The lack of fermented foods and probiotics in the diet can be a factor in a multitude of health ailments including digestive turmoil including bloating and gas, irritable bowel syndrome, constipation, diarrhea, candida, vaginal infections, urinary tract infection, obesity and autoimmune disease. The Standard American Diet (SAD) is very low in fermented “live” cultured foods. Many Americans are suffering from preventable ailments and digestive upset, pain and inflammation that can all be helped by regularly eating fermented foods rich in probiotics — a good form of bacteria that has been known to aid with several health issues and provide benefits to the human body.
Fermented foods include sauerkraut, Korean kimchi, yogurt, cottage cheese, whey, kefir, aged cheese, kombucha, pickled vegetables, natto, miso, tempeh, fermented yofu, and soy sauce. Fermented, “live” foods full of probiotics have been around since the beginning of humankind. Our ancestors have traditionally reaped the benefits of fermented foods centuries upon centuries, unlike most people today whose diets lack in good bacteria and are paying the price with poor digestive health.
My client, “Tee” knows the importance of eating fermented foods and wanted to share with you this article about kefir — a fermented beverage made using milk and kefir grains. Kefir is truly a superfood — rich in calcium and good bacteria which works to keep you regular and in tip-top digestive shape.
I personally enjoy making my own kefir using Organic Pastures Whole Raw Milk. If raw milk is not an option, use organic to avoid antibiotics, pesticides, and chemicals. I generally enjoy kefir in my morning post-workout protein shakes — kefir is also tasty on its own — sour and tang similar to yogurt.
Take a read at Tee’s kefir article below for an educational dose of the topic including why homemade kefir is superior to store-bought. If you are inspired to try your hand at making your own kefir, check out the attachment at the bottom of the article. ANNNNDDDDD I have extra kefir grains to give to you free so that you can get you started (Bay Area residents only). Just contact me if you are interested and are local.
Feel Good with Kefir
Kefir is pronounced Ke-Feer’, means “feel good” in Turkish. It is a complete protein and is high in minerals and vitamins, especially the B vitamins. This rings true to my experience of drinking kefir. It makes me feel great!
Kefir is a cultured-milk beverage (think buttermilk with benefits) which originated in the Caucasus Mountains of Central Asia. The tribal folks of this region consume the nutritious beverage in large quantities and are known for living long, healthy lives.
Kefir has a creamy consistency, and a sour refreshing taste, with a subtle aroma of fresh yeast. Well cultured kefir also has the slightest hint of a naturally effervescent, zesty tang.
Homemade kefir contains up to 35 strains of good bacteria and yeast (as opposed to yogurt, which contains just a handful). Bottled kefir purchased at the store may contain up to 10 strains, but often includes unwanted additives such as sugar. Kefir, therefore, is best when it’s homemade.
Traditional, authentic kefir is prepared by culturing fresh milk with Kefir grains. Kefir grains are not cereal grains. They are called grains because of their granular structure and appearance. Kefir grains are the natural-starter for a batch of kefir, just as yogurt starts fresh yogurt or sourdough starter is used to mix fresh sourdough.
A kefir grain is a mixture of protein, amino acids, fats and soluble-polysaccharides (complex carbohydrates). Kefiran, the viscous substance that encases the “grain” is a unique polysaccharide with many health-promoting virtues of its own.
Traditional kefir is easily prepared at home. Fresh, non-pasteurized or pasteurized full-cream, full fat, low fat or non-fat milk is put in a clean glass container with the addition of a smaller portion of kefir grains. The contents are left at room temperature for about 24 hours. The resulting cultured-milk is strained in order to separate the kefir grains from the liquid kefir. The grains are added to fresh milk to repeat the process for the next batch. This procedure can be performed on an indefinite basis. Live kefir grains last forever unlike the powdered kefir starter that can be purchased on-line or at health food stores and fails after several batches. If you tire of making kefir, the grains can be stored for months in the refrigerator in a container with fresh milk.
Kefir can be consumed fresh, refrigerated for later use, or further fermented at room temperature over a period of days. The fermenting process is helpful for individuals who want to reduce lactose in their kefir. Ripening also improves overall flavor, thickens the kefir and produces a zestier tangy beverage. I love it best when it’s cold and has been in the refrigerator for several days. An added benefit to making kefir is the production of whey, a highly nutritious, protein-rich, muscle building food that has many uses.
Kefir grains increase in overall volume, numbers, and weight as the grains consume fresh milk. In order to prevent overcrowding of kefir grains and to maintain a good grain-to-milk ratio you need to remove a portion of kefir grains from the batch periodically. The extra grains are a welcome gift to family members, or friends who want to make their own delicious and nutritious kefir.
Attachment: How to make kefir (pdf)
Interested in making your own kefir? Contact me to receive free kefir grains (Due to the potential issues that may occur with mailing kefir grains, I am only able to extend this offer to local Bay Area residents.)