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6 Reasons to Drink Kefir (Hey, It Can Be Vegan, Too!)

March 20, 2014

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Kefir is a cultured milk beverage that has a slightly sour, or tart, taste and a texture similar to liquid yogurt.

A popular component of traditional diets in Eastern and Northern Europe, kefir has become increasingly recognized in the western world for its many health benefits. Yet it still remains outside the mainstream, with many people unaware of its healing properties, unsure of how to consume it, or even concerned that they can’t eat it due to dietary restrictions.

So let’s clear up the kefir confusion. Read on for 6 reasons why kefir is awesome, and how to incorporate it into your diet!

1. Ultra pro-biotic. Like yogurt, kefir is loaded with beneficial bacteria and yeasts. But while the probiotics in yogurt tend to simply feed the good bacteria in your gut as they pass through you, kefir actually goes a step further and is able to colonize your intestinal tract with new friendly bacteria. This makes kefir an excellent food for enhancing digestive health.

2. A-okay for lactose intolerants. Even those who are lactose intolerant can usually enjoy kefir because it produces few or no symptoms in those who are sensitive to dairy. That’s because the bacteria present in kefir actually help digest the lactose present, relieving your body of the burden of producing the enzyme lactase.

3. Nutrient-rich. Aside from probiotics, kefir is also a rich source of calcium, tryptophan, B-vitamins, protein, and other nutrients that are vital for good health and maintaining energy.

4. Perfect on-the-go snack. Due to its creamy texture and abundant nutrients, kefir is a very satisfying and filling food, making it a great snack that requires no preparation. It’s a natural fast food that even kids will love!

5. Can be vegan! The milk variety isn’t the only kefir game in town. It can also be made from coconut water, coconut milk, or even regular water. Some of the nutritional benefits above will be lower in the dairy-free variety, but the probiotics will still remain very high.

6. You can make your own kefir! All you need are some kefir grains (gelatinous cultures of beneficial yeast and bacteria) and a little bit of patience, and you can have a continuous batch of kefir fermenting right at home. Here are instructions for making regular kefir, coconut milk kefir, and water kefir.

 Tips for Buying and Eating Kefir:

  • If you’re purchasing regular kefir, look for the plain variety, as the sweetened kind can sometimes have too much sugar or even artificial flavoring. You can always sweeten it up yourself with a bit of maple syrup.
  • Add to smoothies for an extra boost of probiotics in the morning.
  • Mix with granola, berries, chia seeds, hemp hearts, or other dry toppings for a powerful superfood breakfast.

 How do you enjoy kefir? Share your tips in the comments!