Introduction of Kefir
Kefir is denoted as the antidote used since ages for all the modern illnesses. Kefir is a creamy cultured dairy product which has some really amazing benefits for the overall health of the body such as healing a leaky gut.
Kefir has a refreshing, slightly sour flavour quite similar to yogurt or curd. In the case of yogurt, it contains probiotic bacteria whereas in kefir, there are probiotic benefits as well as the beneficial yeast in it. Due to this combination of the yeast and bacteria, kefir is known to provide various health benefits if it is consumed on a regular basis.
The word Kefir is believed to have originated from the Turkish word “keif” which means “good feeling”. This product has been widely used since centuries in various parts of Asia and Europe due to its ability to heal a lot of medical conditions.
Kefir is known to improve one’s immune system due to its probiotic and nutrient packed value. Kefir contains a lot of bioactive compounds along with 30 strains of friendly bacteria. These bacteria actually help to fight diseases such as carcinogens, tumour and others. Kefir is loaded with lots of minerals and vitamins which are easily digestible and are complete in proteins.
Nutritional Value of Kefir
Kefir has a lot of nutritional value in addition to the presence of friendly bacteria and yeast. Kefir contains essential amino acids and minerals. These help the body with the healing process and the maintenance functions. Kefir also contains complete proteins which are partially digested, thus get easily utilized by the body.
One essential amino acid that is found abundantly in kefir is Tryptophan. This essential amino acid is known to provide a relaxing effect on the nervous system. Kefir is a must-have in the diet of a person since it is also loaded with magnesium and calcium. These minerals also provide a soothing effect on the nerves and it’s an antidote for a healthy nervous system.
Our body also has abundance of minerals; one such mineral is called as phosphorus. Kefir has ample amounts of phosphorus, which functions by utilizing the carbohydrates, proteins and fats for the growth and development of cells along with maintenance and promoting energy in the body. Other minerals present in kefir are iron, copper, zinc, potassium and riboflavin.
Kefir is also rich in certain vitamins such as vitamin B1, vitamin K, folate and vitamin B12. Biotin, which is Vitamin B, is also abundantly found in kefir. Biotin aids the other B Vitamin such as folic acid, B12 and pantothenic. Adequate amount of vitamin B is very essential for our body since it regulates the functioning of the kidneys, nervous system and liver. It also keeps our body energized, provides relief from skin issues and encourages longevity.
Due to the abundance and uniqueness of nutrients present in kefir, it benefits our health in various ways such as to fight back allergies, support detoxification of the body, heal any bowel diseases, kill candida bacteria, build up bone density and improve lactose digestion.
Benefits and Nutritional value of Kefir
As previously mentioned, kefir grains are systematic balances of good bacteria and yeast. They are able to ferment the milk within 24 hours. Simple raw milk is transformed into a superfood probiotic drink. It is a refreshing beverage which is loaded with different minerals, vitamins and other properties thus having many medicinal benefits. Below are few of the benefits provided by Kefir:
- Good for detoxification of the body – A food-borne toxin called as ‘aflatoxin’ is found in most of the foods which we consume everyday. It is found in ground nuts, grains such as soy, wheat and crude oils such as cottonseed and soy seed. Kefir has the power to literally bind this food borne toxin and any other toxins to prevent any onset of illness.
- Fights against Cancer – In today’s fast paced world, with so many changes in lifestyle, food also has gone through a lot of changes. There are so many readily available packaged foods loaded with preservatives. Also, the ‘farm-fresh’ veggies and fruits which we consume are filled with pesticides or chemicals which make them ripe earlier than they should. These foods also give rise to cancer-causing agents in the body which slowly spread in the body.Studies show that consumption of fermented foods has the ability to kill several cancer-causing agents in the body. Regular consumption of kefir also helps to stop breast cancer cells from growing.
- Builds up the density of the bones – After a certain age, women tend to complain of bone problems which is also called as osteoporosis. Studies reveal that consumption of kefir has proven to be beneficial for increasing the strength of the bones in turn reducing the risk of osteoporosis. Kefir works in the body by absorbing minerals such as calcium and magnesium, which are very essential for building of bones and keeping them strong.
- Promotes Immunity and a healthy gut – Kefir is known to promote a healthy gut and increase the immunity in the body. It works better than an antibiotic which anyways has side effects. The next time you fall sick, think about taking kefir instead of antibiotics. The probiotic property present in kefir works much better than the antibiotic. Kefir not only removes the infectious agent from the body, but also resolves the symptoms caused by the infection.
- Beneficial for lactose intolerant people – People who are intolerant towards certain lactose-related dairy products can actually consume kefir without any issues. Kefir is known to be relatively low in lactose. Kefir improves the digestion of lactose.
