Kefir is something that I am very passionate about because of potential health and longevity benefits for you and many people.
Kefir has been known as a powerful health promoting agent for hundreds of years. It was allegedly hoarded by people who lived in the mountains and often enjoyed health and longevity beyond a hundred years old. Meanwhile, their neighbors who lived in the valley without knowledge of kefir died much earlier.
Sometime in the 1700-1800s, people from Russia became very desiring of this Kefir and the story goes that a royal young lady was held kidnapped over it. She had to marry the ruler so that he would finally release the kefir grains to her people. As far as we know, all of the Kefir available today has roots in those Russian kefir expeditions.
How do you pronounce kefir? I prefer to say it like, “kee-fur,” but some people have said, “keh-fir.” For now, I’ll stick with the former in part because I think more Americans know it like that.
By the way, I’m pretty sure the princess escaped back home with the kefir.
Supermarket Kefir vs. Homemade Raw Kefir
While commerical kefir may be healthier than most other items that you could buy at a supermarket, it certainly doesn’t pack the same health punch as traditional kefir from real kefir grains. Don’t get me wrong, kefir in stores like Whole Foods, QFC, Fred Meyer, Kroger, and other markets that I have seen around the country can be part of a healthy lifestyle. But there are downsides of kefir that you buy in stores.
Mass produced kefir is created with powder kefir culture starters as opposed to kefir grains and that is kind of a big deal. Since commercial kefir is grown with powder starters, it doesn’t contain the symbiotic yeasts and other naturally occurring living components of kefir.
Even though I strongly believe in real kefir from real kefir grains, I do support commerical kefir being in the grocery ecosystem. At the very least, having brands like Lifeway Kefir can bring awareness to people who want to make their own kefir at home.
I still buy Kefir from the grocery stores and co-ops sometimes.
This post contains some affiliate links to help you learn about products that I like. My favorite brand of Kefir is called, “Grace Harbor Farms,” and they sell a very high quality cow or goat kefir made from real kefir grains. I can taste and feel the difference.
Other downsides of store-bought Kefir
You have to be careful about the other brands because they might add regular milk after the fermentation process or they will label an item as being, “pomegranate flavored,” while containing no actual pomegranate.
If you must, buy unsweetened.
Drinking something that contains added sugars is almost never a good thing or there are far better natural alternatives that could nourish the system as well.
Unsweetened dairy is the key if you are going to succeed in the dairy route. Sugary dairy can cause a metabolic disaster. If you are going to sweeten your dairy, perhaps go with honey, berries, or other natural ways.
Fermenting your own Kefir grains at-home can be easy, require little effort, and be cost effective.
Kefir is a great way to consume high quality protein, fats, carbs, minerals, enzymes, probiotics, antioxidants, and other beneficial living organisms.
Basically, Kefir has a ton of benefits for a person who wants to improve digestion and eliminate regularly.
If you are a person who has generally tolerated milk in the past, then going on kefir will be easier. However, if you are a person who has not tolerated milk, then going on kefir may need to be a more gradual process.
I have heard of people drinking kefir and then finally being able to enjoy ice cream and dairy again. They claimed, “Kefir healed and cured my lactose intolerance.” It wouldn’t surprise me.
Before we go any further, I want to make a quick list of some benefits of Kefir and then we’ll continue the guide.
7 Benefits of Kefir:
Cholesterol Metabolism and ACE Inhibition
- “Kefir grains are capable of reducing the cholesterol levels of milk through the fermentation process and have been shown to reduce the levels of cholesterol present by between 41 and 84% after 24 h fermentation and a further 48 h of storage.”
Effects on the Host Gut and Gut Microbiome
- “Inhibits the adherence of Salmonella typhimurium and Escherichia coli.”
- Kefir promotes changes in gene expression shown to be extremely important for the modulation of the host inflammatory response.
- Kefir is able to modulate the immune system in the gut. The immunomodulatory abilities of kefir go far beyond the gastrointestinal tract, likely throughout the entire body.
- “The result was a shift from a Th1 immune response to a Th2 response as well as increases in the levels of IgA present.”
- Immunoglobulin A (IgA) is the most abundant type of antibody in the body. It secretes immunogloblulins while promoting circulation of immunoglobulins. IgA has a protective effect for the mucosal tissues against microbial invasions and also supports immune homeostasis.
- Kefir supports the balance of Th1/Th2 cell ratio which is important because that is one of the mechanisms involved in food allergy.
