Alright, I may have fibbed a bit – kefir isn’t magic, it’s science!! But it sure seems magic from all of the health recovery stories I hear from customers coming into our farm store.
Acid reflux – gone!
Colitis – disappears!
I just spoke at the Nutritional Therapy Conference this last weekend all about kefir. A woman I met there was inspired to start making her own kefir and I just got an email from her – she said she’s been CRAVING kefir and started drinking it after talking with me. Now her vertigo is completely gone!
You might think I’m nuts – how can some strange, bubbly fermented food like kefir change people’s lives so dramatically?
Luckily, Champoeg Creamery’s resident Microbiologist (my daughter, Hayden), has been diving into the research lately to find out exactly what’s going on in your glass of kefir. And you’re going to be BLOWN AWAY by what she found out.
(BTW, if you haven’t started making your own kefir yet, you’ve gotta Download your Kefir Troubleshooting Guide I created for you. Store bought is no substitute and this miracle food is super easy to make at home.)
Alright Hayden, take it away!
Kefir is a Living Food
It’s true. There are thousands and thousands of living creatures inside one spoonful of kefir! These creatures are so tiny, you can only see them with a microscope.
These microbes (there are both yeast and bacteria in kefir), are called probiotics. That’s because they’re beneficial to your health. You need daily doses of probiotics to boost immunity, heal your gut, and beat digestive problems. The best probiotics don’t come in a pill, either. But more on that later.
You see, your body is teeming with live microbes, especially your digestive system. Your gut is filled with trillions of microbes, both good and bad guys, and all have a direct influence on your health.
There’s both bacteria and yeasts in there (don’t worry, they’re not the kind of yeast that gives you a yeast infection!), and both are necessary for good health.
Harmful Microbes Thrive on Processed Food
Sure, there are definitely harmful bacteria out there that want to hurt you. But they only grow when you give them their favorite foods, like sugar, grains, and other processed food, or when you kill off lots of good bacteria after a round of antibiotics.
You can kill off all your bad gut bacteria by eliminating these harmful foods from your diet completely. Once you stop eating these things, the harmful microbes will starve and die.
The Sad Truth about Store Bought Kefir
Homemade kefir is full of thousands, if not billions, of beneficial probiotics. But the stuff in the store is NOT the same.
- Lots of times, it’s even pasteurized after it’s fermented into kefir, totally killing any of the good bacteria that were in there!!
- Also, store bought is full of sugar and additives, not what you want in a health food 🙁
- Lastly, store bought kefir has only a few different types of bacteria and yeast, but homemade kefir has TONS more!! Variety is the spice of life, and that’s especially true when it comes to your microbes. More diversity = healthier gut.
Microbes Found in Store Bought Kefir:
- Bacteria: Lactobacillus lactis, Lactobacillus cremoris, Lactobacillus diacetylactis, Lactobacillus acidophilus
- Yeast: Saccharomyces cerevisiae, Saccharomyces martiniae, Saccharomyces unisporus
Microbes Found in Homemade Kefir:
- Bacteria: Lactobacillus acidophilus, Lactobacillus brevis, Lactobacillus casei, Lactobacillus delbrueckii subsp. bulgaricus, Lactobacillus delbrueckii subsp. delbrueckii, Lactobacillus delbrueckii subsp. lactis, Lactobacillus helveticus, Lactobacillus keﬁranofaciens subsp. keﬁranofaciens, Lactobacillus keﬁri, Lactobacillus paracasei subsp. paracasei, Lactobacillus plantarum, Lactobacillus rhamnosus, Lactococcus lactis subsp. cremoris, Lactococcus lactis subsp. lactis, Lactococcus lactis, Leuconostoc mesenteroides subsp. cremoris, Leuconostoc mesenteroides subsp. dextranicum, Leuconostoc mesenteroides subsp. mesenteroides, Pseudomonas, Pseudomonas fluorescens, Pseudomonas putida, Lactobacillus sake, Streptococcus thermophilus
- Yeast: Candida humilis, Kazachstania unispora, Kazachstania exigua, Kluyveromyces siamensis, Kluyveromyces lactis, Kluyveromyces marxianus, Saccharomyces cerevisiae, Saccharomyces martiniae, Saccharomyces unisporus
You get the idea 😉
Probiotics Send Signals to your Brain, Skin, Gut + More
At the teensy tiny microscopic level, our body operates by sending signals between cells. For example, when we eat certain foods, our stomach produces hormones that act as signals to the brain and say, “Hold up!! Enough ice cream already, I’m full!!”
