The gift that keeps on giving....
In 1940 Ronald Reagan played the role of George Gipp (real person) who was a Notre Dame football star. Just before the team was to play a monumental game, George was dying of a throat infection. His dying request was when things are tough to win it for the Gipper. The actually phrase, "That one was for the Gipper," was supposedly uttered by halfback Jack Chevigny immediately after he vaulted for a one-yard touchdown in the 1928 Notre Dame victory. That is why when Ronald Reagan ran for president, his slogan was, "Win One For the Gipper!" What does this have to do with the price of hairless chihuahuas in the Savannah? Well, just like football is a battle field where boys are turned to men, the flora (or good bacteria) in our gut is getting slaughtered by modern life. The "Gipp" played both offense and defense, but in our story, the battle cry will be, "Win One With the Kefir!"
Flora - Much More Than a Beautiful Latin Name
Our modern day has us loaded with everything, "antibacterial" - hand soap, hand sanitizer, antibiotics...sometimes multiple rounds, etc. All of these can be necessary at times, but used too often, leaves our beautiful little Latin good bacteria on stretchers being taken from the field of battle. Antibiotics kill the good, the bad, the ugly of bacteria, but we must have good bacteria in our gut or it will be overtaken with yeast. Yeast when kept in its proper place is necessary. Picture them as body guards. They help to keep the peace in the digestive system. The good bacteria are the peace makers. When there is too little flora, the yeast run around looting and pillaging because the softer side of the digestion circus isn't there to gently keep the yeast in check. When yeast over runs the digestive system, it then we have what we call "candida overgrowth". I have personally felt its destructive force and it was not pretty: headaches, yeast infections in the most uncomfortable of places, no energy (my thyroid was being targeted), serious eyeball headaches, inability to concentrate, uncontrollable sugar cravings etc etc. I had to kill it by starving it from the things it wanted. I couldn't have bread, sugar, anything with vinegar, etc etc. I lived on brown rice and vegetables with a little meat. It was very painful, but I did it.
If we must have an antibiotic, we need to follow with good bacteria to keep those yeast where they need to be, and that is where kefir comes in.
Kefir is a cute little squishy grain that gives cultures to milk and when consumed, fills the gut with the good bacteria. When it is added to a cup of full fat milk and left at room temperature on the counter, it does a beautiful dance (probably without castanets) and turns the milk to a gentle sour. The kefir grain is strained out to be added again to a new cup of milk to do its beautiful dance again. It is a gift that truly keeps on giving.
This blog has some great information on kefir. Some sensitive people can't drink kefir because it upsets their stomach, the author explains why and how you can get around it: http://www.homemademommy.
Where Do You Get Kefir?
Amazingly enough, you can get a starter grain at Indigo Mountain for free. You can also get a starter from Amazon. When you get a starter, it will slowly grow bigger and bigger. Eventually you can break it off and give starters to friends and family. It's like Amish Friendship Bread...without the bread...or sugar.
How Do I Care For My Pet Kefir?
This is the easiest pet in the world to care for.
- You feed with with a cup of milk in a cup for 18 to 24 hours
- It takes the milk and changes it with cultures
- you strain out the lightly soured milk into a new cup
- plop the kefir grain back into the original cup
- add more milk
- put it on counter or cupboard for another 18 to 24 hours
If you will be going out of town or don't want to drink it every day, it stays happy in the fridge and cultures the milk much more slowly. This pet just like any other can die if it isn't fed or if washed with chlorinated water. Commercial kefir must be pasteurized...so it kills the good bacteria and is thus rendered useless. This is really the best way to do this.
Isn't Yogurt the Same Thing?
Here's the difference. Yogurt feeds the current good bacteria. It doesn't make more. Kefir has a wide spectrum of good bacteria plus healthy yeasts. It is so much different. Plus, if you want to keep the yeast in check, eating sugared yogurt doesn't help that situation, at all. Most commercial yogurt is sweetened with high fructose corn syrup which is more like "Frankin Sugar" anyway. Some people don't really like the "sour" flavor. I was raised on buttermilk, so its no big deal to me. It can be added to smoothies where you don't even know it's there - problem solved.
As you study kefir further, hopefully you'll get some great insight. Then you will know how to win this battle and keep your little Latin dancing soldiers in good numbers as they slide down and you are able to "Win One With the Kefir". Your body will thank you.