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Kefir

a yogurt-like drink that will change your gut, and change your life

over 2000 years of secrecy

Very often people ask me, what is kefir?   If I could get a dollar for every time I received this question, I probably would be a millionaire.

 

My quick answer always is: “It's drinkable yogurt, like buttermilk, but much better for you”.

Originating over 2000 years ago in the Caucasas Mountains, Kefir was kept largely a secret by the families and tribes that lived in the mountains in order to not anger their ancestral ghosts. For an interested read on the history of Kefir, and how the world became to know more about the drink, check out this post by The Raw Milk Institute. 

 

Kefir is an amazing. It’s my secret beauty weapon and key to longevity, wellness – just as it is for many centenarians who live in the Caucasus Mountains and drink kefir at every meal.

so exactly is kefir then?

A little bit fizzy, tangy, creamy, drinkable yogurt...these are all ways to describe what Kefir tastes like. Some call it a dairy champagne.  While its taste is unique and hard to describe, what is easy to know is that Kefir has 10 times more strains of good bacteria than the best yogurt on the market. Further, Kefir contains powerful probiotics and yeast strains. The combination of bacteria and yeast comes from the kefir grains, which are not really grains but a colony of gelatinous, cauliflower-like mix of good bacteria and yeast.

 

No wonder why the popularity of this carbonated fermented milk has grown rapidly over the past 10 years or more!

what are the health benefits of kefir?

1. Kefir lowers blood sugar.

Many studies are confirming that altered gut flora are present in humans and animals with obesity, insulin resistance, diabetes, and hypertension. Research suggests that people who are obese, and resistant to insulin, have microbes in their gut that are different from the microbes of healthy people. There is evidence that feeding probiotics to those with diabetes-related obesity and metabolic disorders can dramatically reduce insulin resistance, restore glucose sensitivity, and lower blood pressure and weight by altering their gut flora and encouraging the right kind of microbes to thrive and grow.

 

2. Kefir lowers blood pressure.

Kefir was found to work on an enzyme in the stomach similar to what an ACE inhibitor drug will do, to lower blood pressure naturally. It also reduces inflammation throughout the body.

 

3. Kefir reduces symptoms of acid reflux.

People are unaware that many antibiotics destroy certain bacteria we need to keep acid reflux in check. It’s quite common, that more people are getting reflux due to this particular bacteria being destroyed. Martin J. Blaser, M.D., talks more about this in his book “Missing Microbes”. Sometimes we don’t realize how we effect the inner workings of so many functions in the body by destroying microbes with antibiotics. Great news kefir can help with this.

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4. Kefir lowers cholesterol.

So many people experience this fact with regular consuming good quality probiotic foods. Its works because the beneficial bacteria brings down cholesterol levels. As they grow in the intestinal tract, they consume some of the cholesterol that is present, incorporating it into their own cells. This means the cholesterol becomes unavailable for absorption from the intestine into the bloodstream, naturally lowering total cholesterol.

 

5. Kefir and Allergies.

When you have hay fever, your immune system is overreacting. Our immune system must distinguish between “enemies” that can be beneficial to our health and “enemies” that can have harm our body. A healthy body, can easily recognize these differences, but an unhealthy gets confused. That’s when the problems are begin. So many things are becoming dangerous to the human body. Many people are allergic plants, trees, animals etc. The trillions of bacteria that live in our gut help to determine this recognition. When it fail, an immune response occurs. Restoring beneficial bacteria strains to the gut allows the body to function as it should. A study was done with 60 hay fever sufferers who are given daily drinks containing lactobacilluc casei (this is found in kefir). Those who received the probiotic drink had changes in allergic inflammation in their nasal lining. They also had changes in their blood, associated with immune responses.

