Health Insider – Milk Kefir

May 12, 2016

Since meeting the lovely Karley of Complete You, I noticed she is a massive advocate of milk kefir. I am always so interested in new ways of improving health and nutrition and have tried to incorporate probiotic rich foods into my diet since reading Kimberly Snyders The Beauty Detox Solution. The main ways I do this are with raw apple cider vinegar, raw sauerkraut, kombucha or taking a probiotic tablet.

I had heard of the benefits of kefir but never tried it, so Karley very kindly sent me a batch to give it a go! It took me a day or 2 to adjust to the taste as it is quite thick and has a tangy flavour. But after this initial period, it started to go down really easily and became part of my daily diet. I also tried blending it with some banana and almond butter and it was really good! The other thing that really appealed to me is how easy it is to grow by yourself as the good bacteria multiplies so fast. I have tried making my own sauerkraut and it takes so long and is quite hard to get right so kefir seems like a mug easier option for me. Below Karley explains all of the benefits and she can also help get people started if you happen to live in the Sydney region! Enjoy x

The renowned superfood that you simply make at home

When I was told that drinking milk kefir would eliminate my tummy bloat and heal a whole lot of other things, I signed up.

What is milk kefir?

The word ‘kefir’ (pronounced keh-FEER), is derived from the Turkish word ‘keif’, which means ‘feeling good’, describing the state you feel after drinking it.  It originated roughly 2000 years ago in the Caucasus Mountains of Russia. One of its first uses was to treat tuberculosis.  It is a creamy tart tasting milk drink, which has been fermented at room temperature for 24 hours or more.

To make kefir all you need are the kefir grains – not actual grains, but a grain-like matrix of proteins, lipids, and sugars that look like cauliflower florets and have a symbiotic relationship with over 30 different strains of beneficial bacteria and yeast (known as a SCOBY).  As it is a living culture, it is mixed with milk and left to ferment for 24 hours.  The milk is then turned into kefir ready to drink.  The grains are removed from the liquid, and can be used again to make your next batch.

Kefir is one of the most potent probiotic foods available, making it extremely beneficial to our digestion and gut health.  Kefir is also a rich source of many different vitamins, minerals and essential amino acids that promote cellular healing and repair.

Kefir can be consumed on its own or mixed with smoothies, homemade yoghurt, or blended with a bit of honey or fruit.  It can also substitute buttermilk and yoghurt in recipes.  Because of the nutritional benefits of kefir it has even made its way into strict Paleo diets where dairy is completely off limits.  Eliminating dairy is a huge decision, as it has tremendous health benefits.  Yoghurt also contains probiotics but kefir is a more potent and powerful version and has yeast, which yoghurt lacks.

Those suffering from lactose intolerance – fear not.  The bacteria and yeast in kefir produce the enzyme lactase.  Lactase breaks down lactose (milk sugar) to get its own food supply.  Therefore much of the lactose in the milk is broken down to the simple sugars glucose and galactose.  These very digestible forms of sugar, along with the lactase enzymes already in the kefir, make it an extremely digestible dairy product.  Furthermore, these lactose and sugar eating bacteria help balance blood sugar levels, which can help manage diabetes and body weight.

Kefir contains complete proteins, enzymes, vitamins and minerals such as calcium, phosphorus, Vitamin B12, Riboflavin (B2), magnesium, Vitamin K2 and folic acid.  

It is loaded with essential amino acids such as tryptophan (also found in turkey), which is well known for its relaxing effect on the nervous system.

The consumption of milk kefir greatly improves bone health due to its high calcium levels, vitamin D and K2.  Overall, calcium is absorbed more effectively into the bone, increasing bone density and reducing the risk of bone fractures and osteoporosis.

Kefir keeps your gut healthy, for those of us who are sick of feeling bloated, have too much gas, abdominal pains, or suffer from diarrhoea or constipation.  Kefir supplies your body with billions of healthy bacteria and yeast strains.  Within your body there is already a population of bacteria and yeast.  This is referred to as your gut microflora.  Your microflora helps aid proper digestion; it is involved in the synthesis of vitamins and minerals, and supports a healthy immune system.  Kefir is the most potent source of probiotics, more than other fermented dairy products, and can help treat and prevent inflammatory bowel diseases such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome, ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease.

Kefir keeps our immune system healthy and fighting.  Kefir can protect our bodies from certain infections caused by Salmonella, which causes gastroenteritis (gastro), Helicobacter pylori, which affects the stomach wall lining causing ulcers, and E. coli infection from food poisoning.  The protection from these bacterial infections comes from the probiotic Lactobacillus kefiri, which is unique to kefir.

The carbohydrate present in kefir is kefiran, which has been found to have antibacterial properties.  Kefiran can also decrease inflammation caused by allergic reactions.  It has further been found to decrease cholesterol and blood pressure.

And if you want to beat your candida overgrowth?  Kefir is a great way to keep your gut microflora in balance and treat those nasty yeast infections for years to come.

Studies have shown that the probiotics in kefir can also inhibit tumour growth by reducing formation of carcinogenic compounds, and therefore preventing cancer, though this is yet to be studied in humans.

So who can drink kefir?  Anyone!  Women, men, young and old.  Pregnant and breastfeeding women are also advised to drink kefir.  It helps them absorb essential nutrients, increases immunity and aids the body’s adjustment to hormonal changes.

It can be introduced to toddlers after their first birthday but some mummies start from a very young age by introducing a spoonful into their bottles.  Kefir can be very useful in helping kids grow stronger and fight all the harmful bacteria and viruses they might come into contact with at preschool and kindergarten.  Because of its high amount of beneficial probiotics, kefir will help children have fewer flus, colds and stomach infections.

When starting out, my best advice is to listen to your body’s response to kefir.  Always start with drinking small amounts and increase over time.  Is there any downside to consuming kefir?  Not really – it is close to perfect, with no reported side effects, however, you may go to the toilet more.

For those who would like dairy-free versions, kefir can be made with coconut water, coconut milk or other sweet liquids.  However, these will not have the same nutrient content as dairy-based kefir.

If you live in the Sutherland Shire area of Sydney, and would like some fresh kefir and be shown how to grow the grains, please contact Karley.

info@karleyneyenhuys.com

0429 578 866

www.karleyneyenhuys.com

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