Kefir- The Champagne of the probiotic world
by Zoya Hett
What is it?
Kefir (Kee-fer) it is a fermented milk or water drink that originated in the Caucasus Mountains thousands of years ago. This drink was originally made from goats milk and has been enjoyed commercially for a long time in Europe as a healthy elixir for its many claimed health benefits. Now, it has found its way to Australia and can be found flavoured and made from cow’s milk, coconut milk, water and coconut water. This ancient drink is a potent probiotic, that is gaining a large fan base, so I decided to unpack the science to see if this fermented drink is worth a go.
Why is it good?
It is a unique cocktail of probiotics
Kefir has been called the “Champagne of the probiotic world” because it contains many more bacteria and yeasts than other fermented foods, giving it quite the probiotic punch. Probiotics are the good kind of bacteria that happily live in our guts that offer numerous health benefits such as making key nutrients, aiding in digestion and boosting our immune system.
It may reduce bloating and improve digestion
With its impressive probiotic profile, regular consumption of kefir may alleviate tummy issues such as diarrhoea, constipation, reduce flatulent and help restore your digestive system to normal after taking antibiotics.
It may improve lactose intolerance
Research is still in the early days, with one study showing that kefir made from cow’s milk had a dramatic reduction of symptoms in their lactose intolerance symptoms. Reducing flatulence and cramps by up to 50%. The mechanism isn’t quite that well understood, but it is believed to be due to the healthy bacteria that are in the fermented milk drink that are able to break down lactose as well as feeding the bacteria that is already in your gut.
However, if dairy is really not your thing, there are also lactose free alternatives available made with coconut milk or water.
The bottom line
Kefir is a potent probiotic drink and we are just scratching the surface to its potential health benefits!
How can I drink it?
Kefir has a tangy and almost carbonated flavour, with a texture that is thicker than milk. Although, Kefir may sound very foreign to some it can be used just like a yoghurt: You can add it to smoothies, on top of muesli or even use it in baking or just drink it straight up. The water varieties are best consumed as a beverage, straight up and chilled.
Kefir Berry Smoothie (Serves 2)
1 cup Kefir (any type that you like)
1/2 cup frozen berries
A little honey, maple syrup or stevia
Place in a blender and blend on high for 30-45 seconds or until smooth.
Looking to make entertaining easier for you? You may like to try some of the tasty gluten free, dairy free and sugar free recipes from...
Hertzler SR, Clancy SM. Kefir improves lactose digestion and tolerance in adults with lactose maldigestion. J Am Diet Assoc 2003; 103(5):582-7.
Guzel-Seydim ZB, Kok-Tas T, Greene AK, Seydim AC. Review: functional properties of kefir. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr 2011; 51(3):261-8.