Can you eat water kefir grains?

In this article, we will answer the question “Can you eat water kefir grains?” and discuss what kefir grains are composed of.

Can you eat water kefir grains?

Yes, you can eat water kefir grains. Except for the residual taste of the kefir (or sugar-water) in which they were marinated, they are flavorless. As a result of their high concentration of probiotics, they are very beneficial to your health. 

What is the composition of Kefir Grains?

The kefir grains are an insoluble polysaccharide matrix, mainly composed of dextran (derived from sucrose). Water kefir grains are gelatinous structures of 5 to 20 mm in diameter and with an irregular, cauliflower-like shape.

Dextran is a polysaccharide which contains predominantly α-(1→6) linked glucosyl units and is produced by a lactic acid bacteria commonly associated with water kefir grains by the action of enzymes (1).

Attached to the polymeric structure of the grains are microorganisms living in a symbiotic association. The principal microorganisms are lactic acid bacteria of the genera Lactobacillus, acetic acid bacteria of the genera Acetobacter and Saccharomyces yeast.

However, the microbial composition of the different kefir strains from different origins are complex and diverse. According to studies, the total number of microorganisms isolated from various kefirs is estimated at over 300 species (3).

What factors affect the composition of Kefir Grains?

The factors that affect the composition of the kefir grains are the microorganisms which form the grains, the nutrients given in the fermentation process to grow the kefir grains and the age of the grains.

As mentioned earlier in this article, the principal microorganisms of water kefir grains are Lactobacillus spp. from lactic acid bacteria, Acetobacter spp. from acetic acid bacteria, and Saccharomyces spp. from yeast. 

Some species are known to be found frequently in water kefir grains, but the exact species varies depending on the geographical origin of the grains. Besides, the microbiota of the water kefir grain can be influenced by the time of fermentation, temperature and the presence of oxygen.

Different compositions of kefir grains are related to different countries such as Japan, Thailand, Malaysia, the United Kingdom, Spain, the Netherlands, Brazil, Chile, Peru, and Argentina (7).

Different sources of glucose are used to grow kefir grains, such as sugar, dried fruits, fruit juices and vegetables. The availability of nutrients has  an impact on the biomass growth of water kefir grains. Among fruits, figs offer the best conditions for fermentation according to studies.

What are the benefits of eating water kefir grains?

Eating water kefir grains has been shown to have anti-tumor, anti-inflammatory, and blood pressure-regulating activities in modest trials. 

The ingestion of kefir grains may reduce the symptoms of irritable bowel disease (IBS), Ulcerative Colitis, and stomach ulcers for certain individuals, in addition to improving digestion and ameliorate tolerance of lactose (1,2). 

Because they cannot be digested by the human intestines, kefir grains are considered dietary fibers. As indigestible polysaccharides, they are fermented by specific intestinal microbiota, which produces short chain fatty acids and other metabolites, improving the gut microbiota and consequently the immune system.

Indigestible polysaccharides can reduce fat absorption partly by binding to fat molecules and increasing their excretion. Their ingestion contributes to lowering cholesterol and reducing risks of obesity as well as of developing diabetes (5).

What are the risks of eating water kefir grains?

The risks of eating water kefir grains may exist when ingested in excessive quantities. Although dietary fibers provide several benefits, there are drawbacks of consuming them in an unrestrained form. 

Consuming too much dietary fiber can cause bloating (flatulence), diarrhea, abdominal cramps or intestinal blockages in people who don’t drink enough fluids. To prevent dehydration, the consumption of more water is necessary when fiber intake is high.

For individuals with conditions like Crohn’s disease or intestinal obstruction, fiber intake may need to be limited. 

Individuals with malabsorption issues should be careful, because eating fiber as excessive intake over an extended period can negatively affect the absorption of essential nutrients from foods, such as iron, zinc or calcium (6).

Other FAQs about Kefir grains that you may be interested in.

Where do kefir grains come from?


In this article, we answered the question “Can you eat water kefir grains?” and we discussed what is kefir grains composed of?


  1. Lynch, Kieran M., et al. An update on water kefir: Microbiology, composition and production. Int J Food Microbiol, 2021, 345, 109128. 
  2. Guzel-Seydim, Zeynep Banu, et al. Effect of kefir on Fusobacterium nucleatum in potentially preventing intestinal cancer. Funct Foods Health Dis, 2016, 6, 469-477.
  3. Wang, Xiaomeng, et al. The Microbial Diversity and Biofilm-Forming Characteristic of Two Traditional Tibetan Kefir Grains. Foods, 2022, 11, 1.
  4. Schoevers, Anine. Mass cultivation and activity of kefir grains. Diss. Stellenbosch: Stellenbosch University, 1999.
  5. Zhang, Tiehua, et al. Beneficial effect of intestinal fermentation of natural polysaccharides. Nutrients, 2018, 10, 1055.
  6. Ioniță-Mîndrican, C-B., et al. Therapeutic Benefits and Dietary Restrictions of Fiber In-take: A State of the Art Review. Nutrients, 2022, 14, 2641.
  7. Cufaoglu, Gizem, and Ayse Nur Erdinc. An alternative source of probiotics: Water kefir. Food Frontiers, 2022.

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