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The Dark Side of Water Kefir – Root Beer Water Kefir and Water Kefir Side Effects

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Sometimes my ferments don't go over too well with the kids. They're just not into the tangy, sour flavors of a good kraut or relish. Getting them to get plain asparagus is tough enough, let alone trying to get them to eat lacto-fermented asparagus. But there is one lacto-fermented beverage I've tried that has consistently been a hit with kids and adults alike – root beer water kefir.

Root beer water kefir is a fun version of homemade water kefir "soda pop", but it is possible to get too much of a good thing, with negative side effects.

Quick and Easy Root Beer Water Kefir

I haven't tackled brewing with actual roots yet, although I did track down some of the needed ingredients. For now, I've just been using root beer extract.

To make root beer water kefir, follow the basic instructions for water kefir. To one quart of finished water kefir, add one teaspoon of root beer extract combined with one tablespoon of sugar dissolved in 1/4 cup warm water.

Bottle and let sit on counter for a day or so to increase carbonation, and then refrigerate. We prefer it cold or served over ice. We have an ice shaver, and the boys used it quite a bit when they were younger. It's an economical way to make a fun treat, and doesn't take up much room in the cupboard.

Root beer water kefir is a fun version of homemade water kefir "soda pop", but it is possible to get too much of a good thing, with negative side effects.

If you'd like to try brewing your own water kefir, I recommend Kombucha Kamp for fresh water kefir grains. Their cultures ship fresh, not dried.

Order Fresh Live Kombucha and Water Kefir Cultures and Brewing Equipment

Problems with Water Kefir

While I'm talking about water kefir, I'd also like to mention one health “problem” that I have run into from drinking water kefir. I haven't seen this mentioned anywhere else. I probably should have thought of it sooner myself, but it never occurred to me until it happened.

Most of the recipes I've seen for water kefir suggest putting a piece of clean eggshell in during your ferment, to make sure you have enough minerals for your kefir grains to eat. I usually put in an entire egg shell.

Welllll…like I said, given that I get quite a bit of hard water buildup on my faucets, I should have known better. I really didn't need to add the eggshells in my water kefir. My well water has plenty of calcium and minerals already. When it was warm outside (there were three days this season that were warm – seriously), I started slugging down water kefir. The effects were very obvious. Instead of my usual 4-5 number on the Bristol Stool Chart, I moved into the 2-3 range. Too much calcium causes constipation.

So just be warned – if you have hard water, you probably don't need to add extra minerals to your brew. Also, if I drink larger quantities of water kefir, it tends to unsettle my stomach (possibly because of the excess calcium?). For me, kombucha has the opposite effect. Around here, we regularly use kombucha to settle an unsettled stomach after eating out, or when someone is just feeling “a little off”.

Water kefir and kombucha drinkers, what effects have you noticed since you started drinking your brews? Has anyone else run into this? Let me know.

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Originally posted in 2011, updated in 2017.

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135 Comments

  1. I haven't tried kefir or kombucha. It's on my list for this year though. A root beer variety might be a nice way to ease into it.

    1. I have noticed sudden pain in my upper abdomen when i drink coffee after drinking cold water kefir. Is there some chemical reaction happening when we drink hot fluid after taking water kefir, do the grains reacts on hot water?

      1. Kefir grains shouldn’t react with warm water, although water that is too hot could kill them.

        I haven’t heard about a reaction like yours before, but it would probably be best to not drink them one right after the other in your case.

    2. Well I have a strange reaction of rash. I developed a rash over the torso and shins. And irritated skin over rest of body.
      When I stop rash clears after few days .

      I do love the root beer though was drinking 3 glasses day for few weeks. Now small amount gives me the rash.

      J

      1. Have you considered histamine intolerance? Fermented foods are high in histamines. It may be worthwhile getting yourself tested.

  2. A friend was just talking about root beer kefir and I really wanted to try it. Thanks for the recipe!

  3. That's an interesting idea. As far as the egg shell goes, better make sure that the drinker isn't allergic to eggs. Egg allergies are fairly common food allergies, and are often quite severe.

    1. Egg allergies are an intolerance to proteins in the whites or yolks. Not shells. No one eats shells. And there are no proteins in the shell. So no worries about egg allergies

      1. You are very mistaken Laura; Egg shells are calcite crystals embedded in a matrix of proteins and a polysaccharide complex. Where did you learn about eggs? Because I’m certain that this information is out there online for people to double-check what they’re correcting others with……FYI; It isn’t an “intolerance” to the proteins; Your body is recognising those chicken proteins located in the White, yolk, and shell as hostile, and irritating your immune system to release unnecessary histamine.

