About a year and a half ago I learned about kefir. A cultured milk product that is full of probiotics (nearly double than that found in yogurt) and healthy gut bacteria. In fact I wrote a blog post about it way back then which you can read here: Cultured Foods For Life: A Review.
For a time I was drinking kefir everyday, and even went so far as to purchase my own kefir grains so I could make my own (because homemade kefir has w-a-y more good bacteria than store-bought varieties). But I was a terribly kefir-maker. I regularly forgot about it and ended up killing my kefir grains. Oops. Once I wrote that idea off as a failure, I never really got back into the swing of buying pre-made kefir and eventually it became one of those things I forgot all about.
A little bit more about kefir for those who don’t feel like going back and reading my earlier post:
- Kefir is cultured for 12 hours, compared to the 2-8 hours most yogurts are cultured. It’s those extra hours that give kefir their high probiotic count.
- It originated over 2000 years ago in the Caucasus Mountains, where many people lived to be well over 100 years old!
- Kefir is associated with a long list of health benefits including: boosting immunity, healing IBS, building bone density, fighting allergies, improving digestion, clearing acne, and much more.
Last week my interest in kefir was re-ignited when I found out that President’s Choice is now selling their own in of kefir products!
They were nice enough to send some over for me to try out, and I was excited to get back on the kefir bandwagon!
If you’ve never heard of, or tried kefir before, my suggestion would be to start with a flavoured one (like the mango coconut pictured above). Kefir is runnier than yogurt (so you drink it versus eating it with a spoon), and is tangier. I’ve heard some people describe it as tasting like a milk soda, or somewhat like a float. I’m not sure I would go that far, but given a drinkable yogurt and kefir to compare, you would certainly know which was the yogurt and which was not.
Plain kefir takes some getting use to, and while I don’t mind drinking plain kefir, I do prefer the flavoured.
A cautionary note…
I’ve already mentioned that kefir has staggeringly higher probiotic counts than yogurt, and because of this it’s important to start off slow. Meaning when you are first looking to incorporate kefir into your diet, start by consuming just 1-2 Tbsp/day so you can gradually increase your good gut bacteria.
Why does it matter? Because if you overwhelm your system with healthy bacteria/probiotics, you can experience some unpleasantness due to the die-off effect (which happens when the toxins from the dying bad bacteria overwhelm your body’s ability to clear them out).
Symptoms you can experience from a die-off include fever, chills, muscle aches, headaches, skin rashes, excess mucus and GI problems (gas, bloating, diarrhea, constipation).
If you start slowly, you will be a-ok, but if you decide to just start drinking a full cup of kefir on day one, there is a good chance you’ll find yourself with some of those symptoms.
I should know, I’ve been there and done exactly what I’ve told you not to do. It was not fun. So avoid it all together by starting slow, and then beginning to increase your intake after a week or two. Once you’ve got a steady stream of active probiotics going into your system you should be able to drink as much of it as you like, it’s just the first going off that you need to be careful.
I haven’t found kefir to be entirely life changing, but I can certainly feel it when I have been taking it for a while. I have fewer (seasonal) allergies, and more importantly (for me) my digestive system and IBS is much more well behaved.
If you are someone who struggles with digestive issues, or any of the other medical conditions I listed above, it might be work checking out kefir and seeing if it helps. Now that President’s Choice is selling their own line of kefir based products, it’ will be even easier to find it in your local grocery.
Have you tried kefir? If so, have you noticed and difference in your health?
Disclosure: President’s Choice provided me with the products featured in this post, all of the opinions expressed are my own.