More Powerful Than Yogurt…Kefir!!

Good Kefir 2 (Large)

What’s Kefir???

Kefir (Ka-feer) is a cultured milk beverage similar to yogurt which is made by fermenting milk using cultures called grains or SCOBY’s (Symbiotic Cultures OBacteria & Yeast).  These cultures are bound together in little globs of proteins, fats and sugars which kind of look like cottage cheese or cauliflower.

 Grains Good (Large)

You can also purchase powdered starters for single servings.  Cultures for Health is a great source for Kefir grains and starters.

Kefir can be made with Cow’s Milk, Goat’s Milk or Sheep’s Milk.  You can even ferment non dairy milks like coconut or rice milk.  Since the main source of food is lactose you will need to revive these guys in animal based milk every so often to keep them vital.

Kefir tastes similar to yogurt but a little more sour with a slight effervescence and thinner consistency.

The word Kefir comes from the Turkish work Keyif and means “Feeling Good” because that’s how you feel when you drink Kefir:)

How is Kefir Different from Yogurt?

Kefir and yogurt are very different and contain different strains of micro organisms.

The bacteria and beneficial yeast found in Kefir not only outnumber the bacteria in yogurt but they are also stronger against pathogenic bacteria

The species found in yogurt are also more transient in nature.  This means they don’t stick around in your tummy for very long.  They are beneficial and do help clean up your gut but you have to keep bringing them in in order for them to do their thing.

The bacteria in Kefir are colonizing.  This means they DO stick around and populate in your gut!  This is a good thing considering the gross imbalances of bacteria in our bodies today due to the SAD (Standard American Diet) diet, over-prescribing of antibiotics and chemical laden foods.

Kefir is easier to digest than yogurt so people who might not be able to handle yogurt may be able to tolerate Kefir!

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Lactose Intolerance

The many different strains of bacteria found in Kefir are primarily from the Lactobacillus family and they like to eat lactose which is “milk sugar”. If these little guys are allowed to ferment long enough (24 hours), usually there is very little lactose left in the final product which makes Kefir “enjoyable” for many people with lactose intolerance!  It has even been shown to improve lactose digestion by providing enzymes that help to break down lactose.

This is really good news because there are a lot of beneficial nutrients found in Kefir (and dairy in general) that the sensitive ones can really use!  Especially if the Kefir is made with raw milk from pastured animals!

Sadly, if you do have a true allergy to casein in milk, I would not recommend Kefir:(  You could still have a reaction.  It’s okay though!  You can try my sauerkraut instead:)

Kefir comes packed with vitamins and minerals like:

B vitamins

Vitamin K2

Vitamin D

Calcium

Magnesium

Phosphorus

Calcium, magnesium and phosphorus are necessary for strong bones and teeth.

Vitamin K2 is needed for those minerals to work properly so kefir is kind of like a complete package in that sense.

The microbes also help digest the proteins in the milk which take some of the burden off of your tummy.

Protein can be tricky for people dealing with digestive issues. It can be hard to digest if your stomach acid pH is off or if you’re lacking adequate enzymes required to break down proteins.  Casein is a protein in milk which is hard for a lot of people to digest. Incomplete digestion of this protein is what commonly leads to the true allergy to dairy.

Proteins break down into amino acids which have many important roles in your body!  Your bones, cartilage, red blood cells, muscle tissue, heart etc… are all largely made up of and rely on the amino acids from protein! Mood stabilizing neurotransmitters are made from amino acids as well as many hormones.  People with inadequate protein digestion can easily find themselves with hormone imbalances, joint and back pain, easy bruising, depression and more serious mental health issues.

Kefir comes naturally fortified with the amino acids; methionine, cysteine, tryptophan, phenylalanine, tyrosine, leucine, isoleucine, threonine, lysine, and valine.  They are all there and ready for you to soak up and incorporate into a strong healthy body and mind!

Is Kefir good for Happy Tummy?  Yes!

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We all know by now that a good population of beneficial bacteria and yeast are necessary for a Happy Tummy.  Kefir comes laced with lots of these helpful friendlies!

Despite being microbes themselves, these guys have some pretty powerful antimicrobial strength against food born pathogens like Salmonella, E. Coli and other pathogenic bacteria that could lead to a Not So Happy Tummy.

Kefir has also been shown to have an anti inflammatory effect on the cells lining the intestinal tract which could be beneficial to people with inflammatory bowel tendencies. It has also been used in the treatment of peptic ulcers.

Since Kefir contains colonizing bacterial strains, these guys will be present during digestion and help you to break down your food for easier absorption of nutrients.  This means you get more out of your meal!

Studies have also suggested that Kefir may have anticancer effects by inhibiting tumor growth and boosting immune system mechanisms that battle cancer cells.

