All You Need To Know: Kefir
How on earth is it the end of October already? With the fast approaching Halloween-festivities, I guess the go-to story this week would have been a halloween-themed sweet treat, but in all honesty we still thought we were in September. And as much as we love orange coloured bliss balls or bat-shaped cookies, our kefir obsession is slightly over-riding it right now. Bursting onto the scene amidst the probiotic/gut health frenzy that has recently hit the capital, it's gearing up to be kombucha's creamy competitor. We talk with our naturopath to get the lowdown:
WHAT IS KEFIR?
Always a great place to start: kefir is a fermented drink made from kefir grains. Although relatively new onto the health scene, it's far from a recent revolution, dating back centuries to the shepherds of the Causcaus Mountains, and traditionally popular across Eastern Europe and Russia. It comes in two different forms: water kefir or milk kefir, differentiated by the type of grains used to make them and what it's mixed with. Milk kefir grains are white or cream coloured, look relatively similar to cauliflower florets and are mixed with milk, typically. Water kefir grains on the other hand are small and transparent and look more like crystals, usually mixed with sweetened waters.
HOW DOES IT WORK?
These grains are living cultures - a complex structure of more than 30 types of yeast and bacteria (also know as microflora). When mixed with water or milk and left in an air-tight container, the grains ferment the liquid and grow and multiply, creating a larger culture. As well as creating a wealth of gut-loving properties in the drink, they also extend the shelf-life, destroying any bacteria that may otherwise affect the milk.
WHY IS IT GOOD FOR ME?
With a seriously impressive list of bacterias and yeasts, kefir, whether is be water or milk based, is basically a one stop shop to a happy gut, amongst other benefits:
Cleansing: Packed with probiotics, kefir can help to stem the growth of harmful bacteria in the digestive tract and help the good guys to grow and multiply in the process.
Relaxing: Tyrptophan, an amino acid responsible for relaxing the nervous system can be found in kefir - ideal for helping to promote a relaxed and calm mood.
Stress Relieving: A good source of B1 (also known as thiamine), this can help your body to withstand everyday stresses by keeping your nervous system healthy, ensuring a healthy mental state.
Immune Boosting: Kefir is a great source of other B vitamins too, as well as biotin which helps your body to use the B vitamins - both essential for a healthy, functioning immune system.
WHERE CAN I GET IT?
Great question. Luckily, since the rise of gut-health in London, it's pretty much a staple across all health shops, whether they be independent or chains. Away from those, you can always pick up the traditional stuff in continental/Eastern European shops, but they tend not to be organic milk, nor the highest quality. Also, due to certain rules and regulations about what can be sold in the UK, the best raw un-pasturised milk kefirs tend to only be available at farmers market stalls. Luckily high quality dairy-free milk kefirs and water kefirs are available in abundance though:
Our favourite dairy free kefir: Rhythm Health 'The Life Shot 50'
Our favourite water kefir: Pure Earth 'Turmeric Probiotic Tonic'
Our favourite market stall: Hook & Son