A Gut Doctor's Favorite Microbiome-Boosting Tonic Is Crazy Easy To Make
Vincent Pedre, M.D., is part of the mbg Collective, a curated group of our most trusted wellness advisers. Since 2009, we’ve had the brightest, most passionate mission-driven leaders in wellness share their intimate stories and world-class advice. Now we’re giving you unparalleled access to the people who, alongside mbg, are putting the “WE” back in wellness. Consider them your personal guides, there to support you and sustain you on your journey.
In my clinical practice, I have found that fermented foods can have a huge impact on the health of the gut. Fermented foods, like kimchi, sauerkraut, miso, tempeh, and kefir, are rich in probiotic lactobacillus bacteria that help balance the gut ecology and promote a healthy gut lining. Fermentation was a way to prolong the shelf life of foods back in ancient times. Coincidentally, fermentation was an accidental discovery, which augmented the symbiotic relationship with bacteria that we evolved with over hundreds of years.
While you might be familiar with kombucha, water kefir is a caffeine-free alternative that uses a different type of bacteria to make a fizzy, delicious soda. It's dairy-free, easy to make in less than 48 hours, and has been shown to help lower anxiety scores. It also keeps for weeks in the fridge, so you can sip a bit of the gut-healing beverage daily! Here's my go-to recipe.
Coconut Water Kefir
A healthy prebiotic- and probiotic-rich carbonated beverage great for helping to balance your gut ecosystem.
Makes 4 cups
- 3 tablespoons water kefir grains*
- 4 cups pasteurized coconut water
- 1 cup fresh strawberries or blueberries (optional)
- ½ cup fresh lemon juice (optional)
* Water kefir grains can be found in natural-food stores or online at Amazon. With proper care, the culture can be used indefinitely to create probiotic-rich kefir. Your grains will not grow as quickly in coconut water as they will in a nice bath of nutrient-rich sugar. Refresh and reactivate the kefir grains in sugar water (¼ cup sugar in 4 cups water) for 24 to 48 hours between batches of Coconut Water Kefir. The sugar water will keep the grains healthy for the long term.
- Place the water kefir grains and the coconut water in a jar. Cover the jar loosely with a lid or cheesecloth and allow the kefir grains to culture the coconut water for ideally 24 to 36 (and no longer than 48) hours at room temperature.
- Once the culturing is complete (the mixture will have thickened), remove the kefir grains with a slotted spoon and store in a separate glass container filled with filtered water and a teaspoon of sugar to keep the kefir grains alive and active.
- You may drink the Coconut Water Kefir by itself, but for an added twist, puree the cultured coconut water with the berries and lemon juice in a blender to your desired consistency. The Coconut Water Kefir will last 1 to 3 weeks in the fridge; when blended with the berries and lemon juice, it will last for 2 to 3 days in the fridge. Serve cold.
Want more gut-healing goodness? This is my favorite snack for gut health.