How Do I get Kefir?

I mentioned the Cultures For Health Website above which is a great source and resource of information.  There are many other suppliers on the internet.  You can also ask around.  Traditionally, cultures were not bought.  They were passed from person to person.  You never know…maybe your friendly neighborhood Nutritional Therapist is growing these guys in her kitchen???

My grains reproduce like rabbits!

If you live in the Bluffton or Hilton Head area, give me a call and I would be happy to hook you up!

There are some store bought Kefir-Like drinks available but they do not contain the microbial diversity that you get from homemade Kefir.

The same goes for the starters.  The SCOBY grains are the best way to go.  Plus the stuff you buy in the store can be heavily sweetened and that can cause blood sugar spikes.  It kind of defeats the purpose of having a Healthy Drink!

Go Slow!

 You’ll probably get sick of hearing me say this but take your time when introducing Kefir and other fermented foods into your diet.  Maybe just sip a little at a time until your body adjusts.  Sometimes moving too fast can cause a “die off” reaction also known as a Herxheimer Reaction.  If you have some “out of control” bugs in your tummy the Kefir may wipe some of them out which is a good thing…. but doing it too quickly can make you really sick.  Your body has to rid itself of all of those dead bugs and the byproducts of their demise.  Your liver can easily become overwhelmed causing a backup of toxins and that’s really not very fun!

Trust me…I’ve been there!!

Kefir Instructions

Good Full Setup (Large)

  • Drop your grains into a glass jar and cover with fresh whole milk.  Raw/Organic milk is best!  Metal can weaken the bacteria so it is not recommended to put your grains in contact with metal tools.
  •  Leave about an inch of room between the top of the milk and the top of the jar. The fermentation process will cause expansion and you don’t want it to overflow while its fermenting.
  • Cover with a paper towel secured with rubber band and set in a dark place in your kitchen or pantry and let ferment for 24-48 hours. Kefir will separate into curds and whey. Don’t freak out if it looks weird while fermenting.
  • Strain using nylon or plastic strainer into non metal bowl or wide mouth glass container.  I use a Pyrex glass measuring cup.
  • Use plastic spoon or spatula to move and press the grains around in the strainer.  This helps to strain and separate the Kefir’d milk from the grains.  The grains are strong…you won’t hurt them:)  I think they like getting roughed up a little.  Bumps and tears increase the surface area of the grains which means more fermentation power!
  •  Enjoy your Kefir right away or pour into a glass mason jar with lid and keep in the refrigerator  until ready to consume.  It will continue to ferment and thicken in the refrigerator but at a slower rate and should keep for days to a week.
  • Put kefir grains back into your fermentation vessel and cover with fresh whole milk….Repeat:)

 

Tips:

  • You can perform a second ferment by adding fruit to your strained kefir and allowing to ferment for an additional 24 hours. Note this is done with STRAINED kefir. Do not add fruit to the jar with your grains. It will damage them!
  • Always make sure your tools are super clean. You don’t want to contaminate your grains.
  •  Exception….grains like the fermentation vessel well marinated:) I only wash it once every couple weeks. Make sure to get all the soap off! Don’t be surprised in they reproduce.
  • You can make Creme Fraiche by using cream instead of milk….Delish!!!!!!
  • Add Kefir to smoothies! Mashed potatoes! Sauces!  Veggie Dips etc….Makes an awesome Ranch Dressing!
  • Put on cuts or skin irritations…it can help them heal.
  • Works great as a facial treatment.
  • If you want to take a break from making Kefir just give your grains fresh milk, cover tightly with a lid and keep in the refrigerator for up to two months. I left them there longer than that and they came back to life.  If you go on vacation they will be fine in the fridge.  Just give them fresh milk when you get home and you should have Kefir in 24 hours.

 

Post By: Hollie Donelson, NTP

Happy Tummies of The Lowcountry, LLC

Bluffton/Hilton Head, SC

843-227-1042

info@happytummiesdigest.com

happy-people

 

Please note. I am not a Doctor.  The content on this site is not intended as medical advice. Always check with your doctor before starting any type of health or nutritional protocol especially if you are being treated for or have been diagnosed with a medical condition.

 

References:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16297479

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3833126/

http://www.culturesforhealth.com/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kefir

http://www.probiotic.org/Kefir.htm

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2 thoughts on “More Powerful Than Yogurt…Kefir!!

    1. hollie Post author

      Hi Rosa, Unfortunately I lost my kefir & grains when we evacuated for Hurricane Matthew a couple months ago. We had to throw everything away that was in our fridge:( If you go to the Cultures For Health Website you can purchase really good quality grains there. I need to get some myself! Thank you for reminding me! Also there is a store called Back to Nature on May River Rd in Bluffton that sells Raw Milk if you’re interested!

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