Saturday, October 24, 2015

Water Kefir And Why It Is So Darned Good For You!

We hear a lot about digestive health these days and there is new evidence linking our ability to adequately digest and absorb nutrients, with conditions such as depression, autism, ADHD, and dementia.  To be able to get the most out of the food we eat daily, there needs to be a perfect balance of healthy gut bacteria - probiotics - which enable and support a full digestion and absorption process.
In today's busy and "McPackaged" dominated culture, people are missing out on adequate nutrients, and what little they are able to get through real whole foods (if these do get included from time to time in a diet), cannot be absorbed because the digestive system has been damaged through processed foods.  Processed foods provide no probiotic support whatsoever and there is growing evidence to suggest that these types of foods are responsible for the health issues I mentioned in the opening sentence - along with many others such as irritable bowel syndrome, yeast infections, Crohn's Disease, obesity, skin disorders ... the list goes on.  Fermented foods happen to provide an incredible probiotic feast and usually taste amazing too.
While most people will have heard of some fermented foods, such as sauerkraut or the Korean kimchi, the majority of people will associate good gut health with consuming foods such as yoghurt. Yoghurt is a fermented milk product, which through the fermentation of lactose (milk sugar), lactic acid is produced which gives yoghurt it's slightly sour taste.  Sadly commercial yoghurts are chock full of added sugar, artificial "natural" flavours and other additives such as stabilisers and do little to aid good digestive health.
Kefir is a no-fuss way to include probiotics into the diet.  There are two types of kefir; milk and water.  I prefer water kefir as it is super easy and is refreshing to drink daily. Milk kefir is more like a runny sour yoghurt - fantastic for smoothies.
Water kefir is a grain - tibicos - which is a variety of healthy bacteria strains and yeast bound together by a polysaccharide matrix, all of which together form a stable growing culture.  Feed these microbes sugar and they will produce lactic acid, ethanol (in tiny amounts) and carbon dioxide; the result being a refreshing lightly carbonated drink through this fermentation process.


Kefir is an excellent source of vitamin B12, B1 and B6 - which is good news for those who are vegan, and there has been research into the use of water kefir for cancer and heart disease treatment - it is that good!
So how do you get your hands on this stuff? It helps if you know someone who is using water kefir as they will be able to provide grains when they split their culture (the grains grow slowly over time), Look online for suppliers of cultures - there are numerous websites.
In New Zealand see http://www.thekefircompany.co.nz/

This is the recipe I use:
6 tablespoons of water kefir grains
4 tablespoons of raw sugar
one whole lemon de-skinned and cut in half
1/2 to 3/4 teaspoon of ginger powder (only if you would like a ginger beer taste)
Whole peeled raw ginger to taste (not absolutely a must though)
3 cups of water
One prune, date or fig

The grains go into a large glass container. Add the water and sugar and all other ingredients.
Place a loose cloth or lid that enables airflow over the top. Leave 48 hours. Drain through a sieve into another container and then pour that into a glass storage bottle with an airtight lid - store in fridge.
Rinse the grains under water and repeat the process.
Grains can be stored in the fridge with water covering them for approx 3 weeks (handy to know if you go away somewhere).
Drink daily! I find it particularly soothing 30 minutes before food or 30 minutes after food.
Enjoy!


Image from:
http://blog.culturesforhealth.com/wpcontent/uploads/2013/08/dreamstime_s_23222641.jpg

Further reading:
David Perlmutter; http://www.drperlmutter.com/gut-bacteria-protects-brain/

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