Did you know bacteria could make you healthier?
The probiotic powerhouse Kefir (pronounced ka-feer) could do just that. Your intestinal tract is filled with a balance of good and bad bacteria. That balance can be easily thrown off from everyday lifestyle stressors such as antibiotics, infections, alcohol consumption, travel, a low fiber diet, or stress. Kefir is packed full of good bacteria that can keep the balance of good and bad bacteria living in your intestine in check.
Kefir is known as the champagne of milk for good reason.
It is a creamy, yogurt-like drink that's rather tart in taste and is not necessarily as sweet as the foil-lidded yogurts you’re used to. It is easily digested, provides 30% of your daily value of calcium and 28% of your daily value of protein, supports digestive health (great for pregnant mothers suffering from constipation), and strengthens your immune system. Are you lactose intolerant? Kefir may be a great option since the bacteria helps digest the lactose leaving you symptom free. Lastly, recent studies have shown drinking probiotic-enhanced dairy products like kefir while pregnant, may reduce allergies such as eczema and nasal allergies in their children.
So if it has probiotics, it has to be yogurt, right?
It is similar to yogurt but different in many ways. Kefir has more live cultures than yogurt - generally yogurt contains only 1 strain of bacteria while kefir can contain between 8 and 10 strains. In addition, one serving of kefir boosts a broader range of nutrients than one serving of yogurt and it has more fiber, almost double the protein, and more calcium. Kind of a nutrition no brainer!
Is kefir the magic pill for reducing belly fat?
Recent studies have shown that those who consumed 3 servings of low-fat dairy products daily reduced their amount of belly fat. The effect was less in those who got their calcium from supplements. The thought is that when there is more dietary calcium in the cells, the fat is more likely to be burned instead of stored. This does not mean you need to stop what you are doing and make a trip to the nearest diary aisle; it just means you want to include sources of calcium into your diet whether it be kefir, milk, yogurt, tofu, collards, or salmon. Not just for your belly, but for your bones too.
Okay I got it. Kefir is good for me. Now what?
You can find kefir in the dairy aisle, generally near the lactose free and milk alternative section. It makes a great snack or addition at breakfast as it keeps you feeling full and satisfied. Limit your intake to 1 cup in a sitting because it can be slightly high in sugar. Want recipe ideas? Try it in smoothies, dips, salad dressings, use it in place of buttermilk, mix it with fresh fruit and freeze it in popsicle form, or strain it with a cheesecloth overnight and you will be left with tangy, rich, spreadable cheese.