Water Kefir: What Is Probiotic Water?

fermented water

Sour, bubbly, fruity, and fermented. Welcome to the world of enhanced, probiotic water – also known as water kefir.

Over the past few years, fermented foods have risen in popularity by up to 149%. A similar increase can be said for fermented drinks like kombucha and kefir. And it seems seeking out probiotic-rich beverages has never been more apt: with the pandemic continuing and health concerns increasing, the probiotics market is following suit, projected to reach 77.09 billion USD by 2025.

People are seeking out food and beverages that are known to boost immunity or are steeped in minerals and vitamins, and consumer demand for favorable bacteria is increasingly on the rise. Among those foods and beverages is the lactose-free, fermented, and immunity-boosting drink, water kefir. 

Water Kefir’s Elevator Pitch

Laced with probiotics, water kefir is a milk-free fermented beverage formed using water kefir “grains” or crystals. Fermentation is the chemical process in which molecules like sugar are broken down anaerobically – a process typically used to create beer, cheese, and even well-known condiments like sriracha. 

Translucent in color, these water kefir “grains” are colonies of polysaccharides, bacteria, and yeasts. All of which are responsible for the fermentation process and therefore the enhanced, healthy part of the beverage.

“Antimicrobial, antioxidant, immunity-boosting, and carcinogenic-prohibiting, are among some of the many benefits of water kefir.”

All these grains need to ferment is a simple mixture of sugar and water. Once mixed in, after two to four days, the beverage becomes fizzy and alive with good bacteria, changing from translucent to yellow in color, and effervescent in the palate. The taste becomes strong in sensory characteristics that are fruity, acidic, slightly sweet, with a slight alcoholic taste and aroma. The benefits? Antimicrobial, antioxidant, immunity-boosting, and carcinogenic-prohibiting, are among some of the many to be cited for water kefir.

Fermented water kefir in jar.

The Good Stuff

A beverage dating back to 1899 and reportedly first appearing in Japan, water kefir was traditionally used for the treatment of ailments and diseases like tuberculosis, gastrointestinal diseases, and even cancer.  

Nowadays, not much has changed. From improving skin to helping in weight loss, kefir is hailed as a potently enhanced water that detoxifies and hydrates the body. It contains rich amounts of vitamins like vitamin K, B vitamins, and important minerals like magnesium and calcium – crucial in regulating the body and our organs.  

“80% of our immune cells lie in our gut – so by feeding our gut the good guys, we can actually strengthen our immune system”
– Alexis, Edible Alchemy founder

As touched upon, the benefits are extensive. Importantly, kefir also has a whole host of preventative functions: thanks to the probiotics it contains, it can help our gut health and metabolism by increasing our anti-inflammatory and antioxidant activity.

According to Alexis Goertz, founder of Edible Alchemy, the benefits are there because “water kefir helps introduce many healthy bacteria to our gut microbiomes,” allowing us to then digest other foods more easily and therefore aid digestion. She emphasizes that a happy gut can affect our overall mood and happiness. “Having a balanced microbiome,” says Alexis, “can do numbers on our mood, our skin (our largest organ) as well as strengthen our immune system”.

Alexis adds: “80% of our immune cells lie in our gut – so by feeding our gut the good guys, we can actually strengthen our immune system and fight off various other unwanted bacteria, as well as fight viruses at a more efficient rate!” 

How Often Should You Be Drinking Water Kefir?

“Having some is usually better than having none,” says Alexis, emphasizing that “having good gut bacteria, which we can foster by drinking water kefir more often, can even help release more serotonin to our brain via the vagus nerve”. 

She says: “90% of our serotonin is produced in our gut. Therefore, the healthier and happier our gut is, the healthier and happier we feel”.

“Water kefir,” she adds, “is one of the many things we consume on a regular basis in order to [help our digestive system] stay ‘regular’ and thus also keep us in a good mood. In the end, it’s all connected!”

The Best Water For Water Kefir

As the water in your tap is very much dependent on your own individual location, what’s inside the water you’re drinking can also vary. Living in Berlin, Alexis found the tap water in her apartment to be “not as chlorinated as other countries”, emphasizing that “in Canada, the high amounts of chlorine and fluoride in the water” affected and “harmed bacteria of all types – good and bad”.

If your water is chlorinated, Alexis therefore recommends “either boiling or leaving your water in an open vessel for 24 hours to let the chlorine to evaporate”.

Her other solution would be mineral water: “It helps the water kefir crystals grow and be happy as they, as living organisms, too love minerals to thrive in a healthy environment”. 

By James — Mar 11, 2021
The information contained in this article is provided for educational and informational purposes only, and should not be construed as health or nutritional advice.

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