With the growing evidence around the enormous benefits of the good gut flora on just about EVERY facet of our health, due to the healing and balancing effects on the digestive tract, perhaps we all could learn a little more about the good flora! …
And how to make a truly enjoyable drink that is absolutely FULL of it WITHOUT BLOWING THE BUDGET by purchasing expensive gut flora caps or drinks.
So do you want to know more?
Before I share the secret, a little background about me.
My own healing journey began about 10 years ago when I went to see an acupuncturist. I was in a bad way after leading an unhealthy lifestyle for about twelve years, and before that, I guess a pretty average lifestyle.
It seemed obvious that I’d done some damage. I was suffering from lethargy, depression, bloating after eating, gas and wind, tiredness after eating, cradle cap (eczema) and so dandruff – especially after eating wheat and dairy – many signs of a leaky gut.
So I embarked on my healing journey at 31 years of age, and gradually, incrementally started to make positive changes my diet and lifestyle.
Time went on, and I didn’t ever fully heal my gut. I would fall off the horse regularly, eating some wheat, some toxic oils, or some dairy or sugar and so my symptoms would swiftly return – though I’ve never gone as far back as when I first began.
But I never got to the point that I could re introduce some of the inflammatory foods like grains and dairy, without having symptoms of leaky gut return. So I was managing my symptoms rather than doing any real healing.
What I believe was happening was, while I was eating ONLY non-inflammatory foods, the inflammation was leaving and along with it the inflammatory symptoms – but I wasn’t doing any of the seeding with good flora at this time. (Perhaps my gut would be fully healed now if I had, but we will never know the answer to that one for sure!)
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At about 36 I spent a lot of time alone, soul searching. The truth was that I was very unhappy with my life and I began searching for answers less on a physical level, and more on an inward and emotional level, with a belief that this was connected also to my physical ailments.
During that time I fasted some of the time, and had a diet of only fruit and veggies or salads, for weeks at a time. I noticed that during this time all my symptoms of leaky gut disappeared. Then I would eat something like a muesli bar and symptoms would return.
Then I developed a thing for cayenne pepper during one winter to warm my bones and boost circulation. I’m an extreme person, so unfortunately for my gut (which was doing ok at this time) I took it too far and loaded my sprouted grain sandwiches up with it…. the result – LOADS of itchy eczema breaking out on my eye lid, my cheek, under my arms… It was horrible!
Obviously, it looked like my gut was still unhealed, so the heat burnt me on the inside. I don’t recommend it 😉
So back on the more intense healing train I went!
And lo and behold I found, and got a hold of Water Kefir!!
It’s not a subject on everyone’s lips, but, maybe it should be!
Why am I so excited about water kefir? Because it has a LOAD of beneficial strains of gut flora, with delicious flavor and fizz, without all the cost! What more could you want in your probiotic!
Water Kefir contains more than 30 strains of healthy bacteria compared to the average of 3-5 strains in commercial yogurts and probiotic supplements.
The healing potential is enormous. I have heard stories of some people with chronic eczema, dermatitis, gas, wind and other conditions disappearing rapidly simply after taking water kefir – and only water kefir!
While that hasn’t been the case for me, I do feel enormous benefit while taking water kefir, to my energy levels and a more calm, clear and balanced mental state.
But I’ve had symptoms of leaky gut since I was about 12, and I never healed it, and now I’m 41, so it’s been a long running ailment which is taking a LOT of dedication to heal.
Now that I have a son, I am finally doing ALL that I need to heal this condition and the benefits are already well and truly beginning to shine through.
No inflammatory foods, and I’ve had some guidance to drink a half a glass of water kefir following each meal. So that’s what I’m doing!
So how do you make Water Kefir?
Here’s what I do:
- I take 3 soda stream bottles, on a rotating schedule. One runs out, and I make a new batch in that one while the other two remain in the fridge for drinking. You can use glass jars if you like. A 2 liter is good, or a 4 liter if you have a big family, but they will be heavy, and you must ensure the lid goes on tight! Water kefir produces gas which will pressurize whatever you use.
- Half fill the bottle with water
- Add ¼ cup of sugar (approximately) per Litre. Any kind will do! I just use the supermarket stuff, but an organic would be better probably. Coconut sugar or any other form of sugar will be fine – the kefir doesn’t care, and it all gets broken down.
