Do a quick search of kombucha online and you'll find that the fizzy drink (produced by fermented tea, sugar, fungi, and bacteria) supplies sky-high energy, quells pain, fends off certain cancers, detoxes your body, helps you shed weight, and turns your immune system into a fortress. Guzzlers of the health beverage preach these promises, too.

But here are 5 things to keep in mind before you take a swig. 

Kombucha isn't a miracle worker

"I would be wary of calling kombucha a remedy or a magic food," says dietitian Maggie Neola. After all, glorifying one food over another (kale is king!) isn't the way nutrition works. A healthy diet is all about variety.

It is chock-full of probiotics

That said, Neola notes there are certainly benefits to the drink. For one, as with any tea, you'll sip a slew of healthy antioxidants and polyphenols, she says. "But because it's fermented, you see more of that probiotic push in kombucha." And that's where most of the drink's health benefits lie: probiotics—aka good gut bacteria. 

"The gut microbiome is often called the forgotten organ—it's really important to foster that health," Neola says. After all, a healthy gut microbiome can help fend off issues like IBS and help your whole body function at its best. 

Fermented foods like kombucha may also improve the health of your intestinal cells, boost your immune function, and cut your risk of allergy and chronic disease, says Neola. There's a catch, though: These benefits aren't unique to kombucha itself—but rather probiotic-rich or fermented foods, she says.

There's a pasteurisation conundrum

Kombucha's probiotics can also come with a downside. That's because some kinds of the drink are unpasteurised—and thus, you run the risk of a seriously upset stomach, says dietitian Keri Gans. Or worse: "Without pasteurisation, you run the risk of harmful microorganisms taking over and causing serious problems, including food poisoning," says Ryan Andrews, a fitness and nutrition coach. 

But here's the thing—in order to reap kombucha's probiotics benefits, the drink likely needs to be unpasteurised. "Pasteurisation kills off both harmful and helpful bacteria. So any potential beneficial probiotics would be gone as well," says Andrews.

There's not a lot of research on kombucha's effects

Past packing a probiotic punch, just how much (and how) kombucha can keep you well is a bit murky. While some studies—like one from 2014 in The Journal of Medicinal Food—have suggested kombucha tea can protect against toxic molecules called free radical and promote immunity, most of the (incredibly limited) research on the topic is done in animals.

And many of the purported health benefits stem from proponents of the beverage—not science itself. 

Kombucha is a good source of probiotics—but there are other options

The bottom line: Probiotics are a key part of a healthy diet, says Neola. And if you want to get them from kombucha, that's fine. Just know: If you're going to drink the raw (unpasteurised) version, make sure to buy your kombucha from a reputable company, says Gans.

She also suggests pregnant woman and kids steer clear from sipping beverage (there's a risk of bacteria, and kombucha can have trace amounts of alcohol, thanks to the fermentation process).

Remember, too: "Not all kombuchas are created equal," says Neola. "Some are loaded with added sugars." So make sure to read your label (and the serving size amount!). And if you're making your own drink, consider taking a good class beforehand, she suggests.

Not into the drink anyway? Many other foods and drinks are loaded with probiotics and antioxidants, will hydrate you, fend off disease, and keep your immune system strong. Andrews suggests trying these:

For probiotics: Sauerkraut, kimchi, kefir, and yogurt

For hydration: Water

For health benefits related to tea: Green tea

For improved immunity, skin, nails, and hair: A minimally-processed, plant-based, nutrient-dense diet

MORE : Can Probiotics Really Help You Lose Weight?

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