[as seen in the Oxford Review January 6th, 2011] The bacteria in your gut are, during the best of times, highly underrated. They provide many different functions that help us live our lives. In fact we have more bacteria in our gut than we do cells in our body. Amazing isn’t it.
To keep our gastrointestinal tract healthy it is very important that we do a few things well. We must maintain our intake of fibre to be a minimum of 30g per day. We must eat a plethora of high quality low-starch veggies like broccoli and kale. We must limit (or eliminate) our sugar intake since sugar causes a shift in the healthy keep-us-lean bacteria. We must take a probiotic as a supplement or as food.
There are many options for getting probiotics into our gut. One of my favorites is called Kefir and it is my secret ingredient to staying in tip-top shape. I am free from colds and the flu year round (my next article will highlight more of my secrets on staying cold-free). A very large part of our immunity lies in the health of our gut and in the bacteria that reside there. You would do well to take that very seriously.
When you eat a diet high in fibre, veggies and probiotics you are on your way to getting a very robust immune system. I find that many people discover Kefir does them very well and helps them regain their health. In fact – many studies point to a well-colonized intestinal tract as being a first-line-defense for our immunological system.
Kefir, an ancient drink from the Caucasus Mountains that resembles liquid yogurt, is made by adding a live culture – called kefir “grains” – from a previous batch of kefir to room-temperature milk (usually from a cow, goat or sheep, though soymilk can be used). The cultures are a combination of bacteria and yeasts, usually lactobacillus acidophilus and Saccharomyces kefir.
The term probiotic means it is “friendly” bacteria. Having lots of friendly bacteria in our gut also keeps us happy. As early as 1906, in an article published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, researchers found that the health of the gut and depression were correlated. As a probiotic Kefir also provides you with calcium and protein, and may have some additional benefits for the immune system. You can certainly use it every day.
The one caution I would give you is that commercial kefir can be overly sweet and can contain additives. Read labels carefully. I would buy plain varieties and add your own freshly cut fruit. Making your own kefir isn’t difficult, with starter kits widely available. You’ll have to experiment a bit to produce kefir that bests suits your taste. In general, the longer the fermentation time, the more sour the finished product.
My personally recommendation is Pinehedge Farms Kefir. This Kefir is made right here in Ontario and right on the farm. This product is not only Organic but also has the Demeter Bio-Dynamic Certification. The Demeter certification has the absolute strictest requirements for organic food, and it also demands the farm be bio-dynamic.
I don’t use any other Kefir products (I get mine at Inside U in Woodstock) because none can even come close to Pinehedge Farms for quality. As usual I called the farm and spoke directly to the farmer when I was doing my research and information gathering. Mr. Heinzle was very helpful and full of great information. He definitely takes pride in his work and believes in the sustainability of bio-dynamic farming.
As always – Eat Well. Exercise Hard. And Keep Smiling!