Bored Of Kombucha? Try Water Kefir For Gut Health

A dairy-free alternative to traditional kefir!

kefir for your diet, kefir in a bottle
Image: Adrienne Leonard

Oh, booch. You’ve been around for a while now and while some people are lifelong devotees, others are always on the lookout for the next thing on the gut-health wellness block. This tasty, fizzy, flavoured sensation can be found lining the shelves of both your health food stores and regular stores—proving just how popular it has become.

If you’re in need of a sea-change however and want to find an alternative beverage that’ll support your gut health, we might just have the solution. Water kefir is here, and this fermented drink is brimming with probiotic benefits. Here’s what you need to know.

It’s different from regular kefir

Glasses of milk kefir and a spoonful of culture on a wooden board.
Image: iStock

Much like it’s boochy counterpart, kefir has long been hailed as a gut health weapon with clout. The traditional kind of kefir is made from fermented cow or goat milk, which means that it contains beneficial bacterial strains. It’s an enzyme-rich pick that’s jam-packed with micronutrients, vitamins, probiotics, and easily digestible complete proteins, naturally occurring bacteria and yeast—which is why it’s it’s touted as being the key to a healthy gut, and therefore overall health.

Water kefir, however, is made by fermenting either regular water or coconut water with kefir grains (which aren’t actually grains but are so-called thanks to their look and texture), bacteria, lactic acid and yeasts. The result is a booch-like bevvy that comes with a myriad of its own health benefits.

The perks

Woman stretching looking healthy.
Photo by Christopher Campbell on Unsplash

Unlike its milky counterpart, water kefir is an excellent alternative to kombucha for people who follow a dairy-free or vegan lifestyle. During the fermentation process, water kefir becomes an excellent source of vitamin B12 and is high in vitamins B1 and B6—elements that tend to be lacking within a meat, fish, egg and dairy free diet. Winner winner, vegan dinner!

For people with digestive issues—ranging from constipation, frequent diarrhoea and indigestion to Crohn’s disease, Irritable Bowel Syndrome and skin disorders—water kefir can be a saving grace when included in the diet. As we know, it’s an overgrowth of ‘bad’ bacteria that leads to these conditions—and incorporating water kefir brings balance to your internal microflora. In the same vein as those who take a probiotic supplement daily, water kefir offers a larger number of probiotic strains, which tends to make it a more effective choice.

Coconut and glass of coconut water kefir.
Image: Food Matters

According to Dr Gabriel Cousens, a leading expert in the raw food community, kefir grains produce right-rotating L (+) lactic acid, which is an important constituent of the human body. He insists that it helps to maintain healthy heart function as the cells of the heart muscle obtain their energy from it. He also hails it as being an important facet in the prevention of cancer and has been used experimentally with success in the treatment of cancer. And, considering what we know about the gut-brain connection, it can also help to alleviate symptoms of depression and anxiety. Not bad, eh?

It’s not for everyone

Much like booch, you will need to judge how water kefir makes you feel on individual merit. People with SIBO, in some cases of IBS, pregnant women and those with certain intolerances might struggle to tolerate water kefir, kombucha and other fermented foods—which could lead to nausea, uncomfortable bloating and allergies.

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