Is Kombucha Okay with The Whole30 Diet?

What Is Whole30?

According to whole30.com, the founders of the Whole30, many of our health issues stem from a poor diet or eating foods that our bodies can’t process well. Sugar, grains, dairy and legumes, they claim, “could have a negative impact on your health and fitness without you even realizing it.” To determine which of these foods may be affecting your health, they recommend eliminating them completely from your diet for a full 30 days to see if you notice a change. They believe it will not only make you feel better, but it will “change your life.”

As part of the Whole30 diet, you are to eliminate added sugar (real or artificial), added alcohol, grains (including corn, rice and quinoa), legumes, dairy, emulsifiers (like carrageenan), and preservatives. This requires lots of label reading as many of these ingredients are hidden in foods such as ketchup, dressings and marinades, and most packaged foods.

The International Food Information Council Foundation’s 13th annual Food and Health Safety Survey found 36 percent of Americans followed a specific diet within the past year, 5 percent of them trying the Whole30 diet. Some decide to follow Whole30 to find out what their sensitive to or to “heal” their gut from inflammation perhaps caused by the offending foods, while others simply want to lose weight or cleanse their diet of processed foods.

Does Kombucha Have Sugar or Alcohol?

A lot of people want to know if kombucha has sugar or alcohol, or is gluten-free, sometimes to see if it fits into Whole30 or other diets. Afterall, many drink kombucha as a healthy (and yummy) alternative to sugary sodas and juice drinks or alcoholic beverages.

First, let’s go over what kombucha is. Kombucha starts off as sweet tea. Simple, brewed tea and sugar, no grains. Yeast and bacteria are added and the concoction is allowed to rest at a certain temperature. Wa-la! Fermentation begins. As the mix ferments, yeast converts the sugar into alcohol, and bacteria converts that alcohol into organic acids. A byproduct of these fermentations is CO2, which gives kombucha its fizz. Without sugar, fermentation cannot occur. Essentially, it feeds the yeast and bacteria so it grows.

Related: What’s with Kombucha Sugar?

According to Whole30, sugars and alcohols that are a natural part of fermentation are accepted. It’s when sugars and alcohol are added to the product that they break the rules of Whole30. Whole30 is clear on where they stand with kombucha: as long as the label on the bottle of kombucha doesn’t list sugar in the ingredients, it’s okay to drink. If the manufacturer lists sugar, you can’t drink it.

There’s a BIG “but” coming here. Whole30 recognizes that all kombucha has sugar, but some manufacturers are not as transparent as others in how they label their products. Even though every manufacturer must use sugar in the fermentation process, not all choose to disclose that sugar on their nutrition labels. Because Whole30 is rules-based and doesn’t want to confuse followers on the nuances, it says to just follow the labels. Even they say it doesn’t seem fair to punish transparency, a rule is a rule, according to them.

They do qualify the rule by saying the only reason they stick to the labeling rule is because it’s too hard for consumers to know whether sugars were added after the fermentation process (a no-no in the Whole30 diet) or if they were a natural byproduct of the fermentation process (making it okay to drink on Whole30). Without consistency in labeling transparency, all they can go on is the label.

Let’s be clear: Brew Dr. never adds sugar or alcohol to our brews after fermentation. Every gram of sugar is required for the fermentation process and is, therefore, completely cool to drink on Whole30. We’ll say it again…you can enjoy Brew Dr. Kombucha on Whole30.

Related: Alcohol in Kombucha: What You Need to Know

Is Kombucha Made with Grains or Any Other “Forbidden” Products?

Kombucha doesn’t contain grains. It is made from tea leaves, water, yeast, bacteria and sugar. We aren’t aware of any brands of kombucha who use grains in their brews, so you can mark this concern off your list.

Kombucha also contains no legumes, dairy or emulsifiers, either. As far as preservatives go, brands may differ, but most are preservative-free. Brew Dr. doesn’t use any preservatives. Ever.

Choose Wisely

As we said, not all kombucha manufacturers make their kombuchas the same way using the same ingredients, but all use sugar. Be sure you read labels and check nutrition facts. As Whole30 says, unless you know for certain how the manufacturer brews their kombuchas, you won’t be able to tell if they added sugar to their brews after fermentation or not. To find out, you may need to contact the manufacturer directly or check out their website to see if they disclose it. Even better, stick with Brew Dr. Kombucha and you won’t have to worry!

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