Kefir – My Favorite Probiotic
I have to tell first off that I absolutely despise yogurt. I can’t stand it. I don’t like the texture or the super sour the taste and smell. I’ve tried it so many times thinking that maybe this time will be different but no. I want to like it so bad because of the probiotic benefits. The only way that I can tolerate it is to put it in my protein shakes.
The story continues to the last time I was at my local grocery store. I noticed a probiotic drink called kefir. The dairy manager happened to be standing right there and asked if I had ever tried kefir. I explained my disgust for yogurt and turns out that he and I shared the same opinion. Surprisingly he said that he loved kefir. Since I’m always trying expand my foodie knowledge, I gave it a go.
Result? I LOVE KEFIR!
So what is kefir and why is it different than yogurt?
First of all, our guts are the heart of our immune systems so it’s very important to keep bacteria in balance to keep our immune systems strong. With a good immune system, you have the best chance to fight off illness without antibiotics or medicines. Good health starts with a good immune system.
Probiotics are essential for keeping your gut healthy. Consuming probiotics has numerous benefits.
Kefir is defined below. For the full description, go here:
Kefir is a fermented milk product that originated centuries ago in the Caucasus mountains, and is now enjoyed by many different cultures worldwide, particularly in Europe and Asia. It is slightly sour and carbonated due to the fermentation activity of the symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast that make up the “grains” used to culture the milk (not actual grains, but a grain-like matrix of proteins, lipids, and sugars that feed the microbes). The various types of beneficial microbiota contained in kefir make it one of the most potent probiotic foods available.
Besides containing highly beneficial bacteria and yeasts, kefir is a rich source of many different vitamins, minerals and essential amino acids that promote healing and repair, as well as general health maintenance. (2) Kefir contains high levels of thiamin, B12, calcium, folates and Vitamin K2. It is a good source of biotin, a B vitamin that HELPS the body assimilate other B vitamins. The complete proteins in kefir are already partially digested, and are therefore more easily utilized by the body. Like many other dairy products, kefir is a great source of minerals like calcium and magnesium, as well as phosphorus, which helps the body utilize carbohydrates, fats and proteins for cell growth, maintenance and energy. (3)
Bacteria differences in yogurt and kefir each perform different tasks.
YOGURT: The beneficial bacteria found in yogurt help keep the digestive tract clean and provide food for the friendly bacteria found in a healthy gut. They pass through the digestive tract and are called “transient bacteria.” Meaning when it’s there, it does it’s job and then it’s gone. It doesn’t hang around.
Yogurt is food for the bacteria in the colon. Yogurt only lasts 24 hours while kefir lasts indefinitely. Yogurt helps to ensure that good bacteria grows and remains stable so it is important.
KEFIR: The bacteria in kefir, on the other hand, can actually colonize the intestinal tract and hangs out for a long time continuing to do it’s job. Kefir also contains a lot larger range of bacteria as well as yeasts. So while yogurt may contain a handful of different strains of bacteria, kefir may contain many more than that.
Kefir has more strains of beneficial bacteria and good yeasts; over 50 in homemade kefir, while yogurt only has 7 to 10. Kefir bacteria act like a SWAT team entering into the colon and attaching themselves to the colon, pushing away other harmful substances. It has been said that antibiotics cannot kill kefir – it is that strong. If you are someone that routinely takes antiobiotics, this is really important.
The other great thing about kefir is the amount of good yeasts. There is not much said about yeasts but they are extremely important. It is the good yeasts that put the fizz in kefir. They dominate and kill and control pathogens in the gut. They clean house and strengthen the gut, making it harder for pathogens to dominate and parasites to exist.
I’ve also read that even lactose-intolerant individuals can tolerate kefir as it soothes the tummy because the “good” bacteria have digested the lactose in the milk. For example, the actual lactose left in kefir is 1% or less. So, kefir is 99% lactose free. It also boasts more protein, B vitamins and more relaxing amino acid tryptophan than yogurt.
I usually drink my kefir (always organic) straight up but I also use it in my protein shakes and make delicious salad dressings with it. My go-to flavor is vanilla for most things but I use plain for cooking or salad dressings (ranch, goddess, bleu cheese, ceasar, etc). I prefer Wallaby kefir but I hear that Trader Joe’s kefir was ranked #1 by Taster’s Choice.
I’m so happy that I gave kefir a chance because my diet lacks probiotics and they are essential to our immune system.
Be good to your gut.