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The Magical World of Fermentation

milk-kefir-2Fermentation has been around for centuries, no one really knows the exact timeline however it has been said that it has been around for as long as humans have existed. A lot of the time when we think about fermented foods, beer and wine come to mind however fermented foods come in many forms and are found worldwide in many cultures. In Europe you will find sauerkraut, fermented beets and vinegars, Worcestershire sauce which is made in England, Korea is known for its Kimchi (fermented savoy cabbage) and other parts of Asia you will find fermented fish, soy sauce and other fermented pickles. Parts of Africa ferment a bread called injera and it is delicious!

Gut health has been a hot topic in health news and rightly so. More and more studies are showing that gut health is pertinent to a healthy mind and body, when our gut is inflamed and overburdened problems may occur from mood disorders, skin issues such as eczema and rosacea, food allergies and intolerances, autoimmune diseases and so on. One way we can promote a healthy gut and digestive tract is to add fermented foods to our diet.

Fermented foods are highly beneficial because microbes and yeasts have started the process of breaking down the food allowing for easier digestibility. The less work our digestive systems must do the better. When we eat fermented foods, we reap the benefits. Fermented foods populate our digestive system with healthy microbes that may normalise an unbalanced gut.

Recently we held a couple of fermentation workshops at the clinic. The first one was how to make water and milk kefir. It was well received; the guests learned a lot about the benefits of drinking fermented drink and really enjoyed making their very own water and milk kefir!!!

Click Here to Learn How to Make Water & Milk Kefir

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Origins of milk kefir

“Keif” comes from the Turkish language and means “long life” or “good life”. Milk kefir grains are said to have originated in the Caucasus region of Russia. People have been enjoying kefir for thousands of years.

What is milk kefir?

  • Milk kefir is fermented milk beverage made from organic grass-fed cows milk, goat milk or sheep’s milk, coconut milk may also be used for a non-dairy option
  • Milk kefir is made by introducing milk kefir grains to dairy and allowing it to ferment over a few days, the grains eat the lactose (milk sugar) to survive and multiply
  • Milk kefir tastes like a drinkable yogurt but with many more live cultures and yeasts, it is tart and effervescent

Milk kefir grains

  • A gelatinous mass that look like a cauliflower floret, the grains are made up of bacteria and yeasts held together by a substrate of dairy components.

Health Benefits

  • Aides in digestion
  • Improves skin health
  • Improves gut health

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Origins of water kefir

  • Not completely clear but said to have originated in Mexico. Some stories have also placed their origin from Tibet, the Caucasus mountains and the Ukraine.
  • Unknown how long it’s been around but most likely thousands of years

What is Water Kefir?

  • Water kefir is a fizzy fermented beverage made with water kefir grains, organic sugar, cane sugar or coconut sugar and filtered water
  • Water kefir is rich in beneficial bacteria, yeasts and enzymes
  • Water kefir tastes tart and somewhat vinegary, it is subtly sweet and effervescent
  • Is dairy and caffeine free

Water kefir grains

  • Gelatinous structures that are small and translucent, they kind of look like crystals!
  • They are comprised of bacteria and yeasts held together by a polysaccharide matrix
  • Water kefir grains eat sugar as their food source

Water kefir health benefits

  • Provides an array of beneficial bacteria and yeasts
  • Improved digestion
  • Promotes immune function
  • Improves gut health
  • Great alternative to pop!

What is Lacto-fermentation?

We also held a lacto fermentation workshop at the clinic, here we lacto fermented sauerkraut and beets. It is very simple to do and very tasty!

  • Lacto-fermentation has been around for centuries allowing people to preserve food when refrigeration was not available.
  • Lacto refers to the type of bacteria naturally present on many vegetables namely Lactobacillus. Various strains are found on plants, as well as the digestive tract, stomach and mouths of humans.
  • Lactobacilli transform the sugars and starches found in plants to lactic acid
  • Lactic acid is a natural preservative that inhibits the growth of harmful bacteria, it creates an environment too acidic for harmful bacteria but allows beneficial ones to thrive
  • Lacto-fermentation also increases or preserves the vitamin and enzyme levels, as well as digestibility, of the fermented food. Therefore, it is easier for the body to break it down and process it.

Lacto fermentation is one of the simplest ways add beneficial bacteria to your diet. Many vegetables can be fermented however I would stick to fibrous vegetables such as carrots, cabbage, beets, cucumbers, asparagus etc.

There we have it! A few ways how we can incorporate fermented beverages and foods into our diet. Your tummies will love you for it!


Disclaimer: This article is for information purposes only, it is not intended to diagnose, treat or prevent any illness or disease. Please consult a professional for your healthcare needs.

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