Introducing YAYA Kombucha to the world of science

That’s right, the coming six months I will introduce YAYA Kombucha to the world of science. As a new intern, I will conduct research into the probiotic potential of YAYA Kombucha at Greenport Campus Venlo. I am Tessa van der Geld, master student Health Food Innovation Management at Maastricht University. Out of personal interest, I wanted to learn more about the probiotic potential of naturally fermented drinks. I already had experience with brewing water kefir and experienced some interesting health effects after drinking fermented soda's. Although the internet is full of conceptions and misconception about the health effect of naturally fermented drinks, there is very little scientific information available to confirm these assumptions. With the urge to clarify and being familiar with YAYA kombucha, I decided to contact the company. And well, here I am!

The World Health Organisation (WHO) defines probiotics as “live microorganisms which when administered in adequate amounts, confer a health benefit to the host” . Basically, by taking probiotics, you ingest living ‘good bacteria’ to support the home team in your gut and to protect you from pathogens a.k.a. the ‘bad guys’. Currently, probiotics is a hot topic in the research world. Every week, new studies are published in this field and the importance of gut health is being recognized more and more nowadays.

One of the most familiar examples of a probiotic is Yakult. You might know the advertisement of Yakult as the drink that contains more than one billions living ‘good bacteria’. This crazy-high amount is needed because these probiotic bacteria have to survive obstacles like gastric acid and enzymes to be able to shine in your gut.

However, whereas Yakult contains added probiotic bacteria, there are also naturally occurring probiotics like yoghurt and sauerkraut. There are many scientific studies on isolated probiotic strains, but there is still very little known about the probiotics naturally occurring in food. Because these bacteria live in a symbiotic culture, meaning that they live in a harmonized society to support each other, existing research techniques were not able to investigate this yet.

This brings us to kombucha; a naturally fermented tea, containing a live kombucha culture. If kombucha is brewed following the authentic recipe, like YAYA Kombucha, the beverage is not pasteurised and will contain live bacteria. To investigate the probiotic potential of these bacteria, I will use newly developed techniques. One of these techniques is the TIM-1 (TNO Gastro-Intestinal Model). This lab model represents the gastrointestinal tract from the stomach through the small intestine. TIM makes it possible to analyse which bacteria will survive your digestive tract. Surviving all the obstacles of your digestive tract implies that the bacteria could have special powers, and thus being probiotic. If we know which bacteria in de kombucha survive, we can further analyse these bacteria to see how they could be beneficial for you, taking YAYA Kombucha to the next level.

Curious about what the progress and results of my research are? Then stay tuned!

1) Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. Guidelines for the Evaluation of Probiotics in Food. Report of a Joint FAO/WHO Working Group on Drafting Guidelines for the Evaluation of Probiotics in Food. 2002

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