        And I eat the shells; After breaking them down into their constituent parts, I add them to other dishes, thereby increasing the protein content of my fungal breakfast or bacterial lunch. ✌️????

  4. Wow- this is an incredibly helpful post! DEFINITELY getting some extract next time I go to the store. Yum!
    And very interesting observation about the hard water. We have horribly hard water, too, but I've also been adding egg shells. Maybe I'll just skip that step.

  5. Water Kefir is on my list for this year as well Laurie. Thanks for the info on the calcium. I'd never heard of that before.

  6. Thanks for stopping by, everybody.

    Eleanor, I only brew for family and occasional friends, so we've got no egg allergies in the group, but now it looks like it won't be a concern either way. I knew my hard water would be good for something! It's got plenty of iron, too.

  7. Mmm rootbefir! I tried doing sassafrass and some other botanicals with Kombucha but didn't quite master the combo.

    I find that I have to drink plenty of water with the KT or I may get a bit dehydrated. Love it on ice in the summer! I bet it would be fantastic on a snow cone =)

  8. I've been thinking about trying switchel, too:

    Switchel:
    8 cups pure filtered water
    1 cup raw honey
    ½ cup raw organic apple cider vinegar
    ½ cup black strap molasses
    ½ tsp. Ground ginger

  9. I have tried the rootbeer recipe a few times and it doesn’t fizz up like my other kefir recipes. It is like drinking flat rootbeer. I am following the recipe to a “t” and even purchased the suggested rootbeer extract. My kefir and grains are healthy and otherwise produce great “homemade pop”. Has anyone had this happen and do you have any suggestions?

    Thank you for such an thoughtful and informative site!

    1. Yep – mine generally doesn’t get terribly fizzy. You could try adding some more sugar when you bottle to give the microbes more to ferment, and leaving it in a warmer location for a day or two. Sugars and temp drive the fermentation and CO2 production.

      Thanks for your words of encouragement.

      1. Came on here looking for a solution to the same problem! I don’t understand. No matter how much sugar I give my 2nd ferment, or how many days in warm temp I give them, it won’t fizz unless I add some ginger, or juice, or something else. Why is that?? I really want this rootbeer flavor (even flat, it’s tasty), but with fizz it would be PERFECT!

        1. Some kefir cultures are naturally less fizzy. I’ve tried a few over the years from different sources. Some were really active with plenty of fizz, others were duds.

  10. I haven’t made water kefir yet (looking for free grains). But I can drink all the kombucha I like without any ill effects. But if I drink too much milk kefir I have 30 minutes to find a bathroom. It becomes an emergency. I learned that the hard way while out shopping.

      1. That happens to me also when I drink milk kefir, eat cheese or anything with dairy other than ghee. Something about the solids in milk and an intolerance. It generally is a bit faster for me, however, so if I REALLY want dairy, I need to be home, and alone!!! Still, it is not pleasant.

        1. If you can find whoke milk, straight out of the cow (not pasteurized), you might find that you can drink it. Worth a try.

    1. yea i consumed miilk kefir and had to run to the bathroom for a shit. every time, sorry for language, a plop. and it was very runny. Then i decided to covert the grains to water kefir feeding them raw sugar. And now my turd has a more sturdy form. sturdy turdy. 🙂

  11. Hi 🙂 Just to say – the first batch of water kefir grains i had i could not let brew for more than 24 hours, regardless of sugar or fruit content, because the alcohol level would be too high. however i got another batch and this second one, from a different supplier, have the lovely feeling that water kefir gives but i can leave these for 48 hours and i don’t get any sort of ‘alcohol’ related feeling from it. not eloquently phrased (long day!) but hopefully you know what i mean 🙂

  12. Be careful when using raw honey, it is a natural antibacterial. It contain hydrogen pyroxide which is produced in the bees mouth. Black strap molasses is a great additive if your needing minerals, I haven’t noticed it changing the taste at all.

  13. I saw your post about drinking too much water kefir. I find similar things to be true with my body. I can drink as much kombucha as I want for an upset stomach, but water kefir can have the opposite effect. I think it is actually due to the production of acid from the kefir grains. Water kefir is very high in acid, which can cause: stomach pain, cramping, bloating, constipation/diarrhea. Too much acid is not a good thing for anyone’s body. Thanks for the post!

