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Kefir and Gut Health

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Kefir grainsKefir and gut health is part of that growing awareness about the benefit of fermented food. Many cultures for years had their own list of fermented foods. Now, they are widely adopted and not restricted to an individual culture.  Having a pre-dinner drink called lassi in an Indian restaurant (mango and yogurt) is an enjoyable and healthy treat.

Traditional fermented foods

Koreans are known for a number of fermented food that date back thousands of years. But kimchi is the most popular traditional food that is consumed inside of Korea and other Northern Asian countries. If you live in a city that has a Korean restaurant, you are likely to have access to kimchi.

The fermenting process of cabbage and vegetables started out as storage during the harvest season to be used in times of scarcity.

In Japan, they have fermented foods like miso soup and natto. Fermented foods for the Japanese is an integral part of their cuisine and culture. Tempeh a typical Indonesia food is loaded with protein and probiotics.

The Chinese kombucha tea has become a recent trend. Facebook members are trading kombucha fermenting recipes. However, kombucha has been around for 2,000 years.

In Europe, they are known for their pickles, sauerkraut, rakfish (salted fish), and sourdough bread.

Almost everyone is familiar with yogurt and knows the benefits. But not as many are familiar with kefir, a fermented milk drink.

Kefir originated in the Caucasian mountains and Southeast Asia over 2,000 years ago. The name Kefir comes from the Turkish word keyil which means to feel good after eating. The indigenous people in those regions discovered that when milk was stored in the skins of animals, it fermented into a delicious drink. This probiotic beverage has recently become mainstream.

Scientific research has caught up with what people in those areas have always known, how kefir benefits their digestive and gut health. Kefir has over 30 strains of bacteria and yeast. Some of these are:

  • Bifidobacterium – friendly bacteria that grow and multiply in the gut
  • Lactobacillus acidophilius – produces lactic acid in the gut
  • Lactobacillus plantarum – produces antibiotics
  • Lactobacillus casei – a bacterium found in the mouth and gut
  • Lactobacillus rhamnos – friendly bacteria exist in the gut, and prevent bad bacteria entering the stomach and intestines.
  • Lactobacillus kefiri – the preventive effect of this bacteria helps with healing in the gut.

Kefir has more probiotics than yogurt. But kefir is very low in lactose, and it improves gut health.

The benefit of kefir and gut health

Kefir provides beneficial flora for your gut health. It helps both your digestive health and your immune health. Kefir can be made from any source of milk. Earlier the source of kefir was from the cow, sheep, or goat. Today, in addition to those sources, kefir comes from coconut, rice or soy. It can be made from any source of milk.

Some of the benefits of kefir are:

  • Promotes a healthy digestive system. Because kefir is high in probiotics, it helps to reduce Intestinal inflammation. It creates many common health problems in the gut. Some of these problems are gastrointestinal like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), Crohn disease, acid reflux, and ulcers.
  • Bacteria boost – This powerful probiotic improves the bacteria in the gut. It also reduces stomach flu that causes viral intestinal diseases like diarrhea, vomiting and body aches. Kefir also balances the bacteria in the gut.
  •  Kefir improves bone health and may lower osteoporosis – kefir is an excellent source of calcium that protects the bones. This is helpful for women who tend to have bone fractures especially, among older women. The K2 that kefir produces help to metabolize the calcium. Recent studies on animals show that kevir can increase calcium absorption in the bone cells.
  • You can tolerate kefir if you are lactose intolerant – the lactic acid nutrient in kefir and the enzyme breaks down the lactose in the gut. This prevents a negative reaction.
  • The bacteria in Lactobacillus kefiri help with gut healing and prevent the growth of harmful bacteria. It has antibacterial properties and it’s great for reducing asthma and allergies. If the immune system is weak, it is prone to allergies. Kefir is a great probiotic to boost your immune system, and gut health.

How to make kefir

It is highly recommended that the best kefir you can buy is the one that is made using the traditional processing method. The other option is to make it at home yourself, to get the healthy bacteria.

It is very simple to make. Add kefir grain to the milk and leave for 24 hours.

              Recipe

    • Put two tablespoons of kefir grains in a  bottle jar.
    • Add 2 cups of milk preferably organic if you can. Leave some room at the top.The grains will populate.
    • Put the lid on the jar and leave for 24 hours at room temperature.

When it’s ready, it forms a lot of clumps. Strain the liquid through a strainer. You can start another batch with the remaining grains. Put those grain in another bottle and add milk to ferment.

According to Dr. Axe, a cup of store-bought whole milk kefir has the following nutrition content:

  • 160 calories
  • 12 grams carbohydrates
  • 10 grams protein
  • 8 grams fat
  • 300 milligrams calcium (30 percent DV)
  • 100 IU vitamin D (25 percent DV)
  • 500 IU vitamin A (10 percent DV)

Kefir has several vitamin and mineral like calcium, B12, magnesium, Vitamin K2, biotin, folate and, enzymes.

 

Video to make Kefir

 

Start your morning with a Mixed Berry Kefir smoothie for a probiotic boost:

  • 1 cup kefir milk
  • 1 cup mixed berries
  • 1 slice pineapple
  • 1/2 banana
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/ cup crushed ice (optional)
  • Combine the ingredient.
  • Enjoy!

 

Kefir mixed berries smoothie

 

 

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Monique

6 Comments

  1. Hi Monique
    What an interesting article. I have always been fascinated with natural remedies and in particular those used by isolated tribes (for want of a better word).
    Today’s food is so processed with all the goodness taken out of it that we get hardly any nourishment at all.
    Kefir sounds like a good way to get the anti bodies into our system. It didn’t sound too delicious as milk fermented in an animal gut but as a smoothie – well that is different.
    Going to try me some of this!
    Lawrence

    • Lawrence we have so much control over what we eat. The more I research this topic, I am amazed at how much more can do to help ourselves.
      Processed food is robbing us of having a quality life.

  2. Fascinating. I’ve heard of it but was to chicken to try it. You’ve made keifer very clear and I am definitely going to try and make some, the thought of a morning berry smoothie has me salivating.

  3. Hi Monica,
    What a lovely post on Kefir. I haven’t tried it before but after reading this post will give it a try.
    Thank you

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