As you probably know already, kombucha contains probiotics (good bacteria) from the fermentation process. But kombucha can also contain alcohol – and alcohol is believed to cause harm to bacteria!
This probably makes you wonder, can alcohol kill probiotics in kombucha, or do the “good bacteria” survive? Will the alcohol only kill the bad guys?
- The alcohol content in most kombucha products is too low to have a damaging effect or kill the probiotics in the drink
- However, kombucha with higher alcohol content, say 5% alcohol, is likely to have no probiotics left – and you shouldn’t believe the marketing strategy that all kombuchas have probiotics
- Also, drinking additional alcohol from another source (including wine or beer) can kill the probiotics in kombucha
How much alcohol is in kombucha? Is it alright to take it (or other probiotic drinks) with alcohol? How do you even know if your kombucha has alcohol or not?
Don’t worry because we’ll discuss the answers to all these questions below.
Does Alcohol Kill Probiotics In Kombucha?
The answer is usually “no” – if you’re talking about kombucha’s own alcohol content. Kombucha that’s labeled as “non-alcoholic” has an alcohol content that’s probably too low to kill the probiotic bacteria inside the drink.
However, if you’re talking about getting an additional alcoholic drink, then that alcohol kills probiotics in your kombucha.
But is there any evidence about that? Let me share with you what I discovered while researching this.
Evidence That Alcohol Kills Probiotics
Alcohol is a well-known disinfectant, even in its different forms.
Of course, we already know that the rubbing alcohol we use as a disinfectant or hand sanitizer can kill bacteria, including many pathogenic microorganisms – but we don’t drink that kind of alcohol.
Alcoholic drinks like wine and beer are drinkable – and they can have a similar disinfectant effect on bacteria, including “good bacteria” like probiotics.
In a 2020 study published in the Foods journal, researchers studied the antimicrobial effect of five different red and white wines against Escherichia coli using fish as a food matrix.
Amazingly, all the wines showed antimicrobial effects, reducing the growth of bacteria after three days. Even the wines with the lowest alcoholic concentrations had a similar effect, though to a lesser degree.
Escherichia coli is a pathogenic bacteria. But let’s look into the question: Can alcohol kill probiotics?
Now, while kombucha isn’t the same as wine, it does contain some alcohol.
Thankfully, kombucha isn’t really considered an alcoholic drink because its alcohol content is too low. That also means that its alcohol content isn’t as potent as the wines used in the study above.
Low-alcohol kombucha isn’t likely to kill probiotics, but high-alcohol kombucha will.
How Much Alcohol Is Allowed In Kombucha?
For commercially produced kombucha to be considered a non-alcoholic beverage, it needs to contain less than 0.5% alcohol. That’s good news in different ways (but possibly some bad news, too).
First, it isn’t likely that the alcohol in this drink can kill the probiotics inside it. So, you can maximize their benefits while also enjoying an alcohol-like beverage.
Second, considering the very low alcohol levels in kombucha, it isn’t likely you’ll get drunk by downing a bottle or two in one sitting.
At these levels, you’d have to drink many bottles of kombucha in a short period of time to feel any effects of the alcohol.
So, what’s the bad news?
Well, not all kombucha products have low alcohol levels. Some can have as high as 5% – and that can kill probiotics.
Also, there’s really no guarantee that low-alcohol kombucha drinks contain viable probiotic cultures. Many might contain some probiotic content, but they might be too low to be really useful in your body.
Is it Safe to Drink Alcohol While Taking Probiotics?
So, you might be curious whether you can take probiotics and alcohol together.
The answer is a “yes” and “no.”
Let’s start with the “yes.”:
Drinking kombucha with alcohol is safe and isn’t likely to produce any life-threatening side effects unless you have some underlying medical condition that makes you unable to handle alcohol or probiotics.
Now, let’s go to the “no.”:
While it’s technically “safe” to drink alcohol while taking probiotics, we advise against doing it.
Why? Because it’s counterproductive and a waste of money!
