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The Benefits of Kefir

The Benefits of Kefir

Tuesday 17th October 2017
Jonny Carter

Being a Nutritional Therapist I often get asked what are the best probiotic drinks you can buy at the supermarket. Well today there are so many to choose from, Yakult, Danone, Activia, probiotic yoghurt, kefir drinks etc, so it really is a minefield for the consumer.

Probiotic drinks/foods have been linked with improving digestive health as they are basically adding in 'good' bacteria to the digestive track which may help improve the digestive process. They have also been linked to help with weight loss and mental health. Many people have digestive problems e.g. Irritable Bowel Syndrome, bloating, gas, nausea and probiotics may help these conditions.

Different drinks contain different strains and amounts of bacteria, so which one do you choose?! Well the problem is with many of these drinks is that they contain sugar. Obviously we all know high amounts of sugar isn't good for weight loss or various diseases, however more over sugar feeds the pathogenic or 'bad' bacteria in the gut and therfore although you might be putting good bacteria into the gut, you are counteracting this to a certain extent by giving the bad bacteria food to feed on! Therfore my advice is to avoid a sugar containing drink/food.

Kefir is a fermented drink generally made from cows or goats milk. You can actually make it at home, as it is made by adding Kefir grains to milk, although it is probably easier to buy from the supermarket, especially as it is rather in-expensive. Kefir grains are cultures of yeast and lactic acid bacteria. Over a period of time these microorganisms in the Kefir garins ferment the lactose (milk sugar) in the milk into kefir. Yoghurt is well known as a good source of probiotics, however Kefir is much more potent containing both good bacteria and yeast, wereas yoghurt doesn't contain any yeast. Kefir can contain around 30 strains of probiotic bacteria when yoghurt contains a lot less.

The take home message is, when choosing a probiotic drink/food check it doesn't contain sugar, this could be in the form of sucrose, glucose, fructose. Probably the most 'well rounded' probiotic drink on the market is kefir.