As most of us know now, gut health is such an important part of overall health with new research showing it is involved in a number of aspects of health, such as absorbing nutrients from the food we eat, improving immunity and protecting us from illness, modulating signals to the brain and even impacting our mood.
Our microbiome is what we call the ecosystem of bacteria living in our digestive tract and what we want is plenty of different, healthy bacteria populating and thriving in our microbiome. One food that is particularly helpful in promoting a thriving microbiome is kefir.
Kefir has been around for many years, originating from the Caucasus Mountains, and has superior probiotic content compared to yoghurt as the fermentation process means it contains more strains of bacteria. Yoghurts generally only contain three to five main strains, whereas kefir is generally between 10-15 strains. Traditionally kefir is made with cows' milk, but it can also be made using goat's milk, soy milk, coconut milk or water.
If you have tried kefir before you may not have been a fan straight up because a lot of kefir products tend to have an effervescence to them, kind of like drinking a mix of milk and soda water. That's why I like The Culture Co kefir. They use a specific combination of live cultures that results in a creamy, smooth texture which I find much more palatable — especially if you're new to Kefir.
What I love about Kefir is that good brands can contain therapeutic doses of over 1 billion probiotics per serve. The only other way to receive a therapeutic dose is by supplementation, so it's a fantastic whole food to add to your daily diet. Not to mention it's also a good course of calcium and protein.
I regularly drink it in a glass on its own, but there are so many ways you can use it in your everyday cooking as well. You can add it to smoothies, or use the liquid component for bircher muesli and chia puddings, or just serve it as is with fruit, nuts or muesli. You can also get even more creative and use it in salad dressings, add it to dips and marinades, add it to baked goods, or even make healthy raw treats with it.
My favourite way to have kefir is in a smoothie with zucchini, spinach, prunes, blueberries and chia seeds. I also love it mixed with tahini and lemon juice, drizzled over a salad (see that recipe here). Although you can use in frozen or cooked recipes you will get the most probiotic benefit by using it chilled straight out of the fridge.
Steph Geddes is a nutritionist and holistic foodie whose recipes are a revelation for anyone wanting to fuel their body with good food that is balanced, easy and seriously delicious. You can follow her on Instagram here or read more from Steph on her website.