What is water kefir?

Water kefir is a fermented beverage made from water and sugar. It is light, pleasant, and slightly carbonated. Water kefir production introduces a living mother culture, called kefir grains, into the sugar water, that metabolize the sugar and evolve the water into an effervescent and delicious health infusion. The finished water kefir contains an assortment of beneficial bacteria and yeasts, organic acids, some B vitamins and enzymes. CO2 and trace amounts of alcohol are also produced.

Water kefir grains are beautiful. They are small gelatinous gems and look like translucent crystals of varying sizes. The term “grain” is a unit of measurement that may differ in size but contains the whole; such as a “grain of salt” or “a grain of sand”. When you take an individual grain of water kefir between your fingers, you can gently press the gem and it will divide into fractals of the same. An exemplar of the cosmic design of life in motion. The water kefir grain will grow, fractal and multiply, and grow some more. Sometimes they capture CO2 and float around the fermentation vessel, release the bubble, fractal, and then sink back to the bottom of the vessel to repeat their graceful dance.

What is a fermented food?

Fermentation in food is a metabolic process in which microorganisms (bacteria and yeasts) convert carbohydrates into alcohol and organic acids under anaerobic (without oxygen) conditions.

The widest known use of this process is for ethyl alcohol, or alcoholic drinks, with the earliest archaeological evidence of alcohol fermentation dating 13,000 years old. Other ancient uses for fermentation include: preserving foods; enhance the diet with diversity, texture and flavor; enrich food with proteins, essential amino acids, and vitamins; and to eliminate natural or synthetic compounds that interfere with the absorption, called antinutrients.

Other commonly consumed fermented foods in the US include sour dough bread, vinegar, olives, and cheese. In other countries such as Asia, Africa, Middle East and Europe, the common household fermentation list is vast. Fermentation of milk, tea, fruits, beans, vegetables, fish, meats and grains is a traditional way of life.

What are the benefits?

“Kefir” literally translates to “feel good”. Water kefir is light and refreshing and has been enjoyed for centuries for its exquisite taste and health benefits by many cultures around the world.

Water kefir is primarily a lacto-bacillus ferment, offering the microbial diversity, nutrition, and health benefits distinctively found in kefirs– without the dairy. Foods that are fermented with live cultures are also called “cultured foods”. They provide gut nutrition and immune support, improving our health by enforcing a strong microbiome.

Cultured foods are an ancient way of preserving and fermenting and there is evidence of cultured products being produced for at least 4,500 years. These foods are the dynamos that help you heal and spiral to a new nutritional awakening. Enhanced with life, probiotics, and enzymes, they fit into any nutritional program and compliment any meal.

What is the science?

The technical term for “kefir grains” is kefiran. Kefiran has been scientifically studied and is regarded as safe, being used widely in the pharmaceutical industrial sectors; kefiran has been reported to have anti-ulcerogenic, anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory activities and cicatrizing (new tissue, topical healing, skin) agents for use against a variety of infections and treating burns.
Studies (2018) have shown that lactic acid bacteria from kefir increases the human natural killer cells ability to fight colorectal cancer and leukemia at the cellular level. Lactic acid bacteria also have beneficial effects with respect to diarrhea, food allergies, and inflammatory bowel disease. They also play an important role in the prevention of colorectal cancer. Research papers can be found as early as the 1880’s, though the mechanisms of how these little powerhouse gems do what they do still remains unclear, but research continues and holds great promise.