- Beneficial in healing IBD and IBS – Kefir is very beneficial for people dealing with irritable bowel syndrome. Due to the high proportion of probiotics in kefir, it acts as a natural treatment. Studies reveal that kefir and yogurt are both good when it comes to treatment of IBS and IBD.
- Provides relief from asthma and allergies – Kefir has shown to have positive effects on people dealing with asthma and any allergies. Kefir has the power to suppress the inflammation. It has proved beneficial in the prevention of asthma in people due to its anti-inflammatory properties.
- Kefir is more powerful than yogurt – Some microorganisms which are also called as probiotics have the power to influence our body in a number of ways when they are ingested in the body. Some of these benefits would include managing weight, improving mental health and helping digestion. Mostly, yogurt is known to be a rich source of probiotics, however kefir is a much more powerful source of probiotics. Due to the 30 strains of bacteria and yeast, kefir is rich in probiotics. Other dairy products which are fermented actually contain just few strains of bacteria and usually do not contain yeast unlike kefir.
Types of Kefir
There are two main types of kefir, which are:
- Milk Kefir – In this case, kefir would be prepared from milk of cow, sheep or goat and at times, coconut milk can also be used.
- Water Kefir – In this case, kefir would be prepared from coconut water or sugary water. Both of these do not contain anything dairy.
One should note that though the base would vary, the process of preparation would still remain the same along with its health benefits. The use of kefir cultured grains would always be there no matter if it is dairy or non-dairy. Even though we would add sugar, ultimately kefir is a low sugary drink since the yeast present in kefir eats away a major portion of the sugar during the process of fermentation.
Preparation of Kefir
Any type of milk can be used to prepare kefir. It can either cow, sheep, goat, rice, coconut or soy milk. Kefir forms slight mucous, however in this case the mucous is of a clean quality, hence it creates good conditions in the digestive tract for the friendly bacteria.
In the preparation of kefir, it also needs starter “grains” which are gelatinous yellow or white particles. These are the grains which contain the friendly mixture of yeast and bacteria along with milk proteins also known as casein and complex sugars.
Due to the use of grains in preparing kefir, it has got a unique identity since none of the other milk cultures contain the presence of grains. These grains make the drink a very light fermented drink which can be consumed by people who are intolerant towards lactose or who are forbidden to have products which contain lactose.
These grains look quite similar to pieces of coral or clumps of cauliflower. The size can range from a wheat grain to a hazel nut. Some of the grains grow on large flat sheets. These sheets are big enough to cover the hand. These grains incorporate the friendly organisms which is a mixture of yeast and bacteria for milk fermentation. Finally, before kefir is consumed, the grains are removed with the help of a strainer and then again added to a new batch of milk for the same process.
Kefir prepared at home, is far better than buying the readily available ones from the store. Since kefir is loaded with probiotics, it is one such probiotic food which can be consumed with other important strains of probiotics.
Process of preparation of Kefir
Kefir is not a difficult process, since it is always better to prepare it at home rather than buying the packaged one. One cannot compromise with the quality of kefir hence preparing at home is the best option. Kefir grains are available in supermarkets or food stores. It is now available online as well.
Below is the simple step-by-step process of preparation of kefir:
- Take a jar and add one to two tablespoons of kefir grains in it. The rate at which it cultures is directly proportional to the amount of grains you use. The more you use, the faster it cultures.
- Add two cups of milk (any milk would do such as cow, goat, coconut, sheep etc). You can preferably add raw or organic milk. Do not fill the whole jar with the milk, leave at least one inch of space from the top of the jar.
- If you want the kefir thicker, then add some cream however this is an optional step.
- Once the above steps are completed, cover the jar with the lid and leave it at room temperature for 12 to 36 hours.
It is ready to consume, if it looks clumpy. Generally, strain out the liquid from the jar so that the kefir grains are left behind which can be later used for another milk culture. Kefir can be combined with some fresh fruits to make it a healthier diet which is also good in taste.
Side Effects of Kefir
Kefir is a safe beverage, as no major side effects have been experienced by people after consuming this drink. However, whether one suffers from any side effects would completely depend on the health condition of the person. One who has a strong immune system and is healthy would not suffer from any side effects. In the detoxification process, some may experience slight side effects.
The symptoms of detox are temporary and would usually go away on its own. Few of these are:
- Body aches
- Discomfort of cramps in the abdomen
- Skin rashes or acne or boils
If one tends to feel uncomfortable with these symptoms, then it is advisable to stop the consumption of kefir for a day or so.
- Kefir is high in nutrients and probiotics which is beneficial for the health of the gut.
- Kefir is a much more powerful source of probiotics than yogurt.
- Kefir has loads of the essential amino acid, Tryptophan as well as the minerals, magnesium and calcium, which help to provide a soothing effect on the nervous system.