Kefir Benefits: 7 Things You Should Know About Kefir
Kefir Benefits! I have a special surprise for my readers this week! My good friend Tammy over at Jams & Scones has shared with us her knowledge on the many benefits of kefir. Tammy is a certified health coach specializing in bio-individual nutrition, a blogger, a Mom, a Jamberry nails consultant, and one of my dear friends! I am thrilled that she agreed to post for us.. You’re going to love learning more about one of my own favorite probiotic food sources! My own favorite way to enjoy kefir benefits is straight up with a very small dab of homemade strawberry jelly. Yum! Now let’s read what Tammy has to tell us about kefir and seven things we need to know!
The list of kefir benefits is long. I’ve compiled a list of 7 things you should know about kefir to help you decide if it would be a beneficial addition to your diet.
This ancient ‘superfood’ has gained popularity in recent years as an excellent way to improve gut health. Kefir is often referred to as a tonic for the digestive system. It is rich in nutrients and probiotics which are an integral part of maintaining a healthy digestive and immune system.
1. What is Kefir?
Kefir is a fermented drink. It is traditionally made using cow’s milk or goat’s milk. The milk is fermented by using kefir “grains” that are added to the milk. These are not grains in the conventional sense, but cultures of yeast and lactic acid bacteria. The grains resemble cauliflower florets in appearance.
Over a period of 24 hours or so, the microorganisms in the kefir grains multiply and ferment the sugars in the milk, turning it into kefir. It is sour like yogurt but has a thinner consistency.
Kefir originated from parts of Eastern Europe and Southwest Asia. The name is derived from the Turkish word keyif, which means “feeling good”. If you want to nerd out on a thorough history of kefir and science behind it, check out this article.
2. Nutrition Rich
Milk kefir is a great source of :
A 175 ml (6 oz) serving of milk kefir contains (Reference):
- Protein: 6 grams.
- Calcium: 20% of the RDA.
- Phosphorus: 20% of the RDA.
- Vitamin B12: 14% of the RDA.
- Riboflavin (B2): 19% of the RDA.
- Magnesium: 5% of the RDA.
- A decent amount of vitamin D.
This is coming with about 100 calories, 7-8 grams of carbs and 3-6 grams of fat, depending on the type of milk that is used.
Kefir also contains a wide variety of bioactive compounds, including organic acids and peptides that contribute to its health benefits.
3. Good for Your Microbiome
Did you know that over 75% of your immune system is housed in your digestive system? Essentially, trillions upon trillions of “good” bacteria and fungus kill the “bad” microorganisms, which keeps you alive and well. If this balance gets out of whack that’s when you can have health issues arise.
So what happens when you take antibiotics or regularly use antibacterial lotions and soaps?
You literally kill the good bacteria and the bad ones take over. This, in turn, disturbs the symbiosis (balance) of your microbiome which will lead to digestive issues and immune reactions. Bottom line is that if you can’t absorb the nutrients in your food because you don’t have the proper bacteria balance in your gut, your body will never run on all cylinders because it lacks the fuel. Kefir helps keep the good bacteria in balance.
4. Probiotic Powerhouse
One of the kefir benefits is that it gives you ‘bang for your buck’ with over 30 different microorganisms making it a power-packed source of probiotics.
Supplementing with probiotics, in general, will allow beneficial flora to do its job. However, most probiotics work primarily in the upper parts of the digestive system. These strains do not generally reach all the way down to the lower bowel. Fermented dairy will carry probiotic microbes all the way down to the end of the digestive system.
Fermentation predigests the dairy, making it easy for our digestive systems to handle, that is why fermented foods are easily digested even by people who have digestive disorders. Fermentation also releases nutrients from food, making them more bio-available for the body.
5. Different Types of Kefir
Allergic to dairy? No problem you might like to try kefir made with coconut milk or you can try water kefir.
Coconut kefir can be made either using coconut milk or coconut water.
Both types of coconut kefirs do not contain any dairy. Coconut water and coconut milk are said to be the perfect base for creating fermented kefir because they naturally have carbohydrates present, including sugars, which are needed to be consumed by the yeast during the fermentation process to create healthy bacteria.
Coconut kefir is made in the same way as milk kefir, using a traditional starter culture that contains live active yeast and bacteria.
Both types of coconut kefir still taste like natural coconut and also keep all of the nutritional benefits of the unfermented plain coconut milk and water.
Water kefir tends to have a more subtle taste and a lighter texture than milk kefir does. It is normally made using sugar water or fruit juice which feeds the grains. The grains used for water kefir are different from milk kefir and they cannot be used interchangeably.
Water kefir is made in a similar way as milk and coconut kefirs. Just like milk kefir, plain water kefir can be flavored at home using your own healthy additions, and makes a great healthy alternative to drinking things like soda or processed fruit juice. It has become a very popular health drink and can be found commercially available in grocery stores.
6. Kefir ISN’T for Everyone
Kefir is undeniably an excellent addition to most people’s diets, but it isn’t for everyone. If you have a severe lactose or dairy intolerance you will definitely want to avoid milk kefir.
If you have an intolerance to yeasts or have a histamine sensitivity then kefir may not be the health food for you. Signs of a histamine intolerance can include red eyes, sneezing, or itchy skin after consuming foods high in histamines.
Just as another caution – when you first start using kefir start with small doses so that you don’t overwhelm your system. There is such a thing as too much of a good thing! So start small and build up.
7. Making Kefir at Home is Easy
These days you can buy pre-made kefirs in stores, however, it is very simple to make at home (and a lot cheaper too!). You can purchase kefir starters online or in health food stores.
There are some good blog posts and videos on how to make kefir, but the process is very simple:
- Put 1-2 tablespoons of kefir grains into a small jar. The more you use, the faster it will culture.
- Add around 2 cups of milk, preferably organic or even raw. Milk from grass-fed cows is healthiest. Leave one inch of room at the top of the jar.
- You can add some full-fat cream if you want the kefir to be thicker.
- Put the lid on and leave it for 12-36 hours, at room temperature. That’s it.
Once it starts to look clumpy, it is ready. Then you gently strain out the liquid, which leaves behind the original kefir grains.
Now put the grains in a new jar with some milk, and the process starts all over again.
You can now add your homemade kefir to your favorite smoothie, soups, dips or add fruit and enjoy!
Tammy is a certified health coach specializing bio-individual nutrition. A mother with nearly 20 years experience (hey it’s the longest I’ve ever held one position), Tammy spends her days juggling the school run, scaling Mt. Foldmore and building an online business through social media and blogging.
She decided to take her love of social media and blogging and turn it into her side gig – helping other overachievers build their own online empires from home. She believes anyone can build a business from home even with a kid (or two) hanging off their arm. You can check out her blog at Jams and Scones.
Did you enjoy reading “Seven Things You Need To Know About Kefir” and learning about kefir benefits? I’m so glad Tammy was able to join us! Be sure to also check out the blog post I did earlier for Tammy, 4 Ways To Get Me Time With Essential Oils. I know you will love these tips!
Until next time, and remember to drink your probiotics and enjoy those kefir benefits!