You’re spending money on probiotics that need to be alive for you to enjoy their full potential. Alcohol kills probiotics. So, if you drink alcohol while taking probiotics or take a probiotic after drinking alcohol, you’re essentially killing the good bacteria in your supplement.
Now, you might be curious, does beer kill probiotics? Well, the answer is most likely a “yes.”
While beer is a fermented drink similar to kombucha, it’s an alcoholic drink containing around 4.2% to 5% alcohol. The probiotics you take with beer are good as dead.
Does Alcoholic Kombucha Have Probiotics?
Also known as “hard kombucha,” the alcoholic variety contains alcohol levels of more than 5%. Some products might even contain alcohol as high as 11%.
Tracy Lockwood Beckerman, RDN, explains on the wellness blog, Health.com, that there isn’t any guarantee that you can get a significant amount of alive and viable probiotics in hard kombucha drinks.
In the same article, Lisa Moskovitz, RDN, adds that even if there are still some probiotics left in the alcoholic kombucha, they’re unlikely to reach the lower gastrointestinal tract where they can thrive and work their magic.
Is It OK To Mix Kombucha With Alcohol?
Yes, some people even mix kombucha with other drinks to create cocktails, but it’s not really a good idea. It’s unlikely that you’ll get a serious side effect by mixing the two (except getting drunk).
But you’ll be wasting your money, and you won’t maximize the supposed health benefits of your kombucha drink because your probiotics will be dead.
What Is The Highest Alcohol Content Kombucha?
The kombucha alcohol content by brand varies greatly, but Dr. Hops Real Hard Kombucha appears to have the highest level at 9-11%. Drink moderately and go slow because the juicy taste might make you think it’s just a mild, non-alcoholic drink.
I’ve prepared the below table to help you compare some of the hard kombucha products with the highest alcohol content currently available on the market:
|Hard Kombucha Brands||% Alcohol|
|Dr. Hops Real Hard Kombucha:||9-11%|
|Unity Vibration Kombucha Beer (The Funky Ginger):||9.1%|
|Hooch Booch Bees Knees:||8.5%|
|Indeed Brewing Boon Blueberry Basil Hard Kombucha:||8.2%|
|JuneShine Hard Kombucha Coco Rico:||8%|
|Nova Easy Kombucha – Sexy Piñacolada:||8%|
|Wild Tonic Mind Spank Hard Jun Kombucha:||7.6%|
|Flying Embers Black Cherry Hard Kombucha:||7.2%|
|Boochcraft Organic Hard Kombucha:||7%|
|KYLA Hard Kombucha Sunset Trio:||6.5%|
|Luna Bay Hibiscus Lavender Hard Kombucha:||6%|
|Zesty Hard Kombucha Ginger Lemon:||4.5%|
|Kombrewcha Mango Pineapple:||4.4%|
|Strainge Beast Watermelon Sea Salt Hard Kombucha:||4%|
Note that these hard kombucha products aren’t likely to contain probiotics since the higher alcohol content can kill the probiotics.
Does My Kombucha Contain Alcohol?
Well, that depends on what you got. Check the label for the product’s alcohol content.
Bear in mind, however, that the alcohol content printed on the product isn’t absolute. This can be affected by various factors, including storage conditions.
If there are active probiotics in your kombucha, they can even continue fermenting the product – and that can turn its sugar content into alcohol. You can’t really tell whether the probiotics are still alive and the actual alcohol content of the drink in your hand.
In conclusion, while Kombucha with a low alcohol content usually contains probiotics and is safe to drink, higher-alcohol kombucha may kill off these beneficial bacteria, thus diminishing any potential health benefits.
Furthermore, drinking any other alcoholic beverages in combination with Kombucha can also reduce or completely eliminate the probiotic cultures in the drink. To make sure you’re consuming viable probiotics with your kombucha, it’s important to read the product labels for the exact alcohol content of your chosen beverage and check that it is within the 0.5%-5% range.
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