collage with milk kefir, water kefir and their grains

I seem to be on a bit of a probiotic drink roll here. First the kombucha, now kefir. If you are not familiar with this cultured milk product, let me introduce you to one of the most probiotic and nutrient rich foods. The consistency of the kefir beverage is somewhere between milk and drinking yogurt, thicker than the former and thinner than the latter. Taste wise, it is more on the tart side than either, plus it is ever so slightly effervescent. Some people describe this as having a ‘zip.’

Like kombucha, kefir is an ancient heirloom food. It originates in the Caucasian mountains where it was passed from generation to generation. It is made from kefir ‘grains’ that resemble tiny cauliflower florets that multiply when fed with milk. As long as you keep the grains in good shape, they will continue to multiply indefinitely. You can also get water kefir which is fed with sugar water, fruit juice or coconut water for a non-dairy alternative. The kefir grains digest the sugar in whatever form you supply it and in the case of milk (goat, cow or sheep) completely break down the lactose in the fermentation process – so even if you are lactose intolerant, you should be able to drink it.

Whilst yogurt contains beneficial bacteria that help nourish the good bacteria already present in the gut, these strains are transient. Kefir is actually better because besides having a greater variety of bacteria than yogurt, it also contains beneficial yeasts. Additionally, the bacteria colonise the gut instead of just passing through. Kefir is full of minerals, like calcium and phosphorous, protein, B vitamins and essential amino acids, including tryptophan. Tryptophan is the feel good factor often associated with eating turkey which promotes relaxation and better sleep.