As I work to become more deliberate in my family's food choices, I was graciously gifted with some grains of kefir.
I can only suppose that's what one should say when handed a jar of warm milk with clumps in it. If I dare open it, I envision wafts of sour milk filling the air and my company falling to the ground. So I don't. Instead, I kindly place it on my counter and try to move on to more pleasant things.
Like many, I've heard of kefir but was not intimate with it. Kefir is so foreign to 21st century Americans that we can't conceive the notion of intentionally growing bacteria on our kitchen counters, much less consuming it. For us, our dairy products come from a far away land where the cows frolic in flower fields and delicious dairy products are magically made by elves. That's totally normal, right?
Well, I was assured by the gifter that was not how it was done. The jar I was looking at was how it was done - with colonies of bacteria and yeast growing inside warm milk. Dream crusher.
I was also informed that this jar held the nectar of the gods and that its healing powers are otherworldly. Kefir translates to "good feeling" and was aptly named by the gods who bestowed it upon the humans as a gift of good heath.
So, if it's similar to yogurt, why not just stick with the yogurt you've come to know and love? Because kefir packs way more of a health punch than yogurt. While yogurt only "feeds" the good bacteria currently residing in our system, kefir is the good bacteria. As it's consumed, it colonizes within our digestive tract and reduces the colonies of bad bacteria. This difference is crucial in maintaining a balance of good vs. bad. And with 35 different strains of good yeasts and bacteria, kefir's benefits tower over yogurt's mere 5 strains.
Other facts I've found are:
- Kefir's pro-biotics boost the immune system.
- 80% of our immune system is located within our digestive tract and is dependent on good bacteria to maintain its health.
- Kefir has anti-tumor properties.
- Kefir is known for its ability to control toxins in our system.
- Kefir increases digestibility and is a proven treatment for digestive issues.
- Kefir is rich in protein as well as vitamins A, B2, B12, D, K, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, + tryptophan. All sorts of goodness there.
If you're like me, a product of 21st century commercialism, it might be difficult at first to wrap your head around growing colonies of bacteria and yeast in your home. But if you think of it as you would bread yeast, the idea becomes less foreign. If you're ready to give it a try, next week I'll show you how to maintain kefir and my recipe for a kefir smoothie.