I remember when I was a kid I would always want to copy everything my parents did. If my dad drank coffee, I wanted to try it. If my mom was drinking wine, I needed a sip. If your kids are anything like me, they’ll want to try some of your kombucha. It’s a health drink, how much damage can it do?
Or you may even want to pass some of kombucha’s health benefits onto your kids. But is it safe to do so? Can kids really drink kombucha?
Kids should not drink home-brewed kombucha. Kombucha brewed at home can contain up to 3% alcohol – almost as much as a regular beer! Not to mention it also contains up to 37 mg of caffeine per 8 oz. Store-bought kombucha, on the other hand, is required by law to contain less than 0.5% alcohol. So it is safe for kids to drink (in small amounts.) You just have to watch the caffeine and sugar levels.
If you want more information on the caffeine and alcohol levels of kombucha you can read my posts here:
Why Home-Brewed Kombucha Is Unsafe For Kids
The science is very clear when it comes to kids and alcohol: any alcohol consumed underage can have harmful effects on the child’s development.
I’m just going to go ahead and quote the experts here:
Drinking alcohol, especially under the age of 15, can “negatively affect the normal development of vital organs and functions, including the brain, liver, bones and hormones. It is associated with increased health risks, including alcohol-related injuries, involvement in violence, and suicidal thoughts and attempts.” (Source)
It’s very simple.
This is why I do not recommend you share your kombucha with your children.
As you know, kombucha is a fermented beverage. The two by-products of fermentation are CO2 and alcohol. In uncontrolled environments, such as in home-brewing, these alcohol levels can sometimes reach 3%.
So if a child was able to get their hands on one of your 16 oz bottles, they could potentially be consuming as much alcohol as an entire beer. While this is no reason to panic and call poison control, regular consumption of kombucha in children will have negative health outcomes.
Can My Kids Drink Store-Bought Kombucha?
By law, kombucha sold in stores must contain less than 0.5% alcohol. This is the requirement for them to be classified as “non-alcoholic.” In recent years, regulators have been cracking down on commercial kombucha brewers. When tested, they found many of the commercial breweries were selling kombucha that had alcohol in the 1-2% ABV.
After this crackdown, kombucha companies have changed their brewing process to reduce the alcohol levels.
So, if you are dying to let your kid try some kombucha, or if you want to see if it can cure their uncomfortable stomach, then your only option is to buy kombucha from the store.
However, there are a few other things you should be concerned with:
Kombucha can contain up to 40 mg of caffeine per 8 oz! For a 16 oz. bottle that’s equivalent to the average-sized coffee. This can be a lot of caffeine for a child, especially younger children.
There are a number of brands that contain far less caffeine. The popular GT Kombucha, for instance, only contains14 mg/8 oz.
This small amount can still be disruptive for kids.
Current guidelines recommend for children aged 4-6 years, the maximum recommended intake is 45 milligrams a day. So, as long as your child is not drinking over 8 0z. of kombucha a day you should be within these guidelines.
But what about sugar?
Kombucha can contain up to 4 grams of sugar per 8 oz. Compared to soda (39 grams) and fruit juice (23 grams) kombucha seems much more reasonable.
Current guidelines state children between 2 and 18 should eat fewer than 25 grams of sugar per day.
As you can see, kombucha isn’t going to drastically eat into your child’s daily sugar budget. In fact, it’s actually a prefferable option to soft drinks or fruit juice. Your child will still get the bubbly drink without the sugar!
Some Reason Why Your Child Should Drink Kombucha
Having your child drink kombucha can come with a few benefits:
- Helpful probiotics
- Improves immune system
- A good source of healthy acids
The main benefit your child will get from kombucha is the added probiotics. Drinking kombucha provides the same benefits as other fermented foods – balance.
I’m sure you’re aware of how picky kids can be when it comes to their diet. This makes it difficult to eat the right foods that promote a balanced population of gut bacteria. This can lead to a wide range of problems from constipation to bloating.
While kombucha likely won’t cure the problem completely, it can improve the GI tract
It will boost the healthy bacteria that may be missing from your child’s digestive system. Kombucha also comes packed with helpful enzymes that can help break down food after a big meal.
Improve your child’s gut bacteria could help improve more than their digestion. Recent studies have found that up to 80% of your immune system is located in your gut.
The healthy gut bacteria teaches your immune cells the difference between a foreign substance and the body’s own tissues. This is an extremely important process in teaching your body what is healthy and what needs to be attacked.
Finally, kombucha contains plenty of healthy acids. Namely:
- Glucuronic acid: a very powerful detoxifier that cleanses the body and supports the liver.
- Acetic Acid: helps the body absorb minerals and balance a number of critical systems, including blood glucose regulation and the cardiovascular system
- Lactic Acid: improves digestion, prevents constipation, improved blood circulation, balances the body’s pH, helps reduce bad bacteria while promoting the good, and increased nutrient absorption.
All within one drink!
To summarize, DO NOT feed your child your home-brewed kombucha (unless you’ve tested the alcohol levels yourself.) You CAN feed your child store-bought kombucha. Try to keep the dose around 8 0z. per day to prevent them from ingesting too much caffeine!