If you shop in the health food section, you’ve probably heard of Kombucha. This fizzy, mainstream drink can be a supporter of a healthy gut. But, weight loss experts with UnityPoint Clinic say you should approach the product with a bit of caution. Jesse Becker, RN
and Janelle Hodovic, RD
discuss Kombucha and weight loss. Plus, five things they want you to consider before adding Kombucha to your cart.
What is Kombucha?
Kombucha is a fermented (brewed), sweetened black tea. Fermented foods can help support a healthy gut, full of good bacteria or probiotics. Probiotics help aid in digestion and boost the immune system. “There are different strains of gut bacteria,” Becker says. “A healthy gut is full of good bacteria that can be more supportive of lean mass. Some unhealthy gut bacteria can promote weight gain.” Hodovic recommends people limit consumption of Kombucha to four ounces per day. The average fizzy drink has .05 percent alcohol content. If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, Becker recommends to not consume Kombucha. “While scientific evidence is scant, people around the world have been drinking the concoction for centuries believing it has health benefits, including improving digestion and preventing cancer and the effects of aging,” Hodovic says. While weight loss experts support fermented foods, they say not all are equally made.
Is Kombucha Good for Weight Loss?
Becker says she doesn’t recommend Kombucha to bariatric patients but mentions increasing fermented foods in a patient's diet can support a healthy lifestyle. “Some beverages will have a lot of added sugar, which isn’t good for weight loss. Sugar would be the main ingredient to look for on the label,” Becker says. Hodovic says her patients need to watch sugars due to dumping syndrome, which is a condition that can develop after bariatric surgery due to high-sugar foods. Another reason Kombucha isn’t usually a good option for weight loss is the carbonation. “The carbonation and excess liquid causes discomfort and bloating,” Hodovic says. If you’re thinking about adding Kombucha as a regular item to your grocery list, take a tip from our dietitians and be sure to have antioxidants, probiotics, b-vitamins and chia seeds all in one beverage.
Which Fermented Food is Good for Weight Loss?
Becker and Hodovic suggest these fermented health foods for weight loss:
- Sauerkraut. Be sure to buy raw, and feel free to add to your meal. Add Himalayan pink salt for flavor.
- Kimchi. A Korean side dish made from salted and fermented vegetables providing Vitamin A, B and C. Great to add to your eggs, or use as a topping on a wrap or baked potato.
- Yogurt. Look for labels that contain live active cultures, and try to choose full-fat yogurts to avoid high sugar content.
- Kefir. This tart flavored fermented milk is typically consumed as a beverage. It’s even known to help with upset stomachs.
- Tempeh. Rich in fiber and protein, and often used as a meat supplement on sandwiches or with vegetables with Tempeh as the main dish.
- Miso. A paste made from fermented soybeans, barley or rice malt. Commonly ordered as miso soup or with tofu and vegetables.
What to Look for When Buying Kombucha
It's a good idea to talk to your doctor before starting a new way of eating or incorporating something new into your diet. Five things you should think about before adding Kombucha to your shopping cart:
- Know the source. Try to find out more about the product. Kombucha isn’t considered a food or drug, so it’s not routinely evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) or the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
- Identify how Kombucha was made. If you buy from a friend who brewed theirs at home, try to find out if it was made in sanitary conditions. Also, it should be made in glass jars, not ceramic since the acid in tea pulls out lead. It takes about 7-14 days to ferment in warmer temperatures, and real sugar must be used, otherwise, it won’t ferment.
- Kombucha may contain sugar alcohols. Fake sugars can be derived from fruits or commercially produced. Examples to avoid when reading the label are erythritol, isomalt, lactitol, maltitol, sorbitol and xylitol.
- Vinegar Taste. Kombucha is an acquired taste, so it might be helpful, to begin with, a flavored brand if you’re considering adding it to your shopping list.
- Calories. Kombucha averages 60 to 150 calories per 16-ounce bottle. For someone trying to maintain or lose weight, it’s suggested to be mindful of calories, sugars and carbohydrates when checking labels and consult with their provider.
At UnityPoint Clinic, we have weight loss experts
ready to help you on your journey to be a better, healthier you. If you’re looking to empower your life, overcome challenges of losing weight and need an action based health plan, Healthy Lifestyles
may be for you. If you’re considering bariatric surgery, we can help walk you through our weight loss options and find a weight loss plan for you. Start your weight loss journey today by registering for our online weight loss seminar
or call today (515) 241-2250 to chat with our care team.
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