Kombucha is often viewed as a tasty, healthy beverage to sip on all day long. It’s low in sugar, bubbly, and flavorful, and it even has probiotics. What’s not to love? Well, if you’re pregnant, you may want to think twice before making it your go-to drink of choice.
It’s well known that pregnancy and alcohol are an ill-advised combination, and giving up alcohol for nine months is a common practice for those on the road to parenthood, so it’s natural to look for something more interesting than water, especially for social occasions, but sadly, kombucha may not be the best choice. Per Bon Appetit, the natural fermentation process used to make kombucha does create alcohol and most kombuchas available on the market are not technically alcohol-free. Most kombuchas contain less than .5% alcohol (for reference, beer averages 4-6%, and wine is 10-12% alcohol) so you likely haven’t been carded when purchasing.
Kombucha also contains caffeine, usually from black or green tea. Per Healthline, the caffeine content is reduced by the natural fermentation process, but it does still count towards one’s daily intake. As reported by What to Expect, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommend staying under 200mg of caffeine per day while pregnant, which is roughly equivalent to 12 ounces of brewed coffee.
Alcohol, caffeine, and bacteria are all of concern during pregnancy
From the information above, it’s easy to see why pregnant folks would want to steer clear of kombucha. Both alcohol and caffeine are capable of crossing the blood barrier and affecting fetal development, but the biggest risk comes from unpasteurized kombucha.
Unlike many beverages found in stores, kombucha is a living food, meaning that it’s a little harder for the FDA to regulate it, and it’s more likely to contain bacteria that could cause food poisoning, or worse. Listeria is of particular concern during pregnancy. As Well + Good notes, it’s especially important for pregnant women to avoid home-brewed kombucha, since a lack of sterile conditions can create opportunities for pathogenic bacteria to grow.
As nutrition expert Dr. Susan Hundt told Well + Good, “It is best to avoid any type of food that may potentially launch an immune response,” but she still maintains that small amounts of kombucha are permissible if it’s from a well-respected, store-bought brand with alcohol under .5% and low caffeine. But if it makes you nervous, there’s no use causing extra stress, especially while preparing for a new baby, so you might as well leave it on the waitlist until you’re back to just eating for one.
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