I must confess, I never dreamed my interest in healthy eating, healthy moving, and healthy body image would lead to an obsession with the intestinal tract. But there you have it. I have written rhapsodically about the gut microbiome before, but I can’t stop now — it’s just too amazing.
The foods you eat determine the number and variety of healthy bacteria that live in your intestine. And that determines, to an extent we doctors are only now appreciating, your physical and even mental health, along with your risk for developing a host of diseases and chronic conditions. The more varied and less processed your diet, the healthier your microbiome. Fermented foods, such as kimchi and kombucha, have particularly salutary effects. I have a problem, though: I can’t stand kimchi or kombucha.
Which brings me to kefir. I’m new to the kefir party, but I’m a very enthusiastic party-goer, indeed (which is saying a lot for me). Kefir is a drink, usually fermented milk, made with healthy bacteria and yeast, that tastes like liquid yogurt. Please —don’t leave the page yet! Stay with me here. It’s really delicious stuff. I’m not kidding.
Kefir contains way, way more numerous and varied beneficial bacteria than does yogurt; and it also contains beneficial yeast organisms. Its marvelous probiotic properties make the intestinal tract very happy, indeed. More than that, there’s some evidence that kefir has specific health benefits. It has been shown to have activity against inflammatory diseases, many cancers (1), allergies, and intestinal conditions (2). Not only can most lactose-intolerant people tolerate kefir without any problem, but kefir can also actually improve lactose intolerance. Having said that, there are also water- and coconut-based kefir products for people who are dairy-allergic or vegan.
The general recommendation seems to be to drink one cup per day, but to start more gradually to avoid intestinal distress that sometimes occurs early on. I find the most delicious way to drink kefir is to add it to pulverized fruit. I’ve tried berries, bananas, and my new favorite — orange and pineapple.
Apparently kefir is also easy to make yourself. That sounds a bit too nineteenth century for me, but suit yourself. In the meantime, do consider drinking this spa treatment for you gut.
One last thing about kefir: I think it would be a lovely accompaniment to matzoh.
(1)·Sharifi M et al. Kefir: a powerful probiotics with anticancer properties. Med Oncol. 2017 ;34(11):183.
(2)·Rosa DD et al. Milk kefir: nutritional, microbiological and health benefits.Nutr Res Rev. 2017 (1):82-96.