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Knowledge: Kombucha

Kombucha

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Kombucha is a fermented black tea (Camellia sinensis) drink of Asian origin. However, it has gained popularity in the West due to its therapeutic effects. Kombucha is produced by symbiotic fermentation of sugared tea using a symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast (SCOBY) commonly called a “mother” or “mushroom”. While osmophilic yeasts ferment sugar in tea and produce ethanol, bacteria oxidize alcohol, and make acetic acid. Other organic acids are formed in addition to acetic acid, such as gluconic, lactic, malic, citric, and tartaric, which have antibacterial activity and prevent kombucha contamination by pathogenic bacteria.

The beneficial effects of kombucha are attributed to the presence of probiotic microorganisms (acetic and lactic bacteria), amino acids, polyphenols from tea, sugars, organic acids, ethanol, water-soluble vitamins, and a variety of micronutrients produced during fermentation.

Regarding flavor, kombucha is slightly acidic and slightly carbonated, which provides greater acceptance among consumers. It can be a low-alcoholic substitute for sparkling wines or soft drinks due to its high carbonation degree, constituting a healthier alternative. Kombucha can be found in non-alcoholic and low-alcohol versions (less than 0.5% (v/v) of alcohol) on the market. Having an alcohol content of less than 0.5%, kombucha is not a federally regulated beverage in the United States. In Malaysia, it is also widely home made by Malays and consumed as a delicious beverage.

The main acids present are acetic, gluconic, tartaric, malic, and in less proportion citric acid. All these acids are responsible for its characteristic sour taste. Actual food trends toward minimally processed products, without additives, high nutritional value and with health benefits have increased with consumer awareness. In this context, the traditional Kombucha tea has recently captured the attention of researchers and consumers because of its probiotic characteristics.

The presence of yeast can ferment sugar to ethanol followed by aerobic bacteria to use alcohol as a substrate to form acetic acid. These bacteria, in contrast to yeast, require large amounts of oxygen for their growth and activity. The metabolic process is based on the conversion of acetaldehyde into ethanol and acetaldehyde hydrate into acetic acid by the enzyme acetaldehyde dehydrogenase. Several AAB are present in the tea fungus, including: Acetobacter, Gluconacetobacter, Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium species.

Kombucha tea fermentation normally ranges within 6 to 10 days in order to yield a fruit-like refreshing beverage contrary to the vinegar taste that is obtained with a prolonged period. Prolonged fermentation is not recommended due to the accumulation of organic acids, which could reach damaging levels for direct consumption. According to the FDA Model Food Code for Kombucha brewing, no more of 10 days of fermentation are recommended if produced for human consumption. After 7 days, the bacteria have reached an equilibrium, compared to yeast species that seemed to be quite stable in both phases during the whole fermentation.

Maintaining the optimum temperature throughout the fermentation results in a better microbial growth and enzyme activity, therefore, the fermentation benefits are improved. In Malaysia, the room temperature is always fallen within the temperature values of Kombucha fermentation which is between 22 °C and 30 °C.

The pH of Kombucha is also closely related to the microbial growth and the structural changes of the phytochemical compounds which may influence the antioxidant activity. The lowest acceptable pH value should not decrease below 3.

The antihyperglycaemic efficacy of the fermented tea has been evaluated in diabetic rats by testing different concentrations of Kombucha extracts during 45 days. The daily administration of 6 mg/kg decreased the glycosylated hemoglobin and increased the plasma insulin.

Bhattacharya et al. (2013) studied the protective effect of Kombucha in different organs including pancreas, liver, kidney, and heart of diabetic rat models and the obtained results showed significant antidiabetic potential which allowed the restoration of the induced pathophysiological changes.

Gharib (2014) subjected a group of rats to electromagnetic waves increasing the iron copper levels and decreasing the zinc content. The rats were then administered with Kombucha tea during 9 weeks and a decrease in the iron content was observed, going from 65 to 99.5 μg/g. This shows that Kombucha could have ameliorative signs against the effects of electromagnetic radiation.

Recently, Bellassoued et al. (2015) worked with rats fed with cholesterol-rich diets and high thiobarbituric acid reactive substances (TBARS) levels, and found that the TBARS concentration was significantly reduced in the liver and kidney after the treatment with the fermented tea. Their results showed that Kombucha tea could be considered as a therapeutic agent against liver and kidney toxicities.

Although one can make kombucha at home as hobby, but our GMP certified factory can make the kombucha in a sterile and safe environment. The consistency of kombucha can be guaranteed and most importantly it is turned into a powder without losing the viability of probiotic bacteria with the utilization of advanced encapsulation technology.

