Have you ever walked the aisle of the health store and scooted past the product with the word Kefir on the label, not really knowing what that’s all about?
Nowadays, a focus on gut health and fermented foods has brought into popularity superfoods like kefir, since this fantastic drink is really great for supporting positive gut health. So much so that kefir is now available in stores in a range of flavours, cultivated with natural and exceptional properties to help your gut bacteria thrive.
Aside from its strange name, Kefir is actually a wonderful fermented milk drink, full of helpful live bacterial cultures, with a tart flavour and often effervescent properties. It has a consistency similar to yoghurt and not only is it fantastic for your body, but it even tastes quite delicious too! Traditionally kefir is made from dairy-based milk, though recently plenty of non-dairy versions are available.
So what about kefir gives it those gut-positive properties?
It’s simple really, kefir boasts a combination of bacteria (living organisms) and yeast fermentations, cultivated with ‘starter grains’- a mix of bacteria, yeasts, milk proteins and sugars, to produce healthy gut supporting live bacterial culture drink. Once ready, the starter grains are removed, and the culture is ready to help you with your gut health.
Studies link potential benefits of kefir to include a boost in your immune system, greater digestive health, which can support increased nutrition, dependent on the type of kefir, but may include increased levels of protein, calcium and potassium. Some shop-bought kefirs are even fortified with vitamin D. Furthermore, maintaining a balance of good and bad bacteria in the stomach is important to a healthy gut, which probiotics such as kefir can help. Some evidence even suggests kefir to help with better blood sugar control, improvement in bone health and cholesterol balancing benefits.
It’s worth noting that there are two types of kefir; milk kefir contains milk, whereas water kefir does not. Water kefir also contains fewer strains of bacteria and yeast than milk kefir, but still promotes gut health. With shop-bought water kefir, it’s worth checking labels, as they can be higher in sugar content.
Inspiring ways to introduce Kefir to your diet and routine
- You can simply drink kefir or even just have a tablespoon or two in the morning in some water with lemon and stevia or honey for additional flavour
- Alternatively add kefir to smoothies, salad dressings, dips or even cold soups. or simply stir a couple of dollops into overnight oats
- Don’t add it to hot beverages like tea and coffee since high heat can destroy probiotic activity.
Why not try your hand at making your own Kefir by popping in store to buy a Kefir starter kit. For plant based diets you can even use store bought coconut kefir to act as a starter culture for coconut water kefir.
Kefir and other naturally fermented foods are important to add to your diet to maintain good health. After all, you gotta take care of all those good bacteria so they can take care of you!
Feature by Geeta Salhan