You may know that fermented foods are a great way to add healthy probiotics to your diet. But there are also fermented drinks—besides booze—that you can turn to for a healthier gut.
The microbes involved in fermenting these drinks have gut-friendly probiotic effects. Plus fermentation creates beneficial by-products, such as B vitamins. While some people claim that these fermented drinks carry additional benefits, such as improved immunity and even cancer prevention, there’s little evidence in human studies to back these claims. Studies that do show some benefit are preliminary and in animals.
These fermented drinks are delicious, hydrating and healthy. Here's what you should know.
Kefir is a fermented milk drink rich in calcium. It's very similar to a drinkable yogurt in taste and texture. 1 cup of low-fat plain kefir has about 100 calories and 9 grams of protein. Plus, because the bacteria that ferment the milk help break down lactose (milk sugar), people who are lactose-intolerant may have an easier time digesting kefir. Look for plain kefir at the store to cut down on added sugar and drink it straight or add it to smoothies.
Water Kefir is a fruit-and-water mix brewed with a probiotic cocktail of bacteria and yeast called water kefir grain (nothing to do with actual grain). It is a nice option for people looking for probiotics who eat vegan or dairy free.
Kombucha is probably the hottest fermented drink on the market right now. Kombucha is made from tea and sugar and fermented with a scoby, often referred to as "the mother." A scoby is what gets the fermentation party going, it's a mix of bacteria and yeast. The drink is often flavored with herbs or fruit. A tiny amount of alcohol is sometimes produced during fermentation—less than 0.5 percent alcohol by volume. However, some kombuchas have been found to contain up to 2 or 3 percent alcohol.