Research over the last few decades has revealed that the health of our gut microbiome has a far-reaching and profound impact on our overall health. One way (of many!) to foster a happy gut microbiome is to eat fermented foods.
Fermented foods are rich in probiotics, beneficial gut bacteria that can be highly nutritious additions to your diet because they support digestive health, immunity, detoxification, and overall well-being [source].
Fermented foods are beneficial because they contain bacteria that:
1. Predigest foods – making their nutrients more bioavailable
2. Generate additional nutrients (B vitamins, amino acids) and remove anti-nutrients from foods (phytates, oxalic acid)
3. Detoxify – helping the body clear damaging compounds
There are multitudes of fermented foods and beverages to choose from. Almost every culture around the world has at least one! Some of the common ones you may have come across are sourdough bread, miso, tempeh, poi, sauerkraut, kimchi, kvass, kombucha, yogurt, and kefir—just to name a few!
You may have heard of kefir, which is a dairy-based beverage traditionally made with cow’s milk [source], but water kefir is completely dairy-free. It is typically made using sugar water, coconut water, or fruit juice.
One of my favorite ferments is water kefir. It’s a probiotic beverage made using water kefir grains or a kefir starter culture [source]. The culture consists primarily of lactic acid-producing bacteria and some beneficial yeasts [source] that help to balance your gut microbes [source]. Water kefir is also rich in amino acids, enzymes, vitamins, and minerals, so having a small cup each day is a delicious way to boost gut health [source]!
The simplest water kefir recipe is to mix ½ cup of sugar in 4 cups of lukewarm water into a mason jar, along with some (optional) fresh or dried fruit. Add the kefir grains or kefir starter culture and let ferment for 1 to 2 days.
While this concoction is simple yet delicious and beneficial, below is a water kefir recipe that takes the health benefits to new heights with the addition of two powerhouse anti-inflammatory ingredients: ginger and turmeric.
Ginger Turmeric Water Kefir
-3 cups raw coconut water (I use Harmless Harvest.)
-1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
-1 tablespoon peeled and freshly grated ginger root
-1 tablespoon peeled and freshly grated turmeric root or 1-½ teaspoons ground turmeric
-1 packet water kefir starter (I use this one)
Add the coconut water and orange juice to a saucepan and very gently heat to lukewarm, or about 90°F.
Into a quart-sized mason jar, add the coconut water and orange juice mixture, along with the contents of one foil packet of kefir starter.
Add the grated ginger and turmeric.
Stir to mix well. Put the lid on the mason jar—and make sure it is airtight!
Let this mixture ferment at room temperature (72–75°F) for 24 hours.
Remove the lid and taste. For a tangier drink, let it sit for another 12–24 hours.
When you’re happy with the flavor, stir again, put on the lid and place into the refrigerator.
Note: The fermentation process continues in your fridge, but chilling will slow it down. Enjoy your kefir within 2 to 3 weeks!
The great thing about water kefir is that you can keep it going and going. One packet of kefir starter can be used an average of 7 times.
After you’ve made your initial batch and are getting toward the end of your jar, reserve 6 tablespoons of water kefir, which can be used to ferment 1 quart of liquid for your next batch. You can use the same recipe as above or try something new.
Have fun and good luck! Don’t worry—it’s almost impossible to mess this up!
Ginger Turmeric Water Kefir
- Quart-size mason jar with lid
- Add the coconut water and orange juice to a saucepan and very gently heat to lukewarm, or about 90ºF.
- Into a quart-sized mason jar, add the coconut water and orange juice mixture together with the contents of one foil packet of kefir starter.
- Add ginger and turmeric.
- Stir to mix well. Put the lid on the mason jar. Make sure the lid is airtight!
- Let this mixture ferment at room temperature (72–75ºF) for 24 hours.
- Remove the lid and taste. For a tangier drink, let it sit for another 12–24 hours.
- When you’re happy with the flavor, stir again, put on the lid, and place it into the refrigerator.
This post was medically reviewed by Dr. Amy Shah, a double board-certified MD who specializes in helping busy people repair their microbiome and reduce inflammation. Learn more about Hello Glow’s medical reviewers here. As always, this is not personal medical advice, and we recommend that you talk with your doctor. All fermented products present potential health risks. Individuals are responsible for assessing the safety of consuming fermented foods.485