What is Kefir?
Kefir's vinegary and refreshing flavor is similar to a drinking - style yogurt, but it contains beneficial yeast as well as friendly 'probiotic' bacteria found in yogurt.
The naturally occurring bacteria and yeast in kefir combine symbiotically to give excellent health benefits when consumed regularly.
How is Kefir Made?
Kefir is made from gelatinous white or yellow particles called "grains". These grains contain the bacteria/yeast mixture clumped together with casein (milk proteins) and complex sugars. They look like pieces of coral or small clumps of cauliflower and range from the size of a grain of wheat to that of a hazelnut. Sometimes grains can grow in large flat sheets that can be big enough to cover your hand!. The grains ferment the milk, incorporating their friendly organisms to create the cultured product. The grains are then removed with a strainer before consumption of the kefir and added to a new batch of milk. Any type of milk can be used to prepare kefir: cow, goat or sheep, coconut, rice or soy.
Nutritional Content of Kefir
In addition to beneficial bacteria and yeast, kefir contains minerals and essential amino acids that help the body with healing and maintenance functions. The complete proteins in kefir are partially digested and therefore more easily utilized by the body. Tryptophan which is one of the essential amino acids abundant in kefir, is well known for its relaxing effect on the nervous system as well as an abundance of calcium and magnesium which are important for healthy nervous system. In that point of view, kefir in diet can have a particularly profound calming effect on the nerves.
Kefir's ample supply of phosphorus, the second most abundant mineral in our bodies, helps utilize carbohydrates, fats, and proteins for cell growth, maintenance and energy.
Kefir is rich in Vitamin B12, B1, and Vitamin K. It is an excellent source of biotin, a B Vitamin which aids the body's assimilation of other B Vitamins, such as folic acid, pantothenic acid, and B12. The numerous benefits of maintaining adequate B vitamin intake range from regulation of the kidneys, liver and nervous system to helping relieve skin disorders, boost energy and promote longevity.
Kefir versus Yogurt
Both kefir and yogurt are cultured milk products, but they contain different types of beneficial bacteria. Yogurt contains transient beneficial bacteria that keep the digestive system clean and provide food for the friendly bacteria that reside there. But kefir can actually colonize the intestinal tract, a feat that yogurt cannot match.
Kefir contains several major strains of friendly bacteria not commonly found in yogurt, Lactobacillus Caucasus, Leuconostoc, Acetobacter species, and Streptococcus species.
It also contains beneficial yeasts, such as Saccharomyces kefir and Torula kefir, which dominate, control and eliminate destructive pathogenic yeasts in the body. They do so by penetrating the mucosal lining where unhealthy yeast and bacteria reside, forming a virtual SWAT team that housecleans and strengthens the intestines. Hence, the body becomes more efficient in resisting such pathogens as E. coli and intestinal parasites.
Kefir's active yeast and bacteria provide more nutritive value than yogurt by helping digest the foods that you eat and by keeping the colon environment clean and healthy. Because the curd size of kefir is smaller than yogurt, it is also easier to digest, which makes it a particularly excellent, nutritious food for babies, the elderly and people experiencing chronic fatigue and digestive disorders.
Kefir Health Benefits
The regular use of kefir can help relieve all intestinal disorders, reduce flatulence, promote bowel movement and create a healthier digestive system. In addition, its cleansing effect on the whole body helps to establish a balanced inner ecosystem for optimum health and longevity.
Easily digested, it provides beneficial bacteria and yeast, cleanses the intestines, vitamins and minerals, and complete proteins. Because kefir is such a balanced and nourishing food, it contributes to a healthy immune system and has been used to help patients suffering from AIDS, chronic fatigue syndrome, herpes, and cancer. Its tranquilizing effect on the nervous system has benefited many who suffer from sleep disorders, depression, and ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder).
Kefir can also help eliminate unhealthy food cravings by making the body more nourished and balanced. Its excellent nutritional content offers healing and health-maintenance benefits to people in every type of condition.
Avocado Kefir Dressing