      1. I, too, have noticed much bloating as was trying to figure out why. I will do an experiment and see if its the kefir. I ferment kombucha and veggies too. Actually, just started with the veggies and the kefir.

        Thank you for posting.

        1. I add a pinch of bicarbonate and quarter of a lemon to my brew, then squeeze the lemon juice in when fermented. Maybe that will help as I never feel bloated, could be counter acting on the acidity ?

    1. For those who have things like Stomach pain, cramping, bloating, constipation/diarrhea…. It’s possible your gut needs a little help from HCL/ Pepsin (Hydrochloric Acid). Our bodies make this but as we get older, and/ or take antibiotics, or take drugs that tamp down your gut juices… I used to eat junk food (including gluten and meat w/preservatives, think bacon) and then my gut decided it couldn’t digest after assaulting it for years with Prilosec, Protonix, Nexium, and Dexilant. I probably never had a need for those drugs but the Drs didn’t test me for low stomach acid. Here’s a link explaining the test: http://scdlifestyle.com/2012/03/3-tests-for-low-stomach-acid/
      I became intolerant to dairy and other foods, and eventually even developed a condition with little or no HCL called idiopathic gastroparesis….
      although looking back, I had dry mouth and food intolerances symptoms which all started with GERD. The way I have been able to digest, since I have so little HCL naturally, is to use HCL capsules when I eat protein (as many as 9 even), along with fresh grated ginger and Iberogast (from Amazon). I urge people to google their symptoms and add natural or the the word cure or fix to the search. Good luck!

  14. I have been noticing that I feel full and don’t need to keep snacking. I drink water kefir, starting with 1 quart probably about every 24-48 hours. Now I make 2 quarts in the same amount of time. I do notice some fullness and some constipation. Normally it makes me feel great!

  15. I had a glass of home-made water-kefir on Sunday night, and did 10 poos yesterday, 10!
    I think I’ll have to stick to kombucha

    1. 12 – 24 hrs 1st fermentation = laxative effect
      48 hrs 1st fermentation = constipate
      You light want to let it brew longer (open top) and then bottle and leave for a day or 2 before refrigerating.
      Also include some egg shell (about 1cm²)

      1. Hey, I really need the answer to this question. for short fermentation, between 12-24 hours, what should be the ratio of water to grains? That makes a huge difference in the time required for fermentation!
        Can someone tell me that? I really need the laxative effect. I see a lot of places people say that short fermentation will create a laxative effect, but I do not know how much should be the ratio of the water to grains?

        Thanks.

        1. I’ve generally seen recommendations of between 2 tablespoons to 1/4 cup of grains per quart, but I haven’t seen specific recommendations regarding using water kefir as a laxative.

  16. I started making water kefir two weeks ago – going gung ho with a glass or two a day. A week later I developed thrush, which is unusual for me, although I just finished 5 days of antibiotics the week before (antibiotics also unusual for me) along with flu symptoms. I persevered with the kefir through the next week but thrush remained and headaches, sinus trouble and tired body worsened. Spent the day in bed yesterday and stopped taking it. Am planning to wait til i feel better before reintroducing it again, in smaller quantities. Fingers crossed it won’t be so dramatic next time.

    1. I have heard that taking antibiotics can cause yeast infections. Perhaps the kefir didn’t have anything to do with your thrush. I bet when you are fully well that affect won’t happen.

      1. Maybe a HERX reaction could be the issue, I had to stop kefir a couple times till I adjusted, love it now, hooked on it, haha. 🙂

        1. Agreed. I had a similar issue and stopped for a few days to help adjust. After the adjustment period I stopped feeling bloated and the benefits were all there…plus ut helps me stay hydrated because it has more flavor than plain water and is relative easy to make compared to other naturally flavored water drinks. My only problem now is that the grains multiply so fast. Wish they were popular enough tp sell from time to time…but in the meantime I try to give what I can when I can.

    2. You need to drink loads of water. What you’re experiencing is a candida die off and your body needs loads of water to transport the toxins of dead bad bacteria out of your system.

    3. Had the same effect but 100x stronger and my whole immune system went awry, it’s been 2 years and my body is totally destroyed, I keep searching for answers on what went wrong. I suspect mine got contaminated with some pathogenic bacteria. Dangerous stuff totally destroyed my health. I think it also messed with my serotonin or dopamine since those are actually produced in the stomach.

