When you first heard the term water kefir, you were probably like, "Water what?" Kefir is not something most people know about these days. So what exactly is it? And why is it good for you? Read on to find out.
Simply put, water kefir is a culture, a living growth of beneficial bacteria and yeast. I like to think of the culture as a civilization of tiny creatures, looking to make a new home in your gut.
That may sound strange, but remember that there are already millions of microscopic creatures living inside us, called our microbiome. So water kefir is just strengthening something that is already inside all of us all the time!
In fact, you could think of drinking water kefir as sending much-needed reinforcements to a team of first responders, such as firefighters working to control a raging inferno. The natural team you already have in your gut (your microbiome) is doing okay, but with some fresh recruits to help out they can do their job even better.
Water Kefir (the Beverage) vs. Water Kefir Grains
The kefir culture is made up of chunky bits called grains. Even though they have that name, they have nothing to do with rice or wheat or any other grain. They are a culture, so the name is very misleading. The grains of non-dairy kefir look like tiny cubes of Jell-O to most people. They can be different colors, too, anywhere from translucent white to a darker brown.
When you drink water kefir, you don't actually ingest those grains. (Although, if you choose to, it won't hurt you at all. Eating the grains, or grinding them up in s smoothie, is very good for you.) Generally, most water kefir users will keep the grains back to continue fermenting and multiplying.
Instead, when you drink water kefir, you'll probably be drinking the fizzy, tangy beverage the grains produce by fermenting sugar water. In fact, if you put that beverage through a process called second fermentation, your kefir drink can be sweet, fruity, extra fizzy like a soda, and even very slightly alcoholic!
Why is Water Kefir so Good for You?
As we said above, you have millions of tiny creatures living inside you, making up your microbiome. Having a healthy microbiome is essential for good health. Unfortunately, because of the foods we eat, our microbiome can get out of whack, so to speak. That’s where probiotics come in.
Kefir and other probiotics provide thousands of strains of beneficial bacteria and yeast. These tiny creatures take up residence in your gut, aiding in your overall health.
For this reason, some studies have shown probiotics to help with your immune system, slow the growth of cancer, and contribute to a healthier, more natural, and happier you!
That said, it's important to note that water kefir is not a miracle drug. Don't assume probiotics can replace traditional medicine or get you out of going to a doctor. Instead, think of water kefir as just one piece of a large puzzle of health.
If you want to learn more about water kefir and how you can start fermenting your own, head over to our Ultimate Water Kefir Guide.