Most people believe that dairy isn’t for everybody…
And they are probably right. First off, let me talk about a few reasons why somebody would want to avoid dairy and then I’ll tell you why I drink fermented goat milk…
Downsides of Dairy:
- Dairy can be very hard, if not impossible, to digest for people who are lactose intolerant (lack the lactase enzyme).
- A lot of mass produced milk products are from cows raised in questionable conditions, pumped full of hormones, and fed antiobiotics because the animals aren’t healthy enough on their own.
- Since most milk begins as very poor quality, it must be pasteurized to kill the bacteria and ultimately create “dead/inactive” food.
- Milk is high in lactose / sugar and since it is a liquid can be absorbed very rapidly, making it likely something you’d want to avoid if fat loss is your goal.
- Even if you’re not completely lactose intolerant, you may just have a general allergy or slight intolerance to dairy.
- Cow’s milk can cause a pro-inflammatory response even in people who can digest it. Considering that nearly all disease can only exist in a pro-inflammatory state, it would make sense that we want to consume more anti-inflammatory foods if we care about our health. (Bonus tip: diets rich in anti-inflammatory foods are more likely to keep you lean, more nutritional tips about anti-inflammatory foods coming up soon).
Not all dairy is created equal. My first time drinking Raw Goat Milk as a boy.
When I was a younger boy, I spent some time living in the rural area of Montana near the north entrance to Yellowstone National Park. One of our neighbors had some extra fresh raw goat milk and I remember that my mom wasn’t particularly excited about it, but still allowed us to have it so that it didn’t go to waste.
Goat milk made me feel so strong.
After drinking that goat milk, I remember going out to play in the rocky fields with the critters and chirping grasshoppers and I just remember feeling so strong and capable. I drank more than my fair share of that goat milk and I enjoyed every single drop. Even though I didn’t drink a lot of goat milk in my adolescence or teenage years, I did start drinking goat milk again sometime around 2012.
In “Anti-inflammatory and anti-allergic properties of donkey’s and goat’s milk“ published in the Journal of Endocrine, Metabolic & Immune Disorders-Drug Targets, there are benefits of goats milk over cow’s milk.
Goat’s milk in virtue of its higher content in short chain, medium chain, mono and polyunsaturated fatty acids than that of cow’s milk, is more digestible than the bovine counterpart.
Goat’s milk has been shown to trigger innate and adaptive immune responses in an in vitro human system, also inhibiting the endotoxin-induced activation of monocytes. Finally, in these milks the presence of their own microbiota may normalize the human intestinal microbiota with a cascade of protective effects at intestinal mucosal sites, even including triggering of intestinal T regulatory cells. In the light of the above considerations, donkey’s and goat’s milk should be recommended as a dietary supplement in individuals with inflammatory and allergic conditions,
So we’re learning that the nutrients in goats milk may have a beneficial role in the health of the human gut for multiple reasons, including the microbiota. So what’s better than regular goat milk? FERMENTED Goats Milk Products.
Fermented dairy is superior.
Now I support fermented dairy, but I’m not ecstatic about yogurt, cheese, and other dairy products. Everybody knows about yogurt and I personally consume yogurt as a part of a healthy lifestyle, but I do not believe that yogurt is strong enough to be regarded as a nutritional healer. Cheese and sour cream have significantly less protein, more fat and an unfavorable macronutrient profile (not to mention there are strict FDA laws regarding the aging process of cheese which means Americans don’t even get to enjoy the REALLY authentic stuff).
Back to yogurt for a second. Yogurt pretty much requires you to use a pasteurized milk product (thereby killing any potentially healthy bacteria / enzymes) and then they use a limited type and quantity of live cultures. In other words, the probiotic potential is too low to really transform your gut bacteria. Overall though, I would still consider yogurt to be a “net gain” for nutritional value. Slight bonus points for Goat milk yogurt.
Kefir: the Ultimate Fermented Dairy?
While Kefir was mostly unknown in America even a decade ago, some larger companies are beginning to target the “health consumer” by selling mass produced Kefir products. Even Kroger has their own brand of Kefir that they are selling, so that’s how you KNOW it’s mainstream. But there’s a catch. Read on!
Buyer Beware: Storebought Kefir can be good, but is not great.
Most store-bought Kefir is not authentic Kefir and therefore will not have the properties of nutritional healing that real kefir has. Why is this? In order to mass produce Kefir, the producers use a powdered starter culture that contains a fraction of the beneficial bacteria that real Kefir has. Of course, they also start with a pasteurized milk product because they have to. The end result is similar to yogurt: store bought Kefir still, in my opinion, has a net gain in the nutritional value, but is not potent enough to be a superfood powerhouse.
