When I started making kefir, I wanted to know which kefir is better, milk or water? Which one would provide me with the most benefit? What are the differences and why?
Unfortunately, due to the complexity of the human bodies and the health condition of each individuals, there are no straight answers. Benefits for one person may be completely different and sometimes opposite of the other. Also, the various methods of preparation may also come in to play.
The strains available in milk kefir and water kefir are vastly different, for the obvious reason that they use different sources of energy for growth. Water kefir grains use dextrose in the sugar water and milk kefir grains use the lactose in milk. In the home fermentation process, there's no easy method to check the types of strains that are growing, but it is generally thought that there are approximately 56 strains in the milk kefir and about 44 strains in the water kefir.
There are no current scientific research on the benefits of water kefir. However, milk kefir exhibits anti-bacterial (inhibiting the growth of unwanted bacteria), anti-mycotic (inhibiting the growth of unwatnted molds or fungi), anti-neoplastic (inhibiting or preventing the growth or development of malignant cells) and immunomodulatory (an immunological adjuster, regulator or potentiator) effects.
Kefiran, the polysachcride in milk kefir had shown to have anti-oxidant (prevent oxidation) properties because some portion exist as a charged molecule. Shown to be more powerful than vitamin E in protecting body cells against oxidative damage. Also kefir made from dairy milk, rice milk, or soymilk, is resistant to pH and has the potential to prevent pathogenesis of the brain such as Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, ischemia from stroke, Huntington's disease, demintia with Lewy bodies and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. Milk kefir also has the ability to correct high blood pressure and blood glucose levels.
Depending on the culturing process, it may determine the outcome of the benefits. A milk kefir consumed at a sweeter stage will produce different probiotic or other effects for certain individuals, over ingesting s sourer, or ripened kefir. Some have found that a sweeter milk or wate rkefir has a laxative effect, while sourer kefirs may produce a constipating effect for the same individual. This seems to be for both varieties of kefir. On peristalsis action alone, personally, I've found that a sourer milk kefir taken in the morning, will prodeuce a stronger peristalsis action over ingesting s sweeter kefir. Water kefir does not seem to induce a similar action. Although this may varies from individuals.