Our immune system, which is housed in the gut for the most part, fights off toxic bacteria around the clock to keep us well. The best way to help your body fight off toxins and bad bacteria from certain foods and the environment is to first establish a healthy diet, and next, add probiotic-rich foods to your diet. And no, sorry, that doesn’t include those fun, flavored yogurts at the store, which are full of sugar and chemicals, not to mention GMOs and other unhealthy ingredients.
Let’s try one of nature’s most powerful probiotic-rich elixirs instead.
Kefir: one of the most beloved fermented foods of all time
Fermented foods have been around for thousands of years and are used as a way to enhance digestion and preserve food. Kefir is one of these foods; it is regarded as a true superfood in many countries. Kefir is different from yogurt, which is cultured with certain sources of good bacteria. Instead, kefir is made when kefir grains are added to milk, or another liquid with fermentable properties. Although they are called “grains,” kefir grains are not actually a grain at all; they are cultures of bacteria formed together to create a beneficial yeast. Kefir grains are 10 times higher in probiotics than yogurt, and most kefir beverages contain anywhere from 10 to 12 billion probiotic cultures per serving.
Probiotics have been shown to…
- reduce candida overgrowth
- cleanse the digestive tract
- promote a healthy immune system
- relieve depression
- help to fight off the common cold and even chronic forms of disease
- maintain a healthy digestive tract
- help with nutrient absorption
- enhance mental clarity
- enhance and nourish the skin
- reduce skin fungal infections
- reduce vaginal yeast infections
- speed up transit time in the digestive tract
- combat IBS and bloating
These are just some of the benefits most commonly reported with implementing kefir into the diet. It has also become one of the top recommended products for leaky gut syndrome and IBS. While kefir made from organic, grass-fed cow’s milk is a great choice for most people, others are sensitive or intolerant to dairy, which makes cow’s milk kefir out of the question.
Benefits of using almond milk kefir
Thankfully, there are other options you can choose that are 100 percent free of dairy. Some of these include water kefir and coconut water kefir. You can use coconut water to make your own kefir, but for a beverage that’s closer to the taste of dairy and a bit more creamy, almond milk is an easy, delicious alternative.
I’ve been making my own almond milk kefir for years for two reasons:
- Almond milk goes bad fairly quickly and is prone to mold if not kept well.
- It’s so easy and convenient to make, and I love the flavor it produces.
Almond milk kefir will keep up to a week in the fridge because the healthy bacteria in the kefir preserve it, unlike regular almond milk that goes bad in 2–3 days if not stored well. You can also freeze the kefir into cubes if you like to use in smoothies, just like you would regular almond milk.
Almond milk kefir can also be used in place of buttermilk as a dressing if you make it extra thick by using less water than the recipe calls for. It can be used on top of a grain-free porridge or in smoothies mixed with some cinnamon and ginger for a digestion-friendly tonic.
Why not just take a probiotic supplement instead?
The truth is, if made correctly using a quality starter, making your own probiotic-rich foods like kefir can actually be much better for you. Think about all the processing that a product goes through, how long it sits on the shelf, and the price you pay for convenience. Though many products on the market are fantastic, there’s no way for us to measure how much bacteria we’re actually getting per product — and we can end up spending a great deal of money trying to find the best one. By making your own kefir, you can guarantee quality and value for money!
Heather McClees is a professional health journalist and Certified Holistic Nutritionist from South Carolina.She received her B.S. Degree in Nutrition Science and Dietetics, and is most passionate about helping others discover the gift of of holistic health, showing others how to create healthy recipes based on their favorite foods, physical fitness and yoga, and creative writing.