Of course, you also have to be considerate of the added sugar in store-bought Kefir products. For example, the Lifeway brand Kefir has a pomegranate flavored Kefir with added sugar and no actual pomegranate. If you follow me, you probably know that I LOVE pomegranate for the high antioxidants. The problem with “pomegranate flavored Kefir” is that they just put some added “natural flavors” and cane sugar to make it taste like artificial pomegranate. Some people actually believe they are also getting some of the benefits of pomegranate. These marketers and producers are a disgrace to the health industry.
Real Kefir has been known to improve digestion, give renewed life to weak, and to strengthen/make robust the bodies of others!
I had an ex-girlfriend call me up randomly after we were separated for a while. I thought this was strange since even though I’m on good terms with these people, I don’t really keep in touch with them. So I answered. She called me up and she was so upset and apologetic for being emotional on the phone, but what happened is that her roommate saw her kefir grains sitting on the counter and threw them out! When we were together, I shared with her my real Kefir grains and as long as you keep giving them new milk, the Kefir will continue to perpetuate and give you health benefits.
Do you know why she was so upset? Because she had been using Kefir to improve her digestion and it worked better than anything she had tried before. We talked a lot about food when we were together because we both loved food and she had worked in a lot of restaurants and the topic came up about digestion. Since I had really been digging deep into the concept of gut health during that time in my life, I offered her some Kefir and she went with it. Her quality of life increased due to improved digestion from Kefir.
What is Kefir, exactly?
Kefir is alive. Kefir seemed to have originated somewhere between the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea, perhaps in the Caucuses Mountain range in Eurasia. In this area, Kefir is legendary for both preserving milk and supercharging milk. People are said to have lived long and healthy lives from the regular consumption of milk fermented with Kefir grains.
There is also an exciting story about how Kefir came to Russia and the western world, a story about protection, trading, of and even of kidnapping Russian royalty in the aim of making her a bride. I’m not sure how much of these stories are actually true, but it goes to say that people have found Kefir to be extremely valuable in this world.
Kefir is a SCOBY. That means Kefir is a Symbiotic Colony of Beneficial Bacteria and Yeast. Kefir feed off of lactose and are able to grow larger in size. Kefir “grains” are white and squishy, smell of yeast, and on average are the size of a blueberry but can grow much larger depending on the environmental conditions.
How do you “Make” Kefir?
Kefir refers both to the actual Kefir “grains” and also the Kefir “fermented milk product,” after you strain the grains from the milk.
Making Kefir is simple. You put Kefir grains in a non-metal container and pour milk into the container. Let the container sit in room temperature for about 24 hours. Then you can strain the milk with a non-metal strainer and you can drink the product or do a “double ferment,” in which the fermentation process continues another 24 hours (simply changes the ratio of beneficial bacteria). After you have strained the Kefir grains from the product, your Kefir grains will be slightly larger since they’ve been feeding on lactose for the last 24 hours, so all you have to do is pour more milk into the container with the grains and repeat the process.
Eventually your Kefir grains will grow so much that you’ll either have to eat, give away, or throw out the extra grains. Eating the grains has probiotic benefit in itself. If giving the grains to somebody, it okay to receive a donation or a trade for the grains. I only distribute grains to people who are serious about their health because I don’t want them to to go to waste.
Why Goat Milk Kefir instead of Cow Milk Kefir?
Well first of all, I listen to my body and I know that my body prefers Goat Milk Kefir. The protein in Goat Milk may be of a superior chemistry to the protein in cow milk. Furthermore, Goat Milk tends to be easier to work with. By that, I mean Cow Milk Kefir tends to get very thick and it is both harder to strain and harder to separate from the product from the grains.
In the state of Washington, we are fortunate to have access to Raw Milk which is not recommended for people who are very young, very old, or have immunocompromised systems. However, there are benefits to starting with a raw product.
Benefits of Raw Milk for use in Kefir.
My top reasons why I prefer Raw Milk for Kefir:
- I almost always prefer food in its whole, natural state. Raw Milk is in its most natural state. I believe that there is wisdom in nature.
- Raw Milk contains beneficial bacteria. Even though you hear about the bad bacteria in raw milk, there is also healthy bacteria in raw milk. With risk, comes reward.
- Enzymes are active in raw milk. Did you know that raw milk actually contains enzymes that help you digest and absorb the nutrients? Enzymes are basically the biological catalysts for all functions of life and if your food is cooked/dead/pasteurized, then you are missing out on the health benefits of enzymes. If your diet is lacking in enzymes, then your body must work harder to create its own enzymes and you will ultimately stress the body and at best you won’t be optimal and at worst you will get sick and die sooner.
The Power of Kefir: It can bring abundance of life.
Even if you use pasteurized milk for your Kefir, that is not a problem. Kefir grains will eat the lactose and transform the milk into a new Kefir product that is full of probiotics and enzymes. That is the beauty of Kefir, it brings life.
Benefits of Raw Goat Milk Kefir
Finally, before we wrap up this post, I wanted to answer the question as to why I drink raw fermented goat milk.
