When I turned 40 I made sure to try every health food or supplement I heard about. I want to be able to take care of my family for a long time and am sure this is a goal that all parents have. Then I heard about a funny-sounding health secret (from someone close to me lol) – kefir. I thought to myself, “That word doesn’t sound like food at all!” And to my surprise, I discovered that kefir may just be the elixir of good health and long life that I have been looking for. This is what I learned about kefir and what it does.
To put it simply, kefir is like yogurt. And what is yogurt? Yogurt is milk fermented by bacteria. There are two words here that didn’t sound right to me at first: “fermented” and “bacteria”. These sound icky, bad and unhealthy. However, I found out that milk fermented by bacteria is good for my health (and yours) simply because not all bacteria are harmful, in fact, a number of bacterial strains promote good health.
Helpful bacteria are called probiotics, which basically means “pro-life”. According to a number of scientific studies, probiotics are micro-organisms that are present in all types of milk including your mother’s milk. This is basically why breastfed babies are much healthier than those who don’t because our mother’s milk is a life-giving (or pro-life) sustenance. Research also proves that probiotics survive better in fermented milk.
I guess the big questions to ask are “How healthy is kefir and how is it different from regular yogurt?”
The word “kefir” itself is believed to be a Turkish term that means “feel good” or a “good feeling”. The beverage was developed about 1,000 years ago by tribes-people living on the Caucasus Mountains along the borders of Europe and Asia, between the Black Sea and Caspian Sea. The rocky and mountainous region of Caucasus is not the most pleasant place to live in: there is just too much snow and barrenness. And yet inhabitants have thrived here for so many years. Some said that the earlier settlers have lived long and healthy lives, and the fermented milk had something to do with it.
So what does kefir do? Well, because of the bacteria and yeast, this beverage cleanses my intestines and boosts my immune system. This makes sense scientifically and medically. Every scientist knows that healthful bacteria fight the harmful ones, viruses and other diseases. Good bacteria help digestion by absorbing nutrients from food and boost the immune system.
As a result, I never experience intestinal problems and rarely get sick. Since the intestines are clean, my inner systems are much more balanced and I feel healthier.
Kefir has vitamins, minerals and proteins, but exactly, how many probiotics are in kefir? How much protein in kefir is needed to make one healthy anyway? How much calcium in kefir can strengthen one’s bones? Quite frankly, when taken on a regular basis, the beverage has enough health ingredients that promote good health and long life.
Kefir is prepared using kefir grains, which contain bacteria and yeast that contain milk protein and different types of sugar. The yeast is made up of protein (34.3%), which in turn is composed of insoluble protein (27%), soluble protein (1.6%) and amino acids (5.6%). Tryptophan, a type of amino acid that is found in kefir grains, is known to contain biotin, Vitamin B-12 and Vitamin K and is very effective in relaxing people. And since this is fermented material we are talking about, the protein contents have partially been digested and therefore ready to be used by our body.
As in any other kind of milk, kefir is rich in calcium and therefore can strengthen one’s bones. In a fermented state, calcium in a beverage becomes even more effective and easily used by whoever is drinking it.
Other than protein, calcium and sugar, kefir grains are also found to have fat, iron, magnesium, phosphorous and different types of vitamins. With so many nutrients, there certainly are several kefir grains health benefits. Is kefir good for your skin too? Yes, as well as for your overall health and well-being, while fighting off several medical disorders. Kefir is also gluten-free.
The only thing that kept me from trying this healthy drink is its taste and the stigma that comes with consuming healthy foods. My children always complain, “Why do healthy things have to taste so bad?” The main difference with yogurt is that yogurt drinks and beverages have long been commercialized. In other word, their health benefits have been toned down significantly in order to make them taste better and, therefore, sold better in the market.
But kefir does not have to taste bad. It is now sold in health food stores and packaged in different flavors, including ones that have been sweetened using organic sweeteners. Some are sold as coconut milk or almond milk, or you can make one of your own. Essentially, you can make it taste the way you want it. No more excuses not to drink kefir.
Note: Noticed the different writing style? My aunt Connis wrote this article. I asked for help since she has more time nowadays to promote kefir. So I thought to myself, why not get someone who loves it like I do to help me out? Shoulda done it earlier. I got her into Kefir sometime back. She never looked back and looks younger than ever. Yes, I’m truly amazed…almost as amazed as his husband. 😀