Is kefir paleo? Although kefir was not consumed by our Paleolithic ancestors, it has been consumed by certain traditional societies for hundreds of years, and there is good science supporting its many health benefits. I would personally class kefir as a paleo superfood, and here’s why:
- According to Chris Kresser L.Ac “The various types of beneficial microbiota contained in kefir make it one of the most potent probiotic foods available.” It contains many different strains of not just beneficial bacteria, but beneficial yeasts as well. Kefir contains several major strains of bacteria not commonly found in yogurt. The naturally occurring bacteria and yeast combine symbiotically to give superior health benefits. We don’t fully understand the gut microbiome, but more and more research is showing how vital the bacteria that live in our digestive system are to our health. For fascinating reading on the gut micro biome, check out the Human Food Project:
- Kefir is an excellent source of essential amino acids. The complete proteins in kefir are partially digested and therefore more easily utilised by the body. It is a good source of the amino acid tryptophan. Melatonin and serotonin, both synthesized by the body from the amino acid tryptophan, together regulate peristalsis of the digestive tract and have a relaxing effect on the nervous system.
- Kefir is a rich source of vitamins and minerals, particularly those important for bone health such as calcium, magnesium and phosphorus. Since it is a product of bacterial fermentation, it is also very likely a good source of the elusive vitamin K2, which is also crucial for bone health, particularly if the milk comes from grass-fed cows. It is also a good source of B vitamins, particularly B12.
- Even people with lactose-intolerance can usually tolerate kefir since the beneficial bacteria and yeasts consume most of the lactose originally present in the milk.
- The curd size of kefir is smaller than yogurt, making it easier to digest so it is a particularly excellent and nutritious food for babies, the elderly and some people with digestive disorders.
- Research has demonstrated that kefir has anti-microbial properties (against bacteria such as E-coli and Salmonella) as well as anti-inflammatory properties. Some studies have also shown an anti-tumour effect. In one study, kefir consumption inhibited tumor growth and induced the apoptotic form of tumor cell lysis, suggesting that kefir may play a role in cancer prevention: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12734066
This paper reviews the literature on kefir:
Microbiological, technological and therapeutic properties of kefir: a natural probiotic beverage http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3833126/
Read Chris Kresser’s article on kefir here: http://chriskresser.com/kefir-the-not-quite-paleo-superfood
Where can you buy kefir in the UK?
- I get raw (unpasteurised) kefir from Plawhatch Farm on the edge of the Ashdown Forest, near Sharpthorne. The farm is a community-run, organic, biodynamic farm and the cows are grass-fed. For anyone local – you can visit their website to find out more:
- Chuckling Goat sell raw goat’s milk kefir and coconut water kefir, available to buy online: http://www.chucklinggoat.co.uk
- Rhythm Health produce raw coconut milk kefir, available to buy in Wholefoods and certain branches of Holland and Barratt: http://www.rhythmhealth.co.uk
- CONTACT US (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you know of other suppliers of kefir in the UK and we’ll add them here
How to use kefir
- You can drink kefir as it is, if you like the taste. I add it to fruit smoothies, where it adds a creamy taste and texture.