Is Kombucha Paleo?
With the rising popularity of kombucha, more and more people with specific dietary needs are wondering if kombucha fits into their diet.
Is Kombucha Paleo Approved?
With the multitude of articles about the health and wellness benefits of kombucha circulating the internet and social media, it’s difficult not to know a positive thing or two about this ancient fermented tea. But with increased exposure and popularity, more and more people with specific diets and active lifestyles are wondering: is this drink right for me? And this brings us to an interesting topic: is kombucha paleo approved?
What is Paleo?
“Paleo” is short for “Paleolithic,” which refers to the Paleolithic era (from about 3 million years ago to about 10,000 years ago). Colloquially we’re talking about “the caveman era.” In the context of modern fitness and diet plans, “paleo” refers to a diet that includes only foods that were believed to be available to humans in the caveman era. This means consuming naturally occurring foods like fruits, vegetables, meat, nuts, and seeds. It means excluding certain foods that came about when humanity started farming and producing food like grains, legumes, dairy products, and, most importantly, sugar.
The idea behind this diet is that our bodies are biologically optimized for a particular diet, and a return to that diet is not only beneficial from a health and wellness standpoint but can also help keep weight in moderation and certain health issues at bay. With many links found between sugar and maladies like diabetes and obesity, it’s understandably at the forefront of many people’s minds, and especially those who are health-conscious and might be following the paleo diet.
Does Kombucha Fit Into The Paleo Diet?
It’s essential to know how kombucha is made to understand why kombucha being acceptable on the paleo diet is even up for debate.
Kombucha is a fermented tea, so of course, two ingredients are water and tea. No problems there! To brew kombucha, you also need a SCOBY, the bacteria and yeast that carries out the fermentation. Still in the clear!
However, the “fermenting” part is what brings up this question. Fermentation (at least in the context of brewing kombucha and other alcoholic drinks) is the conversion of sugar to alcohol using yeast. Along with tea and water, brewing kombucha requires sugar, and since sugar is a big no-no for the paleo diet, it’s now clear why kombucha being paleo-approved may come into question.
Is Kombucha Paleo Friendly?
Well, it depends on who you ask as it isn’t so black and white. If we’re going by very strict definitions, kombucha does not belong on a paleo diet.
But there’s still good news for kombucha lovers who abide by paleo diet restrictions: the vast majority of the sugar used to make kombucha is eaten up by the SCOBY (that culture of bacteria and yeast we mentioned earlier). The SCOBY feeds on the sugars and produces beneficial acids and small amounts of alcohol (usually less than 0.5% ABV). The result is a slightly sweet, tart, delicious, carbonated drink with very low sugar content.
The Final Word
Although it does depend on who you ask, experts on the paleo diet have confirmed that they consider kombucha paleo-friendly, especially given the very low sugar content and the health benefits. Anyone following the paleo diet can rest assured that kombucha is healthy and is generally considered approved for paleo, even by the experts!
It also should be noted that if you want to be strict with your paleo diet but still love kombucha; homebrewing kombucha gives you more control over how much sugar is consumed by the yeast and bacteria. The longer the kombucha brew is left to ferment, the more sugar will be “used up” and converted by the kombucha culture. So if you’re a strict paleo dieter, brewing kombucha at home might be best for you! Find out how to brew kombucha at home here.