The Kombucha Encyclopedia

So far, this blog has been a random collection of ramblings, recipes, and things that excite and inspire me in the health & wellness foodie world. Yet I have been trying to carve out a more specific niche and purpose for this blog, my interest of all things wellness, food and my Institute for Integrative Nutrition education, have me gradually shifting toward “foods and beverages I love to eat, drink and prepare and the health-benefits of said food and beverages.”  hippocrates

That is what excites me so much about healthy food in general, not only can it taste great and look great, but it can be great for you. Putting food in your body is like putting gas in your car, you can alter the output performance by the quality of the input.

Today, we are going to discuss one of my favorite beverages from both a taste and health-promotion standpoint, kombucha. 

If you’ve ever walked into your local health food store and seen a wall that looks like this, you’ve seen kombucha.

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What is Kombucha?

There is nothing that makes you feel quite like an alien from another planet than explaining Kombucha to someone who has never heard of it before.

“Uhhh… it’s like a really healthy Japanese fermented tea…”

The next question that follows is usually, “why would you want to drink tea that is fermented?”

“Well, it tastes really good and there are a ton of health benefits and… just try it… you’ll see”

At which point the person may make a face, wrinkle their nose, and exclaim that it tastes like vinegar. Most of the time, it will grow on them. I’ve converted many naysayers to Kombucha devotes. My college friends now use Kombucha as their vodka chaser/mixer of choice. It’s certainly an acquired taste.

I Love Kombucha

It’s no secret that I absolutely love Kombucha. It’s quite possibly my favorite beverage and you can often spot me walking around doting a glass bottle full of the stuff or the passenger seat of my car littered with empty kombucha bottles.

I love the taste and there is just something about the way it makes me feel, an energy boost yet a calming and relaxing feeling at the same time… and I haven’t even mentioned the health benefits yet.

Some people may collect keychains or some other little memento when on vacation, I collect local Kombucha bottles. You should see my eyes light up when a place has Kombucha on tap. I’ve had the pleasure to visit a Kombucha brewery in Ypsilanti, Michigan. Although I’ve tasted many different kombuchas from around the country, my favorite brand continues to be G.T.’s and my favorite flavor continues to be Trilogy.

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I’ve even experimented with brewing my own Kombucha, a very weird process that involves water, tea, cane sugar and a S.C.O.B.Y (a Symbiotic Culture Of Bacterial Yeast… do you think I’m officially a weirdo yet?) Some may call me a Kombucha addict, but I prefer dedicated fan.

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Health Benefits of Kombucha

Okay, now we’re getting to the good stuff. Other drinks may taste just as good as the magical wonder potion, but they most likely do not boast the same health-promoting properties.

According to DrAxe.com, the newest research published in the Journal of Medicinal Food 2014 states that “it is shown that [kombucha] can efficiently act in health preservation and recovery due to four main properties: detoxification, anti-oxidation, energizing potencies, and promotion of boosting immunity.”

Let me break it down for you in simple terms for why Kombucha has magical properties.

Kombucha has been shown to detox the body by counteracting liver cell toxicity.

Kombucha boasts high levels of beneficial acids, probiotics and enzymes, which is why is great for the digestive system.

As far the the energy promoting properties go, some of the iron that is released from the black tea during the fermentation process has been shown to increase energy. Kombucha also contains B-vitamins and trace amounts of caffeine, which help to energize the body as well.

Lately, I have been upping my kombucha intake in order to support my immune system during these winter months. Kombucha contains a powerful antioxidant known as D-saccharic acid-1, 4-lactone (DSL) that emerges during the fermentation process. DSL, coupled with the high levels of vitamin-C and probiotics found in Kombucha, have been shown to give the immune system a boost.

I find that Kombucha also works as a natural appetite suppressant for me, which is why it has been credited as having weight loss properties. The natural effervescence (“fizziness”) of the beverage really fills me up. When I want something to sip on and a little energy boost, but don’t want to eat a full blown snack or meal, I turn to a kombucha. Although beware of the bloating that may occur!

For more information about the benefits of kombucha, click here, here or here.

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What About The Alcohol?

Due to the fact that kombucha is a naturally fermented product, it contains a trace amount of alcohol and you need to be 21 in order to purpose certain brands. But, I can assure you that the amount of alcohol essentially nonexistent.

Another one of my favorite, kombucha products, is Unity Vibration Kombucha Beer, a unique beverage of kombucha + hops. This product is an entirely different beast and I can assume that the amount of alcohol in this product is quite existent.

