Revival of millennia-old beverages

x How fermented soft drinks can support your immunity thanks to probiotics

Do you know that we have more than 35 000 different species of bacteria living in our gut? Can you imagine that 80% of our immune system is located in our colon? This literally means the power is in our own hands! By selecting what we consume, we can nurture our microbiome leading to a boosted immunity. In fact, we could decrease the risk of getting sick or even depressed.

There are many solutions to stimulate gut health: fresh vegetables and fruits, fiber-rich food, yogurts, frequent body exercises…. Fermented drinks can also promote gut health. It is quite easy to do yourself at home and implement in your daily routine.

Multiplying like gut flora

Fermented beverages are made from herbal or fruit infusion, green or black tea that has been cultured or fermented with the help of yeast and/or bacteria during a certain period of time. These drinks are usually a source of probiotics, antioxidants and enzymes.

Although fermented beverages have been prepared and consumed for ages by our ancestors, today it's booming again. Those non-alcoholics drinks are popular as never before. This is probably a consequence of the series of recent scientific studies showing the effect of a healthy microbiome on both body and brain health (*).

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The K-drinks

Kombucha and kefir-based beverages are the rising stars among fermented soft drinks. Let’s learn a little more about them.

Kombucha’s place of origin is Manchuria (China), like Panax ginseng! The kombucha starter culture looks like a mushroom cap, but it is not. Water kefir grains or Tibicos look like small and transparent grains. Their origin is still unknown… Some stories tell they are from Mexico, others from Tibet. In Japan they are called water crystals. Not to be confused with milk kefir. Water kefir needs sugar water to grow, while milk kefir needs milk and the sugars in it.

Kombucha and kefir are Scoby’s: symbiotic colonies of bacteria and yeasts. They are both rich in probiotics. Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that enhance the digestion, the absorption as well as the assimilation of nutrients. They are also supposed to strengthen our natural gut lining.

Above being healthy, those drinks are tasty. They have little or no alcohol. They contain almost no sugars. They have been “eaten” during fermentation. How great that you can prepare them at home!

Healthy gut, healthy mind?

Since the end of the '90s, the gut is also called the second brain. We know that the enteric nervous system, neurons lining the gut, can influence the mood.

The gut is linked to the brain through the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis. About 90% of serotonin, the neurotransmitter regulating good emotions, is produced in the intestines. This specific neurotransmitter is taking part in the exchanges between the brain and the gut thanks to the vagal nerve.

In a nutshell, an imbalanced gut may cause a chronic stress response and impact mood. So, you may want to cultivate your microbiome with a good fermented drink full of probiotics.

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BOTALYS’ easy recipe

For a tasty homemade water Kefir:
  1. Put in a jar: 1 liter of water, 4 big spoons of kefir grains (fresh if possible), 4 big spoons of cane sugar, 2 figs and 2 slices of organic lemon.

  2. Cover the jar with a tissue, not with a closed lid.

  3. When the figs float, it means the fermentation is busy. Depending on the temperature you have to wait between 1 and 4 days. In doubt: taste a bit of liquid, the sweet taste should no longer be present, meaning the fermentation is finished.

  4. Filter your preparation, figs and lemon slice feed your compost.

  5. Clean the grains to use for the next fermentation. Please share the surplus with relatives when that would be possible. Keep in the fridge in clear water with 1 tablespoon of sugar.

  6. Serve once a day, at 10 am instead of the coffee break or as a mocktail with a few smashed mint leaves or berries before supper.
(*) Example of study :
Fermented Foods as a Dietary Source of Live Organisms, Shannon Rezac, Car reen Kok, Melanie Heermann and Robert Hutkins