What is Kombucha and is it safe in pregnancy? (In short probably not -sorry!). Kombucha is the health food fad of the moment. It is made from a sweetened (with sugar or fruit) black or green tea which is the fermented with both yeast and bacteria. It’s a slightly fizzy, slightly sour, drink.
It contains probiotics which are a plus. But there are some risks
1. It contains caffeine- so you have to count it toward your caffeine intake, the caffeine content is said to be less then regular tea, but you still need to count it and not overdo you total caffeine content.
2. It does contain alcohol, those found on supermarket fridge in Australia are very low in alcohol less than 0.5% (consistent with guidelines to be allowed to be sold as a non alcoholic beverage) but this can vary widely with home brew products depending on how it is fermented.
3. The home brew versions in particular are a very high risk food from a food poisoning point of view- after all it’s made with ‘good bacteria’, it would not take much to inadvertently grow some unhealthy bacteria or moulds. Even the shop bought ones need to be treated with respect, I.e stored cold, used well before used by date, drank within a couple of days of opening.
4. They are not always sugar free. It’s a lot less sugar then soft drink or juice but a lot more than water. So it’s not something you should have a lot of. Also because they are not sugar free the ferment can continue if stored in warm temperatures at any point- potentially increasing alcohol content ( great care needs to be taken).
So what’s the verdict for pregnancy? Any home brewed version is definitely out. There are just too many potential risks and critical points where this health food could turn into something a little nasty. As for the commercial versions I think the jury is still out, as it grows in popularity will the food recalls increase? there have been already past recalls in Australia and the USA related to alcohol content been too high. And I there is room for other errors. So after this research, I think until we have a few more years history of food recalls to determine safety, it has been added to the avoid whilst pregnant list for me.