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From acai and goji berry to avocado and kale, ‘superfoods’ have skyrocketed in popularity in recent years. Despite these food items having been around since forever, why have they been marketed as though no one knew about their benefits?

I never understood the importance of gut health until I was falling sick more often and feeling tired and lethargic all the time. After a severe case of food poisoning last year and not getting proper rest, I started getting really interested in probiotics to help strengthen my immune system.

Probiotics are good bacteria that help stabilise your gut and strengthens your immune system. They can be found in fermented food like yogurt, kimchi and kombucha.

Now, I’ve always been a skeptic of kombucha as it’s been overhyped over the last couple of years. After a first bad experience drinking it in San Francisco, I stayed away from kombucha for the longest time ever. But after reading up on some health benefits, I knew I had to give it another chance.

So I went straight to the source and sought help from experts instead. And I came across Winnie And Zhiwei, founders of local kombucha and kefir makers Craft & Culture.

Image Credit: Discover SG

Does Kombucha Actually Work?

But while skeptics (like me) definitely aren’t wrong in believing that superfoods could simply be overhyped fads, there are also individuals who have seen actual health benefits after incorporating these items into their diet.

One of these skeptics-turned-believers is Winnie, co-founder of local kombucha and kefir makers Craft & Culture. After experiencing food allergies, indigestion problems and falling ill frequently, she was introduced to Kombucha by a friend who suggested that it would help boost her immune system naturally.

For the unacquainted, Kombucha is a fermented drink brewed with tea, sugar, water and a symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast (SCOBY). It tastes like something between a diluted apple cider vinegar or Korean fruit vinegar – depending on the types of teas and sugar used.

Kombucha SCOBY | Image Credit: Discover SG

Its origins date back to ancient China, one of the first civilizations to recognize the health benefits of kombucha. Its benefits were also backed by researchers in Switzerland who reported that “drinking kombucha was similarly beneficial as eating yogurt”.

It’s the probiotics that really make this beverage a healthy one. There are good bacteria and bad bacteria inside our gut and probiotics tend to fit in the good bacteria category, as they are shown to have positive health benefits on our digestive system. Having a regular intake of probiotics prevents you from falling sick because your immune system is 80% dependent on the health of your intestines.

On the other hand, Kefir is a fermented milk drink which originated from the north Caucasus Mountains and is fermented from Kefir cultures “which are a combination of lactic acid bacteria and yeasts. While it reminds me a lot of Greek yogurt, Kefir is said to have about 20 times more probiotics and nutrients.

Kefir Grains | Image Credit: Discover SG

The Experiment

In order to see for myself if kombucha and kefir really does deliver on its health benefits, including help with bloating, digestion and improving my gut health overall, I decided to drink it for a week.

Winnie and Zhiwei packed my first batch of kombucha and kefir and I couldn’t wait to try it out. I was excited as the drinks came in a variety of flavours so I knew I had something new to try everyday. As I have poor digestive health, I was told to start with 1/3 of kefir in the morning and half a bottle of kombucha in the afternoon.

Image Credit: Discover SG

They both warned me that kombucha and kefir loads your system with good bacteria and this can cause a mini ‘war’ in your gut. I gave a faint smile and mentally prepped myself for a long week at work (or the toilet for my case).

The First Few Days

I started my morning as instructed. I was a huge fan of the kefir as it reminded me of drinking mango lassi but the bad news was 1/3 kefir proved to be too much for my sensitive gut to handle. I ended up running to the toilet an hour later.

Image Credit: Discover SG

It didn’t help that I drank half a bottle of kombucha a few hours later. The first 2 days of drinking kombucha and kefir was truly hell as I was feeling bloated half the time and I felt really uncomfortable throughout the day. The solution? I gave my gut time to rest and continued taking the probiotics but in smaller amounts. It got better on the third day and I found myself being able to down the entire bottle for breakfast and lunch.

Major Changes That I Noticed

As the days passed, I found myself feeling lighter and happier while making my way to work. I swapped my usual order of kopi siew dai for a bottle of kefir and kombucha everyday and noticed that I was feeling more refreshed and alert even if I didn’t get enough sleep the previous night. For someone who starts feeling sluggish and reaching out of the munchies at 4pm, I felt a whole lot better once I included more probiotics in my diet.

Image Credit: Discover SG

Intrigued, I did a little bit more research and found out that probiotics could relieve mental health conditions like stress and anxiety. Which makes complete sense as if one had an unhealthy gut and lifestyle, less dopamine is produced. This means that people with unhealthy guts tend to be more unhappy. Connecting the dots between gut health and brain health was a life-changing moment for me.

After including kombucha in my diet, I was able to have a “smooth move” every morning and my toilet routine became clockwork. Drinking kombucha and kefir regularly seems to have really improved my gut health in just a week.

Will I Keep Going?

After a week of drinking kombucha and kefir daily, I must admit that I’m now a convert. I’ve previously had kombucha that tasted very “yeasty” but Craft & Culture’s beverages proves that healthy drinks don’t have to taste bland.

I love how it tastes and – more importantly – how it makes me feel. If it means improving my gut health and overall happiness, I’ll probably up the dosage of kombucha to 2 bottles per day.

Give kombucha and kefir a try and check out the offerings at Craft & Culture if you’re looking to improve your digestive health!

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(Header Image Source: Discover SG)