  17. Laurie, I thought kefir had good yeast. Ji said she ended up with thrush. Thats Candida. What gives there? Does kefir cause same issues as candida?
    I am starting water kefir to help control candida.

    1. Water kefir should not cause candida like issues in healthy individuals. for a full listing of the bacteria and yeast strains commonly found in water kefir, you can check out the post: https://commonsensehome.com/water-kefir-versus-kombucha/

      That said, water kefir may trigger die off problems (Herxheimer reaction). There’s a pretty good discussion of this sort of reaction to water kefir (with regards to candida) here: http://www.thecandidadiet.com/forum/yaf_postst3716_Sugar-in-Water-Kefir.aspx

      1. I have had Candida problems. I had a roaring yeast infection when my second daughter was born. She had terrible yeast infections in all her chubby baby folds. She had perpetual infections in the folds of her ears for years. It improved as she got older, but then the day came when she told me about the itching “down there”. I was heartsick. I put her on probiotics which worked, but we could never forget for her to take them. With two of us on probiotics, it also cost a lot! I decided it was time to explore traditional cultures. Since starting water kefir several years ago, my daughter has had maybe 3 infections, usually when we were on vacation or away from our kefir. Since she enjoys her homemade pop, I don’t need to remind her to have her regular dose. My grains now happily make kefir for many members of our extended family.

  18. Hi,
    After his first glass of water kefir, my husband had a bad headache, and refused to take any more.
    My symptoms have been different. It has an effect on my eyes. After a couple of hours, one eye started to feel weird and some mucus produced. Overnight, the eye was gummed close. Luckily, its only one eye at a time…
    If I take very little, then I am fine, but half a glass would cause problems. Perhaps its a very individual problems?

    1. From hours of research I’ve come to the conclusion that using an airlock lid when making kefir is important, especially​ here in Hawai’i where there are lots of other microbes everywhere.

      I’ve read about someone who had adverse reactions to kefir when it was made without an airlock lid, and that once she started to use an airlock lid those symptoms went away and she believes it was because a fungus in her apartment was growing in with the kefir. This goes against other things I’ve read about how kefir kills pathogens.
      I found out about kefir from a post of someone using it to cure MRSA after trying lots of antibiotics and natural remedies, and I had been suffering from infections for years and using many different natural remedies only somewhat successfully and then water kefir is what finally cured me. Now it’s a year later and I still use it on my skin and it works, yet not as fast as it used to. And I drink 2 quarts a day now, and I don’t think I’m drinking enough water with it and am doing research on the negative effects of kefir. I really appreciate this article and all the comments!

  19. I googled stomach pains and water kefir and found these comments. But just had to note that in addition to random sharp pains in the stomach, I also started having eye issues similar to the poster above. For many days my eyes felt like I had an eyelash stuck in them..first one eye, then the other. My eyes would be very gummy in the morning.

    When I googled the eye symptoms, I found that this scratchy eye problem could be caused by a build-up of yeast behind the eyes! I quit the water kefir two days ago and today my eyes seem to be getting better.

    1. Strange..

      I’m using water kefir for 4 month, drinking every day about 300 – 500 ml. My stomach pain is gone after using kefir for 2 weeks… Love it!

  20. I make water kefir all the time. Every time I drink it I get gassy and bloated within hours. I must have great grains! They ferment and double in size quickly, I have a fizzy beautiful beverage when I’m done. I think I may be getting too strong kefir. Need to start making it in a larger glass with less grains to see if that helps. When I buy it in the store, it doesn’t upset my stomach. I also make kombucha but it takes so long to make a batch that it’s painstaking and sometimes I end up forgetting about it. The Kombucha doesn’t bother my stomach one bit.

      1. I rotate 3 jars of Kefer grains. At the end of the third day the first jar is ready to drink and then I start another jar. After the initial set up of three jars there is a constant stream of fresh kefir to drink. It only takes minutes a day and doesn’t have to brew for 10 days before I can drink it.

        1. I’ve been doing the same. Love my kefir and now I’m not worried about running out. It has also help my son who was having a lot of problems with his stomach and that was causing vomiting. Now he feels great and no vomiting after his 2nd week of drinking kefir.

