The Champagne of Dairy: Kefir

Are you a yogurt lover? Give kefir a try! Never even heard of it? No sweat, I’ll give you the low-down. (Note: I apparently dropped the ball on this one, Joseph’s mother first introduced it to me only a few months ago. A big thanks goes out to that wonder of a woman!)

15/365: Living on fruity Kefir & Ice cream

For starters, kefir and yogurt are not the same. While both of these edibles are cultured milk products they are prepared in different ways and provide different health benefits. This being so,  kefir has often been called the “cousin” of yogurt. Kefir tends to be of a thinner consistency and is a little more tart than its counterpart. Kefir comes from the Caucasus Mountains in Eastern Europe and stems from the Turkish word “Keif” which translates to “Good Feeling” (Cool, huh?).  Here are some facts about the “champagne of dairy” (Lifeway’s words, not mine!)

  • Probiotics: Kefir is an excellent source of probiotics (These are the live organisms naturally found in the digestive tract that help stop harmful bacteria from growing and also boost the immune system). Kefir contains up to 3x more probiotics than yogurt! Keep that gut clean, healthy and free of indigestion.
  • Calcium: An 8 oz serving of kefir contains about 30% of the RDA for calcium which will help keep your bones and teeth nice and strong. 
  • Protein: Kefir is a prime source of protein! It provides around 10g  per serving. This fact makes kefir a great option for breakfast, the protein will keep you nice and full until lunch time.
  • Phosphorus: This is an important mineral that a lot of people forget about. Which is surprising since it is the second most abundant one in the body! The phosphorus in kefir aids with cell growth and energy.
  • B-Vitamins: By offering up several B vitamins (Thiamine and Biotin to name a couple), kefir will keep your overall health and bodily functioning in good shape.
  • Tryptophan: You probably know this amino acid in terms of Turkey Day, where the big turkey dinner supposedly leaves you feeling relaxed and sleepy. This amino acid is also found in kefir, so will you will feel good mentally and physically from drinking this creamy goodness!

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So, what’s the difference?

Kefir VS Yogurt

  • Kefir and yogurt both provide helpful probitoics, but kefir contains many, many more of them. These probiotics will keep your immune system sharp and your digestive health in balance.
  • Many people who are lactose intolerant can’t eat yogurt, but can, in fact, enjoy kefir. This is because kefir has an abundance of enzymes. One of these enzymes is lactase, which will partially break down some of the lactose before you ingest it. (Lactase is the enzyme that those who are lactose intolerant lack)
  • Unlike yogurt, kefir can protect (yogurt can do this part, too) and repair your digestive tract. The beneficial bacteria in kefir actually colonize in the intestinal tract.

I would highly recommend kefir to anyone who experiences indigestion. Try giving your gut a little TLC by drinking kefir.

I am hooked on this stuff. I get the little individual portion sized bottles from costco. It is kind of an environmental waste (Bummer, still looking for a small enough reusable bottle) but so convenient to throw in my bag on my way to work in the morning. You can put kefir into smoothies as well, it is divine. Also, those of you who are watching your weight over the holiday season may consider adding this to your morning regimen. Like I mentioned, the protein will keep you full and since it is so portable there is no excuse to skip the oh-so important meal that is breakfast!

Sources

http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2013/09/12/kefir-benefits_n_3914818.html http://www.culturesforhealth.com/difference-between-yogurt-kefir http://simplyhealthyfam.blogspot.com/2011/03/kefir-vs-yogurt-put-this-on-your.html http://www.lifeway.net/HealthWellness/Nutrition.aspx

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