The origin of kefir (a sharp-tasting drink) actually goes back to several centuries to the shepherds who inhabited the Caucasus Mountains. It was these shepherds who first found out that fresh milk transported in small leather pouches would sporadically ferment into a bubbling or sparkling drink. Precisely speaking, kefir is an inebriating milk beverage. The term kefir is known to have been derived from the Turkish word 'Keif' denoting a 'good feeling'.

There is a popular fable in the Caucasian Mountains that ensuing kefir 'grains' (not a genuine grain, but a blended culture of yeast and bacteria) were gifted by Prophet Mohammed to the people. The legend says that the Prophet had directed the people of the region on the manner the grains needed to be used. It further says that Mohammed had firmly prohibited them from revealing the secret of preparing kefir to other people or give kefir grains to any other person, as they would then lose their magical power. In effect, this legend also elucidates the reason behind the kefir grains as well as the preparation of kefir has been shrouded by secrecy for such a long period. Actually, there is an unbelievable story of conspiracy involving a beautiful woman called Irina Sakharova, who pilfered the kefir grains from a local prince for Russia. This is possibly the solitary reason the world is familiar with regarding kefir presently.

Elie Metchnikoff, a biologist awarded with the Nobel Prize and who is associated with the Pasteur Institute, was the first to propose in 1908 that lactobacilli may possibly neutralize the putrefactive impacts (to render putrid) of gastrointestinal metabolism. In fact, Metchnikoff stated that the people inhabiting the Caucasus Mountains enjoyed a long and healthy life as they consumed soured milk. In contemporary times, there is a lot of attention as well as research into probiotics and the health giving attributes of fermented milk, such as kefir.

In fact, there are two varieties of kefir - water kefir (small clear grains that ferment syrupy water) and milk kefir (white or creamy hued grains that appear somewhat akin to the florets of cauliflower and ferment milk).

It is interesting to note that kefir is a live culture - a compound symbiosis or interaction of over 30 micro-flora, which take the shape of grains or structures akin to cauliflower (at times known as plants) in the milk. As the culture breaks down milk into simpler substances (ferments milk), these structures develop, generating fresh grains in the process. In effect, genuine kefir from a living culture is an incessantly self-propagating procedure.

A chemical analysis of the grains has revealed that the microorganisms enclosed by them comprise lactic acid bacteria, Streptococcus thermophilus, Lactococcus lactis subsp. lactis, Lb helveticus, Lb delbrueckii subsp. Bulgaricus, Lb brevis, and Lb casei subsp. as well as an assortment of yeasts, including Torulopsis, Kluyveromyces and Saccharomyces, acetic acid bacteria and many others. These microorganisms provide kefir outstanding keeping features by sustaining the putrefying bacteria, or else which may perhaps take over the milk at bay. In laboratory experiments, it has been found that these microorganisms slow down the growth of E. coli and salmonella.

Health benefits of kefir

Kefir offers several well-known health benefits. In fact, this fermented milk beverage possesses antibiotic as well as anti-fungal attributes and has been employed to treat an assortment of health conditions, counting allergies, metabolic disorders, poor digestion, atherosclerosis, cancer, tuberculosis, candidiasis, heart ailments, high blood pressure (hypertension), osteoporosis and even HIV. Although it may seem to be strange that a beverage containing yeast is used to treat candidiasis, but the fact remains that it has been effective in curing several people, by reinstating a superior balance to the gut flora as well as because a number of elements in micro-flora have the aptitude to eliminate Candida Albicans.

Apart from the friendly bacteria and yeast, kefir also encloses several vitamins, amino acids, minerals and enzymes. It especially contains valuable nutrients like calcium, magnesium, phosphorous, vitamins B2 and B12, vitamin A, vitamin D and vitamin K. In addition, kefir also contains an abundance of tryptophan, an essential amino acid that is reputed for having a calming outcome on the nervous system. Since kefir also encloses plentiful of magnesium and calcium, which are vital minerals for a vigorous nervous system. In fact, including kefir in one's daily diet may have an especially soothing impact on our nerves. As kefir contains rich amounts of enzymes, it can be digested without much difficulty. Since one is able to consume kefir in its raw state, it helps to keep the enzymes unharmed. On the other hand, when you cook substances containing enzymes, most of them are lost.

The profusion of enzymes in kefir makes this fermented milk beverage offer us additional health benefits, particularly to people who are lactose intolerant. In fact, most people who are lactose intolerant are able to tolerate kefir easily, provided the kefir they are consuming is raw and uncooked (as mentioned earlier, cooking wipes out the enzymes). Kefir is also full of vitamins, minerals and proteins that can be digested without any difficulty. Kefir may also be consumed by people who suffer from lactose intolerance since the bacteria and yeast in this beverage provide the enzyme lactase, an enzyme that consumes majority of the lactose left behind even after the culturing process.

The best thing about consuming kefir is that this beverage does not result in any adverse side effects. The active beneficial yeast and helpful bacteria present in kefir have the aptitude to eliminate the harmful elements by propagating rapidly. In addition, kefir is also known to fortify the immune system.

