What Recovering Alcoholics Should Know About Kombucha

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Kombucha is a beverage that has been popularized in western culture for years now. You might have seen the drink on the shelves of your local grocery store or co-op or read about it online. It can be purchased from the store in a variety of flavors or made at home. Kombucha is a fermented tea that has many purported benefits, but many of these benefits are not supported by research. The drink does contain probiotics, however, and a good amount of recent research suggests that probiotics can be beneficial. But if you’re a recovering alcoholic, you should stay away from this drink. Why? Because it contains alcohol.

Whole Foods actually pulled all of these drinks from their store shelves for a period of time back in 2010 because the 0.5% alcohol content limit was being exceeded in some cases. The kombucha that was being sold continued to ferment as it was stored on shelves and the alcohol content in some bottles reached 3%. The problem was quickly remedied, but for those who make their own kombucha at home, the issue of alcohol content remains. For one, home brewers don’t usually know how much alcohol their kombucha contains once they have deemed it ready to drink and secondly, the drink does continue to ferment, which can raise the alcohol content in the drink significantly over time.

These are risks that are generally acceptable for non-alcoholics to take. But for recovering alcoholics, these risks are just too high. The trace amounts of alcohol found in kombucha might not register as significant for most people, but they can be a crutch or an introduction to a relapse for a recovering addict. According to Vice, a spokesperson for AA has said that kombucha consumption can be dangerous for recovering alcoholics, stating that if a recovering addict knows that there is alcohol in a beverage but still feels like they are doing fine with it, it wouldn’t necessarily be a far throw for that person to then move onto drinks that contain slightly more alcohol.

So if you want the benefits of drinking kombucha but you don’t want to risk having even a trace amount of alcohol, here’s what you should do:

1. Drink tea. 

If you like tea, drink it! Tea is the base of kombucha – usually black or green tea. The tea contributes in part to the “kombucha buzz.” Kombucha drinks that have fruity flavors have a tiny bit of the respective juice in them. If you like the way that tastes, consider simply adding some of your favorite juice to your tea.

2. Consume probiotics.

If you find that consuming probiotics makes you feel better, you can get them from places other than kombucha. Some foods that contain probiotics include: yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, miso, soft cheeses, sourdough bread, sour pickles, and tempeh.

3. Drink club soda or mix it in.

Perhaps you just like the effervescent aspect of kombucha. If you like the bubbly part of the drink, consider consuming club soda or sparkling juices as a replacement.

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