Kefir Probiotics Drink: If you are new to this amazing, healthy culture and wondering just what is kefir – then you are in for a treat.
Here you can learn all about kefir health benefits, including how to make kefir and how to use it, along with some great kefir recipes for your insides and your outsides!
Kefir is basically a type of “drinking yogurt” but with much more in the way of beneficial organisms to the human body. It can be used to ferment a range of milks, from dairy to soy to increase the nutrients and digestibility.
Kefir grains can also be used to make yummy Kefir cheeses that are quick to make and even faster to eat!
Kefir is one of the easiest ways to improve your health at very little cost. It can taste incredible and the results are usually seen in your body within a very short space of time. It is simple to make, no rocket science here! It can also be made in different ways that alter both the taste and texture – to suit all palates.
Food for thought!
Like most fermented foods, kefir is a great way to help achieve a healthy digestive system. Regular consumption of correctly prepared cultured foods such as sauerkraut and other cultured vegetables, any cultured dairy products such as yogurt, sour cream and butter, and also ferments like kombucha – will replenish and maintain healthy bacteria in the digestive tract.
They do this by supplying masses of friendly microflora directly into the gut. Once they are populated in the gut, these beneficial probiotic microbes get to work quickly. They extract and retain many valuable vitamins and minerals for our body’s use. They help to keep our blood alkaline, along with numerous other health benefits.
Personally, I have been making and using Kefir since about 1992 – long before it every became “hip”, and I would not ever be with out it.
I think I have experimented in just about every way possible with this great little culture. And of course I will be sharing what I have learned here.
Please, browse around to get a feel for what you can do with this amazing culture. Here, you can learn all about kefir. I have instructions on how to make kefir at home, free milk kefir and water kefir recipes.
What Is Kefir?
The short answer to “what is kefir” is that it is a living symbiosis of a family of friendly bacteria and yeasts that form a clumpy structure which look a lot like pieces of a cauliflower florets.
This is the kefir grains. They usually they measure around 1–3 cm in length, they are lobed and irregularly shaped. The grains are white to yellow-white in colour and have a slimy but firm texture.
These living organisms, which are usually referred to as a “culture”, ferment milk into a Kefir cultured food product.
Dictionary.com defines kefir as “a tart-tasting drink originally of the Caucasus, made from cow’s or sometimes goat’s milk to which the bacteria Streptococcus and Lactobacillus have been added.”
There are at least three different varieties of kefir cultures, the best known being milk kefir and water kefir – which is also known as Tibi or Tibios. For more information about Water Kefir go this page: What is Water Kefir.
What Is Milk Kefir?
The most common use for kefir is a milky drink, although it can be made to produce different consistencies, even cheeses, and also different textures – depending on how it is made.
The milk kefir drink is very much like yoghurt, but a lot more liquid, again depending on the method used to make it. Milk kefir is made by placing the kefir grains, which are a culture of a unique family of microorganisms – into milk.
The combination of these microscopic organisms living harmoniously together forms a kind of gelatinous granule. When these granules are placed into milk they grow rapidly, multiplying billions of milk fermenting lactic acid bacteria and yeasts, while transforming the milk into an extremely healthful food in the process.
These microbes change the lactose in milk into lactic acid and milk coagulates. The transformation of the milk prevents it from going bad – but in a natural way. It also preserves the excellent nutrients in the milk, in a way that the human body can easily assimilate and benefit from.
The chemical changes in the milk caused by the actions of the friendly Kefir microbes make the final kefir drink much easier to digest. It therefore allows a heightened assimilation of the nutrients present in the milk. The transformation of lactose into lactic aid means that a larger proportion of people can digest milk kefir with ease. This even includes those people who are lactose intolerant.
Kefir contains kefiran – which are unique polysaccharides or long chain sugars. Many people believe kefiran is responsible for some of the fantastic kefir health benefits. Wikipedia says: “Kefiran has been shown to exhibit certain medicinal qualities, and it contributes to the organoleptic (mouthfeel) qualities of kefir. Bacteria that produce kefiran have been identified as Lactobacillus kefiranofaciens and Lactobacillus delbrueckii subsp. bulgaricus.”
Some of the benefits of this fermented food is that it is high in calcium, has plentiful vitamins and is rich in amino acids from the whey in the kefir. The billions of food digesting, gut friendly bacteria, deserves a much greater appreciation here in the western world – where our overly rich but nutrient poor diet is killing us in increasing numbers.
