Kefir, a fermented dairy drink that has contributed to health and vitality for hundreds of years, is about to hit the big time. Fans claim that regular consumption aids weight loss and results in clear skin, more energy and better sleep.
Want in? Read on...
"All disease begins in the gut" - some credit this oft quoted expression to Hippocrates, the father of medicine. What we do know for sure is that the gut is not only responsible for digestion, but is a big player in healthy immune function.
Chronic, inflammatory conditions such as cancer and heart disease are now linked to poor gut health. In light of recent findings about the human microbiome and it's role in immunity this is no surprise. Did you know, for example, that our intestines contain more immune cells than the rest of the body?
We share our body with a system of microorganisms such as bacteria, viruses and fungi. This system is known as the microbiome and contributes to good health and vitality. Ideally, it's considered that the ratio of 'good' to 'bad' bacteria should be around 85% to 15%. Illness occurs when the microbiome falls out of balance (dysbiosis) and this ratio is altered.
So how do we optimise our microbiome? One of the simplest ways is by adding fermented foods such as kefir.
What is kefir and where did it come from?
It's thought that kefir originates from the Caucasus Mountains, the area between the Black Sea and Caspian Sea where East meets West. Some say kefir translates as 'good feeling' - and who doesn't want to feel good?!
The grains are a combination of bacteria, yeast, sugar and protein and have a similar appearance to cauliflower. By adding these grains to milk, a fermenting process takes place and turns milk into a nutrient packed superfood!
It's certainly an acquired taste, slightly tart, with a consistency somewhere between milk and yoghurt. Make it more palatable by adding honey, or blended with fruit in a smoothie.
9 evidence based benefits of kefir
DIY Kefir - easy as 1, 2, 3!
Whilst you can now pick up a bottle of kefir from most supermarkets, the optimum benefits are obtained by homemade kefir. It's so incredibly simple, you can even delegate this task to your least clumsiest child!
Step 1 - Get your hands on some kefir grains - a quick online search will find some for sale, or do you have any kefir making friends who have some to give away? (healthy colonies multiply quickly!). Add one to two tablespoons to a small glass jar.
Step 2 - Top up with milk - organic dairy milk works best, however non-dairy alternatives such as coconut/oat milk can also be used, but won't match the nutritional profile of dairy kefir. Leave an inch or so at the top of the jar.
Step 3 - Leave at room temperature for around 24 hours. You'll know it's ready when the grains clump at the top of the jar. Strain with a non metallic strainer; you may need the help of a wooden spoon (kefir doesn't like metal) and consume immediately, or refrigerate for up to three weeks.
Now repeat step 1! It really is that easy!
Start the day the healthy way by enjoying kefir poured over a bowl of granola, or in a smoothie. It's also lovely as a bedtime drink as it's rich in the amino acid tryptophan, known as a natural tranquiliser.
Are you a kefir fan? How do you like to take it? Perhaps it's something you're interested in adding to your diet in 2017? Comments below please!
The information in this article is not meant to diagnose, treat or cure. If you have a medical condition, it's wise to seek advice from your doctor before commencing any complementary therapy or food supplement.
Complementary therapist and natural health expert. On a mission to sprinkle health and wellness wherever I go...