 

6. Kefir Detox.

Yes, kefir can boost the immune system. It is also a very powerful detoxifier. Consuming large amounts of kefir will help you keep everything in its proper place. Kefir also helps with liver function by assisting the liver in detoxification. With more than 50 good strains of microbes, it will colonize the body, remove pathogens, and re-build the right balance of microbes throughout the body. This includes keeping candida yeast and H pylori type bacteria in its proper place. One of fastest ways to get a yeast overgrowth is by taking an antibiotic. The connection between healthy gut flora and allergies was directly shown in a study by immunologist Gary Huffnagle at the University of Michigan. In this experiment, a group of mice was fed antibiotics in an effort to kill off their own balance in their system. After the bacteria were killed off, the scientists threw off the balance even more by feeding the mice the candida yeast. The resulting low bacteria-high yeast ratio approximated the conditions of having a yeast infection, which is a sure sign of a gut imbalance. This group of mice and control group were then exposed to spores of the mold aspergillus fumigatus and to egg white protein-two substance known to cause allergic reactions. The mice in the control group, whose gut bacteria were undisturbed, had a much milder reaction to the allergens than those that had been treated with antibiotics, which was severe.

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7. Kefir works miracles on the central nervous system.

Kefir contains many vitamins such as B, B2, B3, B6, B12, B9 (Folic Acid), K, A and vitamin D, also minerals, and enzymes. Two cups of kefir will contain all the B12 you need in a day. Kefir has lots of amino acids. One of them, tryptophan, is one of the essential amino acids. Tryptophan has a relaxing effect on the nervous system. These complete proteins in kefir are partially digested and more easily taken by the body. The calcium and magnesium has a positive impact on a healthy nervous system.

 

8. Kefir showed anti-tumor effects

Kefir has shown anti-tumor effects in a breast cancer in mice. It also showed antimicrobial and protective properties by inhibiting the growth of such pathogenic bacteria and Streptococcus sp.

what are kefir grains and what kinds of yeasts and bacteria are present?

We all know that good health starts with a healthy gut.

 

Billions of microbes in a one glass of kefir are just waiting to help you. Make your own! It’s much stronger than any store bought kefir. You can also choose the quality of milk. Kefir grains are by far the best way to incorporate a lot of healthy bacteria and yeast cultures into your diet to promote a healthy gut biome. As you can see in the picture to the right, the grains kind of look like they could be over cooked rice. However, each grain is a colony of symbiotic strains of yeast and bacteria that are unique in its development. Depending upon where you get your grains from, there might be different strains of bacteria and yeast in the kefir.

 

Here are just some of the identified bacteria and yeasts in kefir grains:

Bacteria and Yeast in milk kefir

Species Lactobacillus

 

1. L. acidophilus

2. L. brevis

3. L. casei subsp. casei

4. L. casei subsp. Rhamnosus

5. L. Paracasei subsp. Paracasei

6. Lb. fermentum

7. Lb. cellobiosus

8. Lb. delbrueckii subsp. bulgaricus

9. Lb. delbrueckii subsp. lactis

10. Lb. fructivorans

11. Lb. helveticus subsp. lactis

12. L. hilgardii

13. Lb. Helveticus

14. L. kefiri

15. Lb. kefiranofacience subsp. Kefirgranum

16. Lb. kefiranofaciens. subsp. Kefiranofaciens

17. Lb. parakefiri

18. Lb. plantarum

 

Species Streptoccus

1. St. thermophiles

2. St. paracitrovorus

 

Species Lactococcus

1. Lc. lactis.subsp. lactis

2. Lc. lactis subsp. lactis biovar. diacetylactis

3. Lc. lactis subsp. cremoris

 

Species Enterococcus

1. Lc. Ent. durans

 

Species Leuconostoc

1. Leuc. mesenteroides subsp. cremoris

2. Leuc. mesenteroides subsp. mesenteroides

3. Leuc. dextranicum

 

