I have gotten into the habit of making myself a smoothie every morning for breakfast. It’s fast, easy, and I can drink it while I get ready, because honestly I’m always rushing to get out the door. It only takes me 2-3 minutes to prepare and since I make it myself, I know exactly what’s in there. Typically I’ll include a few big spoonfuls of plain Greek yogurt, a big handful of spinach (I promise you don’t taste it!), some orange juice and frozen raspberries. Delicious!
However, this weekend when Kevin and I finally got to shop at Whole
Foods (it was glorious!), we found a drink I’ve been interested in
trying forever: kefir. My mom actually turned me on to the product.
She is the healthiest person I have ever met and she drinks it with
orange juice every morning.
So what is kefir?
Kefir is a fermented drink from milk, which is made from kefir grains. These are small cauliflower-looking probiotics that contain live bacteria. Sound gross? Well, if you eat yogurt, you’ve probably already had live and active bacteria from cultured milk (although, not all yogurt has these helpful bacteria. We’ll save that for another day). To make kefir, the kefir grains are placed into cow or goat milk and the mixture is allowed to ferment for 24-48 hours, with occasional stirring. The bacteria in the kefir may be incredibly beneficial to your digestion. The micro bacteria are able to live in your small intestine and help you break down foods that are particularly difficult to digest, such as lactose in dairy products.
There has also been some preliminary research into the long term benefits of kefir. In one study, kefir was able to supress hypertension (high blood pressure) and high cholesterol in rats. There are also claims that kefir inhibits bacterial and fungal infections, and that the probiotics found in kefir can reduce inflammation.
The one caveat to kefir is that all the die-hards make their own. You can buy kefir grains to get started and grow your own kefir drink in your kitchen for daily use. The thought behind this is that the store-bought kefir is pasteurized, has fewer bacteria and has added sugars, reducing the health benefits. However, I was unable to find a true research study supporting those facts, although there are places to find the pros and cons of homegrown vs commercial. Plus, to be honest, I’m not really about to start growing my own kefir just yet. Even if the store-bought kind has a reduced potentcy, it’s still way better than not drinking it at all.
Have you ever tried kefir? Wouldyou ever consider growing your own?