What Is Kefir Grains?
Kefir grains are the culture that is used to change milk into a fermented product. They range in size from extremely small to very big. Some I have grown have almost covered my whole hand, although they remained quite flattish.
In appearance, kefir grains look a lot like cauliflower heads. But of course they are not hard, they are soft, spongy and quite slippery when healthy.
Kefir grains are kept healthy and viable by transferring them into fresh milk and letting them to grow in it for around 20 hours, depending on the heat of the room. During this time, the kefir grains should have in increased in mass by around 25%. The culture needs to replicate in this way to retain viability.
What Is Kefir Cheese?
A range of scrumptious, natural cheeses can be made using the kefir grains. They are quick to make in comparison to ordinary cheeses. My favorite is often referred to as “Quark”. For some more information and also kefir cheese recipes, have a look at my page on how to make kefir cheese.
What Is Kefir Whey?
Kefir whey is the liquid part of the fermented milk. When the kefir milk is ready, the grains will congregate at the top of the container, along with the solids – and the whey will settle to the bottom of the jar. Kefir whey is a clear, yellowish tinged and rather bitter liquid. It is very good for you, and normally is just stirred or shaken back into the milky part of the kefir.
Depending on how long you ferment your kefir, you may not even leave it long enough to see any whey. I remember going to a kefir course about 10 years ago, and the instructor was stunned to hear that kefir produces whey! I don’t know how long he had been making kefir, or what was wrong with his grains for him not to know that. It is a very basic part of the process. Maybe his family gobbled up their kefir before it ever had a chance to separate.
What Is Kefir Supposed To Taste Like?
Kefir should have a slightly sour taste but should never taste “off” or bad in any way. If it does taste wrong, then you should throw the batch out (or preferably compost it) and start a new one, just in case some nasty bugs have somehow gotten into it. If you visit my how to make kefir page, you will see that there are actually different ways of making it.
The typical way most people make their kefir produces a slightly gritty, tart tasting drink. But, there is another way to make kefir that produces a much more creamy, smooth and less bitter drink. This is the process I usually use as it is much more pleasant to drink straight. It is also a lot easier, faster and cleaner than the standard process.
Legends About Kefir:
Like many things whose actual origins are lost in the mists of time, kefir has a few legends surrounding it. One is that kefir was a gift from the Gods to the people of Turkey – where it is believed Noah’s Ark was discovered.
The Gods instructed the Turkish people that they were never to reveal the secret of how kefir was made. However, as the legend goes, the Russians heard about kefir’s amazing healing and rejuvenative properties, and tricked the Turks into revealing the recipe to them.
Even in our current day, Russian school children drink a glass of fresh kefir every day, compliments of their government.
Questions on What Is Kefir?
Got any questions on what is kefir? Keep reading and please comment below in the comments section below and I will do my best to keep up with replies. If you already make your own kefir, I would love for you to share your experiences and knowledge too!
Health Benefits Of Kefir:
We know that our human bodies respond better to some foods much more than others. That is where the benefits of kefir come into the picture. Wholesome food will make us feel sluggish and dragged down in the short term. Other foods will have serious health impact in the long term.
But there are certain foods that act like medicines, others are believed and proven to cure disease and others work best when eaten regularly to nourish and sustain a healthy intestinal environment.
Kefir is one such food, a cultured milk drink that has been consumed regularly by some peoples for many thousands of years. Kefir provides the human body with a multitude of health benefits but of greatest importance perhaps is the balance and harmony that regular consumption of kefir promotes within the intestinal tract.
It is a fact the highest proportion of hospital admissions in the western world are a direct result of problems concerning the digestive system. Benefits of kefir are normally felt quickly in this area, as any unfriendly bacteria get overrun by the kefir friendly bacteria.
In this system that stretches from our mouths to our anus, up to 400 different species of bacteria and billions of microscopic life forms live.
These are bacteria that have co-existed with mankind for eons, and they perform an absolutely vital role in the long term health and well being of their unknowing host.
These are referred to as “friendly bacteria” and while playing their individual beneficial roles – they can greatly enhance the nutritional value of the food we eat. Daily consumption of kefir and other cultured foods will nurture the environment in all throughout the digestive tract, both adding to and sustaining those friendly bacteria already there.
