Kale, goji berries, gluten-free food, and turmeric shots… These are just some of the health food trends many Americans got hooked into. But there’s one beverage craze that became really controversial because of its alcohol content – kombucha.
If you are struggling with alcohol addiction and you’re trying to stay away from alcohol, you might be wondering about whether it’s okay to drink kombucha. Can this wholesome-looking beverage make you drunk? Is it safe to drink kombucha when you’re trying to be sober? In this article, we’re going to answer these questions and also share more information about this fermented tea drink.
What is kombucha?
Kombucha is made from fermenting sweet tea with a symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast (SCOBY). The fermentation takes several weeks and this what releases the probiotic bacteria that can provide health-promoting benefits. In the United States, it is often marketed as a health drink and can be found displayed on supermarket shelves alongside other non-alcoholic drinks.
Why are people drinking kombucha all of a sudden? Kombucha is hailed by many of its fans as a super healthy drink that can help solve many different health issues. Gut problems? Drink some kombucha because the probiotic bacteria in the drink are apparently very similar to the good bacteria in your gut, thus, it may help improve your digestion.
There are also claims that kombucha can be beneficial for reducing inflammation, lowering cholesterol levels, preventing bacteria and illness, fighting cancer, and even promoting mental wellness. If kombucha is that healthy, why should people with alcohol addiction problems avoid the drink? This can be explained by discussing the alcohol content of kombucha.
Does kombucha contain alcohol?
The answer to the question of whether kombucha contains alcohol is YES. Kombucha undergoes a fermentation process therefore ethanol, a simple alcohol is produced. And while kombucha is supposed to contain very little alcohol, the reality is that it still contains alcohol.
In America, if a beverage has less than .5% alcohol by volume or ABV, then it can be labeled as a non-alcoholic drink. Manufacturers are also not required to place the alcohol content in the drink’s nutrition facts if the ABV is below this number.
The alcohol content of kombucha is supposed to be below .5% ABV that’s why it’s being marketed as a non-alcoholic beverage. So if a kombucha bottle indeed has below .5% ABV then it can be considered non-alcoholic.
The catch, however, is that many of the kombucha drinks in the market actually have much higher alcohol content. An independent research group in Canada found that after sampling over 700 brands of kombucha, some samples which were supposed to be non-alcoholic had the same alcohol content as beer or cider.
One of the possible reasons why the alcohol content of kombucha can increase is because real kombucha is not pasteurized to retain its probiotic properties. When pasteurization is skipped, the tea can continue to ferment over time especially if it was not stored properly or not refrigerated.
So if somewhere in the distribution process, the bottles of kombucha were not refrigerated, the kombucha could ferment and its ABV will increase. The ABV of kombucha then fluctuates depending on these factors.
Can you get drunk by drinking kombucha?
If you are drinking “hard kombucha” which is kombucha that was intentionally left to ferment longer, then you can definitely get drunk on kombucha. These hard kombucha drinks typically have 5% to 7% ABV which is similar to a standard beer.
If the non-alcoholic kombucha that you’re drinking has lower than .5% ABV then getting drunk is difficult to achieve even if you drink several bottles. However, there is really no guarantee how much alcohol is in your kombucha unless you can be assured that it was handled and delivered to you in the best condition possible. Even if the kombucha drink is labeled as non-alcoholic, it is possible that it will have a higher ABV so drinking a few bottles could get you drunk.
Why alcoholics should refrain from drinking kombucha
If you are trying to stay away from alcohol, kombucha may not be the best beverage alternative to have. As kombucha still contains alcohol, it is not an ideal drink to have if you’re detoxing from alcoholic beverages. As explained earlier, the alcohol content of kombucha can fluctuate depending on time and storage conditions. You might think you’re drinking a non-alcoholic drink only to realize that you’re already getting tipsy.
While kombucha may provide health benefits, the risk of getting drunk and relapsing is definitely not worth it. Instead of kombucha, you can have other foods like fresh produce, yogurt, and apple cider vinegar to get probiotic benefits.
If you or a loved one is struggling with alcohol addiction, help is available.
Contact Anaheim Lighthouse today.