Here’s why we all should consider drinking coconut water kefir
Unfermented coconut water is an ancient drink that’s been enjoyed for hundreds of years, and the studies on its health benefits are extensive. Protection against heart attack, kidney stones, and life-threatening infection are just a few examples, making it ideal for fermenting.1,2,3
Based on where the coconut is grown, the water inside the young coconut can be quite sweet and have a lot of sugar. Because of the sugar, it would not be beneficial if you are fighting off any type of infection or cancer. Thailand and the Philippines have very sweet coconut water, which is ideal for fermenting.
Raw coconut water inoculated with a Kefir Starter becomes a restorative tonic that supports energy, detoxification, and immunity.
Milk kefir is an ancient cultured beverage:
- Originally from the Caucasus Mountains in the former Soviet Union in Central Asia, the word kefir derives from the Turkish word “Keyif,” which means “good feeling.”4
- Since many of us on the Body Ecology Diet are in the initial stages of healing the gut, Donna developed a way to benefit from the beneficial bacteria and yeast in a traditional kefir culture that doesn’t involve the potentially irritating proteins of casein found in milk.
- Dairy-free coconut water kefir contains the beneficial microbes found in traditional kefir yet offers all the benefits of raw, living coconut water.
Because coconut water kefir is fermented, beneficial bacteria and yeast transform the natural sugars found in coconut water — releasing powerful metabolites that can benefit the human body. Or, as the World Health Organization describes it, these beneficial bacteria (probiotics) are “live micro-organisms which, when administered in adequate amounts, confer a health benefit on the host.”5
Why drink coconut water kefir? 7 scientifically-supported reasons
Coconut water contains essential minerals that serve as electrolytes in the body, including:
Not only that, but:
1. It’s ultra-hydrating.
Researchers confirm raw coconut water is sterile when it’s inside the coconut. It can be safely injected directly into the bloodstream without harming blood cells. The mineral profile of coconut water is so similar to human plasma, in fact, that in emergency situations doctors have injected it intravenously to prevent dehydration.6,7
It’s also been said that raw coconut water was commonly used in World War II and during the Vietnam War when intravenous solution was in short supply, though there’s no current research to support this.
2. It’s probiotic-rich.
The microbes in our starter come from an ancient Turkish culture.
Kefir traditionally contains around seven super-strains of probiotic bacteria and beneficial yeast:
1. Kluyveromyces marxianus
2. Lactobacillus kefyr (thermophilic)
3. Lactococcus lactis subsp. Cremoris
4. Lactococcus lactis subsp. Diacetylactis
5. Lactococcus lactis subsp. Lactis
6. Leuconostoc mesenteroides subsp. Cremoris
7. Saccharomyces unisporus
In 2007, the Turkish Microbial Society cultured all seven strains together.8 They then tested each individual strain and found that each one could protect against food-borne pathogens, such as staphylococcus, salmonella, and listeria.
Lactobacillus kefyr alone was found to fight the toxins produced by Clostridium difficile, a bacterium that contributes to chronic and sometimes deadly diarrhea.9 Because C. difficile is increasingly resistant to antibiotics, C. difficile infection can be fatal.
3. It helps prevent the accumulation of kidney stones.
Credit this to coconut water’s high potassium content. This makes coconut water an effective remedy for kidney stones, calcium crystal stones that form in the kidney and travel through the urinary system.2 Increasing potassium intake can also decrease sodium levels, relieving water retention.
4. It may protect the heart.
Coconut water is heart-healthy too. Studies show coconut water may protect against heart attack, high blood pressure, irregular heartbeat, and blood clots.1
Kluyveromyces marxianus, a beneficial yeast, profoundly affects blood pressure:
- Studies prove that K. marxianus produces molecules that act like ACE inhibitors in the body.10,11
- ACE inhibitors (angiotensin-converting-enzyme inhibitor) make up a class of pharmaceutical drugs that open blood vessels.
- Because ACE inhibitors are used to treat high blood pressure and congestive heart failure, scientists are exploring the use of kefir as a “functional food.”
Kefir also positively affects blood pressure by supporting better communication between the gut and the brain. In a 2018 rodent study, a team of international researchers found that nine weeks of drinking kefir helped restore healthy levels of four beneficial bacteria in the gut, as well as a brain enzyme needed to regulate nervous system function, which reduced hypertension.12
Your road to recovery begins here. Start with the Body Ecology Diet Blueprint.
5. It promotes weight maintenance.
The probiotic Saccharomyces unisporus is a yeast that produces healthy fatty acids, such as palmitic acid (found in palm oil) and palmitoleic acid (found in macadamia nuts). Palmitic acid acts as an antioxidant in the body and is a source of vitamin A.13 Palmitoleic acid is also a signaling molecule that helps fight weight gain.14
6. It can help build natural immunity.
Besides helping to keep off excess weight, S. unisporus produces an anti-tumor agent called farnesol.15 Likewise, Finnish researchers found in 2008 that the probiotic Leuconostoc mesenteroides ssp. cremoris can produce chemical messages that boost the immune system’s response.16 Other research even shows that kefir may reduce the spread of cancerous cells.17
Researchers have also recommended that cancer survivors consume kefir as a gentle post-workout drink to replenish and protect against upset stomach.18
7. It may ward off infection.
From high blood pressure to obesity to infection, the probiotics in kefir prove themselves to be a valuable addition to anyone’s diet. Farnesol — the probiotic-produced anti-tumor agent — has been shown to control the growth of opportunistic yeast, like Candida.19 The lauric acid in coconut water also helps produce monolaurin, an organic compound known to naturally resist viruses and infection.3
And, it should go without saying that regularly consuming fermented coconut water kefir can improve digestion. Probiotics strengthen gut health; coconut water kefir can restore good gut flora and help relieve constipation, diarrhea, bloating, gas, and other uncomfortable symptoms.
