Kefir is an ancient source of bacteria and beneficial yeast, similar to the SCOBY found in Kombucha. The word kefir is actually derived from the Turkish word “Keyif,” which means “good feeling.” Some fabulous history surrounds kefir with glamorous stories of religious prophets gifting kefir to Islamic tribes in the Caucasus Mountains for strength and immunity. The revered grains were passed on from generation to generation for thousands of years before spreading throughout Asia and now eventually the world.
Kefir is consumed widely in Russia, where it is used to ferment dairy milk. Kefir is unusual because it seems to blur the lines between a probiotic and a food. It is rich in microbiota but is also rich in minerals and amino acids like tryptophan! It is also rich in vitamin B12, B1, K, folic acid and pantothenic acid. Studies on kefir from as early as 1932 have shown kefir to be antimicrobial, immune-modulating & possibly even anti-cancerous. (1)
- Can be a suitable replacement fermented food for those who are sensitive to wild ferments like sauerkraut & kombucha.
- Is beneficial for managing conditions such as SIBO, Crohn’s, ADHD & behavioural disorders
- Can assist in re-establishing the methylation pathways of folate for those with MTHFR
- Contains large amounts of Bifidobacterium, an important species of bacteria which protects against a leaky gut & assists in the digestion of starches
- Can assist in re-establishing gut health after antibiotic use working to dampen numbers of pathogenic microbes like Candida albicans
- Can assist in healthy weight management through its powerful effects on gut-inflammation & insulin sensitivity
- Is a potent liver tonic
Kefir contains a wide variety of beneficial microbes such as:
- Lactococcus microbes
- Lactobacillus Microbes
- Beneficial yeasts like Saccharomyces boulardii
- & Bifidobacterium.
Kefir & its live microbes have been extensively studied. Research by the Turkish Microbial Society found that each strain of kefir (that they used) could protect against food-borne pathogens like Staphylococcus, Salmonella & Listeria (2). Lactobacillus bacteria found in kefir have been shown to be protective against the sometimes deadly Clostridium difficile infection (3).
Kefir may also protect against cancer by reducing the spread of malignant cells (4) & may reduce blood pressure, fight weight gain & control the growth of yeasts like Candida (5, 6, 7).
How to consume Kefir.
Consume coconut kefir or raw milk kefir as a stand-alone beverage first thing in the morning or before going to bed in the evenings. Do not consume water kefir as it contains too much sugar – however you can use alternative recipes as shown in my recipe book. I like to have coconut kefir upon rising in the mornings as an alkalising, detoxifying, probiotic drink! I also love my Thai Kefir Coconut Soup Recipe!
Where to get Kefir from.
Resources for this article.
- (1) Farnworth, E. (n.d.). Scientific research on Kefir. 1st ed. [ebook] Food Science central. Available at: http://nutrition-healing.com/scientific%20research%20on%20kefir.pdf
- (2) Ulusoy, B. H., Çolak, H., Hampikyan, H., & Erkan, M. E. (2007). An in vitro study on the antibacterial effect of kefir against some food-borne pathogens. Türk Mikrobiyoloji Cemiyeti Dergisi, 37, 103-107.
- (3) Carasi, P., Trejo, F. M., Pérez, P. F., De Antoni, G. L., & Serradell, M. D. L. A. (2012). Surface proteins from Lactobacillus kefir antagonize in vitro cytotoxic effect of Clostridium difficile toxins. Anaerobe, 18(1), 135-142.
- (4) Maalouf, K., Baydoun, E., & Rizk, S. (2011). Kefir induces cell-cycle arrest and apoptosis in HTLV-1-negative malignant T-lymphocytes. Cancer management and research, 3, 39.
- (5) Kurtzman, C., Fell, J. W., & Boekhout, T. (Eds.). (2011). The yeasts: a taxonomic study (Vol. 1).
- (6) García-Tejedor, A., Sánchez-Rivera, L., Castelló-Ruiz, M., Recio, I., Salom, J. B., & Manzanares, P. (2014). Novel antihypertensive lactoferrin-derived peptides produced by Kluyveromyces marxianus: gastrointestinal stability profile and in vivo angiotensin I-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibition. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.
- (7) Albuquerque, P., & Casadevall, A. (2012). Quorum sensing in fungi-a review. Medical Mycology, 50(4), 337-345.