Those of us who are making a conscious effort to optimize our health and wellness have probably heard the term functional food. We often choose a physician who practices Functional Medicine and make every effort to add foods and nutrients that are also promoted to enhance health. The goal of Functional Medicine is to determine the underlying cause of illness or disease. The next step is to aide the body in healing itself. Hippocrates, the ancient Greek physician in 460 BC said, “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.”  Boy have we strayed far afield from those brllliant words. The goal of Big Pharma is to manage symptoms so that people feel better but aren’t necessarily actually better from a health perspective. Yes, they have come up with some life-saving drugs such as penicillin and the Polio vaccine, but when it comes to treating chronic illnesses, they simply provide a band-aid rather than a cure.

The Mayo Clinic defines functional foods this way: “Functional foods are foods that have a potentially positive effect on health beyond basic nutrition. Proponents of functional foods say they promote optimal health and help reduce the risk of disease.” Wikipedia shares some additional information giving Japan the prestigious position of defining the term back in the 1980’s. “The term was first used in Japan in the 1980s where there is a government approval process for functional foods called Foods for Specified Health Use (FOSHU).”  Given current politics in this country, our FDA would have a few things to say about that. They’re still not prepared to define TEA as a health beverage, despite a wealth of scientific research proving otherwise. It seems our FDA is essentially influenced by the needs of Big Pharma and they don’t want to acknowledge any “natural” product as having health benefits. Why would someone pay $$ for a pill if an inexpensive herb can do as well or better? Not huge profit margins for herbs as Mother Nature requires no R&D or marketing to get the word out. Herbal remedies have been passed down through the centuries by generations of healers and mothers.

When I think of functional beverages, Kombucha tea easily comes to mind. The additional component of probiotic elements takes green tea to the next level. If you haven’t tried yet, please check it out. Your best bet is frequenting your local tea shop or health food store to see if they have any freshly made on tap. Our little supermarket, Rosauers, in Hood River Oregon, carries a Kombucha tap in their health food section called Huckleberries. A few selections are available each day for tasting and purchasing in quantity or to go. Once you’ve tried it, I suspect you’ll be hooked. Remember, this is something that you can learn to make yourself. I attended a Kombucha class in Portland a number of years ago. It included the necessary scoby along with all the details of how to make your own amazing, probiotic-rich beverage. My first attempt was made with a smokey jasmine pearl tea that has gained the reputation as the best Kombucha ever.

Here’s one of the dozens of How to Make Kombucha sites. I recommend getting a fresh scobe from a trusted source and then you’re good to go. Believe me, it’s worth the time, energy, and effort to make it at home. Can’t beat the price or the taste. Enjoy!

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