Kefir Grains and Your Health

Posted August 2, 2011. There have been 15 comments

What Are Kefir Grains?

Kefir grains are small living communities of bacteria, yeast, and kefiran, existing in solid, gummy, grain-like masses that multiply when properly cared for.

Kefiran is an exopolysaccharide (EPS) matrix produced by the lactic acid bacteria. Think of it as the house in which bacteria and yeast live.

  • When you feed kefir grains, or use them for fermentation, the bacteria and yeast multiply.
  • The families of microorganisms grow, and they need bigger homes or new homes altogether.
  • Growing numbers of microorganisms lead to bacteria producing more of this building material called kefiran.
  • This is what leads kefir grains themselves, housing and all, to grow.

Traditionally, kefir grains have been used to ferment grass-fed, unpasteurized diary. During the fermentation process, milk sugars were consumed, and the result was a sour beverage teeming with beneficial microorganisms.

  • Before drinking kefir, the kefir grains are separated from the kefir beverage.
  • These grains are reserved for later use.
  • When properly cared for, kefir grains last a very long time and multiply in numbers.
  • The polysaccharide matrix (EPS) helps to thicken the texture of kefir.
  • Certain bacteria are responsible for building the matrix that creates the grains themselves.

Robust health is within your reach! Drinking fermented beverages will support your digestion with healthy bacteria and nourish your body so that you look and feel your best every day.
Fermented foods are one of the oldest secrets to robust health!

This is why fermented foods have such a long history in cultures across the globe. Many people believe that good health begins in the gut. After all, food is what nourishes us on a day-to-day basis. If we are unable to properly digest food and absorb its nutrients, a series of health issues can arise.

Fermented foods, like kefir, yogurt, sauerkraut, and kimchee, have multiple health benefits:

  • Break down foods, helping with the digestive process.
  • Are enzyme-rich, also ensuring smooth digestion.
  • Carry beneficial microbes into the gut that live symbiotically with the cells in the intestinal tract.
  • Contribute to the beneficial microbial community in the gut and build a protective biofilm along the intestinal wall.
  • Communicate with the body’s immune system and cool down inflammation.
  • Promote the production of key vitamins that gut bacteria are especially good at synthesizing.
  • Nourish a healthy, alkaline inner ecosystem.
Your diet determines what kinds of microbes live in your gut.

No matter what you eat, your entire body is populated with billions of microorganisms. The food that you eat creates the environment for these microorganisms to live.

Microbes living in a community will build a biofilm around themselves. A biofilm is like the kefiran of kefir grains. It is a housing matrix. And it protects the organisms living within it.

  • Good bacteria build a protective, nourishing biofilm that works synergistically with our intestinal cells.
  • Pathogenic organisms build gluey slime that inhibits healthy digestion.
  • Good bacteria can break down pathogenic biofilm.

Consider a densely populated city and a patch of forested land, and it is easy to see the effects of environment.

  • While both environments have life, there is a greater sense of balance in a forested land because of the various plant life, animals, insects, and the rich soil.
  • Urban landscapes are generally more homogenized and congested.

Because diversity has been reduced and little attention is put toward replenishing the native balance of the land, you will see an environment overrun by virulent pests. Think of rodents and pigeons. They are hardy themselves and tend to carry their own pathogens.

This is like a body overrun by Candida or another systemic infection. At this stage, it is necessary to heal the inner ecosystem with specific microorganisms that have a proven, beneficial effect on the body.

The diversity and numbers of microbes in kefir grains are still too numerous to count!

That’s right. Researchers are still learning about the microbial population in kefir grains. (1) While kefir grains are a rich source of bacteria and yeast, we still have not identified all the microorganisms present in kefir grains. Grains can also house different communities, depending on their environment.

Problems with Traditional Kefir Grains

  • This community changes based on the environment that the grains are in.
  • Grains can become contaminated with frequent, or even infrequent, use.
  • You cannot be certain that your kefir grains contain the correct microflora that will heal the intestinal lining.
  • This becomes especially important to those with a permeable gut or a permeable blood brain barrier.

Oftentimes, inflammation is systemic, and a permeable intestinal lining goes hand-in-hand with a permeable blood brain barrier. This is frequently referred to as leaky gut and leaky brain. A permeable gut means that undigested food particles and opportunistic microbes can get into the bloodstream. Once this happens, the immune system gets activated and can result or contribute to a number of disorders, such as autoimmunity, allergies, and food sensitivities.

  • The gut, or enteric nervous system, is full of neurons and neurotrasmitters.
  • The gut and the brain are uniquely connected. This is called the gut-brain axis.

