There are many studies about the benefits of milk kefir and kombucha due to their popularity in the general public.
However, there are very few studies about water kefir. So I always get excited when I see one published.
In our family, water kefir is a favorite. It tastes so good, it feels like a guilty pleasure. It's light and refreshing and a nice change from dairy or the strong acidic flavors of kombucha. We have heard back from many people how much water kefir has helped them, so its not surprising to me that the science is also finding out how beneficial it can be.
In this rare study, it shows that water kefir has a fairly impressive antioxidant potency. You typically don’t think of water kefir as having antioxidants because its usually just derived from sugar and water. However, the study showed that the good bacteria and yeast was the driver behind the potency of the antioxidant ability of water kefir. But before getting in the details of the study, it might be important to understand what exactly is free radicals and antioxidants.
What is an antioxidant and why is it so important?
Antixoidants are subtstances that protect you from free radical damage and oxidative stress. Even though free radicals are naturally produced by the body, you get an accelerated dosage from exposure to things like toxic chemicals, pollution, pesticides (like glyphosate), smoking, drinking and even those delicious fried foods.
Free radical damage is linked to ageing and all sorts of diseases. Various studies have connected free radical damage to various diseases such as Alzheimer’s and dementia, heart disease, autoimmune, diabetes, Parkinson’s and all the aging symptoms such as wrinkles, loss of elasticity and hair loss. In other words, its highly damaging to cells and it’s the cause of all things degenerative in your body.
Antioxidants are the main line of defense against free radicals. Your body does produce antioxidants to clear away the free radicals, but you also need external sources of antioxidants (food) to help combat the damage. Especially in the modern world where toxins are everywhere. As you get older, it gets harder to fight these free radicals and they create more damage to your cells. So, it becomes even more important as you age.
Now to the Details of the Study
In the study, they found that water kefir has a good antioxidant potency. They made the water kefir from a sugar solution and a few pieces of apples and then fermented for 24 hours. The water kefir was then tested with a DPPH scavenging method which is a common way to determine antioxidant ability. It was also tested the water kefir to see the inhibition rates of ascorbate autoxidation which is another measure of antioxidant potency.
The DPPH scavenging method results ranged from about 10% to 64% with higher concentrations of the water kefir. A higher percentage is an indication of a higher antioxidant capability. Comparing to cow, goat and soy milk kefir, their scavenging activity was about 60 to 90%. The inhibition rates of ascorbate autoxidation was 7 to 12%. For cow, goat or soy milk kefir, it ranged from about 8 to 17%.
So neither result was quite as good as milk kefir, which is mostly to be expected. But its still a very respectable result and shows to be a promising antioxidant.
Why is Water Kefir less of an Antioxidant than Milk Kefir?
Milk kefir has more nutrients, vitamins and peptides due to the natural milk content. When combined with the fermenting process, it creates bio-available vitamins and bio-active peptides that helps increase the ability to be antioxidant. Furthermore, milk kefir likely has more lactic acid bacteria and probiotics which also contributes to a greater antioxidant potency.
What about Fermenting Water Kefir with Fruit?
Fruit is one of the biggest sources of antioxidants. Especially berries. If the water kefir in the study was fermented with fruit berries, or raisins, then the results may be even higher. What about a 2nd ferment with fruit juice? The study also only fermented for 24 hours; whereas, we recommend about 48 hours for a complete ferment. If the study was done differently, its quite possible that water kefir could come out on top.
Water kefir is good for you. Even though there’s not a lot of science yet behind it, we know its good. Our customers know it’s good. This study brings to light some of the health benefits of water kefir in terms of antioxidant potency and potential. The results are very promising, even though the results are less than that of milk kefir. If the water kefir was infused with some antioxidant berries or raisins, it would further improve the antioxidant ability of water kefir.