  21. I have IBS and have been taking proboitic capsules for years and am trying to make my own water kefir. My diarreha has once again increased since I have been drinking the kefir.
    Is my body getting used to it or can it be causing me to be sick?

    1. It’s impossible for me to say, as I have no way to test what’s going on in your guts. You may want to check with your health care provider, or try reducing your dosage to see what effect it has.

  22. Great information!

    I too have IBS. I had to have a colonoscopy a few weeks ago. I think the pico salax really messed me up.

    10 days ago I bought some kombucha to see if it helped. 8 days ago I started making water kefir. I have been drinking the water kefir for 6 days.

    Everything was great. I went from an IBS attack last Saturday to normal by Tuesday. Yesterday was constipation. BUTT today is better. I am going to continue with the water kefir. Usually I can be stopped up for a few days. So I am going to continue with the water kefir to see if things will balance out. I drink about a cup a day.

    How does the kefir cause constipation?

    Either way the stuff is great. I really want to try the rootbeer.

  23. I’ve been drinking water kefir and jun kombucha for 6 months. The kombucha gives me the energy in the morning and afternoon and kefir relaxes me at night. If i drink coffee, kombucha or wine after a glass of kefir I feel sick. If I drink too much kefir I get gassy and my blood alcohol goes up. Once it went to 1.2 after a quart of kefir. I use an airlock which reduces the alcohol in the second ferment but alcohol content can be unpredictable. Never have this trouble with the kombucha. The water kefir usually has little to no alcohol, but still I feel more relaxed and focused and sleep great. It pulled me out of a bad case if the flu too and does wonders for any systemic infection. Also use it as a hair rinse and have gotten many compliments. I put the excess grains on a burn and it really soothed it. Great for your skin.

  24. Commercial konbucha makes my legs all numb for a few minutes.
    I don’t like the sensation. Could the alcohol content be doing this?
    I also take medication for seizures and anxiety. Thanks!

  25. Been wanting to try the root beer water kefir for awhile now. Right now all I have is liquid stevia root beer flavor but not sure if that’s enough root beer flavoring and too much stevia can be bitter. If it doesn’t work, I’ll try to find that root beer extract! As to the egg shells, we use well water but it’s filtered through a whole house water softener which removes most of the minerals. I usually add raisins or prunes to my water kefir brew for some minerals and I also use demarera sugar instead of white refined sugar. Demerara is less refined and still has minerals it in. Just a thought. Love your page!

    1. Thank you for you kind words. I bet the demerara flavor would compliment the root beer flavor, too. Do be careful with the softener water for fermenting, as the softener salts may be hard on the kefir grains.

  26. Just wondering about my grains. When I got them from another water kefir enjoyer they were large. Now, after 5 months, they have slowly but surely reduced in size. They multiply but they are not the plump gems they were when I got them. Any idea about why this might be so? This batch I am trying an egg shell in with the grains. I just used an egg shell from the eggs I had in from the grocery store. I boiled up some water and gave it a good rinse once the egg was out of it. Could I be using the wrong water? the wrong sugar? Any suggestions about how to get my grains plump again would be appreciated. Thanks for the root beer tip! My kids will love this, especially as the weather hopefully turns warmer and they are looking for a refreshing and special drink.

      1. Thanks for the prompt reply. I have been reading about different sugars. I have always used organic cane but am open to trying another. I will look for one that you mentioned the next time I am out. I believe the water I am using (bottled spring water / sometimes boiled and cooled tap water) must be low in minerals. Perhaps getting the trace minerals you are suggesting might help if the eggshell or switching sugars does not. Cheers!

  27. Hello!
    I´m starting with water kefir.
    And I´ve got questions about fermentation an botulism.
    Is there a possibility of botulism in water kefir?
    Thank you very much!
    Lila (from Argentina)

        1. What do you want to check it for? To perform a microbial analysis, you’d need to send it to a lab. Alcohol content can be measured with a hydrometer, which should include instructions for use.

          1. Ok. Without sounding snarky. If we can grow good bacteria wouldn’t it be plausible that bad could grow too?
            So with that said, does bad bacteria not grow in certain ph environments?

            Of course a lab would be able to test it. We all know that. How do moms and dads know it’s safe for their small children? Pregnancy?
            I’m very health conscience and not a naysayer. Or don’t believe it can or is helpful. I just want to be safe.

          2. Bacteria and other microbes grow from somewhere. They don’t simply appear out of the aether. If there are abundant healthy microbes dumped into their preferred living conditions, they will have the advantage. It’s a simple matter of numbers.