BENEFITS OF RAW GOAT MILK KEFIR:
1. Kefir increases the bio-availability of nearly all nutrients found in milk.
Kefir not only increases absorption of some of the B vitamins in milk, due to the fermentation process, it actually increases the amount of B vitamins. Double benefit there.
Calcium, magnesium, check! Drinking real Kefir will yield higher absorption of the crucial minerals of calcium and magnesium. These minerals are very important for bone health, athletic performance, and for the central nervous system.
Protein is also more bio-available after Kefir fermentation. Since the protein is of the highest quality, you actually don’t even need as much protein to sustain an active lifestyle. Since adding Raw Goat Milk Kefir to my diet, I consume much less meat than I used to.
2. Kefir gives doesn’t give you billions of probiotics like yogurt, saurkraut, and supplements. Kefir gives you TRILLIONS of probiotics.
Real talk though, most of these probiotics will either sacrifice themselves for the greater good of your gut health (and release beneficial immune modulators as a byproduct of their destruction), OR the Kefir probiotics will simply pass through you.
That being said, even though much of the Kefir bacteria will pass through your system, the time that it DOES spend in your system will create a pro-health gut environment that will allow your own natural beneficial bacteria to flourish. Kefir bacteria tends to either kill or displace bacteria that is harmful to the human system. This will allow your natural beneficial bacteria that you were born with to survive and thrive. And that is a main reason why I believe in the nutritional healing properties of Raw Kefir.
Moreover, Kefir also contains beneficial yeasts which can fight off or displace the opportunistic yeast such as Candida Albicans. Many women are familiar with yeast infections of their reproductive system, but many men probably have yeast imbalance issues inside their guts. The health of your gut will most certainly be linked to the health of our reproductive system. When you balance the gut, you can balance the entire body. When you balance the gut, you might be able to say goodbye to the symptoms of many auto-immune disorders as well.
3. Kefir improves lactose digestion.
The lactose benefit of Kefir is two-fold.
First, since Kefir consumes lactose, the Kefir product will actually contain significantly LESS lactose. After 24 hours of milk being fermented with Kefir, the actual lactose concentration drops significantly.
Secondly, Kefir has been shown to improve lactose digestion away from Kefir. Research supports this as well as anecdotal reports. People report that after adding Raw Kefir to their diets that they are able to consume cheese, ice cream, and other milk products without the problems they had in the past. It’s like the rich get richer.
4. Kefir is potentially anti-carcinogenic and may have chemoprotective effects.
Some people will argue that cancer is just a fact of life if you live long enough. Believe the stats all you will — I’m setting myself up for success in the next fifty years of my life. I truly believe that your risk of cancer can be SIGNIFICANTLY decreased through lifestyle and nutritional intervention. If I eat all these healthy foods and still end up getting cancer before my friends, well then f*ck me.
Here’s some info: Kefir and Cancer: A Systematic Review of Literatures
In vitro studies on breast, colon, skin and gastric cancers and leukemia cell lines and experimental studies on different sarcomas consistently showed beneficial effects of kefir on cancer prevention and treatment. The results of this systematic review suggest that kefir may be associated with cancer prevention and it also has beneficial effects in cancer treatment.
5. Improves immune system, strengthens the gut, may help with allergies.
The reason that I take a holistic approach to nutrition is because humans are more than the sum of our parts. Yes, I understand why scientific studies must focus on a small piece at a time, so that’s why I try to take these pieces and put them together.
These results indicated that kefir use increased polarization of the immune response towards TH1 type and decreased TH2 type response and accordingly allergic response. The decrease in IL-8 level due to kefir use, might control the inflammatory response by suppressing neutrophil chemotaxis and activation. On the other hand it was also concluded that increased IL-5 might stimulate secretory IgA at gastrointestinal mucosa leading to a more efficient immune response in the intestinal lumen.
We’re learning more and more every year.
In the original groups of people who drank Kefir regularly, they were said to live long healthy lives to around 100 years of age while their genetic counterparts who did not consume Kefir lived till about 40-60 years of age. We have so many thousands of years of human wisdom to look back upon that it would be foolish to ignore the stories of our past. It would be foolish to neglect the wisdom of nature and man.
Science, I’m sure, will continue to verify the claims of superfoods such as Kefir. Meanwhile, all you can do now is experiment and see if it is right for you.
Where to get your first Kefir grains?
You can buy at some Co-ops and natural stores, but you will be overpaying greatly. I’ve purchased my own Kefir grains from this respectable and reliable source. Yes, I am an Amazon affiliate, only because I want to recommend products to my readers that I use/believe in myself.
If you decide to buy Kefir grains, let me know if you have any questions and I’ll help you as well!
May your gut be with you!
Your gut is the rugged fortress of assimilation and life. Treat your gut right, listen to your gut, and your path will be strong. Thank you for reading and stay tuned!