A fermented drink that contains more than 20 strains of healthy bacteria and yeast cultures? Yes please! The health benefits of kefir include improved gut health and digestion, calcium for bone health and may help to assist our immune system to function optimally. Let’s dive into the details.
What is kefir?
Kefir is a fermented drink that originated in the Caucasus mountains in the 1800s. It is either milk- or water-based and has the consistency of a runny yoghurt. Kefir is also a carbonated drink. There are many different types of kefir including dairy-free and vegan options including coconut kefir, kefir yoghurt and goat’s-milk kefir. The taste can be quite tart or sour, but many are flavoured to improve this.
The fermentation process produces more than 20 different strains of probiotics and yeast cultures. Kefir is made by adding kefir grains to milk or water. But these aren’t your typical grains; rather they are grain-like colonies of bacteria and yeast. This mixture is covered and left to ferment at room temperature for a minimum of 24 hours. The kefir grains are then strained out and it is ready to drink.
Kefir can be consumed as a drink or eaten like a yoghurt. Pour it on your cereal, use it in a smoothie or drink it straight out of the bottle! There are many different varieties and flavours so there is one everyone can enjoy.
The health benefits of kefir
The ever-growing trend for nutritious diets and healthy living has seen an increase in the popularity of gut and digestive health due to its link to improved overall health. It is getting more and more attention in the media and on social media. This means products that improve gut health, such as kefir, are also becoming more popular.
The live probiotics in this drink increase the healthy bacteria in your gut, which can improve digestion and may help reduce negative symptoms related to this.
Kefir health benefits are primarily focused around gut and digestive health, however, there are also other great health benefits such as improved bone health. Milk-based kefir contains calcium, which is important for keeping our bones healthy and strong. It may also help to improve immune health as there is a strong link between gut health and immune function. As mentioned above, consuming kefir can improve our microbiota, assisting the immune system in fighting off pathogenic bacteria.
Some studies have also shown that people who regularly consume fermented dairy have a reduction in CRP, which is a marker for inflammation in the body. Other studies have also shown a link between reduced consumption of fermented foods alongside a balanced diet to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.
Where can you buy it in Australia?
Due to its popularity, it has become easier to find in local supermarkets such as Coles and Woolworths with a variety of brands available. Some popular brands include: The Collective Kefir, The Culture Co, Table of Plenty, Nexba, and Coyo Coconut Kefir. Another option is to make it yourself at home. It is important to do this safely, as fermenting foods can leave you feeling very unwell if not done correctly.
Consuming fermented foods has many health benefits due to their diverse probiotic content and including them in your diet regularly alongside a balanced diet is very beneficial. There are many different types and flavours meaning there is a kefir suitable for everyone. Start by including some in your breakfast or adding it to your morning smoothie, your gut will thank you for it.
Kefir is just one excellent source of probiotics, and as we all know, variety is key. Here are some other amazing sources of probiotics to try. If you’d like more personal, custom advice on improving your gut health, there are many gut expert dietitians working with me at Verde Nutrition Co. You can book an appointment right here, right now.