Water kefir, also known as fruit kefir or tibicos, is a fermented, fizzy beverage that has been consumed for thousands of years for its great taste and health benefits.
Why drink water kefir? Because it’s all-natural, safe, and full of probiotics and health benefits. Best of all, it’s thirst-quenching, delicious, and easy to make at home!
Check out these 5 benefits of water kefir, according to science!
Go directly to the relevant section:
- Kefir is low in sugar
- Kefir is rich in probiotics
- Kefir is good for the microbiota
- Kefir is rich in nutrients
- Kefir is a beverage with little intolerance
- (bonus) Unproven Benefits of Kefir (not scientifically proven)
- (bonus) Are hena kefir grains healthy?
1. Kefir Is a Low Sugar Beverage
Water kefir (or fruit kefir) contains much less sugar than commercial carbonated beverages.
To make water kefir, sugar and water are mixed with water kefir grains. The microorganisms in the grains transform the sugar water into a fizzy, tangy drink.
Within 48 hours, 66 to 80% of the sugar is consumed by the yeast and bacteria. (ref)
Although the original recipe uses cane sugar, kefir grains can be used to ferment fruit juices or any natural sugar source. The liquid is then transformed into an effervescent beverage that is less sweet than the original.
Water kefir is perfect for replacing carbonated beverages, without the need for an expensive carbonating machine.
Water kefir can also be flavoured to taste with herbal teas, fruit, or other aromatics of your choice.
2. Water Kefir Is Rich in Probiotics
Kefir contains a wide range of beneficial probiotics! Although the strains vary from culture to culture, nearly 70 varieties of microorganisms can be found in water kefir grains. (ref)
Studies show that a 250 ml glass of water kefir can contain up to 2.5 billion good microorganisms (ref). They are mainly separated into three categories:
- Yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisiae, S. florentinus, S. pretoriensis, etc.)
- Lactic acid bacteria (Lactobacillus casei/paracasei, L.b. harbinensis, L.b. hilgardii, etc.)
- Acetic acid bacteria (A. orientalis, A. lovaniensis and A. fabarium, etc.)
Due to the large diversity of microorganisms in water kefir, few studies have been done on the impacts of this community as a whole. However, many yeast and bacteria have recognized probiotic benefits! (ref)
For example, the lactic acid bacteria casei/paracasei are often studied for their effects on reducing digestive system disorders (ref).
3. Kefir Supports the Gut Microbiota
Drinking kefir doesn’t just taste good: it’s also good for our microbiota!
The intestinal microbiota is the set of microorganisms that live in our gut, where they help us in many ways.
Indeed, the microbiota plays an important role in digestion, weight management, blood regulation, and immune defence. (ref) (ref) No wonder it is called the “second brain”!
The microbiota is a complex research topic, but there is growing evidence that eating fermented foods may be beneficial to health. (ref)
Studies have shown that some yeast and bacteria in water kefir have probiotic effects, i.e., they can have a positive effect on our microbiota. (ref) (ref)
It has been proven that yeast and bacteria can
- Help balance the gut flora (ref)
- Help regulate the digestive cycle (ref)
- Help fight pathogenic microorganisms, such as Candida albicans, Salmonella typhi, E. coli, and C. difficile (ref) (ref)
- Aid digestion and absorption of nutrients (ref)
- Help manage cholesterol in the blood (ref)
For the time being, these effects are associated with the microorganisms that can be found in kefir, but the concentration may vary depending on the strain. Science is just beginning to take an interest in water kefir!
4. Water Kefir Is Full of Nutrients
Water kefir is more than just sparkling water!
According to a literature review published in 2021 (ref), the microorganisms in kefir turn sugar and minerals into all sorts of nutrients and compounds during fermentation:
- Organic acids
- Beneficial enzymes
- Organic compounds
- Prebiotic compounds
- Various flavours
During fermentation, water kefir creates indeed many antioxidants, which may have health benefits. (ref) In addition, animal studies have shown that water kefir has anti-inflammatory effects. (ref)
Microorganisms have the power to transform plain sugar water into kefir with many features!
The molecules created can have beneficial effects on us or stimulate and feed the microbiota already present. (ref)
5. Water Kefir Is Suitable for Most Diets
Water kefir is a drink made from plain, minimally processed ingredients. It is suitable for all kinds of diets!
Unlike milk kefir, water kefir contains no dairy products. It is a probiotic drink adapted to the needs of people who are lactose intolerant, vegetarian, or vegan (ref)
In addition, unlike kombucha or commercial carbonated beverages, water kefir contains no caffeine or theine. This makes it perfect for people who are sensitive to caffeine, or for those who wish to reduce their consumption.
You can even use the water kefir grains to ferment plant milk to make an interesting probiotic plant drink! We recommend using your surplus grains for this, as they will probably not grow sustainably in this substrate.
Unproven Benefits of Kefir
There are unproven statements on the Internet and elsewhere about the benefits of water kefir. These assertions are not supported by scientific studies, so they are difficult to prove!
Nevertheless, we thought it would be interesting to introduce them here. The world of fermentation and research is constantly evolving, and new studies appear every year. In addition, you may have seen effects on your body, or want to experiment!
Is Water Kefir Good for the Skin?
Good hydration is known to have benefits for the skin (ref). However, we found no link between water kefir consumption and skin quality.
In fact, it is the consumption of milk kefir, a cousin of water kefir, that may have benefits on skin inflammation! (ref)
Is Water Kefir Good for Hair?
For the moment, no connection has been shown between water kefir consumption and hair quality.
Dozens of websites claim that kefir contains nutrients and vitamins that can improve the appearance of hair. Actually, these nutrients can easily be found in a balanced diet.
Some people also advise making hair masks with kefir. We prefer to drink our kefir instead of putting it on our heads, but if you are tempted, it can’t hurt.
Does Water Kefir Make You Lose Weight?
There is no proven connection between water kefir consumption and weight loss.
This claim may be based on the fact that some people substitute carbonated beverages with water kefir in their diet.
Are Hena Kefir Grains Better?
On the Internet (especially in France), there are promoters of “hena” kefir grains. Hena kefir grains are said to have superior analgesic (pain-reducing) properties to other kefir grains.
We have not found any scientific studies to support this claim, nor any evidence that “hena” grains exist!
In fact, the composition of microorganisms in kefir grains varies from colony to colony (from house to house). As the growing of water kefir is wild, the microorganisms also change from one recipe to another…
It is quite possible that one day a person may have obtained kefir grains with above-average analgesic properties. However, it is impossible to confirm that these properties have been retained over time, nor to affirm that this strain of kefir grains offers superior analgesic properties to others.
That said, as explained above, water kefir has antioxidant benefits and anti-inflammatory effects that are recognized by science!
Here is what science says (or doesn’t say!) about the benefits of water kefir!
In addition to its many properties, water kefir is easy to make at home and quick to ferment. In 48 hours, you have a delicious natural fizzy drink with many benefits!
Next step? Learn how to make your own water kefir!