Because recently I have become obsessed with all things fermented – kefir, kombucha, sauerkraut, etc – I’m thrilled to share the many healthful properties of fermented foods. This post will be about a certain fermented milk called kefir. This fizzy beverage is very popular in Russia, southwestern Asia and Eastern and Northern Europe, and according to scientists, kefir consumption strengthens the immune system and has been found to contains anti-cancer substances (http://www.naturalnews.com/024477_kefir_bacteria_probiotics.html).
Kefir is made with using kefir grains to culture any kind of milk – be it dairy (goat, cow, etc) or nut milks like coconut and almond. Kefir grains look like miniature cauliflowers, as you can see in the picture above, or the image below in my plastic strainer.
By incorporating kefir into your daily diet, you can reap the many unique benefits of this self-carbonated drink. Here they are:
1. Kefir is full of beneficial organisms which, unlike the substances in yoghurt, actually colonize your gut. That is why it is so important to include kefir if you are trying to restore your intestinal flora or if your are recovering from a serious illness or being treated with antibiotics.
2. Milk fermented with kefir grains is actually made a lot more digestible, so even lactose intolerant people can drink it.
3. Kefir is rich in tryptophan, and essential amino acid (building block of protein) that is responsible for keeping the nervous system healthy. I drink a cup of kefir before bed to ensure a good night’s sleep!
4. Kefir is also rich in a few B vitamins which are needed for so many functions of our bodies, such as skin, nervous system and digestive system. Why spend the money on synthetic B vitamins?
5. Kefir has a mild laxative effect so it really makes a healthy drink if you suffer for constipation..I noticed it can literally help you go after each meal, which is some say is the ideal!
6. Apart from health benefits, drinking kefir can save you money if you buy good quality probiotic supplements. About a cup of kefir contains 2.5 trillion beneficial organisms. One capsule of man-made probiotics contains about 15 billion organisms. Since a bottle of GOOD quality probiotics may range from $15 to$ 50, it makes sense (and cents) to ferment your own drink full of LIVE beneficial organisms.
Kefir is very easy to make, and it is also sold at stores. If you want to control the ingredients of kefir though, make your own. All you need is a tablespoon of kefir grains, a glass jar, 3-4 cups of any kind of milk, and waiting time (about 24 hours). If you take care of your grains properly, they will last you for life. You can order the grains here: KEFIR GRAINS.
Personally, I make it with organic goat milk I get at a health food store. My next mission will be to make it with coconut milk.
Are you making your own kefir? If yes, please share your experiences and the kefir benefits you have seen. Personally, after making and drinking kefir for about a month, I am experiencing better mood, clearer skin and better digestive health! It is so true to say that the gut is the seat of all wellness!
Marina, holistic nutritionist
First photo source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/johnnystiletto/6969824366/