Is Kombucha Safe For Kids?
For the health conscious, kombucha is a household name. This healthy soda alternative is currently making waves in the US. In fact, a 2015 market analysis report projects that kombucha sales will soar to $1.8 billion by 2020.
But this “mushroom tea” had long been enjoyed in other parts of the world. Though it tastes great, it’s claim to fame are its health benefits.
Kombucha is made by fermenting green, black or oolong tea in a cultured colony of bacteria and yeast. In the kombucha brewing world, this culture which looks like a flat rubbery fungus is known as “the mother”. After a week of fermentation, the tea and bacteria mixture will yield a fizzy amber liquid with a “funky” sweet-sour taste as well as a high count of organic acids.
Apart from acetic acid, lactate and ethyl acetate, kombucha also contains B vitamins and traces of alcohol. This is why experts are in disagreement on how safe it is for kids. Some are all for it while others are worried that its alcohol content might cause intoxication on children.
To date, there had been no conclusive study that proves kombucha is not safe for kids. But no studies have been able to prove the contrary either. So giving kombucha to your kids is really a matter of personal choice.
Probiotics in Kombucha
Like most fermented foods, kombucha is an excellent source of probiotics, the live microorganisms that lives within our body. It’s also present in some of the foods we eat.
Also known as the “good bacteria”, probiotics prevent its harmful counterparts from taking over. A healthy balance of both good and bad bacteria brings about various health benefits. Since most of these bacteria in our guts, our digestive system is the first to benefit from it. Regular intake of probiotic supplements help treat and prevent digestive diseases like diarrhea and irritable bowel syndrome.
Aside from improving our digestion, it also boosts our immune system. In fact, the health benefits of probiotics vary widely. Studies found that probiotics also:
- promotes mental health
- reduces blood pressure
- boosts immunity
- prevents skin diseases like eczema
- stabilize blood sugar level
- decreases risk of heart disease
- prevents common cold, throat and mouth diseases
In children, probiotics also play a key role in improving their body’s digestive function. A 2011 medical review explained its potential in treating inflammatory bowel disease in children. It also prevents and lessen the duration of upper respiratory tract infections. When given to pregnant and breastfeeding mothers, may also help in reducing the risk for eczema and skin diseases in infants.
If you’re not sure about giving a probiotic supplement to your precious little one, a kombucha can be a good starting point.
Other Health Benefits
Apart from its probiotic content, kombucha is also rich in various vitamins and minerals. Here are other health benefits children can gain from kombuchas.
Improves Mental Health
Kombucha is a great source of vitamins B1, B6 and B12 which helps increase mental clarity in children and improve their concentration abilities. It also has a mood-stabilizing effect which is beneficial for children suffering from anxiety and depression.
The glucaric and glucarinic acid in kombucha are powerful antioxidants that promote cellular regeneration by fighting free radicals. They also boost your kid’s immunity and decreases the risk for cancer.
Natural Energy Booster
Just like soda, kombucha can boost your child’s energy but minus the sugar. This helps you curb your child’s sugar cravings thus making weight management easier.
Promotes Nerve Health
The B vitamins, amino acids, methylxanthine and alkaloids in kombucha help promote healthy nerve function in children. So kids suffering from epilepsy, stroke and nervous disorders can benefit from a regular sip of this fizzy drink.
Anti-microbial and Anti-inflammatory
Kombucha also contains high amounts of acetic acids and bacteriocins which have anti-microbial properties. It helps protect your child against harmful bacterias like salmonella and e-coli. It also has anti-inflammatory properties which help cure most infections.
What Moms Have to Say
Moms who enjoy kombucha have differing opinions about sharing the drink to their kids. Some claimed to have given their kids a taste of kombucha as early as five months old with no observed adverse effects. While others are strongly against the idea as the drink’s alcohol and caffeine content can be harmful.
For mothers who swear by kombucha, it’s alcohol content is nothing to worry about. Store-bought kombucha has only about 0.5 to 1.0% alcohol which is too insignificant to cause any sort of intoxication.
But anti-kombucha moms argue that commercial brands don’t always put the right amount of alcohol content on their labels. The recent government crackdown has brought to light that some kombucha brands contain as much as 3% alcohol. Furthermore, its alcohol content increases as the drink ages. So its possible that it can cause intoxication in children if the parent is not careful.
Like its alcohol content, the caffeine doesn’t really bother pro-kombucha moms. But for those advocating against kombucha to children, the caffeine content (though tolerable for adults) might be harmful to kids. Some kombucha brands has caffeine equivalent to that of an average-sized coffee.
In the end, it all boils down to your instinct, common sense and personal choice as a parent. Remember that every kid have their own needs and what works for others might not work for your child. Consult a medical professional just to be on the safe side.