Kefir [Wikipedia] is a fermented milk drink that can be made from any type of milk — goat, cow, coconut, rice, soy, sheep, you name it. Most commonly, kefir is an active product cultured from 40 to 50 different probiotic bacteria and yeasts. It is a naturally sour cultured milk that is rich in probiotics and has many health benefits including its antibacterial properties from the Lactobacillus Pylori probiotic and Kefirin extract that are unique to milk kefirs. These inhibit the growth of Salmonella, Helicobacter Pylori, E Coli and other pathogens. The bulk of those grains are a combination of insoluble protein, amino acids, lipids and complex sugars. The word “kefir” comes from a Turkish word that means “good feeling", and pronounced “kah-fear!”, this “grain of life” is similar in appearance to regular yogurt, however has a way bigger engine under its hood! Kefir is rich in B complex vitamins such as Vitamin B1, B12, as well as Vitamin A, Vitamin D, Vitamin K and biotin. The main minerals present in kefir tend to be calcium, phosphorus and magnesium.
Kefir is a fantastic source of many nutrients for huumans and pets alike (typical nutritional profile for 1 cup):
- Protein: 4 grams;
- Calcium: 10% of the RDI;
- Phosphorus: 15% of the RDI;
- Vitamin B12: 12% of the RDI;
- Riboflavin (B2): 10% of the RDI;
- Magnesium: 3% of the RDI;
- A decent amount of vitamin D!
Commercial pet foods can contain up to 70% carbohydrates! These carbs are broken down to sugars, which then fuel the yeast in your pets’ bodies! Too much yeast = big time problems!
If you cannot switch to a low carb pet food, like a species appropriate raw food diet we supply, then you will need to supply your pet with something to attack the yeast. Meet kefir. These dairy or water-based grains have a multitude of vitamins and minerals. They provide a wide variety of probiotic organisms and have super awesome healing qualities.
Kefir contains several major strains of friendly bacteria not commonly found in yogurt such as Lactobacillus Caucasus, Leuconostoc, Acetobacter species, and Streptococcus species. It also contains beneficial yeasts, such as Saccharomyces kefir and Torula kefir, which control and eliminate destructive pathogenic yeasts in the body.
Benefits of Kefir:
- Kefir provides anti-biotic and anti-fungal properties;
- A must add after the use of antibiotics to restore balance to your pet’s digestive tract;
- Helps to prevent allergies in your pet;
- Beneficial for candidiasis and heart problems in pets/humans;
- Vitamin B will regulate the normal function of the kidneys, liver and nervous system for you and your pet;
- Helps to promote healthy looking skin, boosting energy and promoting longevity;
- All the micro-organisms present strengthen the digestive system;
- Helps to alleviate gas, bloating and heartburn;
- Probiotic aid may help with IBD (IBS), eczema and bad breath;
- Has been linked to aid in gastritis, pancreatitis, abdominal peptic issues, skin psoriasis, rheumatism, joint disease as well as gouty arthritis, weakening of bones, anaemia, as well as leaky digestive tract syndrome;
- Able to reduce risking potential a number of malignancies, such as colon cancer malignancy, stopping the increase of cancerous cells;
- Health advantages comprise of acne pimple management or treatment, sleep problems, unhappiness, asthma attack, respiratory disease, high blood pressure, all forms of diabetes, long-term weakness syndrome, allergic reactions, colitis, looseness of the bowels, and so forth.
As always: variation, moderation and balance! Kefir is very safe, This is not to say that some people or pets don’t react negatively to kefir, especially when first trying it. When introducing kefir to your pets, remember to always go slow.
Give your pet’s system time to adjust. For the first few days to a week try half the recommended dosages. This will avoid digestive upset as your pet’s system adjusts to the increase of good flora in their GI tract.
General Kefir Grains
What is Kefir?
Kefir is a probiotic rich drink made by introducing a culture of "kefir grains" to milk (usually dairy) or water and sugar. [Insert research URLs].
Can I Make Kefir Without Grains?
First of all, some people think kefir grains are made from grains like wheat. They are not. The "grains" terminology is simply a name for the firm gelatin-like cultures that make kefir. So the facts are, while kefir is not made with grain, you want to know whether you can make your own kefir grains at home without buying them.
Most people say "no", but it has been done. In 1990 researchers made kefir grains for the first time and documented their method in a scientific paper. It was not easy, and it was made using goat hide bad and bacteria from sheep intestines.