The Health Benefits Of Kefir:
While kefir is only one among many beneficial cultured food products, scientific evidence collected by I.V. Kasienenko of the USSR shows that the benefits of kefir greatly surpass any other fermented milk products, including acidophilus milk products – with heighten stomach secretions and higher nutritional content of B vitamins and other essential substances.
Friendly Bacteria Benefits:
- Here has been a whole heap of research into the benefits of friendly bacteria on human health. Some of these results are listed here.
- Manufacture B vitamins such as biotin, niacin (B3), pyridoxin (B6) and folic acid.
- Enhance the digestion of milk based foods, including the vital calcium they contain, for people who cannot otherwise digest milk products.
- Produce the enzyme lactase and therefore “pre-digest” the protein of milk, thus enhancing protein digestion and absorption.
- Posses anti-tumour potentials and act as anti-carcenogenic (anti-cancer) factors.
- Reduce symptoms of anxiety.
- Control the proliferation of unfriendly micro-organisms by altering the acidity of the region they inhabit, by producing specific antibiotic substances and by depriving rival, unfriendly bacteria of nutrients.
- May control the growth of harmful yeasts such as Candida Albicans.
- Help to enhance and regulate bowel function.
- Help to control high cholesterol levels, thus protecting from cardiovascular damage.
- Claimed to help control facial acne in 80% of adolescents with acne.
- Play an important and vital role in the development of a healthy digestive tract in babies.
- Protect against the negative effects of radiation and toxic pollutants.
- Enhance immune function.
People have used kefir health benefits for problems including eczema, psoriasis, thrush, migraine, allergies, gout, rheumatic and arthritic conditions, cancer, skin complaints, cystitis and many bowel problems including colitis and irritable bowel syndrome.
Health benefit and therapeutic effects of probiotics
There are a variety of proposed beneficial health effects of probiotics; only a few have significant research to back up the claims and will be discussed in this paper. Clinical symptoms that have been reportedly treated or have the potential to be treated with probiotics include diarrhoea, gastroenteritis, irritable bowel syndrome, and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD; Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis), cancer, depressed immune function, inadequate lactase digestion, infant allergies, failure-to-thrive, hyperlipidaemia, hepatic diseases, Helicobacter pylori infections, and others. The use of probiotics should be further investigated for its possible benefits and its side-effects if any (Bengmark 2000; Benchimol and Mack 2004; Brown and Valiere 2004). read more …
Benefits Of Kefir For Acne & Skin:
Kefir is an excellent product to use on your skin. The friendly bacteria help to combat any nasty bacteria keeping your skin clear and glowing. Kefir offers great benefits for acne. You can make a range of kefir skin care products at home. And will feel great knowing that you will only be using natural ingredients on the largest organ of your body. Check out my recipes here for kefir skin care recipes.
All in all, the benefits of kefir are wide ranging, and it is such an easy food to add into your life style. If you are not already, then consider getting yourself some kefir grains and making your own healthy friendly bacteria drink. And you too will be reaping the rewards of kefir consumption very soon.
Where To Get Kefir Culture:
Where do you get kefir grains, you ask? There are a number of ways to get your own kefir grains. Maybe you have a friend or family member who makes kefir. The grains multiply very quickly when they are healthy. For example, milk kefir grains normally increase in amount about 20% with each batch. So, any home kefir maker will often have some spare culture available to give away or to sell. Ask around or just keep your ears out.
Where To Buy Kefir:
You can buy the kefir drink in a number of shops and also online. You can google for the nearest place to your home that stocks the kefir drink.
However, you should consider making kefir at home yourself! This will give you a much healthier, fresher product. And the cost of making your own kefir is negligible, being just the price of the milk (or sugar if making water kefir). The cost of the kefir grains that you will need to start with is also negligible. Kefir grains are available online at amazon – see below:
Buy Kefir Grains Here:
Milk Kefir Recipes:
Here I will be publishing a wide range of kefir recipes, covering everything from kefir drinks and breakfasts, desserts and treats and even some beautiful skin care products.
Below are the links to different sections of my website for specific recipes using kefir … and more to be added soon …
- Cultured Foods
- Storing Kefir Grains
- Kefir and Yeast Facial Exfoliator
- How To Make Kefir Cheese
- How to Use Kefir for Skin Care
- Kefir Probiotics Drink
- What Is Sourdough?