“A Gift From God – One of Nature’s Most Potent Probiotics Sources”
Before we begin, we should start by tackling the obvious question: What exactly are probiotics?
Probiotics refers to the several different kinds of beneficial bacteria and yeasts that help your body maintain a healthy gastrointestinal tract. There are over 400 species that inhabit different regions of the GI tract. Did you know that there are about 10 times more bacteria in your body than you have human cells? This is because they are significantly smaller than our cells, which in of themselves are extremely complex structures. Scientists are now starting to understand exactly how complex our human cells are, with some doctors even comparing them to galaxies in terms of complexity. The average person has between 2-6 pounds of living bacteria inside their system. Your gut alone contains approximately 100 trillion bacteria. We have a symbiotic relationship with these tiny organisms and it is important to understand this relationship because it can greatly affect our health.
Studies have shown that the kinds of bacteria in your gut can make you crave certain foods, as well as affecting other mental/thinking processes. In a world where antibiotics are used excessively in our food system as well as in medicine, it is important to understand why we need these beneficial organisms in our body for optimal health. Antibiotics kill off both friendly-aerobic and unfriendly bacteria (anaerobic bacteria, which thrive in an oxygen-deprived environment). Replenishing your body with the good kind will assist in colonizing your GI tract, thus assisting them to outcompete other invaders. Maintaining an optimal ratio of friendly to unfriendly bacteria is essential. Up to 85% of your immune system is located inside your GI tract, so keeping it healthy is an essential part of overall health, both short and long term.
What is Kefir?
Kefir (pronounced kuh-feer) is derived from “keif”, the Turkish word for “feel good” or “pleasure.” Kefir is a lacto-fermented, self-carbonated beverage. It is fermented through kefir grains. There are mainly two different types of kefir made from milk and water. Milk Kefir feeds on lactose and water kefir (also known as Sugary Kefir Grains or SKG) feeds on glucose/sucrose.
The commercial production of kefir is made via artificial starters, not traditional kefir grains, and will not be able to grow continuously like the traditional grains. Luckily for us, preparing traditional kefir at home is an easy process and if done right you should theoretically never have to buy kefir again because they grow and multiply on their own. The grains will continue to multiply as long as you continue to take care of them. I find it rather fascinating personally. Also, if you have excess grains, you can eat them straight up, absorbing their healing properties in the process.
Types of Beneficial Bacteria in Kefir:
There are at least 29 discovered species of beneficial bacteria discovered in different sources of milk kefir grains so far. These are various species of Lactobacilli, Streptococci, Lactococci, and Acetobacter. In water kefir, there are at least 59 different species of beneficial bacteria discovered, depending on the source.
Acetobacter is a species of aerobic bacteria that has the ability to convert ethanol to acetic acid, a compound in vinegar, which is linked to assist with blood sugar control, weight losfaces, and lowering blood pressure.
Types of Beneficial Yeasts in Kefir:
There have been at least 27 different species of beneficial yeasts discovered in various sources of milk kefir grains and at least 12 different species discovered in various sources of water kefir grains so far.
You can substitute milk kefir in recipes that call for buttermilk or yogurt or add it to shakes. As a health conscious person I do my very best to avoid sugary sodas and water kefir has been a great substitute for it has natural carbonation, as well as having a relatively low GI (Glycemic Index) due to the fact that the bacteria digests most of the sugars. You can add water kefir to shakes as well, or make a variety of flavors for a probiotic soda substitute. I will include some delicious recipes that will keep you coming back for more! Hey, just because you’ve made the decision to lead a healthy life doesn’t mean that you have to sacrifice flavor! Healthy food should taste good!
*It is important to remember that the flavor will vary depending on how long you choose to ferment it for. The longer you ferment, the more sour the taste because more lactic acid is produced.
How Much Kefir Should I Take & Are There Any Side Effects?
For the first couple days, start drinking 4-8 ounces. This is to let the bacteria and yeasts settle in. You can Kefir is an aggressive probiotic, so when first starting, you should slowly incorporate it into your diet. This is because when beginning to use kefir, the probiotics start cleaning up your body and kills off any bad pathogens in your digestive tract. If large amounts of kefir are consumed too fast, you may experience a “healing crisis”, which is when your body, while detoxifying itself, dumps the toxins into your blood steam, temporarily overloading it. (When unfriendly pathogens die, toxins are released.) Because of this, you may experience amplified symptoms of your ailments, whether it be head aches, dizziness, fatigue, soreness, rash etc.
Where To Buy Kefir Grains
I personally found it most convenient to buy my kefir grains online, as it gets shipped straight to me with just a couple clicks of a button plus, at the time I didn’t know anyone personally that actually had real kefir grains to give me. (Now that I got them, I’m sharing excess grains with my friends and they all love it!) To save you the trouble of finding a good source, here’s where I bought mine. They were packaged well in a seal plastic bag that was within a lightproof, foil bag. It came with instructions on how to get them going, but those won’t really be necessary seeing how I already provided step-by-step instructions for you. The milk and water kefir grains from these suppliers are good quality and I haven’t had to buy another batch ever since my first purchase. I still get a kick out of the fact that I’ll most likely never have to pay anymore money for this special gift of nature. Well… I mean, that’s if I don’t count the sugar/milk/and other additives that’s required to make them. Still, that almost nothing! The benefits seriously, SERIOUSLY outweigh the tiny cost and I am confident that you will agree!
The History of Kefir
As the story goes, kefir grains were given to Orthodox Christians directly from Muhammed, who prohibited them from sharing it with the public, stating that if they did, the grains would lose their magical healing powers. This is a primary reason why there has been much mystery behind kefir for centuries. Marco Polo had mentioned this mysterious beverage in his accounts of his travels to the East. The peoples of the Caucasus mountains kept the secret of kefir preparation close-guarded, which is why it was largely forgotten outside of the region.
Popular in Russia, Middle East, Eastern/Northern Europe, Southwest Asia, and now more recently in USA, Kefir can be traced back to the ancient people of the Caucasus Mountains, where shepherds carried milk in leather pouches. These people were known to drink a lot of kefir, and as legend has it, it was common for them to live over 100 years.
Later on, news spread of the powers of this substance, stating that it was an effective treatment of tuberculosis and stomach/intestinal problems, leading to the first scientific studies being published by Russian doctors in the late 19th century. And here we are today witnessing the reemergence of this mysterious, ancient remedy reaching critical mass where it belongs.