Yeasts

1. Dekkera anomala

2. Kluyveromyces marxianus

3. Pichia fermentans

4. Yarrowia lipolytica

5. Debaryomyces hansenii

6. Deb. Occidentailis

7. Issatchenkia orientalis

8. Galactomyces geotrichum

9. C. friedrichii

10. C. rancens

11. C. tenuis

12. C. homilis

13. C. inconspicua

14. C. maris

15. Cryptococuus humicolus

16. Kluyveromyces lactis var. lactis

17. Kluv. Bulgaricus

18. Kluyv. Lodderae

19. Saccharomyces cerevisiae

20. Sacc.subsp.torulopsis holmii

21. Sacc. Pastorianus

22. Sacc. Humaticus

23. Sacc. Unisporus

24. Sacc.exiguus

25. Sacc.yuricensis sp. Nov

26. Torulaspora delbrueckii

27. Zygosaccharomyces rouxii

 

Acetobacter

1. Acetobacter aceti

2. Acetobacter rasens

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What are probiotics, again?

Probiotics are beneficial intestinal flora can help repopulate the intestinal tract as an aid to digestion and full assimilation, in conjunction with Lacto-fermented goods as part of the diet. A study of beverages from around the word reveals that traditional societies frequently consume Lacto-fermented beverages made from fruits, teas, milk, herbs, and grains. The probiotic drinks are considered superior to plain water in their ability to relieve thirst during physical labor.

 

When you workout, vitamins and minerals are lost through perspiration. Modern research has discovered that a liquid containing small amounts of sugars along with minerals in ionic form is absorbed faster than plain water, is retained more thoroughly and has the added advantage of rapidly replacing the lost minerals. Unfortunately, this research has been used to promote commercial sports drinks – high-sugar, additive-laced concoctions containing small amounts of electrolytes.

 

In contrast, natural lactic-acid fermentation drinks contain numerous valuable minerals in ionized form and small amounts of natural sugars along with lactic acid and beneficial lactobacilli, all of which promote good health in many ways, while at the same time satisfying the sensation of thirst.  So, not only is a very tasty drink, it's one that truly does a body good!

How Short Chain Fatty Acids and Fermented Foods Are Connected

I've been eating cultured food since my early years of life and when I chose to experiment with the new modern way of eating, the consequences on my gut were devastating. I spent many years being very ill. Thanks to God and all my prayers of, "WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME", I discovered the answer to be that “All health problems begin in our gut”.  I’m constantly learning new things about the benefits of good bacteria, and why it’s so important to have good bacteria balance. I believe your body is designed to heal itself.

 

Recently, my husband ended up in the emergency room with strong stomach cramps. After all the exams, he was given a prescription of antibiotics to kill the bad bacteria that was causing his discomfort. Not only would this prescription be killing the bad bacteria, but even the good bacteria. Then, two weeks ago our dear friend was sent to the hospital for the same reason and was given an antibiotic prescription as well. She took the doctor’s advice and within 3-4 weeks she recovered versus my husband who instead of taking this drug, which kills all good and bad bacteria, chose to supplement his diet with an army of good bacteria. His new good bacteria soldiers won the war in his body. Within 4 days, he was healed and went back to his daily routine as though nothing had happened.

 

Good bacteria have incredible power and they help with many problems.

 

Another example, I had toenail fungus for about 12 years and tried many remedies with no permanent results. After healing my gut, my skin cleared up and the toenail fungus was gone. Isn't that amazing? Many more miracles have occurred with my family since we started to eat ferments on a daily basis.

 

The years I have spent eating and making cultured foods have convinced me of our body’s power. I have helped many people to become much better eaters and healthier by encouraging them to supplement their diets with delicious and very nutritious foods. The consumption of fermented food is an old and almost forgotten way of eating and it is something that we can’t replace with the new modern way of processing and consuming food.

 

Give it a try and start with easy and yummy kefir. There are so many recipes out there and they will even satisfy the pickiest eaters.

 

Here is a list of things that I make with kefir besides just drinking it!!!

