This is the number one question that I get asked on a daily basis and the low down is this.
They are both excellent drinks in their own way.
I am proud to sell my Happy Gut kits and grains on the Albertan Spud.ca website and they did a fantastic article about the comparison that I was inspired to share with you.
Kimchi, kombucha, and kefir water–oh my!
If you’re wondering how the heck these foods are connected, I’ve got two words for you: gut health. The health benefits associated with cultivating healthy microbiomes through our diet and lifestyles have got people making moves: parents are letting their kids play in the dirt, we’re laying off the hand sanitizer, and we’re seeing a huge hustle towards fermented foods and beverages to get that probiotic goodness.
So what’s the deal with kombucha and kefir water? They’re both used to promote healthy bacterial gut cultures, but do they taste the same? Is one more potent than the other? Is one more effective for certain people than others, and is there ever a time when these drinks should be avoided? We’ve stacked these two bubbling bevvy’s against each other to find out which elixir is the ultimate gut health refreshment.
What is kombucha?
Simply put, kombucha is fermented sweetened tea. It’s prepared by adding starter tea and a kombucha culture (also known as SCOBY) to sweet tea. The kombucha is fermented for about 30 days, and resembles something a little tangier than apple cider vinegar, though flavour varies depending on culturing time and teas used. The fermentation process creates healthy bacterial cultures, and is often drunk by those looking to promote their own gut health.
What is kefir water?
Kefir water is a newer health drink to emerge on the scene, and it’s already got a dedicated following praising its health benefits and delicious taste. Kefir water is comparable to coconut water in that it’s a naturally carbohydrate containing, non-dairy liquid. It’s prepared by adding water kefir grain to sugar water, fruit juice, or coconut water, and fermenting for between 24-48 hours. Similar to kombucha, water kefir grain also contain a variety of bacteria and yeasts, and can be fairly sweet, depending on the amount of sugar that is used for culturing.
How do these drinks help us?
The GI tract, which is the pathway that takes food through your body (so that the nutrients are extracted for the needs of the body), is one big ecosystem that’s full of bacteria. Cultivating a larger quantity and diversity of bacteria has been shown to benefit your overall health in a variety of ways which is why fermented foods and drinks have become so popular recently. So for those trying to encourage a healthy bacterial culture in their bodies, kombucha and kefir water certainly fall under the category of probiotic beverages to enjoy for gut health. They also offer a healthier alternative to those looking to kick a soda habit.
So which is healthier?
It depends what you’re looking for! While both of these tasty elixirs contain healthy microbes, kombucha contains acids and enzymes that make it the more prominent option when it comes to digestive aid. However, kefir water contains a greater number of bacteria strains than found in kombucha, making it a smarter option if you are looking for a probiotic supplement.
Another difference is that kombucha will sometimes contain caffeine, depending on the type of tea that was used to brew it, whereas kefir water will typically be caffeine-free.
The bottom line is that both drinks are beneficial in aiding natural systems of the body, promoting healthy bacteria, and providing hydration. Depending on what you’re looking to achieve, grabbing one or both is a matter of individual taste and preference!
Can everyone drink them?
Though these drinks are considered health drinks, there are circumstances in which kombucha and kefir water might not be a healthy choice. Those with candida (yeast overgrowth), especially during flare ups, should not drink these beverages as they may make these conditions worse. Kombucha and kefir water are also not recommended for pregnant women and immunocompromised people because they aren’t pasteurized. Sorry guys!
So goes the ol’ kombucha vs. kefir debate. Like so many others comparisons, the answer isn’t exactly black or white, and instead depends on what you are looking for. Have you tried one or both of these drinks–or better yet, have you tried making them yourself? We’d love to hear your thoughts!
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Leeza Zurwick is the Founder of Happy Gut and has a deep passion for living off the earth and using fermented food as medicine. After being gifted some water kefir grains, she found it difficult to find consistent information on how to brew water kefir and she found it challenging to source the right brewing supplies. Through extensive research, trial and error, Leeza developed simple recipes and systems to ensure success and delicious results. After drinking water kefir daily, she noticed a significant reduction in bloating, clearer skin and her immune system was strengthened enough to not get sick, despite working in classrooms full of germy kids! Leeza launched Happy Gut in 2017 and made it her mission to share the age old wisdom, simplicity and incredible health benefits of live, probiotic rich, fermented Water Kefir.