Kefir; your daily probiotic

In our article titled “You’re Only 10% Human“, we discussed the relationship between you, your Microbiome and your health.  In short, humans have a commensal relationship with a complex community of Microbes that comprise 90% of the genetic material in your body.  While study on this relationship remains in its infancy, evidence suggests that our immune system is aided by the Microbes in our bodies and that a wide variety of ailments throughout the body may be caused by imbalances between good Microbes (or Probiotics) and bad (or Pathogenic) Microbes (to oversimplify a challenging topic).

You can reinforce you’re body’s good bacteria by ingesting foods rich in Probiotics.  This article titled “Top 10 Probiotic Foods to Add to Your Diet” provides a view on the healthiest probiotic foods you can eat.   One of the most powerful is Kefir.

Kefir is a cultured, enzyme-rich food filled with friendly Microbes.  More nutritious and therapeutic than yogurt, it supplies complete protein, essential minerals and valuable B vitamins.  This website is all about Kefir if you want to read more.

The beverage Kefir is made using “Kefir Grains”.  There are two types of Kefir Grains:

  • Milk Kefir Grains, also referred to as búlgaros, are a combination of lactic acid, bacteria and yeasts in a matrix of proteins, lipids and sugars.  This symbiotic matrix (or SCOBY) forms “grains” that resemble cauliflower; and
  • Water Kefir Grains, also referred to as Tibicos tibi, sugar kefir grains, Japanese water crystals and California bees, are a polysaccharide biofilm matrix created by bacteria.

The Microbes present in the Kefir Grains (both kinds) act in symbiosis to maintain a stable culture.  They can do this in many different sugary liquids, feeding off the sugar to produce lactic acid, alcohol (ethanol) and carbon dioxide gas, which carbonates the drink.

We make the Kefir beverage in the following manner:

  • Coconut Kefir – We place Water Kefir Grains in a jar of coconut water.  The ratio that we started with was about 1 teaspoon of Kefir Grains in about a litre of coconut water (usually the water from 2-3 fresh, young coconuts).  My wife and each drink 1 large glass of Kefir per day in the morning with breakfast.  It has a sour taste, which we don’t mind, and add cranberry juice to make it a little pink.
  • Water Kefir – We alternate the Kefir Grains between coconut water and mineral water with sugar (preferably unrefined).  Unrefined sugar adds a molasses flavour.

As you can tell, it is more art than science for us, but you can research different ways to prepare and find your own balance and approach.

It takes less time or more time to ferment in different climates.  We are currently living in a tropical climate and it takes only about a day to fully ferment.  In cooler climates it could take up to 48 hours.  When ready to drink, usually there are bubbles in the liquid and gathered on the top without being fizzy like a soft drink.  The taste evolves to be more like cider than sugar water because the Kefir Grains have eaten the sugar.

Kefir Grains grow and multiply.  Over time you can separate grains and alternate them because the Kefir Grains need a rest sometimes, as well as space to grow and multiply.  They are living organisms and everyone needs a day off!  When resting, we place them in the refrigerator in some mineral water with a bit of sugar. In the fridge, their metabolism slows so they don’t need as much sugar (food) as when they are in warmer temperatures.

Judging by the amount of information online, Milk Kefir seems to be a more common form that people consume.  We are not big milk drinkers, which we will address in another article, but it looks like a tasty and powerful yogurt substitute.  I’m sure we’ll try it one of these days and I will report back!

This video titled “Kefir:  What, Why and How” is also useful to watch to get an understanding about Kefir and its health benefits.

On a personal note, our morning regime includes coffee (love coffee), Kefir and our power smoothie full of superfoods, as discussed in our article titled “Superfoods Every Day”.  While I love my coffee, the brain really starts clicking as soon as I get the Kefir in me!

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