New Neu

Proof that the kombucha movement is continuing to pick up traction, I found this new brand local Kombucha made in kitchen in Royal Oak, Michigan at a health-food restaurant and I have a feeling it will continue to appear around Detroit! There is talk of it being sold at Eastern Market next season which I am very excited about. I love supporting local business and local kombucha is even better!

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Cheers!

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Reducing Inflammation in the Body Through Diet

This post is the first installment in the natural health and wellness blog post series I will be writing weekly for the Summit Chiropractic blog. 


Reducing Inflammation in the Body Through Diet

What is inflammation?

Inflammation is one of our body’s critical defense mechanisms; it’s our body’s way of telling us that something needs attention. There are two types of inflammation, primary and chronic. Primary inflammation is constantly working to detoxify, repair, and naturally protects our bodies each and every day, there is no pain or symptoms associated with this type of inflammation.

But chronic inflammation on the other hand, is a whole different story. This is the type of inflammation that brings out the symptoms of local redness, heat, swelling and pain. Inflammation can eventually lead to serious illness; including heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease and many types of cancer.

Most people deal with inflammation by popping over-the-counter Ibuprofen or a prescription anti-inflammatory drug. The problem with these medications is that they simply mask the symptoms of inflammation, while still allowing you to live an inflammatory lifestyle and not addressing the root cause.

Natural remedies

If you are reading this blog, chances are good that you’re already familiar with some of the natural ways to reduce inflammation; such as chiropractic care. But there are other ways to naturally reduce inflammation in the body beginning with the foods you eat.

Diet and lifestyle play a huge role in inflammation. Processed food, sugar, hydrogenated and trans fats, stress, malnutrition, obesity and excessive exercise all contribute to chronic inflammation. There are certain foods to include in your diet and certain foods to avoid if you want to reduce inflammation in the body.

Foods to include

A diet abundant in a variety of fresh, whole foods, especially fruits and vegetables, is the best way to combat inflammation, but these particular foods and supplements are inflammation-fighting superstars.

Berries

Berries, especially blueberries, are incredibly rich in nutrients that function as antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds in the body. Fresh or frozen berries are a great addition to cereal, oatmeal, smoothies, salads, or just eaten by themselves.

Cruciferous vegetables

Broccoli, cabbage, Brussels sprouts and kale are all members of the cruciferous vegetable family and are all anti-inflammatory powerhouses. These veggies contain many anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer phytonutrients, such as chlorophyll and sulfur-based compounds.

Avocados

Avocados are packed with a bounty of anti-inflammatory nutrients; such as phytosterols, carotenoid antioxidants, vitamins C and E, minerals such as manganese, selenium and zinc and omega-3 fatty acids. Avocados’ rich and creamy texture makes them the perfect substitute for high-fat cheese on salads or sandwiches.

Walnuts

Walnuts are rich in alpha-linolenic acid, also known as ALA. ALA is converted to omega-3 fatty acids in the body, which have been shown to calm inflammation.

Chia, Flax and Hemp Seeds

This trifecta of super seeds are all very high in omega-3 fatty acids (“the good fats”), which act as anti-inflammatory compounds in the body. You can sprinkle a tablespoon of any of these seeds on cereal, oatmeal, yogurt, salads, soups, or blend them into smoothies.

Ginger and Turmeric

Studies have shown that ginger contains pharmacological properties of anti-inflammatory drugs as well as antioxidant properties.

Turmeric, often referred to as “the golden spice,” contains the active ingredient curcumin, which has strong anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.

Add either of these spices to your soups, stir fries, teas, dressings, smoothies or juices, or take them in supplement form.

Water

Staying hydrated throughout the day is crucial to combating inflammation. I find that keeping a reusable water bottle with you and refilling it throughout the day is the easiest way to make sure you are drinking enough. If you are constantly drinking water, you will naturally crowd-out more inflammatory beverages, such a pop and dairy-based drinks.

Foods to avoid

These processed, unhealthy foods should always be avoided or only enjoyed occasionally in moderation, but should definitely be avoided if you are suffering from chronic inflammation.

White flour and sugar (think bread and processed snack foods)

High fructose corn syrup

Saturated fat (found in butter, high-fat dairy products, unskinned chicken and fatty meats)

Margarine and vegetable shortening


Natalie Gray is currently on her way to becoming a certified health coach at the Institute of Integrative Nutrition. She is passionate about health and wellness.

If you have any further questions about these naturally reducing inflammation through diet or want more tips about how to make these anti-inflammatory foods apart of your lifestyle, contact Natalie at nataliegray@me.com.


Resources

Click here to check out Dr. Weil’s Anti-Inflammatory Food Pyramid

Dr. Weil’s Anti-Inflammtory Diet

MindBodyGreen

HuffPost Healthy Living