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Kefir – 5 reasons why you should eat it

KefirKefir is a fermented yoghurt-like drink that is incredibly beneficial for your digestion and gut health. Even better, you can make your own kefir and discover for yourself how much better you feel when adding kefir to your breakfast and smoothies.

The word kefir is derived from the Turkish word keyif, which means “feeling good” after its ingestion. The kefir beverage is originally from Eastern Europe, Russia and Southwest Asia. Making kefir is as simple as adding kefir grains or culture to milk or milk alternatives. The actual grains contain strains of beneficial yeast and bacteria in a symbiotic relationship.

Here are 5 health benefits of kefir:

1. Kefir improves digestion and weight management

The beneficial bacteria and yeast combination, also known as probiotic, help restore the balance of friendly bacteria in the gut and can influence health in numerous ways, including digestion and weight management.

Yogurt is a well known probiotic food in our diets. Kefir is actually a much more potent source and contains up to 30 different strains of bacteria.

2. Kefir has anti-bacterial benefits

Some strains of probiotics found in kefir inhibit the growth of various harmful bacteria, which means they help protect against infections including SalmonellaHelicobacter Pylori and E. coli.

3. Kefir keeps your bones strong and healthy

Adequate calcium intake is one of the most effective ways to improve bone health, and slow the progress of osteoporosis. Regular consumption of kefir made from full-fat dairy is not only a great source of calcium, but also vitamin K2. This nutrient plays a central role in calcium metabolism, and supplementing with it has been shown to reduce the risk of fractures.

4. Lactose intolerant? Kefir is generally well tolerated

Lactose intolerant people are unable to break down and digest lactose properly. The traditional process of milk fermentation breaks down lactose and predigests casein. The end product contains lower lactose and casein levels and is usually well tolerated.

Also keep in mind that it is possible to make kefir that is 100% lactose free, by using coconut water, fruit juice or some other non-dairy fluid.

5. Making your own kefir is a win/win

Making your own kefir is simple, allows you to control all the ingredients and makes a contribution to reducing waste.

To make kefir, obtain some kefir grains that can be sourced locally or online. Personally, I have been using kefir culture in sachets available from health food shops. Stir contents of 1 sachet into 1 litre of milk, leave for 24 – 36 hours at 20°C or until kefir starts to settle, then place in fridge for 12 hours.

Kefir is ready to drink when it has a smooth consistency, similar to thin yoghurt. Collect half a glass of kefir – this can be used for a subsequent inoculation of 1 litre of milk. Repeat up to 3 times.

Kefir tastes delicious with muesli, smoothies or add a pinch of salt to add zest to the flavour.

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