Kefir: A Great Immune booster
This is time of year when I start seeing patients battling the flu, so, I’d like to give you some information about a probiotic food that improves the vigilance and effectiveness of your immune system and keeps our digestive system healthy.
Probiotic foods contain active healthy live bacteria. When we ingest them, they travel to our intestines and not help our body break our food down effectively, but, they increase absorption of your nutrients and maximize elimination of your breakdown products. We have about 10 times the number of bacteria and yeast in our digestive system as we have cells in our body!
Kefir is a probiotic food similar to yogurt. It has a slightly sour taste and has a combination of healthy bacteria and healthy yeast, whereas yogurt only contains bacteria. The beneficial yeasts in kefir are one of the tools to rid the body of C. difficile, a bacteria that is antibiotic resistant and often fatal in at-risk populations. These Saccharomyces yeasts help to re-establish the proper balance of intestinal flora.
It is estimated that kefir has over 50 different species of beneficial yeasts and bacteria and is a great absorbable form of protein. It also helps to increase the number and activity of our immune cells, so there are more bacteria and yeast to identify and eliminate detrimental bacteria, viruses, yeast or moulds. They help provide Vitamin A, B2, B12, K and D, as well as the minerals calcium, magnesium and phosphorus. They aid in decreasing inflammation in the body by reducing cytokines, so, not only decrease acne, but, allergies, asthma, hayfever, eczema, bursitis or any other “itis” and atherosclerosis.
Because it increases the bacteria and yeast in our digestive system, kefir will ensure proper digestion of fibres and carbohydrates, keep the colon clear and clean to minimize diverticulosis, maximize absorption of our nutrients and minimizes gas, bloating, indigestion, constipation or diarrhea.
All of this results in better energy, increased drive and motivation, decreased depression and worrying due to the decrease of inflammation that can create a mental or emotional imbalance. It also nourishes the hair, nails and skin.
It is amazing how a food cannot only help in pancreatitis, but, atopic dermatitis, stomach ulcers, psoriasis, gout, rheumatism, arthritis, osteoporosis and anemia! You can eat it every day and is usually made from goat or cow’s milk. It is an example of another one of those fermented foods that should play a larger role in our diets, due to all the wonderful things they help our bodies do. Most cultures have their fermented foods, such as pickles, sauerkraut, Kim chi, sour veggies and yogurt. So, add some of those good bugs to your body and get on those bad bugs before they become a problem!
Brenda Gill is a naturopath practising in Rossland, BC.