If you’re health-conscious and love ‘new’ discoveries in the health and wellness field, you’ll love this! Not only does it yield fantastic health benefits, but it also tastes great and is easy to make. Water Kefir is a fermented, carbonated drink that’s nutrient-dense and vegan-friendly. It’s gaining in popularity, and if you didn’t know about it, here’s the full lowdown on what it is and all of its benefits.
Related: How Many Probiotic Drinks Per Day Should I Take?
What is Water Kefir?
Water kefir is a beverage that is made by adding kefir grains to organic sugar water. The grains, also known as California bees, tibicos, or Japanese water crystals, are grain-like yeast and bacteria cultures. It is said to have originated in the 1800s. The grains and sugar are fermented for 24 - 48 hours, producing a carbonated, probiotic-rich drink that is tasty and full of benefits.
If you’ve already heard of kefir, it may have been milk kefir. Milk kefir is traditionally made by using cow, goat, or sheep milk. But many people today are avoiding dairy consumption, so water kefir has become very popular.
Additionally, because it’s made with water, it is easily flavored with fruit, herbs and spices, or vegetables. Water kefir is healthier than soda or high-sugar juices.
What is the Difference Between Powdered Kefir Starter Culture and Water Kefir Grains?
You may have heard that you can use powdered kefir starter instead of water kefir grains. Here are the differences between the two:
- The grains have a higher number of probiotics than the powdered starter culture.
- You can use kefir grains repeatedly to make water kefir, but the powdered starter culture can only be reused a limited number of times before it no longer cultures.
- Although the powdered kefir starter culture is less expensive than the grains, you will have to repurchase it.
Does Water Kefir Have The Same Benefits as Milk Kefir?
Milk kefir has more bacteria and yeast strains than water kefir, but water kefir has more than yogurt or buttermilk.
Which Strains of Yeast and Bacteria are in Water Kefir?
The probiotics will vary from batch to batch. But here are some of the possible strains:
- Lactobacillus helveticus
- Lactobacillus delbrueckii subsp. bulgaricus
- Lactobacillus acidophilus
- Lactococcus lactis subsp. lactis
- Lactobacillus kefiranofaciens subsp. kefiranofaciens
- Lactobacillus kefiranofaciens subsp. kefirgranum
- Lactococcus lactis subsp. cremoris
- Streptococcus thermophilus
- Leuconostoc mesenteroides subsp. mesenteroides
- Leuconostoc mesenteroides subsp. cremoris
There may be as many as 56 different strains of bacteria and yeast. Water kefir is one of the finest sources of probiotics available.
Related: What Are Probiotic Drinks?
Are Water Kefir Grains Reusable?
As already stated, water kefir grains are indefinitely reusable. Once you have finished a batch, remove your water kefir grains and put them in a jar with fresh sugar water. It is possible to use the grains in juice or coconut water, but this can be hard on the grains. You should use a different set of grains for use with juice or coconut water.
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Benefits of Water Kefir
Water kefir has many vital benefits to your health:
Boosts Gut Health
Water kefir is full of probiotics (good bacteria) which support your gut health. There has been plenty of research to show how vital probiotics are to our overall health.
The kefir grains are an even more significant source of dietary probiotics than yogurt because of the diversity of yeast and bacteria.
Improves Immune Function
Due to the high volume of probiotics, water kefir can give your immune system a real boost. There is evidence that it can prevent recurrent urinary infections in women, some types of cancer (more on this below), and even protect you from respiratory infections. It may even suppress inflammatory responses to asthma. In this 2014 Review, it was noted that probiotics are vital to a healthy immune response.
Supports Weight Loss
Water kefir is lower in calories than our usual go-to beverages. So consuming it in place of soda and sugar-sweetened juices will reduce your calorie load immediately. But water kefir can support weight loss for another significant reason. Science has shown that gut health, which is tied to the flora of good bacteria present, also impacts appetite, metabolism, food intake, and body weight.
May Fight Cancer Cells
The discovery that the probiotics in water kefir may fight cancer cells is an exciting one. Studies show that the presence of kefir can slow or even stop the growth of specific cancer cells. This effect was seen in its ability to prevent breast cancer cells from growing. Other studies saw its benefits against colon and blood cancers as well. Much more research needs to be done, but the prospects are positive.
Suitable for Any Diet
When kefir is made with sugar water, it is naturally vegan and dairy-free. Water kefir is an excellent alternative to the milk variety, and because water is easily flavored, you can make it to suit your varied tastes.
Potential Side Effects
While water kefir is mostly safe to consume, for some, there may be a few side effects. Due to the high volume of probiotics, dietary issues may occur. Just like if you consume probiotic yogurt, you may suffer some bloating, constipation, cramps, or nausea as a result. These effects are unlikely to remain if you continue to consume kefir water over time.
Consult your doctor before drinking water kefir if you have a medical condition that weakens your immune system.
Related: 10 Health Benefits of Kefir (Backed By Science)
The Last Word on Water Kefir
Water kefir is full of healthy probiotics. It’s a delicious, fizzy beverage that can replace soda and sugary juices. It has many benefits, including improving your immune response, protecting you against some cancers, preventing the growth of specific cancer cells, and even supporting healthy weight management. Water kefir helps to populate your gut with good bacteria and make you healthier overall.
Our belief that everyone deserves a healthy gut is motivated by three core values - wellness, quality, and joy. Are you looking for a healthy drink that is ethical and delicious? Visit Sunny Culture to learn more.