How Much Kombucha Is Safe to Drink Every Day?
Kombucha is packed with probiotics, but some bottles have high levels of sugar and alcohol that makes them better for moderate consumption.
Once only found in the back of health food stores, today kombucha is a mainstream beverage with loyal sippers of all ages and backgrounds. Touted for it's probiotic benefits, many "booch" lovers consume it on a daily basis and by the bottle. However, many bottles on the shelf contain more than one serving and, for some, the good-for-you bacteria found in the fermented beverage is too much for daily drinking. Here's what you need to know about kombucha and how to safely sip it for the most health benefits.
What Is Kombucha?
Kombucha is a fizzy fermented and flavored tea comes in hundreds of varieties. Kombucha is made by combining brewed tea with a combination of bacteria and yeast, commonly referred to as “SCOBY,” along with a sweetener to feed the yeast. The fermentation process creates the tangy flavor and delicate effervescence that makes kombucha so adored. Fermentation also develops the gut-pleasing healthy bacteria known as probiotics that help nourish the gut.
Daina Trout, Co-Founder and Chief Mission Officer at Health-Ade explains all that kombumcha has to offer: “Kombucha is naturally rich in probiotics, prebiotics, and healthy organic acids (also known as postbiotics). All these compounds can be found in fermented foods and have demonstrated that they support a healthy microbiome when you ingest them regularly.” While you can find fermented foods like kimchi, miso and tempeh in many grocery stores, some of kombucha's popularity may be due in part to its accessibility — you can find it in most grocery stores and even gas stations. This level of saturation makes it a good option for daily consumption.
How Often Should You Drink Kombucha?
Probiotic foods like kombucha can, and should, be consumed on a daily basis. "Gut health is not just about healthy digestion — in fact, the gut is now considered central in driving immunity, energy, metabolism, mood, and even how much your skin glows!” says Trout. However, much like many foods and beverages, there is no one size fits all, so checking labels and ingredient lists is the way to go. Here are some things to keep in mind when shopping for kombucha.
Most kombuchas contain between 30 and 50 calories per 8 fluid ounces. Most containers range from 12 to 20 ounces and may contain more than 1 serving per container.
As mentioned above, fermentation requires some sugar, but the addition of multiple sugary flavorings can make kombucha overly sweet and unnecessarily high in added sugars. Look for brands sweetened with 100% fruit juice and with less than 12 grams of added sugar per serving.
Since fermentation is used in the production of alcohol, many folks wonder, will my booch give me a buzz? The answer is (generally) no. Kombucha does contain trace amounts of alcohol, but those sold as non-alcoholic beverages fall well below the allowable levels, having only about 0.5% ABV per serving (a 12 fl oz beer contains 4-5% ABV). Some brands now offer “hard” kombuchas with higher alcohol content — closer to 3% ABV —but these are marketed and sold as alcoholic beverages and should be consumed in moderation like other alcoholic drinks.
Bottom Line: Daily doses of fermented foods including kombucha can be part of a healthy diet. Check out ingredient lists to find the best fit for yours.
Dana Angelo White, MS, RD, ATC, is a registered dietitian, certified athletic trainer and owner of Dana White Nutrition, Inc., which specializes in culinary and sports nutrition. She is the author of four cookbooks First Bites: Superfoods for Babies and Toddlers, The Healthy Air Fryer Cookbook, The Healthy Instant Pot Cookbook and Healthy Quick and Easy Smoothies.
*This article was written and/or reviewed by an independent registered dietitian nutritionist.