It is suitable to be used to make sparkling drinks and used as a base to be added with different flavour. Its sour taste can promote digestion. Kombucha powder can be added as a raw ingredient in health supplement without the risk of microbial contamination or excessive gas generation due to presence of minimal water activity. It is suitable to be mixed with fruit juice for maintaining overall wellness.

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HEALTH BENEFITS

improve longevity

In vivo study on effect of kombucha on longevity
Subject Female and male mice (n=60)
Duration of study 1 year
Dosage 15% kombucha
Group
  1. Control
  2. Treatment
Parameters analyzed
  1. Open field behavior
  2. Appetite behavior
  3. Organ health
Outcomes Visible benefits

Mice consuming kombucha exhibited higher exploration behavior, weight reduction and live longer than control.

Functions Chronic kombucha consumption could improve longevity.

Reduce Cholesterol

In vivo study on effect of kombucha on cholesterol
Subject Mice (n=40)
Duration of study 12 weeks
Dosage 66ml per kg
Group
  1. Control
  2. Cholesterol
  3. Cholesterol + Kombucha
Parameters analyzed
  1. Body weight
  2. Blood analysis
Outcomes Visible benefits

  • The total cholesterol and LDL-cholesterol are reduced by kombucha consumption.
  • Kombucha increased antioxidant enzymes activities (total antioxidant capacity and superoxide dismutase) and decrease malondialdehyde.
Functions Kombucha can act as antioxidant and prevent hyperlipidemia. One of active compounds could be D-saccharic acid-1,4-lactone.

May prevent diabetes

In vivo study on effect of kombucha on diabetes
Subject Rat (n=48)
Duration of study 30 days
Dosage 5ml per kg
Group
  1. Control
  2. Control + kombucha
  3. Diabetes
  4. Diabetes + kombucha
Parameters analyzed
  1. Blood analysis
  2. Pancrease analysis
Outcomes Visible benefits

  • Kombucha induced a marked delay in the absorption of LDL-cholesterol and triglycerides and a significant increase in HDL-cholesterol.
  • Kombucha also decreases aspartate transaminase, alanine transaminase, and gamma-glytamyl transpeptidase activities in the plasma, as well as creatinine and urea contents.
Functions Kombucha tea administration is possibly a functional supplement for the treatment and prevention of diabetes.

Reduces cognitive deterioration

In vivo mice experiment
Subject 2-month-old male senescence accelerated mice (SAMP8)
Group
  1. Control group (Casein diet)
  2. Treated group (casein diet supplemented with 10% lyophilized or with hot-air dried yam)
Duration 12 weeks
Dosage 10% lyophilized yam or 10% hot-air dried yam (Fresh tubers of D. alata L. Var. Purpurea)
Parameters analyzed Learning and memory ability & spongy degeneration
Outcomes Visible benefits

  • Results of passive and active shuttle avoidance tests showed the mice fed with the diet containing yam had significantly better learning and memory ability than the control group.
  • Brain morphology of mice revealed less spongy degeneration and low percentages of cells with lipofuscin in the hippocampus.

Figure 1: Mean number of successful active avoidance among 20 trials per day of shuttle avoidance test in SAMP8 mice fed with control or yam diets for 12 weeks.

Table 2: The spongiosis numbers and lipofuscin f the hippocampus in SAMP8 mice fed with the control or yam diets for 12 weeks.

Functions
  • The senescence-prone inbred series (SAMP) is a murine model system that has a shorter life span than normal mouse, and it shows many characteristics of mammalian aging.
  • The supplementation of the diet with yam could improve the learning and memory ability whilst reducing the brain morphology changes in mice.

Antihypertensive properties

In vivo lab experiments
Sample Dioscorea alata L.(purple yam) extract
Subject hypertensive rats (SHRs)
Duration 30 days
Dosage orally administered to the SHRs

  1. Alcohol-insoluble-solids (AIS) and hot air drying (HAD) = 40 or 60 mg/kg of SHR
  2. Steam-cooked once (SCO) / Steam-cooked twice (SCT) and hot air drying (HAD) = 80 mg/kg of SHR
  3. Water extracts = 154.4 mg of protein/kg of SHR
Parameters analyzed Blood pressure of SHT
Outcomes Visible benefits

Yam products were found to have antihypertensive properties in SHRs.

Figure 1: Effects of water extract Yam tuber heated at 90 degree celcius for 10min (WEY90H) on systolic blood pressure of spontaneously hypertensive rats by oral administration (1 ml/kg of SHR) once a day for 30 days.

Functions Purple yam extracts effectively reduce blood pressure and is a potential functional food for blood pressure regulation.
Kombucha Powder

Kombucha Powder

  • Rich in antioxidant
  • Detoxin
  • Helps in digestion
  • May reduce heart disease risk
  • Manage diabetes
  • May help protect against cancer