Probiotics create signals, too. They produce acids, proteins, sugars and fatty acids that travel throughout our body signaling things to happen.
But bad, harmful microbes give off bad, harmful signals. Signals that might tell our brain, “Nope, keep that ice cream coming, I’m starving!!”. Or, signals that poke holes in our gut or signals that cause inflammation in our joints.
The point is, when we eat beneficial probiotics found in fermented foods, they give off these signals that keep our body healthy and strong.
Probiotics Turn Genes On/Off, Prevent Cancer, & Change how we See the World
The signals from probiotics are so powerful they can do things like turn our genes on or off. That means, when your doctor tells you you’re doomed to be obese because you have certain DNA markers, you can rest assured knowing that your kefir could actually turn that ‘fat’ gene off!! This is a pretty literal example of how food is medicine!
The probiotics in kefir can even signal your body to start repairing your DNA when it gets damaged from UV radiation, potentially preventing cancer.
Also, the next time your hubby’s a little grumpy after a night of eating burgers and hot wings at the football game, don’t blame him, blame his microbes! The signals probiotics send off actually change our mood and behavior. So your husband’s gut microbes are having a little party of their own after all that processed food – sending all sorts of signals throughout his body.
Ready to make your Own Kefir? Here’s How.
First, Download your Kefir Troubleshooting Guide. If you’ve never made kefir before, you’ll want to know what do when things start looking a little funky.
Then, you’ll need a traditional, heritage kefir grain. We sometimes have some extras available in our farm store, otherwise you can find some online or get some from a friend who makes kefir. Since kefir grains are alive, they grow and replicate and can be cut up into smaller pieces to share.
Put your kefir grain in a quart to ½ gallon jar of milk. Let it sit on your countertop at room temperature for 24-36 hours. It may take longer if your house is cold, or it may ferment quickly if it’s really warm.
After it’s sat on your counter, remove the kefir grains from the milk that was in the jar. The kefir grains can be stored in a small jar with a ¼ cup milk in your refrigerator. The remaining milk in the jar might be liquidy, chunky, or creamy. That’s kefir!
Put it in the refrigerator and keep it for up to 2 weeks. Drink a glass everyday and share your health recovery stories with us – we love hearing what it’s done for you!
Can I drink it if I have Dairy Intolerances?
The quick answer is usually you can drink without any problems!! I haven’t met anybody who couldn’t eat kefir. If you’re worried about it, you can slowly incorporate it into your diet by drinking a tablespoon a day and slowly working your way up to a cup a day over a month long period.
The amazing part about the microbes in kefir is that they eat dairy sugars, like lactose, and break it up into little pieces that your body can easily digest without any difficulties.
There’s even research showing that the probiotics in kefir break up the milk protein casein, breaking it down into small pieces and basic amino acids that your body doesn’t react to.
Troubleshooting your Homemade Kefir
The first time I made kefir I thought it was a science experiment gone wrong – but don’t worry, now that we’ve been making kefir for so long we’ve seen it all!! Here’s just a few of the most common Q’s people have when they start making kefir:
1. It doesn’t matter what type of milk, as long as it’s dairy, it will work
Sheep, goat, cow, camel, whatever it is, you can make kefir out of it. You can even make kefir from store-bought pasteurized milk!
2. It doesn’t work with alternative dairies
Kefir grains need dairy to thrive so it doesn’t work very well in things like almond or coconut milk. There has been some success with coconut milk kefir, although you’ll need to make a batch of dairy kefir every other time to make sure the grains don’t die
3. Water kefir grains are totally different than dairy kefir grains
Water kefir is NOT a substitute for dairy kefir. Dairy kefir has trillions and trillions more probiotics than water kefir.
4. Kefir is very forgiving
Your kefir may look chunky, creamy, liquidy, and it could smell like yeast, beer, or like rotten fruit. It’s all very normal! Every batch will look a little different.
Ready to Start Making your own kefir?
A glass of kefir a day has the potential to totally change your life…what are you waiting for?
Tell me in the comments below – when are you going to start making your own kefir? Or, if you already do, what health benefits have you seen?
I LOVE hearing your health recovery stories!!
Love and hugs,
Charlotte and Hayden