Kefir Madness!

Let's just get one thing straight. This blog post is not (sadly) about dreamy Canadian actor, Kiefer Sutherland. Instead, we are talking about Kefir the milk beverage, which may be equally as dreamy, depending on who you ask! 

About a week ago, I posted a picture on our Instagram of a killer smoothie that I had made for breakfast; fresh peaches, pineapple, cherries, chia seeds, omega-3s and kefir (everything but the kitchen sink style). We had a follower comment asking about kefir. So here is your answer! 

What in the world is Kefir?!

Kefir is a cultured milk product that is rich in calcium, protein, potassium and B vitamins and can be made from any type of milk- cow, goat, sheet etc. It has a tart, sort of buttermilk like taste plain, but it can be purchased in fruit flavoured versions as well. Starting to sound quite a bit like yogurt to you?! You aren't wrong here. Kefir is a thinner consistency than yogurt and usually sold in a drinkable format. 

Like yogurt, kefir contains probiotics which are live organisms (bacteria and yeast) that protect your immune system and digestive tract. A healthy gut contains more than 400 species of bacteria and probiotics help to stop the growth of bad, disease causing bacteria and while stimulating your immune response to protect the good bacteria. 

The benefit to kefir is that it contains about three times the amount of probiotics than yogurt does so you get more 'bang for your buck'. Both kefir and yogurt are made by fermenting milk with probiotics- kefir is usually made with 10-20 different bacteria and yeasts whereas yogurt is only made with 2 or 3. For example, many kefir drinks contain up to 40 billion probiotic cultures per half cup serving, while the same amount of probiotic yogurt gives you only about 1 million. 

So what's the big deal with probiotics?! 

There is a growing body of evidence that suggests that the bacteria in our gut is related to many health problems from stress to urinary tract infections, diarrhea and obesity. Eating probiotics can help ensure that we have more of the good bacteria than bad. Once in the gut, the probiotics you consume live and multiply to help keep the balance! Evidence also suggests that probiotics can help prevent allergies and eczema, alleviate bloating, treat irritable bowel disease, lower elevated blood pressure and protect against colon cancer.  

Now just to make things confusing...probiotics shouldn't be confused with prebiotics. Prebiotics are non-digestible carbohydrates that act as food for probiotics. Prebiotics can be found in foods like artichokes, bananas and onions. Eating these foods can help keep your good bacteria (probiotics) happy! 

We get it, Kefir is great!  

Sounds like a super food eh?! Here at the #domesticphd we aren't usually into labelling foods as super foods because there is no one food that can provide your body everything it needs, but because of its's high probiotic content, kefir does have quite a checks in the 'super' column if you ask us! 

Now while we know that probiotics are really good for us, we don't have a lot of scientific evidence to say that drinking kefir daily does anything more than promote digestive health. There are simply too few human studies to know. But, welcoming it into your life won't hurt! 

So how do I eat Kefir?!

Kefir can be used anywhere you would normal use milk- over cereal, in smoothies- or as a substitute for yogurt in most recipes. 

When purchasing kefir, look for the plain versions as the fruit and coconut options I have seen on the shelves lately have quite a bit of added sugar. Milk naturally contains about 12g of sugar so aim for a kefir product with no more than that. Adding your own fruit or enjoying it in a smoothie can help mask kefir's tart taste if you prefer! 

Here is a picture of that kefir smoothie from Instagram- Enjoy! 

We love hearing from you and answering your questions- so thanks to our follower who was curious about kefir! 

Have a great weekend (hopefully with a kefir smoothie added to your plans now)! 

xo Kath 


**Thanks to:  PEN- Practice Based Evidence Nutrition & Eat Right Ontario for resources that assisted with the writing of this post.