What is Water Kefir?
The coming back of water kefir may be the next big health news. Yes, the coming back. Old folklores in Asia mentioned this drink as a cure for many ailments and diseases. This probiotic-rich super beverage has benefited human for hundreds of years, but it is finding new life with the modern interests in natural wellness. It offers much of the same goodness to your digestive system as kombucha, jun, or milk kefir and can be flavored a million ways.
People love sugary effervescent drinks. Admit it; at least I will. Before mass-produced sodas became the sugary villains they are today, sodas were regularly consumed for health and pure pleasure reasons. Soda fountains were situated right inside pharmacies. Imagine that, drinks laden with high-fructose corn syrup, artificial flavorings, and preservatives, inside an apothecary; just as bizzare as cigarettes for curing asthma.
Today, handmade sodas can actually be good for you. Sodas made from water kefir grains contain probiotics that can support healthy digestion. Naturally fermented food, water kefir sodas are actually super drink. With careful tailoring of the added flavorings, you can boost vitamin and nutrient contents of your super sodas. The sky is the limit!
Why Water Kefir?
The probiotic supplements on the market have three or four strains of bacteria and yeasts. There are a few brands that contain up to ten strains but these are more expensive. There are even competitions between manufacturers to pack more colony forming units (CFUs) into a capsule. Many of these are easily replaceable with water kefir soda. Being liquid, it passes through stomach faster, so there is less interaction with bile and stomach acids. Water kefir contains between 0.5-1 billion CFUs per ml, meaning a tablespoon of water kefir contains more than any probiotic supplement!
Water kefir can be even consumed by diabetics in some cases. During fermentation, the sugar in the soda breaks down into fructose and glucose. Fructose is a low glicemic sugar, making it safer for some diabetics. In the fermentation process, the water kefir culture’s use of the sugar means that there isn’t much sugar left in the final product. This is good news for those with Metabolic Syndrome in the sense that water kefir doesn’t add to problems with blood sugar fluctuations or feed those sugar cravings. However, if you are suffering from Metabolic Syndrome or diabetes, proceed cautiously, as always when starting a new regiment.
Kefir drinks, both milk and water, contain benefits of probiotics, vitamins B1, B6, B12, minerals, amino acids and enzymes. Those whose diet excludes dairy intakes, will find water kefir a perfect substitute. It is very hydrating and refreshing, perfect for gluten-free, grain-free, dairy-free palates. Adding natural flavorings such as berries or other fruits boost the vitamin contents of it.
What the Research Says
Species diversity analyses indicated that the most important microbial species were Lactobacillus casei/paracasei, Lactobacillus harbinensis, Lactobacillus hilgardii, Bifidobacterium psychraerophilum/crudilactis, Saccharomyces cerevisiae, and Dekkera bruxellensis. Some strains of these species, such as Lb. casei and Bifidobacterium spp., possess probiotic activities. Sucrose, the major substrate of the fermentation was completely converted after 24 hour of fermentation, in which water kefir grain polysaccharide is produced. The main metabolites of the fermentation were ethanol and lactic acid, whereas glycerol, acetic acid, and mannitol were produced in low concentrations.
Water kefir and probiotics, in general, may help with certain conditions listed below. Note that the human microbiome is an exciting areas of scientific discovery that’s still in the early stages.
Arthritis - If you have an inflammatory type of arthritis, probiotics may be especially important. The beneficial bacteria appear to have an impact on inflammation, reducing common biomarkers of inflammation, including C-reactive protein.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome - probiotics help balance gut health
Chronic fatigue - chronic fatigue is often linked to overgrowth of Candida Albicans, and controlling the population with probiotics sounds like the way to go.
Weight gain - Candida overgrowth is often thought to cause sugar craving and over consumption, and it makes perfectly sense that the exist links between gut health, absorption, metabolism, sugar and food cravings (read here and here).
Depression - Researches have been done to study the link of gut microflora and depression, and how probiotics may help cure depression.
Skin Health - Research has been done to study the link between gut-brain-skin, and found the benefits of oral probiotics for skin health.
Immunity - Emerging insights into the interactions between probiotics and host receptors have demonstrated the ability of probiotics to modulate gene expression and cellular differentiation of the immune system.