Superfood Focus - Kefir
Kefir is one of the lesser known and yet deliciously healthy superfoods.
Kefir is a fermented milk drink made with kefir ‘grains’ which are a kind of yeast or bacterial fermentation starter. It has its origins in the north Caucasus Mountains where bags of the milk drink were hung near a doorway so it would be knocked by anyone passing, helping to keep the milk and kefir grains well mixed.
Similar to yoghurt Kefir has a tart and refreshing flavour containing naturally occurring bacteria and yeast which combines symbiotically to give superior health benefits when consumed regularly. Kefir is also enzyme rich and full of friendly ‘probiotic’ bacteria which helps balance your inner ecosystem.
Kefir is a fantastic source of many vitamins and nutrients containing high levels of vitamin B12, calcium, magnesium, vitamin K2, biotin, folate and enzymes. However, kefir does not have a standard nutritional content as this varies depending on the cows, cultures and region it is produced.
Nutritional Powerhouse Kefir
Kefir is also jam packed with probiotics and these microorganisms can influence our health in many scientifically proven ways including helping with digestion, weight control and even mental well-being. Overall it contains around 30 different strains of yeast and bacteria making it a much more potent source of probiotic than any other fermented dairy product.
You will most probably have seen brands of drinking yoghurts for sale which advertise their benefits to the digestive system. Because it has such high doses of probiotics including strains of lactobacillus and bifidobacterium it much more beneficial especially in the treatment of irritable bowel syndrome. Kefir also contains the probiotic Lactobacillus Kefir which is unique and can inhibit the growth of various harmful bacterias including Salmonella, Helicobacter Pylori and E.coli
Osteoporosis is a common problem in western countries particularly amongst elderly women. It is characterised by a deterioration of the bone tissue and raises the risk of bone breakages and fractures. Calcium is great for bones and Kefir is a great source of not only calcium but also vitamin K2 which plays a central role in the absorption of calcium. In fact in 2014 studies were carried out by Osteoporosis International who found that consuming Kefir improves bone density and can reduce the risk of osteoporosis.
Kefir may also help people who suffer from Asthma and other allergies. People with an over-sensitive immune system are more prone to allergies which can bring on conditions such as Asthma. Recent studies published in the Journal of Immunology show that Kefir was found to have both positive effects on allergies and asthma as it has strong anti-inflammatory properties.
Not only is Kefir great for out insides but it also keeps our skin glowing as the probiotics aid the absorption of nutrients and mineral. Not only does it help maintain our overall skin health but can assist in targeting specific disorders. It has been scientifically proven that probiotics play a role in improving atopic dermatitis, promoting the healing of scars and burns whilst rejuvenating and strengthening the skin's innate immunity. Adult acne can be associated with poor digestive health and probiotics, particularly Lactobacillus Acidophilus and the yeast Saccharomyces Cerevisiae found in Kefir, will often improve and help with outbreaks.
If you are lactose intolerant you are probably thinking Kefir is not for you. Well, you are wrong as Kefir can actually help people with milk related lactose intolerance. Many people are unable to break down and digest lactose, a natural sugar contained in regular dairy foods. The lactic acid bacteria in fermented dairy foods like Kefir turn the lactose into lactic acid. Kefir also contains enzymes that help break down the lactose even further. This means that kefir is actually generally well tolerated by people who are lactose intolerant. If you are looking for ways to make Kefir 100% lactose-free you can even make it with coconut milk or fruit juice instead of milk.
You can get store bought Kefir but if you are unsure about the quality it’s also easily made at home. You will firstly need to purchase some Kefir grains which can be easily found in most health food stores or online.
- Put 1-2 tablespoons of the Kefir grains into a small jar. The more you use the quicker it will culture.
- Add around 2 cups of milk (organic or raw) Leave an inch of room at the top of the jar. You can also add some full fat cream if you wish the it to be thicker.
- Pop the lid on the jar and leave for 12-36 hours at room temperature.
- Once it starts to look clumpy it’s ready and you can gently strain out the liquid leaving behind the original grains.
- Put the grains in a new jar and the process starts again.
Kefir is delicious and a versatile yoghurt replacement. It’s great in dressings, potato salad, dips and with fruit as well as easily being made into cheese or ice cream. So why not give this tasty superfood a go!
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