To solve the potential risks of using traditional cultures, Body Ecology created a Kefir Starter to ensure:

  • Safety
  • Control
  • Specific, targeted function
Body Ecology has retained all the benefits of kefir while also delivering specific microorganisms that are known to benefit digestive health.

Some of these strains, such as Lactobacillus kefyr, are included in the Body Ecology Kefir Starter culture. 

The Body Ecology Kefir Starter culture can be used to ferment dairy.

  • We recommend raw, 100% grass-fed cow or goat dairy.
  • A grass-fed diet creates the most nutrient-dense milk.

For those who cannot tolerate diary, Donna Gates created a special beverage called coconut water kefir.

  • Be sure and purchase only organic young Thai coconuts.
  • Non-organic coconuts are heavily treated with chemicals like fungicide and formaldehyde so that they survive shipment and long-term storage.
  • Non-organic coconuts have the white, cone-shaped husk. This husk would not remain white if it was left untreated. 


What to Remember Most About This Article:

Kefir grains are small communities made up of bacteria, yeast, and kefiran. Kefir grains have been traditionally used to ferment grass-fed, unpasteurized dairy to create a sour drink full of friendly bacteria. This fermented drink supports healthy digestion and the absorption of nutrients to prevent a number of health issues.

What you eat will determine the type of bacteria that live in your gut. Eating fermented foods will populate your gut with good bacteria to fight against pathogenic microorganisms. Unfortunately, traditional kefir grains are often easily contaminated and may not contain the right friendly bacteria to support healthy digestion. This is why Body Ecology has created the Kefir Starter to allow you to safely enjoy fermented dairy and coconut water to protect and improve your health! 

Product Recommendations:

REFERENCES:

  1. Exopolysaccharides Produced by Lactic Acid Bacteria of Kefir Grains. Z. Naturforsch. 57c, 805Ð810 (2002). http://www.znaturforsch.com/ac/v57c/s57c0805.pdf

Post Categories: Brain Health Candida Digestion Digestive Disorders Fermented Foods Leaky Gut

15 Comments

  • So, is it safe to assume then, that my powdered Body Ecology kefir started will never produce any grains?

    Posted on Mar 16 at 7:37 pm

  • For people looking for real kefir grains, not a powered starter, we have milk kefir grains and 5 different types for water kefir grains for anyone to try. Dom's kefir site is a good start for info on milk and water grains, but shipping to the USA can be a bit much. Happy culturing!

    Posted on Mar 23 at 10:44 pm

  • I just bought dehydrated kefir grains from www.culturesforhealth.com. They've been re-hydrating for the past few days, and seperating into whey and curd each day too. Not sure when that will stop, but hopefully I will get some kefir soon!

    Posted on Mar 14 at 9:02 pm

  • The BED makes a lot of good sense to me and I'm going to practice most of it, but I don't have money enough to buy expensive supplements that may be sold on this website. I'm sure they are good items, but I have limited income at this time..
    In the 10 or 15 years I've used kefir on and off, I've never heard of kefir grains going bad or had it happen to me. I bought her Ebook and hard copy both.

    Posted on Dec 31 at 12:55 pm

  • I get my kefir grains from Margaret Blackney in australia. Her email address is margblack@optusnet.com.au For a table spoon of kefir grains is $20. and $3. for postage, with in australia. They are good healthy gains, milk and water.

    Posted on Aug 23 at 6:21 pm

  • I bought kefir grains (milk and water) from Marilyn the Kefirlady in Ohio. They are making the best kefir I've tasted, in about 24 hours. She also ships to Canada.

    Posted on Aug 23 at 6:36 am

  • Any good source of Kefir grains in Canada?

    Posted on Aug 19 at 11:03 pm

  • *Lisa
    You don't need to strain the kefir if you use a culture powder. The kefir grains won't form from kefir that's been cultured this way. I don't know if they will even from from kefir cultured from grains, at least not if every tiny bit of the grains were strained out. As long as your jars aren't brimful I don't think it matters what kind of lid you use since the kefir won't be coming in contact with the lid anyway.

    Posted on Aug 19 at 1:03 pm

  • When I first read this article, I though it made sense. But then I started thinking about it after listening to an interview with Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride about autism & the GAPS diet. She said that the beneficial organisms keep the harmful ones in check. And I started thinking about this article. It makes sense to me that if this happens in the gut it would also happen in the kefir grains as well. I've been making kefir from grains for almost 4 years. I haven't noticed any changes other than the 1st batch I made. It was very yeasty in both smell & taste. But I've never gotten that yeastiness in another batch which tells me the grains do a good job of maintaining their own balance.

