Don’t wrinkle your nose – 5 reasons why our age group should be drinking it:
1.An ancient remedy
Fermented milk kefir is drunk habitually all over Eastern Europe and Turkey. It’s believed that the name comes from the Turkish word “keif” which means good feeling. Women in Russia have been using it for weight loss for years and it has many health benefits from aiding digestion and boosting our immune system to providing us with calcium (each 175 gram serving provides about 20% of the daily recommended intake) to boost the health of our bones and teeth. For thousands of years it’s been a tried and trusted anti-ageing remedy.
2. Keeps the gut healthy
Kefir is made by fermenting milk with kefir grains (which look like a white sponge) to produce tens of billions of bacteria. This process makes the milk slightly fizzy and taste like yoghurt. I like to opt for kefir rather than plain live yoghurt as the numbers of bacteria are usually higher, so it is more potent.
When you drink kefir, you plant billions of these beneficial bacteria in your gut and boost your microbiome – that’s the kilo and half of bacteria, mainly in the colon, which is the control centre of good health. Gut bacteria can control our weight (nothing to do with calories!), our mood, and immune system. At least 70 per cent of the immune system is in the gut. Our gut bacteria signal to the immune system and can influence it. So keeping the microbiome happy, can make your immune system too and protect us from getting ill in winter, or developing autoimmune disorders.
If you’ve had antibiotics, or been eating a nutrient poor diet, having a lot of stress, or drinking too much alcohol, or eating too much sugar, the numbers of beneficial bacteria in your gut can diminish or the balance becomes skewed. You may get digestive symptoms, find you can’t lose weight even if eating not much food, and feel below par mood-wise. If you find you tolerate eating dairy ok, kefir can be a great way to boost your microbiome habitually through food, rather than taking a probiotic supplement.
3. Helps relaxation
Kefir can also help with sleep. The microbiome and brain are connected via the vagus nerve and signals pass between the two. When our gut bacteria are flourishing and healthy, this promotes sleep.
4. Reduces incidents of colds
Kefir is a probiotic food. Having probiotics has been shown to reduce chances of catching colds and if you do catch a cold, the cold may last less time.
4. It’s delicious
You can drink it by the glass, or mix with fruit to make a delicious shake in the morning. This is a recipe from my book, The Gut Makeover Recipe Book:
KEFIR + BERRIES C Serves 1
- 200ml kefir
- 1 cup fresh or frozen berries
- 1⁄2 banana
- 2 tsp chia seeds or ground flaxseeds
- 1cm fresh ginger
Blend all the ingredients together in a blender then drink immediately before the ingredients separate.
Here’s part 2 on how to make kefir at home. It’s easy, and cheaper than buying it ready made. See here for part 1.
Kefir is becoming more widely available in the UK – beyond the Eastern European corner shops – and Boots has started selling it.
Ocado (sadly Waitrose still not stocking it).
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