Part V: Foods Containing Probiotics, Prebiotics Or Both ~ Soy & Kombucha
This is Part V of an ten-part article. Use the article index below to click among the pages. In this section, we take a look at brands of soy and kombucha products that have probiotic, prebiotic and synbiotic benefits. Some of these products have only regional distribution. If they aren’t available in your area, you can ask your retailer to bring them in.
Silk Soy Products has introduced Silk Plus Soy Milks. One of these, Silk Plus for Bone Health, contains NutraFlora, which the manufacturer states is “a natural fiber and prebiotic that has been shown to help the body absorb calcium more effectively.” NutraFlora is a fructan, but the specific type of fructan is not mentioned.
If you don’t know what kombucha is, you’re not alone. Although this beverage is slowly gaining in popularity, it remains unknown to many Americans.
Kombucha is simply a fermented tea drink. Usually, tea, water and sugar are combined together and heated gently, then starter cultures are introduced into the mixture, exactly as is done with yogurt or kefir. Fermentation takes place over a period of time partially determined by ambient temperature; but this must be carefully controlled, as fermentation is temperature-sensitive. During fermentation, the pH of kombucha drops from roughly neutral to about 3.6 or 3.7, so the drink is on the acidic side. Despite the fermentation process kombucha undergoes, the finished product contains only a negligible quantity of alcohol.
Different types of tea are used by kombucha makers, including black, green, jasmine, oolong and rooibos. (See THE NIBBLE’s Tea Glossary for more information about the different types of tea.) Flavorings may be added to the finished product; some manufacturers add a bit of carbonation, as well. Kombucha may be pasteurized or unpasteurized, organic or conventional. As is the case with kefir, kombucha has been around for a very long time. Its first recorded use is said to have been during the Qin (Tsin) Dynasty of China (221 B.C.E.), and, also like kefir, devoteées of kombucha claim that the beverage has a wide range of beneficial effects. You can read more about kombucha and its origins in THE NIBBLE’s review of Kombucha Wonder Drink, A NIBBLE Top Pick Of The Week.
One thing is for certain: Kombucha contains probiotic cultures. According to G.T. Dave, founder of Millennium Products, GT’s Raw Organic Kombucha contains at least 1 billion organisms each of S. boulardii, L. plantarum and L. fermentum, per bottle. Dave declares that kombucha differs from most probiotic supplements because the cultures present are created naturally through the fermentation process, not in a lab environment. He believes that these naturally-occurring cultures are more easily assimilated by the body. The Organic Raw Kombucha is available in four flavors, including Citrus and Gingerade. There is also a related drink called Synergy, which is 95% kombucha and 5% fruit juice. Synergy has a wider choice of flavors, including Cosmic Cranberry, Mystic Mango and Raspberry Rush.
Katalyst Kombucha also makes raw and organic kombucha that it refers to as “The Living Elixir.” In addition to being organic, all of its teas are Fair Trade Certified. Currently, five varieties of kombucha are available, including Green Lovin’ (with wild blue-green algae) and Ginger Devotion. This is a small company staffed by some very devoted individuals; the ultimate goal is to develop Katalyst into a worker-owned cooperative. This kombucha is distributed only in New England and New York State, but it can be ordered by the case. Kombucha-making kits are also sold.
Organic Pastures offers an organic, raw (unpasteurized) kombucha, made from organic black tea, organic sugar, spring water and, of course, its starter culture. The company was in the process of having a laboratory assay conducted on the kombucha when I contacted them, which would give them a good idea of the cultures and concentrations in their product. But results were received too late to be included in this article.