            Yes, lower pH will make any food item less hospitable to bad bacteria. This is why it is safe to water bath can jams, jellies, fruit and pickled foods.

            If you don’t feel it’s safe for children or to use during pregnancy, don’t use it. Neither I nor anyone else is forcing you to do so. I cannot personally guarantee anything is safe outside of the items under my direct control. I don’t advise the use of large quantities of fermented beverages for kids or pregnant women, or for most people, for that matter. Just because a little is good doesn’t mean more is better. Some people swear by ferments, some won’t touch them. It’s largely a matter of personal preference, but it’s also body chemistry. Every person is different, so they may react differently to different foods, fermented or otherwise.

            If you want something that is absolutely sanitary that meets rigid quality control criteria, I don’t recommend home fermenting.

  28. I tried the dairy keifer first. I totally could not stand it.
    I have been making water keifer for about 6 months now. My husband was bitten by a brown recluse spider, of course the antibiotics they gave him killed the good bacteria in his gut and he developed C.diff. He was told it was bad and may require IV antibiotics if it returns. That was when we started the probiotic water keifer. My gosh what a wonderful little bacteria!
    We have experimented with different liquid flavor additives, raspberry peach strawberry ECT we love them all. We got some diet lemon soda for the fizz, add about 1/4 of the can to your drink it’s delicious. I haven’t tried the root beer yet but I think I will it sounds really good thanks for the good ideas.

    1. I had c diff at the very end of a pregnancy. Required two rounds of different antibiotics, was still being treated after birth, Immediately started drinking kefir, then making my own milk kefir. Per a gastroenterologist Added VSL3 probiotics, also added S bouldari probitoics. Has not returned in over 2 years. I am going to start making water kefir as well. I have severe asthma and allergies that makes me a target for infections so I have to be vigilant about not getting to the point of needing antibiotics and am hoping if I do need them one day these amazing probiotics will help. I truly believe c diff can be fought with probiotics, and powerful fermented foods.

  29. I’ve been a home-made yogurt, and kefir fan for several years.
    1. any prohibition to enjoying yogurt and kefir at the same meal?
    2. I find that culturing kefir at room temp takes about three days, at which time the whey separates from the curd, but when manually mixed prior to using a plastic sieve to extract the grains to re-cycle, the kefir I place in a separate storage jar is fairly uniform in density and positively delicious. Just don’t use metal implements on kefir.
    3. excellent user and moderator guidance…but, I suspect the loose BM’s after kefir, or ANY probiotic, may be a consequence of friendlies eradicating “hostile” bacteria or yeasts. While this is NOT a bad thing…unless you’re on the train, going from NY to Miami, it can be challenging.
    Thanks for sharing your wisdom!
    Bob M.

    1. I don’t see any reason not to enjoy yogurt and kefir at the same meal, although I would caution people to start slowly and see how your body reacts.

      Many people do have die off symptoms when started cultured foods or even commercial probiotics. As you mentioned, not necessarily a bad thing, but inconvenient if you are on the job or in the middle of a task that’s best not interrupted by frequent bathroom breaks. I figure it’s best to slow down and give your body a chance to adjust, at least for most people. Things should level out after a while.

  30. We are new to water kefir. A friend I trust shared her grains. I have a question that will sound off.

    I avoided cultured products like kumbacha and kefir for a long time. And I still feel odd about it. I had a dear friend who made her own kumbacha and drank it faithfully daily. She suddenly fell ill with Bile Duct Cancer and died within 2 months. Its a rare, not often seen cancer. I was told kumbacha works on the liver to cleanse? Could she have grown “bad” bacteria in her kumbacha? Im little scared to drink water kefir or give to my family. How can I make sure its safe?

    1. If you start with healthy culture of kombucha or water kefir and grow it out under correct conditions, risk of contamination by problem microbes is minimal. The healthy microbes usually populate the food source first. That said, it is still possible for contamination to happen. As far as I know, there’s no easy home test kit for kombucha or water kefir to analyze the microbe populations in the brew. Most folks I know just watch for any off flavor, aroma or appearance.

      Even though kombucha is supposed to act as a liver tonic, the human body is a complicated organism. This is the first I’ve heard of a regular kombucha drinker developing bile duct cancer. There are likely other factors involved.

