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Is Kombucha Gluten-Free?

Kombucha is something that many millions of people all over the world have enjoyed, but we are often found left with questions such as what is in it or how is it made? Anyone who has Celiac disease or even the slightest grievance with gluten will often want to know if there is any trace of gluten in Kombucha.

It is often why we found ourselves asking the hard question is Kombucha gluten-free? I wanted to explore this in more detail and see if there is any gluten in Kombucha, while hopefully covering some of the other burning questions you might have. 

A few glasses and a jar of kombucha.

Why would you need to know ask is Kombucha gluten-free? 

You may be wondering why you might need to ask yourself this question? People who struggle with their gut health because of gluten intolerance or celiac disease need to understand whether certain foods, ingredients, and drinks contain any traces of gluten.

If they do happen to ingest something that has gluten it can cause immense digestive issues and impact your immune function. This is why it is so important to read the labels and understand what ingredients contain gluten and what you can safely consume. 

What is Kombucha? 

So what is Kombucha? To put it simply, it is a sweet and sour fizzy drink that is made with tea and fruit juices. There are even some scientific claims, albeit yet to be proven with confidence, that Kombucha has a wide variety of health benefits. But more on that later!

Kombucha has been around for almost 2,000 years. It was first brewed in China but rapidly spread east to Russia and beyond.

It became popular in Europe in the early 20th century. Sales in the United States are on the rise because of its reputation as a health and energy drink.

​What does Kombucha do for you? 

It has been promoted today as being a health drink with lots of natural ingredients and beneficial bacteria that can help in a number ways.

There have been cases where kombucha has said to have helped people with AIDS, cancer, hair loss, and digestive system issues.

It is also said to boost energy levels and rid your body of any bad toxins. There are links to reducing high blood pressure and can aid with weight loss. 

A glass of kombucha tea.

What ingredients make Kombucha? 

The basic ingredients in kombucha are yeast, sugar, and black tea. Many manufacturers will use organic ingredients to help keep with that whole heath exterior. The mix is set aside for a week or more.

During that time, bacteria and acids form in the drink, as well as a small amount of alcohol. This process is known as fermentation.

Very similar to how cabbage is preserved as sauerkraut or kimchi, or how milk is turned into yogurt. These bacteria and acids form a film on top of the liquid.

This is called a SCOBY (symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast). You can use a SCOBY to ferment more kombucha. Kombucha bacteria includes lactic-acid bacteria, which can work as a probiotic.

Kombucha also contains a healthy dose of B vitamins.

How is Kombucha made? 

It is made using a fermentation process of the live cultures that uses different ingredients which develops over time.

Kombucha does have a tiny amount of alcohol, as a byproduct of the fermentation process, but you don’t need an ID to get it.

To put it into perspective, most kombuchas have between 0.5 percent and 3 percent alcohol content. As an example against other alcoholic drinks, a domestic light beer will have around 4.2 percent and most wines have around 12 to 14 percent alcohol content.

Yes, you could class it as an alcoholic beverage, but with the percentages so slight it really won't affect you in the way normal alcohol would. 

A chalkboard that says kombucha with a glass of it and straws.

The benefits of Kombucha

The main health benefits of kombucha say it helps your digestion, rids your body of toxins, and boosts your energy. It’s also said to boost your immune system, help you lose weight, ward off high blood pressure and heart disease, and prevent cancer.

But there’s not a lot of evidence to support these claims. Fermented products in general are good for the microbiome and gut health.

Fermentation makes probiotics which help with diarrhea and irritable bowel syndrome which causes abdominal pain, and they may even strengthen your immune system.

When kombucha is made from green tea, you get its benefits, too. This includes bioactive compounds, such as polyphenols, that act as antioxidants.

Antioxidants protect your cells from damage. Green tea may also help you burn fat which will aid with weight loss and protect you from heart disease.

There is also associations with medical conditions to do with the digestive system. Studies in animals show that the drink lowers cholesterol and blood sugar levels, among other things.

But research hasn’t shown that it has the same effects in people.

Are there any risks?

Making kombucha involves letting bacteria grow in a liquid you’re going to drink. Many of the bacteria are considered probiotics, but if it’s not prepared properly, it can grow harmful bacteria or mold.

Since the mid-1990s, several cases of illness and at least one death have been reported in people who drank kombucha.

Ailments included liver problems, lactic acidosis, allergic reactions, and nausea. 

A jar of kombucha and a glass of it on wooden slabs.

Can you make your own Kombucha?

Believe it or not, there are recipes online that will help you make this fermented drink at home. Using a starter culture you can develop the good bacteria over time with the help of organic ingredients.

However, it isn't recommended that you to make the finished product at home.

Most breweries or bars associated with a brewery may sell it on tap, and you can get organic Kombucha and regular kombucha in stores where you can be assured that the fermentation process has been done to the highest hygeine standards. 

Other uses of Kombucha in your diet

Would you believe that you can use gluten-free kombucha in some incredible recipes? The flavors that are associated with the health drink not only work with savory dishes but also add much-needed nutrients and antioxidants to things you might already make.

Kombucha can be a great ingredient to add to gluten free soups or casseroles and adds delicious flavors to a gluten-free recipe. Perfect if you have gluten sensitivities or need to rule it out completely. 

Is Kombucha gluten-free? 

The short answer is mostly yes! The best thing to do would be to check the final product label of the fermented tea drink.

This will ensure that there are no gluten-containing grains being used in any of the process of making kombucha.

Most brands of kombucha that you can get in the supermarket will sell kombucha that is suitable for people that have a gluten-related disorder or celiac disease. 

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