    Posted on Aug 19 at 12:58 pm

  • Another question. Are metal lids to glass jars ok to use when storing the kefir milk? I have Ball brand glass jars with metal lids. Should I get plastic lids?Thanks

    Posted on Aug 18 at 8:37 am

  • When using a powdered Kefir starter packet and milk, do you need to strain it like you would the grains? It is not clear to me if you can produce your own grains; I am new to this. Thanks!!

    Posted on Aug 18 at 8:27 am

  • I totally understand some people are in the business for making money and want to capitalize on their knowledge. I am a CNC, MH and ND. Nutrition, diet and health is my life... I agree with Linda's assessment. Kefir grains do not go bad. I have been making kefir (both water and milk kefir and seldom from coconut water) for the past couple of years. I use organic raw milk from pasture fed cows ( I belong to a co-op) and the other way is using spring water (no fluorides) and organic raw brown sugar and organic blackstrap molasses. All these kefir grains need is some form of natural sugar, be it lactose from milk or other type of organic sugar from cane sugar and molasses which is what is left over from sugar cane once the majority of the syrup is removed. Molasses has tons of minerals in organic form (meaning in natural useable form by the body). I make water kefir for incubation pruposes and drink the fermented water which is totally fizzy and the sugar has been entirely digested by kefir grains. The end product is little sour fizzy drink that I enjoy between breakfast and lunch as a snack. My afternoon snack is milk kefir with the kefir grains. I use the kefir grains from water kefir to make milk kefir. I do not strain the kefir grains from the milk kefir as they are the best source of kefir for your diet. I start with 3 table spoons of kefir grains for making the water kefir. The kefir grains multiply at least three times each batch (in 48 hours at 75F) then I use 3 table spoons of these grains for making the milk kefir. If I do the math correctly, I am left over with 3 table spoons of kefir every 2 days. In addition to drinking 16 oz of water kefir and eating 12 oz of milk kefir every day I eat about 1 table spoon of the grains. Two years ago I purchased one teaspoon of grains on the internet but domestically (within US). It took me one week to get the grains started multiplying. It is your choice where you get your grains from but trying to get from Australia seems like a long ordeal. I am not in the business for selling grains (although I am in the business of diet, nutrition and overall good health) so I am not going to solicit anything as my main purpose of writing here is that you are most likely wasting your money on $20 dormant probiotics sold as health food supplements. One tea spoon of kefir in my estimation has 10 times more probiotics and yes after the initial purchase they are free. Get kefir grains and enjoy better health. I have not had a flue or cold in two years and one more thing; you will know when kefir grains go bad! Just a word of caution. never use tap water or any water that has added fluoride. Make sure your spring water has no fluoride as some companies add fluoride thinking they are doing us a favor. If you can't find reliable spring water, reverse osmosis water or distilled water are fine. Molassess provide enoguh minerals so don't worry about drinking distilled water as you will get sufficient minerals. Always handle your kefir grains with plastic strainers and plastics spoons and use glass 32 oz jars to make your water or milk kefir... Enjoy!

    Posted on Aug 12 at 11:45 am

  • There are a few kefir-making groups on Yahoo - Real Kefir Making, - http://health.groups.yahoo.com/group/Real_Kefir_Making/?yguid=271966442 , Kefir Making - http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Kefir_making/ , and Good Kefir Grains - http://health.groups.yahoo.com/group/Good_Kefir_Grains/. Some members of these groups either sell, or even just share grains that can be picked up if local or shipped for a nominal shipping/handling charge. Grains can also be ordered through Amazon, and sometimes on e-bay.

    It is not the experience of members of these groups that kefir grains are easily contaminated.. To the contrary, the grains are quite hardy and self-regulating if handled correctly, and make kefir with far more strains of beneficial organisms than any brand of kefir starter or store-bought kefir. Additionally, traditional kefir grains multiply and can be shared, as well as lasting indefinitely if handled properly. Kefir is easy to make, takes very little time, and when made with real grains, is very economical since once you have grains they will multiply and should never need to be replaced as long as they are correctly handled.

    I would be concerned about ordering from Dom in Australia due to issues with international shipping, customs, and concerns of folks who have ordered from him but may not have received their orders. Another consideration is the shipment of a perishable item such a long distance. Grains shipped domestically might be a better option. However, Dom's site is a good place to get lots of information on traditional kefir grains and how to use and care for them.

    Posted on Aug 4 at 10:23 pm

  • I'm not sure where you live but Dom is the Kefir King in Australia and sells grains,he has a very extensive web site,just google Doms Kefir,hope this helps.

    Posted on Aug 4 at 1:16 pm

  • Is there a good source of kefir grains?

    Posted on Aug 4 at 6:26 am

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