      If you’re looking for a consistent product in every ferment, you could use powdered cultures for making dairy kefir. Instead of grains, the powder is mixed into your choice of milk for each batch. (Cutting Edge Cultures Easy Kefir Starter Culture is one example.) This method is more expensive, since you need to keep buying powder instead of cultivating reusable grains, but it produces a uniform product every time.

  31. My brother has ulcerated colitis. I have been making water kefir for him however he is finding that he is going to the washroom quite a bit. He is also on prednisone and Remicade. I believe he is drinking 1 to 2 quarts a day. Do you think that might be too much?

  32. No more water kefir for me. My UC has gotten worse with bleeding and constipation even with less than 16 oz a day. If I ferment less than 2 days then the sugar content wrecks my bad knee. I had such high hopes since it is so much easier than making the kombucha. Oh, well, back to the bucha. One good thing about my bucha is my hair went from white to blonde again☺ I’m 61.

    1. Have you tried the continuous ferment option for kombucha? That may be a little easier to manage. Thanks for sharing your experience, and interesting note about the hair.

    2. This is such a great comment trail! I have been making water kefir several years now. I am relatively lazy with the schedule. Typically I brew it 2-3 days with 1/4 c organic sugar or sugar in the raw in the first fermentation and then drain out the grains, switch it to a lock-jar and add fruit and 1/4-1/2 c juice for the second fermentation another 2-3 days. I then strain the fruit out and pour it into individual lock-top bottles for 1-3 days depending on when I get around to putting it in the refrigerator. My kefir is almost always bubbly. I have more problems with too much fizz because of my laziness abd overbrewing! I think 3-2-2 days works best for the fermentation for the ideal fizz.

      I drink about 1/2 24 oz bottle a day. Without kefir I am constipated regularly. Kefir does a good job of keeping things moving. If I dont drink it for 2 days, I am back to constipated. Two days back on the kefir and things are good again.

      I tried kombucha also. I didn’t have the same luck in helping my constipation. Once I had drank it consistently for months, I was stable. But it didn’t help as quickly. I also am sensitive to caffeine (keeps me up at night) so I like the kefir better(yes, i could use decaffeinated tea, but just haven’t).

      When I fermented both water kefir and kombucha at the same time, I went back and forth between the two. I noticed drinking both in one day made me ill. Diarrhea, stomach cramps, with residual impact for 2-3 days. I thought it was a coincidence, but it happened twice. I won’t do that a third time!

      In the past, I recall drinking too much of one and getting a stomach ache, but I dont overdo it anymore.

  33. I’m using water kefir for 4 month, drinking every day about 300 – 500 ml. My stomach pain was gone after using kefir for 2 weeks… Love it!

  34. We have recently jumped on the band wagon and started making water kefir. Same as years past when I made Kombocha we start coughing and having tons of extra mucus. Why? I know fermented things are so good for you. we don’t seem to have a problem with kraut. But what is so different about water kefir or kombocha?

    1. It’s hard to say for sure. It could be a Herxheimer Reaction, where you feel worse before you feel better. It could be that you’re sensitive to specific strains of bacteria, yeast or other microbes found in the ferments. Both water kefir and kombucha have a winder array of microbes than a basic veggie ferment. Fermented foods are also high in histamines (especially those you mentioned). It’s ironic, as fermented foods are promoted to heal gut health, but they can sometimes trigger reactions that make symptoms worse.

      Here are some more links on histamine reactions and fermented foods:

      All About Histamines from Paleo Leap

      Fermented Food Allergy • Reveal Hidden Causes from ProbioticsCenter.org

      Everything You Need To Know About Histamine Intolerance from Amy Myers MD

  35. I was hoping you could help me. I followed this recipe and my kefir won’t fizz! Normally I get great carbonation from fruit. But with the root beer extract & sugar I have gotten nothing! I plan to try again to see if it’s an a fluke but do you have any suggestions?

    1. I never found our root beer kefir to be as fizzy as the fruit kefirs. You could try more sugar and slightly warmer fermentation temps to give it more to feed the yeast and more favorable fermentation conditions.

  36. Does kefir water affect your cholesterol levels mine have not been good since I started about 9months ago

    1. I haven’t been able to find any definitive studies on water kefir. The milk kefir studies seem to indicate that milk kefir has no effect or lowers cholesterol.

