Thursday, July 17, 2008

Kefir, anyone?

Anecdotal evidence is just that, I know, and I claim nothing scientific, proven, or accurately studied and researched when I make the following observation: kefir keeps people healthy, and makes them well if they're not. At the risk of sounding totally wacky (which has never stopped me before), I share the following information for whomever might be interested. If you're not, stop reading now, because it is likely to strike you as long, boring, and weird...

My family was first introduced to the idea of kefir by our friends Dawn (who has celiac disease and consumes store-bought kefir regularly) and Rae (who habitually drinks a cup of home-brewed kefir each day to help her allergies). I think that's what Rae said she takes it for, but since I don't struggle with celiac disease or severe allergies, I honestly didn't pay much attention. Interestingly, a few weeks later, another friend (a fellow "natural type" who is concerned with health and wellness) mentioned that she and her family had attained some kefir "grains" and were now "brewing" kefir at home. I began to do a little internet research, and found plenty of interesting (read: strange) information regarding this naturally fermented beverage originally hailing from the region near the Caucasus mountains.

However strange it may have seemed, however, everyone I knew who was drinking the stuff was claiming major health benefit, and now the strangers (read: weirdos) on the Internet were claiming the same thing. Since it seemed a lot easier to make than homemade yogurt, which my family consumes in absurd quantities, I figured I could brew and use it instead of the yogurt in the smoothies we make many mornings. I obtained some grains from Jan's supply and got going.

Since that time - over two years ago - I have not been sick once... not a cold, not a stomach flu, nothing. (I did lose my voice last month, ostensibly related to all the smoke from the fires burning in the area, but interestingly that happened during our week away on the shores of NC when we were not drinking any kefir!) No one else in my family has been sick, either, in over two years' time. My youngest was sick once, but since it was only once and it was two years ago during the beginning of the first and only year she spent in public school - kindergarten, complete with all the new germs and the candy rewards - I tend to think that's not too bad, especially for a thumb sucker!

Anyway, I dared to venture into mentioning this to another friend, my daughter's violin instructor, who was having to cancel many lessons because her preschool children were always sick. I saw that she was giving them those pro-biotic yogurt drinks, so I dared to mention our homemade yogurt and kefir to her, mostly thinking about how much cheaper it is to make at home yourself. We gave her a lesson on how to do it, and she set off on her way.

This morning she called me to tell me that her children have not been sick since they started drinking the kefir - over six months now. These were girls that were sick something like twice a month before that! She also sheepishly mentioned that she has had a condition since her high school days (we're talking years ago) involving a persistent skin issue and nail ridge on the big toe of her right foot. She had been treated for a fungal infection in that nail decades ago, but these problems had persisted long after everyone told her the infection was cleared up. She shared that since she began drinking kefir daily, the ridge on her nail that has been there for years is now gone. Further, the rough, scaly skin that hasn't ever gone away during that same time, hardened and peeled away, leaving clean soft skin beneath it for the first time in years. At the risk of sounding like a charlatan, I won't go on to mention that she has also suffered significant digestive issues (as in diagnosed with irritable bowel syndrome) and has been on strict dietary restrictions for several years, but that these issues have gone away since she started drinking the kefir.

At this point I feel a little like Miracle Max, so I'll stop. But I sure won't stop drinking my kefir! If you ever want to start brewing some, let me know, and I'll get you some grains.

11 comments:

Grace&Glory said...

Well anecdotal or no I'm intrigued! Also since my kids consume ridiculous amounts of store bought yogurt, I could go for a cheaper alternative! We're a pretty healthy bunch on average, but we stayed sick this past winter. Something about the constant cooped up, bundled up, stale state you live in for like 7 months, germs abound and thrive. I'd love to give your brew a go! =D

Hoichi said...

just curious to know if store-bought kefir will have health benefits? or only home-brewed kefir?

Laurie said...

The friend I described who had the skin issue clear up and the kids who stopped getting sick was drinking the store-bought variety. I think it will work fine. It is heavily sweetened and milder tasting, so it is pretty yummy. It is much more expensive than the homemade kind, though. Happy kefir-ing, whichever way you go!

Hoichi said...

One more question, since I am pretty new to this...if I made it myself at home, do I need to use raw unpasteurized milk? I'm not sure how easily accesible that would be. What do you use? Thanks for your input!

Laurie said...

I've used both... whatever milk your family usually drinks will work fine. The higher the fat content, the creamier and milder your final product will be. Pasteurized SKIM milk doesn't really work too well, but other than that, whatever is fine. (Well, I don't know about things like rice or soy milk.)

We also make something called "kefir d'uva," which is kefir grains brewed in a blend of half grape juice/half filtered water. It gets fizzy and fermenty and tastes a little like a slightly fruity beer. You can just pull out some of the same grains you used in the milk, once they've multipled. After the grains have been used to brew kefir d'va, you can't put them back in milk. (Not would you want to... they will be deep purple then!) Also,they don't seem to multiply and increase when brewed in this juice medium, but they do seem to last however long, doing their fermenting thing.

Diane said...

I was interested to read your article about Kefir. I discovered this miracle drink last August and felt the benefits within one week. I have always had digestive problems although I have never been diagnosed with IBS or anything, this stuff really works. It is so easy to make, I make a brew daily for myself and my partner and usually sweeten it with fruit, Mango is particularly good. I have not had one cold or the flu this winter!

Sarah Anderson said...

I know you wrote this a while ago, but I think you've inspired me to start making this! Off to research how... Thanks!

Laurie said...

Here's the "how" of kefir, since several of you have asked.
http://sharecipes.blogspot.com/2010/09/kefir.html

Laurie said...

Here also is a link to the benefits of raw milk, if anyone is interested:
http://www.realmilk.com/

Laurie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Laurie said...

Here's a Huffington Post article about the benefits of kefir.
http://m.huffpost.com/us/entry/250273