Can you drink kombucha while pregnant? There are a few reasons to be cautious. We’ll take you through the details. Read on.
If you’re into all things trending, there’s a good chance you’ve heard the buzz about including a regular dose of kombucha in your health and wellness routine.
But like all great mamas-to-be, your little peanut’s safety is also top of mind. So now you’re wondering:
Can you drink kombucha while pregnant?
Well, unfortunately, like so many of these things, the answer is mixed.
While it’s generally a no, it does depend on the type.
Read on for a closer look at the whens and the when-nots of kombucha when you’re expecting.
In this article: 📝
- What is kombucha?
- What’s the deal with kombucha?
- Is it safe to drink kombucha while pregnant?
- So, a kombucha to go, or no?
What is kombucha?
Kombucha is an ancient Chinese drink made by fermenting a mix of black or green tea and sugar with something called a SCOBY, which stands for Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria and Yeast. Yum!
The bacteria and yeast ferment with the tea and sugar, which produces more bacteria, acids, and a tiny bit of alcohol.
These give the drink a fizz and a slightly sour edge, which is then often complemented with herbs, fruit, or other botanical infusions. Voilà!
What’s the deal with kombucha?
Like other fermented foods such as yogurt, kimchi, and sauerkraut, the live microorganisms make kombucha a major favorite among health gurus, who claim it has a seemingly endless list of health benefits.
These range from improving your digestion, gut biome, and immune system to relieving specific conditions like gout, arthritis, and hemorrhoids.
It’s even used to lower the risk of serious diseases like cancer and heart disease.
Plus, its tea base makes it rich in polyphenols (anti-oxidants), and it contains tons of Vitamin B, giving it all those associated benefits too.
So it’s easy to see why kombucha has shot up the health drink popularity charts.
But are there any downsides of drinking kombucha during pregnancy? Here’s the lowdown.
Is it safe to drink kombucha while pregnant?
There are three main things to be cautious about when it comes to kombucha during pregnancy:
- Bad bacteria
But, these factors can vary tons, depending on how the kombucha is prepared.
Some brews are made in people’s homes or in very traditional ways (these may sound fun, but they’re the ones to watch out for).
Others are sold in cans or bottles like any other health or energy drink (these are probably likely to be safer).
Let’s look at why.
Just like other products made with fermentation, kombucha carries the risk of containing dangerous as well as friendly bacteria — unless it has been pasteurized.
Pasteurization is the partial sterilization of a biotic product, like milk, which removes these dangerous bacteria.
These bacteria can contaminate food and cause food poisoning, which is never great of course, but can be especially serious while pregnant.
Back in ancient China, kombucha obviously wouldn’t have been pasteurized, and some modern brewers still prefer to stick to this traditional “raw” brewing method.
Raw unpasteurized kombucha may be purer, but it is still best to avoid it during pregnancy to be safe.
But if your kombucha’s been pasteurized, it’s a lot less risky on this front.
And if you can’t tell?
Of course, it’s up to you, but we would probably say it would be best to avoid it until after your little one arrives.
So, remember we said that kombucha also contains a little alcohol? Well, that’s risk number two.
Even if your kombucha is labeled as non-alcoholic, fermentation always gives off at least a little alcohol, and it can legally still contain up to 0.5% alcohol by volume (ABV).
If you’re following the national guidelines to avoid all alcohol while pregnant, this takes kombucha off the menu for you.
It’s also worth bearing in mind that the longer a product stands, the more time there is for fermentation to continue, which means more alcohol gets produced.
The result is that some kombucha products have higher levels of alcohol than their labels say.
Another reason to watch out.
The final consideration in kombucha is caffeine, especially if its base is a black tea rather than a green or white tea.
Most kombucha manufacturers estimate that kombucha contains 10-15mg of caffeine per serving.
Given that while pregnant, mamas-to-be are advised to keep their daily caffeine intake to 200mg a day, caffeine alone isn’t a reason to avoid kombucha completely.
But it’s still important to factor it into your daily caffeine count.
So, a kombucha to go, or no?
Even though it’s a drink with a reputation for amazing health benefits, there are things to consider if you’re carrying a little one.
On the one hand, kombucha contains live cultures of bacteria and small amounts of alcohol and caffeine, all three of which can be red flags when pregnant.
But on the other hand, the presence of these can be low, particularly in some store-bought kombucha brands.
If the kombucha product you’re trying is pasteurized, and the quoted concentrations of alcohol and caffeine are low enough, then you probably don’t need to worry if you’ve had some in small quantities.
If it isn’t pasteurized or contains higher than average alcohol or caffeine levels, it might be best to opt for another refreshing drink instead.
Here’s to your health and wellness — and your little peanut’s too!
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