For most people, buying the culture, or buying kefir grains are the only ways to make kefir at home. The great news is if you buy kefir grains they will last a lifetime.
What's Better… Kefir Grains or Powdered Kefir Starter?
Powdered kefir starters have a limited number of bacteria, as they are developed to be standardized and consistent every time. They also lose their potency with subsequent brews so you need a new packet of starter every 3-6 batches. Kefir grains are inexpensive and you only need to buy them once in a lifetime. Once you start brewing your grains they grow and get stronger. Live kefir grains also provide a wide range of bacteria and yeast similar to what would be found in your intestine. Since the idea is to create a healthy microbiota in your body, kefir grains are superior.
Can I make my own kefir grains?
Kefir grains can not be made. Real kefir "grains" are passed from one owner as their supply grows into more than they can use themselves. Kefir grains are a very precise community of bacteria and yeast that exist together without one overpowering the other. In nature, the formation of milk kefir grains is a relationship that develops occasionally in raw milk and prevents it from going bad. In most parts of the developed world, milk is pasteurized, so the formation of grains just would not happen.
How Much Kefir Should I drink?
Kefir is a food with benefits (not a drug), but some people still have an adjustment period. If your digestion tends to be finicky, start with 1/4 cup after a meal once every day, and listen to your body. If you tolerate this fine, then increase the amount, eventually moving it to BEFORE meals, as the good bacteria will aid in digesting your food. There's no real limit. Just drink it when you want.
How Long Does Kefir Keep?
The kefir grains will keep indefinitely as long as you follow the instructions for storage. Once kefir is made, it will keep for a very long time. Remember that fermentation was a way of keeping foods safe to consume before refrigeration. Use your own judgement, and trust your nose and taste buds. Bad kefir smells bad and tastes bad. You will know.
Does Kefir Cure Inflammatory Bowel Diseases Like Crohn's or IBS?
Kefir does not cure inflammatory bowel disease. It could help though.
Is My Kefir Ready?
When brewing kefir for the first time, it is sometimes hard to know if it is ready. It may take some trial and error before you really know. The "readiness" of kefir depends on several things. It is not always as easy to see the readiness of milk kefir. It is also less forgiving, in that, over fermented milk kefir will separate into curds (a thick top layer) which float to the top, and whey (a watery, slightly yellow liquid) on the bottom. If your milk kefir separates, you can still use it. Just shake and strain as usual. It will be more sour tasting.
Here are some ways to tell if your kefir milk is ready:
- It has been fermenting 24 hours
- It smells yeasty and slightly tangy
- The grains are floating on the top
- The kefir forms unique rivulet pattern when tipped against the glass.
Mostly your milk kefir readiness is determined by personal preference.
Can Kefir Grains Die?
Yes they can (after all they are made up of live bacteria and yeast), but sometimes you might think they are dead but they are only sick! They are pretty resilient little guys. If your grains have a white film, a really stinky smell, and are doing nothing in the sugar water, then they may be dead, but they may just need some TLC.
What is the difference between Yogurt and Kefir?
Many people assume that because yogurt and milk kefir are both cultured dairy products, there aren't many differences between the two. This is actually not true. There are several differences between yogurt and milk kefir, including how each is made, the types of bacteria present in each, and their flavor and consistency.
Milk Kefir is a mesophilic culture, which means it cultures at room temperature, despite which type of starter culture you use.
The bacteria in milk kefir can actually colonize the intestinal tract. Kefir also contains a far larger range of bacteria, in addition to containing yeasts.
There are two types of yogurt starters: mesophilic and thermophilic. Mesophilic means that the yogurt starter is cultured at room temperature. Thermophilic means the yogurt starter is heat-loving.
The beneficial bacteria found in yogurt help keep the digestive tract clean and provide food for the friendly bacteria found in a healthy gut. They pass through the digestive tract and are called transient bacteria.
Milk Kefir Grains
Why Does My Kefir Curdle or Clot Before It Thickens?
It is the kefiran that gives your kefir a thicker consistency. You can encourage the production of kefiran and healthy milk kefir grains by keeping your kefir in an area close to 25 degrees celsius, by stirring it often, by using higher fat milk, and by using milks that have lactose as the main sugar. This is such a universal question that I answered it more in depth in a post. Read more about making thicker kefir.
