The Fantastic Health Benefits of Water Kefir
Kefir is a slightly fizzy probiotic drink, similar to yoghurt, made from a mixture of sugar water and kefir grains. Despite what the name suggests, kefir grains are in reality not grains at all; the name refers to the physical appearance of what is actually a symbiosis between bacteria and yeast.
The drink is also commonly known as Tibicos, California Bees and Japanese Water Crystals. Milk kefir is a much more widely known beverage and can be bought from many grocery stores. However, this is often less popular as not only is water kefir dairy free, but it is a much lighter drink and can be flavoured in many different ways.
It is believed that water kefir has a number of health benefits. Live kefir contains a whole range of useful bacteria and yeast which help to promote a healthy gut. It is believed that this large amount and range of bacteria can help to boost your immune function. Research suggests that drinking kefir daily can reduce your risk of intestinal infections.
It may also reduce UTIs in women and even prevent respiratory diseases. Kefir has also been shown to reduce inflammatory responses in some animal studies. Some studies even show that tibicos may limit or prevent the growth of certain cancers. Currently this research is limited to test tube studies, however, there are studies which suggest that it may be effective in blocking the growth of breast, colon and blood cancer cells.
The boost in immune function may also aid the body in naturally preventing cancers. It is important to remember that more research is needed into studying the direct effects of kefir on cancer in the human body in order to give a definitive result. While kefir is generally deemed safe, it is important to check with a GP before drinking if you have any digestive conditions. There is also the potential for side effects such as nausea, constipation, bloating and cramps, however these generally disappear after a few days of drinking.
Tibicos is very easy to make at home and you can find kefir grains for sale online or in many grocery stores. Your final product has to be brewed and therefore will contain some alcohol, however, generally only 0.5-0.75%, which is about the amount you would find in an overripe fruit.
To make water kefir:
- Add ¼ cup of unrefined sugar cane to 1 cup of boiling water. Stir until the sugar is dissolved. Add 3 cups of cold water and allow the sugar water to cool.
- Add 2 tablespoons of kefir grains into the sugar water. Add fruit if you desire and leave to culture for 24-72 hours.
- Strain to remove fruit remains.
Your finished product can be stored in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.