By Caoimhe Maclochlainn
Immune health is finding itself an even bigger platform than ever this year. With Ireland
still in lockdown due to the Covid-19 pandemic, it is clear why people are becoming more
educated on how to try to boost their general health and resilience to infection based on their
diet. With 70% of our immune cells residing in our gut, looking after our microbiome is important.
There is no magic ingredient – but to keep the digestive system in tip-top shape nutritionists say
that probiotics, or fermented drinks, are a good start.
KO Kombucha are an up-and-coming Irish brand that started in 2017. Tracy Armstrong,
one of the co-founders of KO, said that they first found out about kombucha in London and fell
in love with the fermented drink. “We tried to strike a balance between the fizzy kombucha soft
drinks, which don’t have any of the health benefits kombucha is famed for, and the traditionally
brewed kombucha which are vinegar-y and hard to drink. We started selling it to our friends in
London and the business started in our spare room in Moate, Co. Westmeath,” she said.
A lot of people find themselves sceptical on trying kombucha because of its vinegar-y,
bitter reputation. KO have strawberry and blueberry flavours available on their website along
with the traditional kombucha flavour. Tracy said “We wanted to make simple flavours using
simple organic ingredients. We flavour using whole organic fruits and nothing else so it’s just
really clean flavour profile and the fruits are locally sourced. Simple ingredients and a simple
ancient process are what make KO the kombucha that does what kombucha is supposed to do.”
Athletes are typically very keen on eating mindfully due to how gut health influences
one’s athletic performance. Buncrana Hearts FC player, Shane McLaughlin (25), from
Buncrana, said that he had personally never tried kombucha but is eager to give it a go. “I take
probiotics daily or if I don’t have those I take apple cider vinegar, multivitamins and omega 3 fish
oil. No matter what I’m training for I take the vitamins/probiotics and apple cider vinegar daily to
keep the gut as strong as possible so I don’t get sick,” the young footballer said.
Foods that go through a natural fermentation process gain probiotic properties, and
eating these foods may bring benefits like improved digestion and a more balanced gut
microbiome. Clodagh Breslin, a dietician from Derry, said that “Consuming a diet rich in fiber
from fruits, vegetables, seeds and nuts is the most important element in order to promote a
healthy gut environment for these probiotics to truly flourish.”
It is believed that Asian cultures have been preparing this fermented tea from the
beginning of time, and it has been a secret to living a long and healthy life. Kombucha has found
itself even more popularity during the pandemic. Tracy from KO said “There definitely seems to
be a shift in mindset around gut health and immunity right now. Covid has thrown products like
kombucha into the limelight because people are looking for ways to boost their health and if you
can do that with a natural product like kombucha I think the timing is right.
“People want real functionality from their food so the fermented food group is one of
those which contain those beneficial bacteria to balance out the bad bacteria in your gut which
has all sorts of effects on your gut microbiome. Something like 30% more people are now
looking for health benefits from their foods. Even before Covid there was and still is a mountain
of research being published about gut health and the gut brain connection, about how what we
eat affects our mood. When you consume ethically made products you feel better and this is a
movement that is not going anywhere,” she said.
KO Kombucha are offering free delivery across the country during the lockdown, they
said: “We have people with many different ailments who use our kombucha as a treatment and
it’s helping them and when you get that feedback that’s what makes it really worthwhile.”
Order can be made at kokombucha.com.
Always Trust Your Gut
By Caoimhe Maclochlainn