Health Benefits of Yeast in Kefir
- Some yeasts from kefir act as immunomodulators capable of decreasing the inflammatory signals.
- Yeasts from kefir also act synergistically to improve the probiotic properties of bacterial species and co-aggregation makes their effects stronger.
Kefiran and the Cell Free Fraction of Kefir
- Most people are unaware of Kefiran because it is undetectable in commercially produced Kefir.
- Kefiran is hard to describe, but the presence of kefirans typically means that your kefir is happy and healthy. The kefiran is formed in stringy strands that hang out with the grains and are somewhat gooey.
- Kefiran alone is a remarkable immune booster and is even more powerful as a synergist with kefir probiotics.
But Dre, how does that help me poop better?
It helps because of the ways in which bacteria stick to your gut and how kefir can help you grow your own healthy bacteria while kicking out bad bacteria and bad yeasts like candida.
Kefir accomplishes many goals from a nutritional perspective. Aside from the amazing, gut/body-building amino acids found in Kefir, there are so many diverse living forms that for some reason are very compatible with the human biome. Kefir makes milk a food for babies and transforms it into one of the most nourishing gifts available to humanity.
Kefir helps you poop out the bad bacteria and helps to kill and poop out the mycotoxins and yeasts.
Super Simple Kefir Guide
Don’t let the process of fermenting kefir grains intimidate you.
It is actually way easier than kombucha.
Let’s transform milk from a dud to a tonic.
1. Acquire Kefir Grains
You can acquire kefir grains from Facebook groups, various kefir websites, from Amazon.com, or from natural health stores and co-ops. E-bay also has lots of kefir.
I always recommend these Kefir grains from Amazon.com. Make sure to get the larger size as it will make the starting process way easier and theoretically you’ll never have to buy grains again since the grains grow and replicate naturally from milk fermentation.
2. Acquire Kefir Fermentation Tools
Quick tip: Avoid metal and anything metal. Kefir prefers to stay away from metal. Use plastics, glass, mesh, etc.
Your fermentation container could be a bowl or it could be a fermentation bottle.
It is a good idea to let the kefir have air supply.
3. Once kefir arrives, place it in container with milk immediately.
The kefir needs milk in order to be happy and grow all of its beneficial probiotics and yeasts for you. Preferably, give it raw goat milk as I believe it to be the highest quality in my life. Obviously, most people don’t have access to this.
Does the quality of the milk matter with kefir fermentation? Yes, of course.
The better quality and the fresher the milk, the better quality and fresher the kefir. Ideally, stick unprocessed or minimally processed milk. Whole fat, non-homogenized, grass-fed, organic, and unpasteurized are best, but I recognize there are limitations.
1 Tablespoon of kefir grains per 4-6 ounces of milk.
4. Keep kefir in room temperature, with a breathable cover for 24 hours.
The amount of time varies based on the quantity and activity of the kefir grains as well as the type of milk and the room temperature. Fresh, full fat milk tends to ferment faster in my experience. Warmer temperature accelerates the process.
5. Make sure to stir, shake, or agitate the kefir regularly.
It’s good enough to stir the kefir with a wooden spoon even just once during the 24 hour fermentation window. If you have the kefir in a container with a lid, then you can just shake it around a little bit. This is good because it gives the kefir grains access to different parts of the food and it makes sure that the top part doesn’t grow kinda funky.
The easiest way to avoid the top part growing funky is by making sure it doesn’t sit too long. If it is sitting still for 48+ hours, that is not good. You need to repeat the process daily, so at least it isn’t hard to do.
6. Once the kefir has reached optimal fermentation, strain the kefir using a non-metal straining method.
Strain the kefir into a new bowl. Now that you have separated the grains from the liquid, you officially have your kefir drink.
Your options are as follows: a) drink it now, b) put it in the refrigerator and save for later, or c) double-ferment by leaving just this grain-free liquid out in room temperature for another 24 hours.
You can get benefits from kefir doing it any of these ways. Experimentation is best.
7. Put Kefir back in your fermentation container, add new milk and repeat the process.
After a few times, you will need to add more milk because your grains will have multiplied. The benefit of having more grains is that you can ferment smaller amounts of milk much faster in case you only have 12-18 hours before you wanted your next batch.
I hope this helps your digestion and elimination along with other things that may be bothering you.
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Kefir can help you, but LISTEN to your body.
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