When GT Dave’s mom Laraine was diagnosed with — and eventually went into remission from — an aggressive form of breast cancer in 1994, doctors questioned whether she used any therapies to complement her conventional treatment plan.
In fact, she was: kombucha.
“[Kombucha] was the only thing that she could keep down, which I think was confirmation that it was helping her body stay resilient and strong,” GT Dave said. “And it was one of the many reasons she was able to endure the intense chemotherapy treatments that she went to over the course of almost a year.”
Although the fizzy, fermented tea wasn’t the only thing responsible for her recovery, from then on, the Dave family sought to make the same kombucha accessible to the general public. Today, the Daves sell their products under the name GT’s Living Foods across grocery stores in the United States.
Kombucha and your gut
“I’m always very proud not only of the beginnings of the company, but also my journey with kombucha,” Dave said, “but I always make it clear that there’s no such thing as a silver bullet.”
That’s not to say kombucha doesn’t offer some potential health benefits. For example, in his own research, Dave said he has learned kombucha and other raw products are healthful due to their minimally processed nature.
“Raw foods contain bioavailable nutrients, enzymes, and vitamins that haven’t been compromised,” Dave said. He added that when you ferment them, they become more bioavailable, meaning your body has an easier time breaking down and absorbing the ingredients when compared with cooked or processed foods.
Among kombucha’s touted perks are fighting off bad gut bacteria to promote a healthy, balanced gut microbiome (the collection of bacteria in your gut).
“Probiotics from a fermented source work more holistically with your body to cleanse and detoxify, as well as replenish and restore. And what that translates into is what we like to say is restoring the body to a state of balance.”
A journey into research
To unveil these potential benefits, GT Dave began investigating other fermented foods, such as kefir and apple cider vinegar, and his company recently began helping fund research and an advisory board that can study kombucha.
“The gut is the second brain,” explained Dave, referencing some of the research and insights that have resulted from these efforts. “And what that really means is that it regulates so many things beyond just your ability to digest food (as important as that is) — it regulates your mood and it regulates others aspects of chemistry within the body.”
Drinking kombucha may be a good step in promoting gut health, but GT Dave encouraged anyone looking to reap health benefits to pay attention to how processed their food is, rather than fixating on, for example, how much fat, protein, or carbohydrates a specific food contains.
“When people are purchasing food, especially if it’s packaged, read the labels and always try to go for the fewest ingredients possible,” he said, adding that if there’s an ingredient you don’t recognize on the list, skip the product.