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By now, regular Eat This, Not That! readers know that water is the purest, most natural, and most essential drink for good health and weight loss. You just can’t beat the oldest thirst quencher on the planet if your goal is slimming your belly. But there’s another ancient drink that you might categorize as the #1 best beverage for a leaner body if you take H2O out of the equation: kombucha, which has been around since about 221 BC.
Kombucha is made from true teas like green tea or black tea, sugar, and yeast that is fermented into a rubbery mass called SCOBY for Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria and Yeast. SCOBY yields a probiotic beverage, kombucha tea, which is believed to offer health benefits, including belly fat loss, by improving gut flora.
“Outside of water, kombucha is among the best drinks for a leaner body,” says registered dietitian Laura Poe Mathes, RD, who specializes in improving gut health. “Kombucha’s beneficial probiotics support your microbiome, which has been linked to lower risk of obesity.”
Tip: While all kombucha is made with sugar, check the ingredients list of your commercial kombucha beverage to make sure it’s not loaded with added sugars. Here are The 11 Best Low-Sugar Kombucha Brands You Can Buy.
The gut microbiome is made up of trillions of helpful and unhealthy microbes that reside in your intestinal tract. More and more research is showing that the makeup of your gut flora influences your immune system, brain health, and metabolism in significant ways.
And several studies in animals and humans have found that the mix of microbes in the guts of overweight and obese people are usually very different from that of normal weight people. Obese people tend to have a less diverse mix of gut microbes than leaner people. What’s more, overweight people who gain weight easily have a less diverse microbiota than overweight people who don’t gain weight quickly.
Replacing drinks high in sugar, like soda, with lower-sugar, probiotic alternatives like kombucha is incredibly important to support gut health and a lean body.
A 2021 study in mSystems found that the people who lost weight on a program consisting of a high-fiber diet and exercise tended to have higher growth rates of Bacteroidetes, a diverse class of bacteria that digest carbohydrates and support a healthy gut. The researchers believe that when the microbiome doesn’t support the growth of sugar-eating bacteria like Bacteroidetes, the body absorbs more of those sugars and calories, leading to weight gain.
Mathes, the dietitian, says kombucha is a good beverage choice for a leaner body for another reason: “It’s carbonated, so it makes a great soda substitute. Soda is the worst beverage you can drink if you want to lose because of the high number of empty calories and processed sugars.”
If you don’t like the idea of drinking fermented kombucha, Mathes suggests another drink option for a leaner body—green tea. “Its high antioxidant content may help decrease inflammation, a factor linked to weight loss,” she says.
To learn more about the power of antioxidant catechins in green tea, read 7 Amazing Benefits of Drinking Green Tea.
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