Could coconut water kefir hold the key to anti-COVID immunity?
The latest studies confirm what’s already known about probiotics and immunity: Eating more fermented foods could decrease the severity — evidenced in a lower death rate — of COVID-19. Kefir, a fermented drink, fits in this category.
Recent research finds kefir to be especially resistant in the presence of a virus: In a 2016 Frontiers in Microbiology study, kefir cell-free supernatant (KCFS) significantly hindered the HTLV-1 retrovirus, inhibiting its growth by nearly 100 percent.20 A 2020 Microbiome study also noted that, by signaling the microbiota-gut-immune-brain axis, kefir produces positive immunological effects.21
Surprisingly, coconut water kefir is quite easy to make and enjoy at home, once you get the hang of the prep work. Check out our simple tutorial to get a step-by-step view of the process.
Yong, J. W., Ge, L., Ng, Y. F., & Tan, S. N. (2009). The chemical composition and biological properties of coconut (Cocos nucifera L.) water. Molecules, 14(12), 5144-5164.
Karthikeyan, J., & Samipillai, S. S. (2010). Sugarcane in therapeutics. Journal of Herbal Medicine and Toxicology, 4(1), 9-14.
Yang HT, Chen JW, Rathod J, et al. Lauric Acid Is an Inhibitor of Clostridium difficile Growth in Vitro and Reduces Inflammation in a Mouse Infection Model. Front Microbiol. 2018;8:2635. Published 2018 Jan 17. doi:10.3389/fmicb.2017.02635.
Lopitz-Otsoa, F., Rementeria, A., Elguezabal, N., & Garaizar, J. (2006). Kefir: A symbiotic yeasts-bacteria community with alleged healthy capabilities. Revista iberoamericana de micología, 23, 67-74.
Berlec A, Štrukelj B. Editorial: Engineering Microbes for Therapy. Front Microbiol. 2019;10:629. Published 2019 Apr 2. doi:10.3389/fmicb.2019.00629.
Campbell-Falck, D., Thomas, T., Falck, T. M., Tutuo, N., & Clem, K. (2000). The intravenous use of coconut water. The American journal of emergency medicine, 18(1), 108-111.
Petroianu, G. A., Kosanovic, M., Shehatta, I. S., Mahgoub, B., Saleh, A., & Maleck, W. H. (2004). Green coconut water for intravenous use: trace and minor element content. The Journal of Trace Elements in Experimental Medicine, 17(4), 273-282.
Ulusoy, B. H., Çolak, H., Hampikyan, H., & Erkan, M. E. (2007). An in vitro study on the antibacterial effect of kefir against some food-borne pathogens. Türk Mikrobiyoloji Cemiyeti Dergisi, 37, 103-107.
Carasi, P., Trejo, F. M., Pérez, P. F., De Antoni, G. L., & Serradell, M. D. L. A. (2012). Surface proteins from Lactobacillus kefir antagonize in vitro cytotoxic effect of Clostridium difficile toxins. Anaerobe, 18(1), 135-142.
García-Tejedor, A., Sánchez-Rivera, L., Castelló-Ruiz, M., Recio, I., Salom, J. B., & Manzanares, P. (2014). Novel antihypertensive lactoferrin-derived peptides produced by Kluyveromyces marxianus: gastrointestinal stability profile and in vivo angiotensin I-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibition. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.
García-Tejedor, A., Padilla, B., Salom, J. B., Belloch, C., & Manzanares, P. (2013). Dairy yeasts produce milk protein-derived antihypertensive hydrolysates. Food Research International.
Silva‐Cutini, Mirian A. Probiotic Kefir Antihypertensive Effects in Spontaneously Hypertensive Rats Involves Central and Peripheral Mechanisms. Volume32, Issue S1, Experimental Biology 2018 Meeting Abstracts, April 2018, Pages 924.2-924.2.
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Kurtzman, C., Fell, J. W., & Boekhout, T. (Eds.). (2011). The yeasts: a taxonomic study (Vol. 1). Access Online via Elsevier.
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Kekkonen, R. A., Kajasto, E., Miettinen, M., Veckman, V., Korpela, R., & Julkunen, I. (2008). Probiotic Leuconostoc mesenteroides ssp. cremoris and Streptococcus thermophilus induce IL-12 and IFN-γ production. World journal of gastroenterology: WJG, 14(8), 1192.
Maalouf, K., Baydoun, E., & Rizk, S. (2011). Kefir induces cell-cycle arrest and apoptosis in HTLV-1-negative malignant T-lymphocytes. Cancer management and research, 3, 39.
K. O’Brien, C. Boeneke, W. Prinyawiwatkul, J. Lisano, D. Shackelford, K. Reeves, M. Christensen, R. Hayward, K. Carabante Ordonez, L.K. Stewart. Short communication: Sensory analysis of a kefir product designed for active cancer survivors. Journal of Dairy Science, 2017; 100 (6): 4349 DOI: 10.3168/jds.2016-12320.
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Bourrie BC, Willing BP, Cotter PD. The Microbiota and Health Promoting Characteristics of the Fermented Beverage Kefir. Front Microbiol. 2016;7:647. Published 2016 May 4. doi:10.3389/fmicb.2016.00647.
van de Wouw, M., Walsh, A.M., Crispie, F. et al. Distinct actions of the fermented beverage kefir on host behaviour, immunity and microbiome gut-brain modules in the mouse. Microbiome 8, 67 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1186/s40168-020-00846-5.