  1. Ranch salad dressing (my husband’s favorite)

  2. Caesar salad dressing

  3. Dips (perfect for big company events, picnics, and potlucks) (Here is one of them Smoke Oysters Dip (VIDEO) (innichkachef.com))

  4. Smoothies (try this smoothie bowl Superfood Smoothie Bowl (VIDEO) (innichkachef.com))

  5. Popsicles (summertime favorite treats)

  6. Cold summer soups (popular in many countries)

  7. Whipped cream (to top any dessert you desire: pudding, custard, ice cream, cobblers, pies, cakes, etc.)

  8. Ice cream

  9. Cheese spread

  10. Breakfast shake

 

Here is something else you should know: short-chain fatty acids cause your body to become a force of wellness in this sick world.

The most common short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs) produced by bacteria in the gut during fermentation promote healthy functions in your gut, body and brain.

 

Here are the three most important:   Acetate     Butyrate    Propionate

 

Eating a lot of probiotic food such as kefir, and prebiotic (nutrition for good bacteria) helps your body to create a lot of fatty acids which naturally prevent your body from all diseases as well as controls your blood sugar, weight and brain health.

 

So, what is Acetate?

Acetates are abundant fatty acids in your body that assists in controlling the pH in your gut and protects it against bad pathogens.

It also controls appetite, regulates the storage of fat, and nourishes butyrate producing bacteria. It is mostly produced by Bifidobacteria and Lactobacilli in your gut and is present in kombucha and apple cider vinegar (with mother). The acetate produced by your bacteria nourishes the butyrate-producing microbes and a large variety of species creates a healthy gut.

The importance of Butyrate

The main job of this fatty acid is to provide your colon cells with energy. It provides your colon cells with about 70 percent of its total energy. Butyrate is especially beneficial for those who have (IBS) and Crohn’s disease. Some studies show how Butyrate assists with blocking the growth of colorectal cancer cells and increases the rate of cell death. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/08/140815192240.htm  Some researchers found those with type 2 diabetes https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22738315/ have low amounts of butyric acid-producing bacteria in their gut. Adding more fiber (prebiotic) can improve insulin sensitivity and assist with obesity, which often goes with type 2 diabetes. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24833634/

 

Butyric acid preserves the integrity of the gut lining in which the lining acts as a barrier between your intestinal environment and the rest of your body.

 

Presently, our society has a huge problem in that our bodies don't have enough butyric acid and as a result the syndrome of leaky gut is rising, Butyric acid provides a multitude of benefits such as allowing the gut to absorb vitamins and minerals. It further assists in brain and gut communication; so, no wonder we hear that the gut is your second brain. Together they target many of the same pathways associated with brain related conditions. This can help with neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s as well as mental health disorders and autism.

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0304394016300775

 

Many researchers say that fermented milk products like kefir and yogurt increase butyrate.

https://www.nature.com/articles/srep06328

 

Propionate: Especially Important

It’s another product that forms resulting from the breaking down of carbohydrates by bacteria in our gut. Propionate breaks down soluble fiber and has many health benefits. These bacteria belong to three bacterial species:

Bacteroidetes

Lachnospiraceae phyla

Firmicutes

 

This bacterial teamwork makes a terrific impact on creating anti-inflammatory effects on your body, but also some studies show it can provide protection from colon cancer. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6625448/ To have more of propionate in your body, eating veggies that are rich in soluble fiber and inulin is especially important. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20130660/

 

 

So, which foods contain soluble fiber?

All veggies with resistant starches such as potato, sweet potato, Yakima, cassava root, onion, leeks, Jerusalem artichoke, as well as oat bran, wheat bran and oats contain soluble fiber. We call these foods prebiotic fiber, which are fuel for good bacteria (probiotic).

Eating a large variety through the day of veggies, beans, nuts, seeds, and herbs is a must to keep your gut happy and healthy. Inulin rich foods feed good bacteria in our gut and promote good growth.

 

Inulin, as I mentioned earlier, is a type of fiber that controls appetite and will increase your feelings of fullness. This particular process happens due to short-chain fatty acids. I think the easiest way to get inulin, besides eating leeks and Jerusalem artichokes, is to drink chicory beverages. Here is one of my favorite https://amzn.to/3iICBmO