- Add a sachet of water kefir grains. If you are in Australia, you can purchase them fresh here.
- Add some flavor!! This is the fun part. You can literally make a healthy soft drink. Your kids won’t get addicted to this one – so they won’t want it as bad as sugar filled soft drink, but they will like it. The kefir bacteria change the sugar into a non-toxic, beneficial by product which is good for you. It’s no longer sugar. The flavors I like best in my kefir are fruit juices, freshly juiced and then poured into the mix. Lemon, mandarin, orange juice all come out delicious!! I add cut banana, pineapple pieces, paw paw, sultanas – really the world is your oyster! Mix, match, create, have fun and ENJOY 🙂
- Now swirl the mix around, check the lid is tight one last time, and place in a dark spot – no light allowed, we must mimic gut conditions. I wrap mine in a blanket, and place in the cupboard. If you hear something hissing in a couple of days, check the kefir! Lid wasn’t on tight enough, oops! If that happens, tighten lid, clean up and leave until finished.
- How long your kefir takes to ferment will depend on your climate. As a general rule, 2 days in summer and 3 days in winter. It’s something you will have to get a feel for yourself, like most things in life. If it’s a really cold winter, I will go 4 days, or 3½ – Obviously if you heat your place in winter this will have an effect also.
- Once you think your delicious, healthy, enzyme-filled vibrant mix is brewed, place it in the fridge. DO NOT try to open it until the kefir has cooled down, or you will fizz it everywhere!!
- If it’s a bit sweet when you drink it, then ferment the next one a little longer. You can take out and continue to ferment again if you like, or leave to ferment in the fridge a week or so before drinking. If you get the mix right, but leave it in the fridge too long, it will over ferment and start to go like vinegar. It will still be healthy, but not as much fun 😉
- You can strain the kefir grains out once fermentation is complete. If you do, place them in a jar, with some water and a little sugar until you need them again. I leave mine in the bottle until I’ve finished the bottle. Just don’t pour the last of the drink out until you’ve strained the kefir grains out.
- When you get your grains out, give them a rinse under cold running water, preferably chemical free stuff before re-using or storing them.
- If you leave the grains for too long in the bottle in the fridge – perhaps 3 months or so, the bacteria will starve and they’ll die. If you keep them going, you’ve got them for life! So for the cost of water, sugar and some fruit, you can keep making lots of fun, yummy probiotics for you and the whole family!
- When you have way too many grains, you can eat them. They will be a very rich and full hit of beneficial gut flora. I drink mine down. The more the merrier!
If you are in Australia, you can purchase your own water kefir here. You will only need to buy it ONCE if you keep it going, it will last a LIFETIME.
Now I don’t know why you are reading this. Maybe you want to enhance already good health, or you are a ‘health nut’, or maybe you are in a bit of bowel trouble like I was.
Wherever you are at, I want to pass on something I learned which I feel is very important…
If you are wanting to make a positive change, understand that sometimes you will fall off the cart. What I noticed at first was that I would use my will power to make changes, and my body would respond. I’d start to feel better! It was great! I was INVINCIBLE!!
And then I’d eat some nice dessert filled with wheat…. and then I’d feel bad physically, and so I’d beat myself up emotionally as well…. And then to feel better emotionally I’d eat something I probably shouldn’t again… being hard on myself seemed to cause me to get stuck in a negative cycle.
What I learned was to be my own best encourager. To treat myself like I’d treat one of my own children. I had to learn to accept as a first step that I had food addictions which were passed onto me from my childhood. I had to learn to stop beating myself up for falling off the cart, and accept my addiction, and encourage myself for all the forward steps I was making.
This for me was VITAL to stepping out of some poor and destructive eating habits. So I began to pick up a little emotionally, and that seemed to greatly aid the physical wellness also. Now I’ve learned that
Now I’ve learned that self-judgement is a choice, and I don’t have to do it – I can simply be encouraging to my better choices, and that seems to work many, many more times powerfully than berating a poor choice.
So….. Be Gentle .. With Yourself! (I hope for this to be a T-Shirt if I win my partners current T shirt design competition!)
I sincerely hope you and your family get something from your very own water kefir. You might find you end up pickling veggies and such as well – but that’s another blog.
Water kefir is the most fun one to start with in my opinion 🙂