Dietitians weigh in on health benefits kombucha offers as sales increase

Kombucha is a drink made by adding specific strains of bacteria, yeast and sugar to black or green tea, then allowing it to ferment. Director of Marketing at Aqua ViTea, Laura Smith said one flavor gained much popularity during the pandemic. 

“We saw our elderberry flavor really skyrocket post pandemic as people learned that elderberries are a proven way to support your immune system,” Smith said. 

Clinical Dietitian from the University of Vermont Medical Center Bridget Shea said the process of fermenting kombucha can have potential health benefits.

“It adds B vitamins and a little bit of protein to the beverage,” Shea said. 

This drink can be used as an alternative to soda. One can of Aqua ViTea kombucha has six grams of sugar, compared to a can of soda that can have up to 40 grams. 

Shea said beverages high in sugar are known to increase the risk for many diseases. 

“Type two diabetes, heart disease, kidney disease,” Shea said. 

Another dietitian from UVMMC, Emily Clairmont said the tea itself contains polyphenols which are a potent antioxidant. 

“Those health benefits I would say at a bare minimum are helping to establish foundational health in our body so making sure that our gut is processing nutrients the way that it should,” Clairmont said. 

The natural fermentation process causes kombucha to have a trace amount of alcohol, which is under .05 percent.

 “So we have a piece of technology called a spinning cone column that we use to gently separate the alcohol from the kombucha,” Smith said. 

After extracting the alcohol from kombucha Aqua ViTea converted it into hand sanitizer.

“The majority of it got donated to hospitals and daycare centers and first responders and people that really needed it at the time,” Smith said. 

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