Consumption of milk kefir helps to nourish our hair, cure the gum diseases as well as fortify our bones. In addition, kefir also puts off developing diseases like osteoporosis. Hence, if you are concerned regarding your crunchy bones, ensure that you at least try this wonderful food and notice the difference in the span of just a week.

If you add kefir to your daily diet, it will help you to prevent suffering from acne and psoriasis and even avoid wrinkles.

The brain enrichment attribute of kefir is yet another health benefit offered by this beverage. In the form of a natural food for the brain, kefir assists in getting relief from stress. Even as kefir pumps up our brain, it also helps to improve the normal functioning of the brain, for instances, responses/ reactions, memory-retention and also in intensifying the focus of an individual. This health benefit offered by kefir works in cooperation with the five senses and guides an individual to be at their best. Among other health benefits offered by kefir are easing tension, nervousness, depression and also disorders that are related to attention. Hence, it is advisable that provided you wish that your mind to function at its optimal capacity, you should drink kefir every day.

People who are trying hard to lose weight should essentially have kefir as a part of their daily diet, as this can make them shed the surplus weight more rapidly. Since kefir encloses probiotics, it actually accelerates the body's metabolic process allowing the body burn additional fats and calories, even though one may only be spending his or her normal exercises time.

On the other hand, people who are concerned regarding the health of their heart, kefir is the ideal solution, as it helps to prevent heart diseases. Precisely speaking, kefir helps to unblock the blood vessels and, at the same time, normalize the blood pressure. When you consume kefir, you are not just endowing your immune system, but also helping to keep your heart in sound health.

Apart from the heart and the blood vessels, kefir also provides sufficient benefits for the health of our lungs. Consuming kefir on a regular basis helps to put off respiratory ailments from the most widespread up to the complex types, such as tuberculosis. In addition, kefir is also effective in treating respiratory conditions like bronchitis and asthma.

In case you have a very hectic lifestyle, then the health benefits offered by kefir are all the more pertinent for you. It may be noted that kefir is known to be an accepted stress-buster. If you are enduring a cold, drinking a cold milk kefir or a water kefir will help to bring refreshment and, at the same time, will help to detoxify your body. The normal attributes of kefir are much better compared to the benefits claimed by some specific types of teas. In case you are suffering from insomnia or sleeplessness, you ought to drink kefir to ensure that you have a sound sleep at night and are free from all your worries and anxieties.

Kefir is regarded to be the inexplicable key to an individual's good health. The health benefits offered by kefir give us a holistic defense for the body. In the contemporary times, majority of the people usually lead very hectic and demanding lives. There are several means to lead a healthy life, but some are presenting very complex ways to remain healthy. Nevertheless, with the effortlessness of kefir, the sole thing required is to culture the yeast and bacteria grains and consume it on a regular basis in the same way as you drink milk or coffee. Although it may seem incredible, in reality it is just as uncomplicated. Reviving this ancient secret assists us in adapting it to our present day lifestyles, while comforting us as well as our nearest and dearest of health and happiness.

Findings of several studies have suggested that kefir has the aptitude to perk up the functioning of our immune system. Drinking kefir on a regular basis helps to make our immune system further effectual in combating bacteria as well as viruses that invade our body. When our immune system is fortified, our body becomes additionally strong and further protected against a broad assortment of ailments.

It may be mentioned here that apart from the health benefit of kefir mentioned above, this fermented drink is also an useful medication for kidney stones, gallstones, high cholesterol, liver ailments, ulcers, gout, pancreatitis as well as rheumatism. Kefir helps to perk up the energy levels of the body and, simultaneously, elevates one's mood.

As kefir has rich contents of probiotics or microorganisms, it may also assist in maintaining the proper functioning of our digestive system. Kefir also has the aptitude to augment bowel movements, in addition to preventing as well as treating irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), diarrhea and constipation. In addition, kefir can also lessen the formation of stomach and intestinal gases.

There are various ways by which you are able to include kefir in your diet. While you may use kefir in the form of cheese and swathe bread and biscuits with it before eating them, you may also use this form of cheese as a topping for pizza, pasta, nachos, salads and other items. Besides, you may also use kefir cheese on your smoothies. In addition, you may also add fruits or chocolates to this type of cheese to make it more delicious. Kefir may also be frozen in the refrigerator to prepare an ice cream. Kefir may also be used in various recipes as a substitute for sour cream, yogurt, dressing or cream.

Before concluding, it may be reiterated that kefir offers several health benefits that anyone would like to gain from. Kefir is a healthy beverage that encloses profuse vitamins, amino acids, minerals and enzymes and it is helpful in augmenting digestion, perking up the functioning of the immune system as well as curing various types of health conditions. The best way to take kefir is to incorporate it in your diet by making use of it in the form of an ingredient to the dishes you cook or in the form of a topping, dressing or as a side dish. Besides, you may also add chocolates and/ or fruits to kefir to make it a more refreshing beverage.


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