Saturday, August 23, 2014

KEFIR - What Is It and What's All the Big Fuss?

I hadn't heard much about Kefir before, but, a common thread in my life has always been "feast or famine" - one day I'd never heard of it and the next I'm completely bombarded, and so it was with Kefir. I had heard the word Kefir in passing but never paid it any mind, until one day someone asked if I made Kefir.  MADE Kefir? It's something I can MAKE? Challenge accepted.

Before I begin any new venture I tend to ponder it for awhile. It's almost an intimidation factor - beginning something new.  When I first learned about scrapbooking I was completely intrigued and immediately spend hundreds of dollars on supplies. I thought about it for 6 months before I ever touched a photo and created my first page.  As I considered getting started with Kefir, another friend approached me, excited about this new "wonder food product" he had heard great things about, and the day after I ordered Kefir "grains" on line to begin this venture, my friend Ehab, who owns our local health food store, called to offer me a Kefir culture since he had an abundance. Feast.

Here's what I've learned about Kefir:

Kefir, pronounced Key-fur, comes from the Turkish word, Keif, which is translated "Good Feeling".
At present, it is considered one of the most potent probiotic foods available.
Ok, what exactly is "Probiotic"?

Probiotics (from pro and biota - meaning "for life" ) are consumed, live organisms that are similar to the beneficial microorganisms found in your digestive tract, gastrointestinal tract, GI, or "gut". Your gut is made up of seven key organs: the gall bladder, large intestine, liver, pancreas, esophagus, small intestine and stomach.  
This "good bacteria" improves intestinal function and builds and maintains a strong immune system. Recent studies of Probiotics are indicating effective results for treating a myriad of illnesses such as: ulcerative colitis, childhood diarrhea, immune system dysfunctions, and the treatment of Crohn's Disease, to name a few.

Yogurt, a more recognized probiotic, has long been known to help restore the balance of "friendly bacteria" to your system, but now Kefir is on the scene and is reported to be a much more potent source.  According to, whereas yogurt contains bacteria to keep the digestive system clean and feed the "friendly bacteria" that live there, Kefir creates ideal conditions to colonize 'friendly bacteria" in the digestive tract.

Kefir is a creamy, tart, slightly carbonated, fermented milk product that is loaded  with easily digestible   vitamins, minerals and complete proteins. It contains essential amino acids that help the body with healing and maintenance functions.  It is rich in vitamin B12, thiamine, calcium and vitamin K.  It also has high levels of biotin, a B vitamin that helps the body assimilate all other B vitamins, which regulate the kidneys, liver and nervous system.

Some of the reported health benefits I found for Kefir include:

* Eliminates constipation
* Heals ulcers
* Aids digestion
* Reduces or eliminates cold and flu illnesses
* Calms nerves
* Helps sleep disorders
* Builds a healthy immune system
* Boosts energy
* Heals skin disorders
* Reduces or eliminates allergies
* Lowers cholesterol
* Treats respiratory diseases such as asthma

Kefir is also being studied for it's healing properties in people suffering with AIDS, depression, chronic fatigue syndrome, ADHD, herpes and cancer.

Kefir can be made from any type of milk: cow, goat, sheep, coconut rice or soy and is quite easy to make.

I have to admit, this new flavor was a bit unusual for me but by day two I was enjoying my daily glass of Kefir immensely, especially in light of all it's healing, soothing qualities.  Another edible option for consumption is smoothies. Given it's smooth, creamy texture, Kefir would be delicious blended with fruit. It can also be made into cheese!

Next blog - How To Make Kefir. Stay tuned

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