Random not-that-fun fact about me: I’m not really a beverage person. Sure, I drink way too much iced coffee, almost always get my eight glasses of water in a day, and tend to grab a kombucha whenever the grocery store has my favorite flavor, but soda? Too many bubbles. Lemonade? Eh. Milk? Only when served with Oreos.
So you can imagine my surprise when I discovered a new-to-me drink that I could not. Stop. Guzzling. The drink in question? Water kefir.
But it’s definitely not new—the probiotic-packed drink dates back to the 1800s, says GT Dave, founder and CEO of GT’s Living Foods. “The cultures were found on the skin of a prickly-pear cactus,” he says. “Since then, these cultures have been primarily used in Latin communities to ferment sweetened water and juices into diverse probiotic drinks that are dairy-free and low in sugar.”
Having trouble picturing that? Erase dairy kefir from your brain—it looks and tastes totally different. Instead, it’s basically kombucha’s younger sister, Dave says (FWIW, I agree).
The water kefir I personally can’t put down is GT’s Aqua Kefir, which is made with organic ingredients and the same water kefir cultures that have been used for over two centuries.
“Kefir cultures, also called kefir crystals because of their small crystal-like shape, are similar to a kombucha SCOBY in that they are made of billions of beneficial bacteria,” Dave says. “However, the fermentation of water kefir is unlike most fermented foods as there’s no sour or acidic flavor.”
Instead, it’s subtly sweet (I’m in love with the Peach Pineapple), light, and refreshing—and those aren’t the only benefits of water kefir. Keep on scrolling to learn more.
Read on for three benefits of water kefir that will make it your fave drink, too (if it isn’t already).
1. Hydration boost
Like I said, if I had a wellness super power it’d be that I’m especially good at hitting my daily water goal. But even for pro-water drinkers like me, that seventh glass of H2O can get a bit, well, monotonous. On the flip side, the sparkly, fruity flavors of GT’s Aqua Kefir are the opposite of boring—and sipping on it all day helped me be even more hydrated than usual.
This especially came in handy on the days I exercised. My usual beverage rolodex doesn’t include energy drinks (they can be dehydrating) or sports drinks (too many artificial ingredients). But Aqua Kefir, according to Dave, “restores balance and electrolytes after the body detoxes from extensive movement or activity and breaking a sweat.”
2. Zero caffeine
While kombucha and iced coffee are the two main non-water beverages I drink, they’re not ideal in the afternoon. “Kombucha is a fermented tea which allows it to have energizing benefits but sometimes make it problematic to consume in the evening,” Dave says. (Raise your hand if you’ve ever regretted your caffeine intake as you lie awake at 1 a.m.)
I happily traded in my kombucha and iced coffees for fruity, caffeine-free Aqua Kefir each afternoon. The bubbles and subtly sweet taste also make it an ideal swap if you’re trying to cut down on sugary juices or soda.
3. Different probiotics
“Water kefir is very different from traditional dairy kefirs which taste heavy and sour,” Dave says. “Its light and crisp flavor makes it a wonderful option for those seeking improved digestive health.”
That’s because of its particular probiotic strains. Despite being a bit similar to kombucha, the two bubbly drinks differ when it comes to gut-friendly bacteria. “Aqua Kefir contains different probiotic strains not commonly found in most fermented foods, which promotes biodiversity in the body’s intestinal flora,” Dave says. It’s official: My exclusive drink lineup just expanded.
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