My Kefir Is Fizzy (or tingly) On My Tongue. Is It Bad?
Both Milk Kefir and Water Kefir have an effervescent quality. They get fizzy, just like pop (soda). In fact, if you cover it nice and tight for a second ferment, it can get so fizzy that a pressure build up can pop a top! Milk Kefir that you buy in the store is often like drinkable yogurt with no fizz, but that is because they use inhibitors to stop that action. Otherwise they would be blowing tops all over the place!
Can Kefir Grains or Kefir Milk Be Frozen?
Both kefir grains and traditional milk kefir made from heirloom grains can be frozen, and still maintain biological action with no diminished bacterial count.
Water Kefir Grains
What are some other names for Water Kefir?
Tibicos, tibi,& water kefir grains, sugar kefir grains, Japanese water crystals and California bees, and in older literature asbébées, African bees, ale nuts, Australian bees, balm of Gilead, beer seeds, beer plant, bees, ginger bees, Japanese beer seeds and vinegar bees. source: Wikipedia
What is Water Kefir?
Water kefir is a probiotic rich beverage made with water, sugar, bacteria and flavouring.
What Is The Difference Between milk Kefir and Water Kefir?
Aside from the obvious, they are pretty similar. Even though you need milk kefir grains to culture milk, and water kefir grains to culture sugar water, the resultant beverage has a similar probiotic mix. They both have many strains of bacteria and yeast that exist in a perfect balance.
Can I Use Milk Kefir Grains to Make Water Kefir?
No. While you may find on the internet that some people claim to ferment all kinds of things with milk kefir grains or tibicos grains, the bottom line is … these probiotic culture starters have evolved to eat a specific kind of sugar and to survive in a specific kind of medium. Milk kefir grains thrive on lactose and other components of milk. While you may get a probiotic beverage once or twice, eventually it will be evident that the bacteria and yeast are out of balance. The grains will stop growing, perhaps even die, and the beverage will show signs of being off.
Does Water Kefir Have The Same Benefits As Milk Kefir?
Yes… with the exception that milk kefir has some benefits imparted to it by the milk itself… protein, calcium etc. Tibicos bacteria tend to be less in number than in home made milk kefir so it can be tolerated better in people who are sensitive. So as far as probiotics go, water kefir is just as beneficial and may be tolerated better by some people.
What Are The Side Effects of Water Kefir?
Kefir is not a drug, so we really dislike the term "side effects" applied to it. Sometimes when you start adding back the good bacteria you can have a "war" of sorts in your belly. This struggle happens as the good bacteria fight to get the upper hand and the bad bacteria start to die off. The most common complaints are flatulence (gas), and be warned… it can get pretty smelly. Constipation and belly pain or discomfort, and heartburn are common complaints. We can not stress enough that you must persist! What's a little gas in the short term for all of the long term benefits of a healthy gut?
Kefir Health Benefits
The fermentation of the proteins in milk by lactic-acid bacteria may result in the release of tripeptides with blood pressure lowing activities!
Many bioactive polypeptides have been identified in encrypted form in milk proteins, which are released during fermentation and/or during digestion of these proteins by the hastric and pancreatic enzymes in the gastrointestinal tract. These peptides called caseicidins, isracidins, and lactoferrin, have the ability to lyse pathogenic bacteria including Streptococcus mutans, E.coli O157:H7 and Enterobacter zakazakii !
Gastrointestinal and urogenital health
There have been numerous studies conducted in order to determine the effect of fermented milk, more specifically goat milk, on the inhibition of various intestinal and urogenital pathogens. These studies confirm that fermented goat milk offer greater inhibitory effects!
Antioxidative and anticarcinogenic effets
Studies confirmed that the consumption of fermented goat's milk improve anti-atherogenicity in healthy folks, prolonged resistance of lipoprotein fraction to oxidation, lowered levels of peroxidized lipoproteins, oxidized LDL, and glutathione ratio, and enhanced total antioxidative activity. Altered prevalence and proportion of lactic acid bacteria species in the gut microflora has also been observed.
A number of studies have shown the relationship between allergic conditions and the composition of the gut microbiota. The levels of bifidobacteria in stools from allergic infants, particularly those with atopic eczema, are significant lower than those in healthy infants. It has been proposed that the intake of fermented products containing lactic acid bacteria could be used to achieve hemeostasis of the gut microbiota and thereby decrease the symptomatology in infants at risk for allergies!