Turn the “beet” around: Calm your IBS with fermented beet kvass
09/12/2020 / By Leslie Locklear / Comments
Turn the “beet” around: Calm your IBS with fermented beet kvass

As it turns out, an estimated 60 to 70 million Americans have problems with their gut, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDKD).

Of this number, more than 48 million visit doctors or hospitals annually because of their condition, and most of them are diagnosed with irritable bowel syndrome or IBS.

IBS, according to medical experts, is a common disorder that affects the large intestine. Some of its symptoms include cramps, abdominal pain, food intolerance, bloating, gas and diarrhea or constipation. While the symptoms vary in terms of severity and duration from person to person, they can be very disruptive to daily life.

A common treatment plan for those diagnosed with the condition involves prescription-strength medication, many studies have shown that fermented food can help alleviate and manage its symptoms.

One such example is kvass — specifically, the one made from organic beets (Beta vulgaris).

A short history of kvass

A traditional Russian drink, kvass is a fermented beverage that is usually made from buckwheat meal, wheat, rye, rye bread or barley.

According to historical accounts, kvass came to Russia over 1,000 years ago and eventually became an everyday drink valued by the public for its thirst-quenching properties and its purported energizing and healing effects.

Similar to the Japanese drink kombucha, kvass is naturally carbonated as a result of the fermentation process. It is also classified as a non-alcoholic beverage in Russia, despite having a relatively low alcohol content.

Aside from being enjoyed by itself as a refreshing beverage, kvass is also used to prepare food products, such as okroshka, which is a famous Russian summer dish, and various salad dressings.

In recent times, other ingredients have been used to make the beverage, including the aforementioned beets.

Beets: a humble nutrient powerhouse

A remarkable superfood, beets are naturally rich in minerals, such as sodium, potassium, magnesium, calcium, iron and phosphorus. Beets are also a rich source of vitamins, such as vitamins A and C, as well as niacin, folic acid and folate. Additionally, beets are known for being rich in certain antioxidant compounds.

Because of its nutrient-dense nature, fresh, organically grown beets have been linked to a bevy of impressive health benefits, including the prevention of the following conditions:

  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Chronic inflammation
  • Poor digestive health
  • Poor cognitive function
  • Certain types of cancer
  • Obesity
  • Oxidative damage from free radicals in the environment
  • Fatigue and physical exhaustion

According to experts, these benefits are considerably increased when beets are subjected to lacto-fermentation, as is the case with kvass.

The power of fermentation

Lacto-fermentation, as noted by nutritionists, is the process in which probiotics or beneficial live bacteria are introduced to raw ingredients — in this case, organic beets — in order to facilitate their transformation into different kinds of food products, such as wine, beer and kvass.

These probiotics help digest nutrients and other components that the body would otherwise have difficulty breaking down. Because of this, people who exhibit lactose intolerance can consume fermented dairy products like yogurt and kefir without suffering any complications.

Aside from pre-digesting and converting nutrients into more absorbable forms, probiotics in fermented foods are also known to aid in digestion as well as help relieve digestive health issues, such as acid reflux and constipation — both of which are symptoms of IBS.

According to an article published by Harvard Health Publishing, probiotics – such as the ones present in beet kvass – can help delay the development of allergies in children as well as treat and prevent vaginal and urinary tract infections in women. There is also mounting evidence suggesting that probiotics can effectively treat or prevent encephalopathy — a disease that damages the brain — as well as liver problems like cirrhosis, nonalcoholic fatty liver disease and alcoholic liver disease.

If you are looking for a natural way to support your digestive function, as well as optimize your immunity and overall health, then fermented food and food products like probiotic-rich kvass just might be what you’re looking for.

Simple beet kvass recipe

Earthy, tangy and fizzy, kvass can be somewhat of an acquired taste, especially for those who are not as familiar with the strong aroma and flavor of fermented beverages. Its potential health benefits, however, outweigh any issue you might have with its distinctive taste and smell.

This recipe, adapted from The Kitchn, can be consumed straight-up as a daily tonic or used in salad dressings and dips as a replacement for vinegar.


  • 12 oz raw, organically-grown beets
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons sea salt or kosher salt
  • Optional: sliced organic lemons and oranges, organic spices (organic ginger pieces, cinnamon sticks, cloves, cardamom pods)


  1. Clean and scrub the beets and trim their tops and tails. Do not peel the beets.
  2. Once thoroughly cleaned, cut the beets into small cubes. It is not necessary to cut them into precise shapes and/or sizes; you just want to give the beets enough surface area in order for them to effectively ferment. Take care not to grate or finely chop the beets, as this can lead to rapid fermentation.
  3. Place the beets in a sterilized jar or any container with a lid.
  4. Salt the beets. If you want, you can add spices, such as ginger, cloves or cinnamon, or citrus fruits like sliced lemons and oranges into the mixture.
  5. Cover the beets with water, leaving at least an inch of headspace at the top of the jar.
  6. Tightly cover the jar and place in a dark corner. Place a bowl or plate under the jar to help catch any overflow from the jar.
  7. Let the jar stand at room temperature for a couple of weeks.
  8. Open the jar once a day to release any excess gas. If you see any mold or scum on the surface of the brine, simply skim it off. Taste the kvass every other day.
  9. Once the flavor of the kvass reaches your desired intensity, strain out the beets and refrigerate the finished product. Let it sit there for a few days before drinking.


  • Only use salt that does not have iodine or anti-caking agents, as these can inhibit fermentation.
  • Similarly, chlorinated water can kill off the good bacteria and inhibit fermentation, so it would be best to use spring or filtered water.
  • The beets can be used as an ingredient for borscht, a traditional Eastern European soup.

Packed to near overflowing with health-supporting nutrients and probiotics, fermented foods such as beet kvass are just some of the best functional foods you can add to your diet to ensure good nutrition.




MDPI.com 1



MDPI.com 2




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