Meeting nutritional needs in later life can be a challenge. Often elderly people experience reduced appetite, and this combined with an increase in a variety of common ailments makes it all the more important to reach for highly nutritious and convenient sources of goodness. Kefir offers us a fantastic source of nutrition, as you will read below, but with its strange name it often goes undiscovered!
What Is Kefir?
Kefir is a traditional fermented drink, which has been consumed in Russia and Central Asia for centuries. This nutritional powerhouse of a beverage is now becoming popular all over the world and happily, it can be made at home, easily and inexpensively. Many like the taste but even if it’s not your favourite thing it can also be added to fruit smoothies or sweetened with honey, adapting the taste to suit your tastebuds!
Most commonly, Kefir is made using whole-fat milk from cows, goats or sheep, but a different type of Kefir can also be made using water, fruit juice, coconut milk or coconut water. The magic ingredient lies in Kefir “Grains” which are actually not a grain at all, but rather naturally forming cell structures made up of healthy bacteria and yeast. Their lumpy appearance is the reason they are often referred to as grains, but they are also sometimes referred to as Snow Lotus or Tibetan Mushrooms!
What Makes Kefir So Great?
Some of the health problems associated with later life are contributed to by inadequate nutrition. Kefir is extraordinarily nutrient dense – It makes an excellent source of Vitamin B12, Calcium, Magnesium, Phosphorous, Biotin, Folate and a host of other Vitamins, not to mention enzymes and Probiotics. The profile of nutrients will vary depending on what is used as the base liquid and the natural balance of this living fermentation process.
The probiotics or ‘healthy bacteria’ are particularly exciting as so much of our immune system is reliant on the health of our gut flora. Consuming Kefir has been shown to boost immunity, reduce inflammation, and increase nutrient absorption to improve bone density, improve the symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome and reduce the impact of allergies and asthma. Kefir also protects us against the intestinal infections that can cause diarrhoea.
A growing number of elderly people experience a reduction of the enzyme lactase in their small intestine, an enzyme that is necessary for the digestion of dairy products. Milk Kefir is ultimately pre-digested making the full nutrient spectrum of dairy accessible, which means it ticks many boxes in terms of easily meeting daily dietary needs.
How Do I Make It?
To make Kefir milk you simply need to add a teaspoon of these living “Grains” to a glass of milk and allow the mixture to sit for 24 hours at room temperature in a covered container. A clean square of muslin cloth secured with a band works very well, allowing the mixture to breathe whilst protecting it from dust and wildlife!
Be sure to leave some space in the container, as the liquid will expand slightly as it ferments. Once the fermentation process has taken place, the resulting Kefir will have the consistency of a smoothie and a tart, yoghurt taste. Simply strain the Kefir Grains out, using a plastic sieve, (Kefir grains must not come into contact with metal), and your drink is ready.
Impressively, the Kefir Grains can be re-used repeatedly, so long as they are kept healthy and alive. This means that you can make a fresh batch to enjoy each day with the same grains, or if you need to store them for some time just leave them in some milk in the fridge.
Why not experiment with this valuable Super Food and see how you feel? Kefir Grains can be purchased online or in health food shops.