This post is about the importance of kefir and review of a company which sells kefir grains among other cultures.
Kefir originated in Russia where as a ‘pleasure drink’ which would elevate mood levels of workers and also their productivity. While kefir ‘grains’ were kept a secret for very long time in Russia the drink got popular in later stages in Northern Europe, and South West Asia. Now days, it is possible to get kefir grains easily and make at home.
What are Kefir grains? What makes kefir superior?
Kefir grains are gelatinous, somewhat sticky colonies of micro-organisms that grow symbiotically. Principle strains of micro-organisms present are Saccharomyces kefir, Torula kefir, Lactobacillus caucasicus, Leuconnostoc species and lactic streptococci. (1) However kefir contains about 55 to 60 strains of micro-organisms which makes it superior to the Indian curd or conventional yogurt in two major ways:
- While curd is semi fermented and this semi fermentation only uses some of milk sugar (lactose), curd is still high in sugar, and calories, and more importantly, will have a higher effect on insulin.
- While curd is known in India for its excellent probiotic properties, it has only about five strains of micro-organisms. And curd is effective. Just not as effective as kefir which has 60 strains of micro-organisms that benefit the human gut.
- Thirdly which is important for some, because kefir has essentially used all the milk sugar for its microbes to grow, it has no lactose and can be used for lactose sensitive people.
So why are fermented foods so important for humans?
It is now established that the gastrointestinal tract has the most nerve endings than any other part of the body second only to the brain. Some even call the gastro intestinal system as the enteric (=referring to the intestine) nervous system because of how much it affects the brain. This include mood pangs, hunger cravings, and as the name says, is responsible for that “gut feeling”. Your gut controls your mind more than you give it credit for and the gut feeling is more real than you believe.
How does gut health go wrong?
Human gut has a combination of many kinds of microbes which could add upto 1 trillion in total number of microbes. It is believed that there are about 80 percent good bacteria which function and aid in digestion, absorption of nutrients and removing toxins. They also keep fighting the bad bacteria which might be produced due to wrong foods or unhealthy habits and keep the numbers in check. Most common reason in the modern day for bad gut is sugar. Sugar acts as a food for the bad bacteria or yeast and allows yeast to grow and multiply rapidly. As a result, the balance in the gut disrupts and yeast start to dominate. They then start to compete with the healthy bacteria for the food that we eat for their growth. After a point, because of the nerve endings in the gut, it comes to a point where the wiring is readjusted to feeling hungry when the yeast needs sugar and hence the person feels addiction towards high carb foods. This will only exacerbate the situation as this is a vicious cycle which will keep the yeast growing and killing the healthy bacteria. Over long periods, there won’t be enough healthy bacteria TO ABSORB NUTRIENTS. This will lead to chronic diarrhea, Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), and systemic inflammation as sugar is very inflammatory in nature. Sugar also spikes insulin which again is very inflammatory in nature. The inflammation is caused in the gut because of release of histamine and prostaglandins which are secreted in defense mechanism (these are also responsible for the butterflies in stomach during stress). This inflammation is the root of all metabolic disease and hence it is now critical to control inflammation to make health better. Although inflammation has other root causes as well (such as stress), this is one major cause taking place in modern diet.
I found about Cultures Market on Google after some research about companies that sell kefir grains. I ordered kefir grains starter pack, amasi starter pack, and kombucha starter SCOBY. While I will detail amasi and kombucha in different blogs, this review about their kefir grains.
I used their kefir grains initially for a month. And most of the grains died. Either it could be change in environmental conditions or the quality of the milk I used. Hence I wrote to Cultures Market who were very kind to send me a replacement. I have been using this new batch of kefir grains for two months now and I am extremely delighted by it. Sure I have learnt a lot now also how to keep the grains healthy and I was partly at blame the first time though I still can’t pin point the mistakes I made. I am also using the amasi and kombucha from Cultures Market and all the products
The benefits of kefir could be felt from the first time you consume it and WILL last and improve each time you have kefir. Although much sour than curd, kefir has given me an upgrade on my no-carb diet. I put hemp seeds, watermelon seeds, chia seeds, basil seeds, some blueberries, some jamun, some coconut flour and coconut oil, some almond oil, some cinnamon in my kefir and make it one of the most nutrient rich glass of nutrition available. Right after workout or as a quick lunch with a big bowl of salad, this provides me with sustained energy for the day, high levels of healthy fats and does wonders to my gut health.
I would recommend kefir for everybody. However it is crucial for anyone with autoimmune diseases, inflammation, diabetes type II, insulin resistance (pre-diabetes) or any sort of gut issues (food allergies, IBS, etc).
And because of the passion of cultures market, their fair pricing and ethical operations, I would recommend their kefir amongst other products to anybody who is seeking them. You can find their products on their website: https://culturesmarket.in/contact-us/
Note: I am not associated with Cultures Market and these views are my personal.