      Kefir consumption does not alter plasma lipid levels or cholesterol fractional synthesis rates relative to milk in hyperlipidemic men: a randomized controlled trial

      “Kefir drink causes a significant yet similar improvement in serum lipid profile, compared with low-fat milk, in a dairy-rich diet in overweight or obese premenopausal women: A randomized controlled trial”

      That said, every person is different. If you think it may be causing a problem for you, stop drinking it for a while and see if your numbers change.

  37. I have been drinking Kefir water for about a year. It has normalized my restroom and was my salvation from chronic constipation. However now I have developed indigestion that is getting worse. I am not bloated nor do I have gas, I just have this sweet taste/feeling in the back of my throat when I eat. I also do small burps after eating within 45 minutes. Has anyone else had this experience?

    1. When I started with my first batch of water kefir a couple weeks ago, I noticed I got a pleasant buzz. I drink about 2-3 cups per day. Now I seem to get an intense headache that is more like a high blood pressure headache, as opposed to a tension headache. I don’t believe I have ever had a migraine so I can’t say if it mimics that. I used to be able to drink alcohol without issue (I stopped drinking alcoholic beverages a few years ago.) I can eat sauerkraut, fermented vegetables and vegan yoghurt without issue. I have been vegan for years so I don’t have any dairy/meat/fish. I am curious if others have had the same headache reaction just to water kefir. Thankfully, it has had only positive effects on my bowels.

      1. I should add that my intention is not to have a ‘buzz’, lol, but I am more concerned now that it has turned into headaches. I have to take a few rounds of antibiotics due to dental implant work (over the course of the year) so I am trying to offset their effects. I am worried about the alcohol content for me, and also for my young adult children who are driving.

        The recipe I am following for water kefir is:
        1 gallon of reverse osmosis water;
        3 cups grains;
        1 cup sugar (mostly cane, with 2 tbsp. coconut sugar) and;
        either of the following organic dried fruits: 2 figs, or 4 dates, or 4 apricots;
        2 slices of organic lemon;
        pinch of baking soda;
        4 drops of trace minerals.

        The first two batches I made were with half the sugar and 48 hour first ferment (the first two times) but now am doing 6 day first ferment (I tried 48 hours initially so maybe I need to go back to that) and then strained and bottled (flip-top) for 24 hours or so, and then refrigerated.

  38. Fairly new to water kefir. 1st- cultures have multiplied x6 since purchasing- can I freeze or dehydrated them? It’s just me drinking the kefir. I often feel a slight “buzz” after drinking & some bloating/gas. I don’t drink alcohol so maybe i’m a light weight. Haha
    I haven’t flavored it yet, actually enjoy it plain. Thanks for sharing all your insights.

  39. I have quite a problem separating the water kefir crystals out from the tiny pieces of crushed fruit including tiny tiny fig seeds. It is time consuming. Has anyone else had this problem and are there any suggestions for keeping the crystals separate from the fruit mixture? I have seen a suggestion of keeping the crystals in a muslin bag but I don’t know how that would go?

  40. Hi, I have had kefir water (not fruit added) bottled in my fridge for 12 months. I opened on today and it is fizzy and tastes like a cider . Would this Still be ok?. How long does bottle kefir last for please.? Thanks Cate

    1. I know a gal who routinely ferments fruit kefirs for a year as part of her local food efforts. I’d sample in small amounts just to make sure it doesn’t upset your belly, but it should be fine if it does not taste spoiled.

        1. Maybe. Each person is different.

          The article “Best Beverages for Arthritis” notes: “Consider exploring a fermented beverage like kefir as an alternative. It too is full of probiotics that can decrease inflammation in your body. Make sure you’re choosing a low- or no-sugar yogurt or kefir.”

          Arthritis is an auto-immune condition, which means that odds are the gut is not functioning as well as it could be. In general, fermented foods are helpful for most people – but that can also be high in histamines. If you have a histamine intolerance, kefir is probably not a best choice for you.

          The article “Histamine Intolerance: A Surprising Cause Of Inflammation” discusses high histamine foods, histamine triggering foods, low histamine foods, and how to help your body heal from histamine intolerance.

  41. I googled stomachache from water kefir and came upon this discussion. Since a few others did the same, I thought I would add my experience. I am very health conscious, vegetarian, have taken probiotics for years, and love the taste of the water-based kefirs made locally. I normally drank it once in a while, but recently started drinking it daily, and have had ongoing sharp pain/cramping in my stomach. Seems that it isn’t a good match for certain people? Will try not drinking it for a while…

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