So what is kefir? It is a fermented milk drink. The word kefir comes from “keif,” the Turkish word for “good feeling.” Kefir is often compared to yogurt.
They have some similarities, but pale in comparison when it comes to the benefits offered. Kefir is much thinner in consistency than yogurt and can easily be taken plain or added to a smoothie. I add mine to my smoothie/shake after working out.
Kefir is made using kefir grains (pictured above), which ferment the milk they are placed in. The grains will last basically forever, unless you really try to kill them. They can be purchased or if you know someone who is making their own kefir you can grab some of their grains and start your own. It ferments at room temperature for two days at most.
Once a batch is done, simply transfer the grains to fresh milk and start making more. It’s fast and easy. If purchasing kefir in your local grocery store look for whole milk organic varieties. There are many flavored kefirs available, but I’ve found that with those flavors come a lot of unwanted ingredients! I try to buy plain whole milk organic kefir when I can find it. It can be flavored at home with berries or honey if you wish.
Now for the benefits. Like yogurt, kefir introduces good bacteria into the body. Some of the microorganisms present in kefir include: lactic acid bacteria, Lactococcus lactis subsp. lactis, Streptococcus thermophilus, Lb delbrueckii subsp. bulgaricus, Lb helveticus, Lb casei subsp. pseudoplantarum and Lb brevis, a variety of yeasts, such as Kluyveromyces, Torulopsis, and Saccharomyces, acetic acid bacteria. Not all yeast is bad!
Kefir also contains many vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and enzymes. Tryptophan is one such amino acid that is abundant in kefir and which is found to relax the nervous system. Kefir also has a lot of calcium and magnesium, which also help the nervous system to relax. Because of the enzymes present, many lactose intolerant people can consume kefir without problem, as long as it’s raw (cooking destroys the enzymes).
Kefir is a complete protein that has already been partially digested, so it’s easily absorbed by the body. Is is easy to digest, making it ideal for babies and the elderly.
It has been proven to help the following:
- arthritis and rheumatism
- chronic fatigue syndrome
- candidasis, reflux, leaky gut, diarrhea, and colitis
- sleep disorders
- high blood pressure
- controls cholesterol
- helps liver and gall bladder
- heals duodenum and cures ulcers
- boosts metabolism and digestion
- anti aging and weight loss
- regulates blood sugar and cures diabetes
- heals the pancreas
- heals the lungs
- heals the kidneys
There are other claims of healing attributed to kefir which haven’t been proven thus far. It has been used in the treatment of cancer, HIV/aids, and common colds. Whatever it does, it’s good. That list alone is enough to get me drinking my share. Pick up some kefir today and start that good bacteria flowing!