most serious publications on animals actually show powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects. Two studies even show preventive effects on certain cancers. Nevertheless, and I repeat it, the mouse is not the man and the extrapolation of these results to the man is not possible as it is. It is imperative to confirm these effects on humans before recommending this drink for its therapeutic action.”.
Worse: in April 2003, a German study (published on the website of the US National Library of Medicine) explained that “the effectiveness of this remedy could not be proven. However, doubts about the toxicity of this drink have been raised ”.
Kombucha : attention, danger !
The 1 problem with kombucha is that it is an unpasteurized drink: thus, during the fermentation, “parasitic” microorganisms (fungi in particular) can proliferate in the mixture … and cause serious infections, which can even lead to death. In addition, the container in which the maceration is carried out can also influence the toxicity of the drink: for example, some studies have found quite high levels of heavy metals (lead, in particular) in samples of kombucha.
In April 1995, two women aged 48 and 59 died after consuming “homemade” kombucha daily for 2 months (source).
To limit the risks, preference should therefore be given to kombucha purchased in stores, therefore prepared according to very strict hygiene standards. However, health authorities recommend that people with kidney and / or cardiovascular disorders seek medical advice before consuming this drink – pregnant and / or breastfeeding women, children as well as immunosuppressed people also present risks. Healthy, the kombucha? We have doubts …