This question has come up quite a lot recently from moms who are concerned whether it is safe to give kombucha to their children?
Kombucha is termed a functional food , it is a fermented drink made from tea, sugar and symbiotic bacteria and yeast referred to as a SCOBY. According to some of the latest stats research it is the fastest growing functional beverage in the US. Kombucha is available in ready to drink formulation in many shops/health shop in South Africa or else many actually make their own from home.
The interest around kombucha is mostly based on it suggested benefit in relation to gut health and improved digestion due to the fact that it contains probiotics. The benefits of probiotics in food have been studied in other functional food items like yoghurts but there is no human evidence in relation to kombucha. Other suggested benefits of kombucha are preventing cardiovascular disease and cancer as well as immune boosting properties . Kombucha is known to contain polyphenols, minerals, vitamins like C and B, amino acids and lactic acid bacteria all of which offer health benefits.
Whilst there are some studies that have been on adults consuming kombucha , none of these had a control group which is an important part of good quality research. Majority of the studies that show beneficial effects have been done on animals or in test tubes. A Lot of the human evidence around kombucha is observational or anecdotal meaning it's personal experiences or what we an individual see or feel.
Kombucha has a very low Ph making it very acidic and hence some medical professionals are caused about the risk of enamel corrosion in our teeth from consuming too much kombucha .
It is recommended that pregnant and lactating women as well as immunocompromised individuals avoid it because of the risk of contamination mainly in home brewed version. There have been some reports of side effects and toxicity when people have consumed kombucha for extended periods of time in adults.
It is important for parents to know Kombucha does contain trace amounts of alcohol and the amount will vary depending on the length of fermentation but amount of 0.7 to 1.3 % have been shown. A 330ml can of beer has an alcohol content of 5.5%..
The Centre for Disease Control is the only organization to give a numerical limit to kombucha ingestion and they recommend having no more than 120ml a day.
So I have to say the general consensus is that purely because of the lack of evidence most ay it is suitable for young children .if you are going to give it to your kids just be mindful of portion sizes due to the acidic Ph and trace amounts of alcohol, lo it might be better for food safety reasons to buy a store bought options as home brews are susceptible to mould and food safety . There are also options like kimchi, kefir and probiotic yoghurts which also contain probiotic bacteria and have more research to their name.
I tried some kombucha for a week and I can't stand the taste but I hate fizzy or fermented tasting things. I gave it to the kids who also didn't like it. My kid suffered terribly with flatulence for the next three days. It could be completely unassociated but just my observational experience that is what found. This could be completely unrelated.