Pregnant women often have to make drastic changes in their lifestyle in order to protect their baby and ensure a healthy pregnancy. One of the most common questions they have is whether they can continue to consume kombucha during pregnancy or not. Kombucha is a fermented beverage that is made from tea, sugar, bacteria, and yeast and has become increasingly popular in recent years. While it has many potential health benefits, it also contains trace amounts of alcohol that can be a cause for concern for pregnant women. In this blog post, we will discuss the potential risks and benefits of kombucha for pregnant women by looking at the scientific evidence. We will also discuss the precautions that need to be taken to ensure the safety of the mother and baby.
Is Kombucha Safe for Pregnant People to Drink?
Of course, pregnant people should not consume hard kombucha since it contains alcohol, but what about the regular stuff? King, who is a big kombucha fan herself, says while she would generally recommend it to non-pregnant patients for a gut-health boost and as a healthier alternative to soda or sugary Starbucks lattes, she says its better to be safe than sorry. King advises avoiding kombucha when pregnant, especially since there is little regulation around kombucha and several companies have recently come under fire for dishonesty in labeling.
The main factor, in King’s opinion, that would lead her to advise against drinking kombucha is possibly its alcohol content. “From what I’ve read and seen on bottles, the majority have around 0,” 5%, and in the grand scheme of things, its probably negligent for the average person and can easily be metabolized However, I advise women to completely avoid alcohol while pregnant. “.
King notes that there isnt a lot of clinical research behind the effect of consuming alcohol at any level during pregnancy—mainly because experimentation would lead to some serious ethics violations—but there have been enough case studies and retrospective research to link consumption of alcohol during pregnancy with fetal alcohol syndrome and neural tube defects. And even though the ABV in your typical bottle of kombucha is far from the amount in your favorite cocktail or glass of chardonnay, she says its better to air on the side of caution.
The other recommendation is to avoid eating unpasteurized foods while pregnant, according to King. Unpasteurized dairy products and deli meats are the main foods I usually warn patients to avoid because they may contain bacteria that are dangerous for both mother and unborn child. Additionally, Listeria or E cross-contamination is a possibility. literally made of living cultures and bacteria, just like kombucha. “.
However, King advises not to worry too much if you drank a bottle of kombucha before you knew you were pregnant or poured a glass out of habit one day. Even though this isn’t an excuse to “forget” and have a glass every other day, it doesn’t need to be a source of additional stress during this crucial time if you accidentally drank some or were unknowingly served a mocktail that contained kombucha.
Additionally, while your average glass of kombucha contains less caffeine than the recommended daily limit for pregnant people (200 mcg), it is made from high-caffeine teas and could easily set you over your limit if youre already drinking coffee or a few cups of tea daily. Some brands, like Kevita Master Brew, has nearly 80mcg of the stuff while a 12-ounce cup of coffee already gets you to that 200 mcg limit for the day.
In the end, it’s always a good idea to speak with your doctor or a dietitian about any queries you may have regarding diet and nutrition, exercise, and other lifestyle habits during this time.
Contamination: When making kombucha, many producers stop the fermentation process with heat or chemicals. This eliminates the bacteria and yeast and prevents them from producing too much acetic acid or alcohol. Depending on the brand, the beverage may be preserved with potassium sorbate or sodium benzoate or flash pasteurized (heated to 160 F for 15 seconds). Safety-wise, these sterilized drinks should be okay to drink.
However, a lot of producers create unpasteurized, raw kombucha, which can be contaminated with mold or harmful bacteria at some point during the production process. Due to the risk of food poisoning, doctors advise against consuming any raw or undercooked foods while pregnant, such as soft cheeses, sushi, or runny eggs. Even raw veggies, sprouts, and salads can sometimes cause problems. When pregnant, it’s best to stay away from raw kombucha, especially any homemade raw brews.
Since kombucha is made from tea, it should contain all the same antioxidants and minerals as tea. Various amounts of probiotics, or live “good” bacteria, are also present, which can benefit gut health. However, probiotics are easily obtained by consuming fermented foods like kimchi and sauerkraut as well as foods like kefir or yogurt with live active cultures.
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Acidity: Acetic acid is present in kombucha after the fermentation process is complete; this is what gives it its vinegary flavor and odor. Its acidity is comparable to that of soda, which can lead to heartburn and tooth decay. (Check the label because some kombucha brands have added sugars.) Fizzy drinks are probably okay from time to time as long as they don’t make you queasy; just remember to rinse your mouth afterward to keep your teeth safe.
Safe and Healthy Kombucha Alternatives for Pregnant People
Between curbing your caffeine intake, ditching alcohol and eliminating several other favorite foods from your diet, it can be frustrating to add yet another thing to the “do not consume while pregnant” list. However, theres never been a better time to be a temporary teetotaler as there has been so much innovation in non-alcoholic cocktails, spirits and more. There has also been a surge of prebiotic sodas, like Poppi and Olipop, that are sweetened with stevia and potentially offer some gut-health benefits.
When you have a craving for something fizzy and flavorful, King advises finding a sparkling water brand you like and stocking up. And while she encourages limiting sugar-sweetened beverage consumption, finding 100% real fruit juices and soda alternatives that you love can be great options If you want to make an occasion more special or just spice up your Tuesday afternoon, check out our crowd-pleasing non-alcoholic drink recipes.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists advises drinking 8 to 12 cups of water per day to stay adequately hydrated while pregnant. It might be beneficial to keep your beverage intake simple and keep some seltzer on hand. Additionally, flavoring water with fruit and herbs like mint or basil will increase consumption and make it more enjoyable.
Are fermented foods safe during pregnancy?
Who should not drink kombucha?
What drinks to avoid while pregnant?
- Unpasteurized milk.
- Unpasteurized juices.
- Caffeinated beverages.
- Sugary sodas.
- Drinks with artificial sweeteners, like diet soda.