“Probiotics are like the Call of Duty for my insides”. Asher, Age 5.
Pronounced keh-feer, kefir is one of my favourite immune boosting superfoods. It is a “longevity tonic”, a fermented yogurt drink which originated thousands of years ago from Russia. But it is different than yogurt: it’s thin, tangy, and some describe it as sparkling or effervescent since it has a hint of natural carbonation. The best thing about kefir is that kids find it delicious and it contains billions more active probiotic cultures than regular yogurt – it is the most potent probiotic food available.
Most of us have heard about probiotics by now. We’ve all seen the commercials of tv of the woman with incredible digestion and regularity doing the hula.
But what are probiotics and how can they benefit our children?
In a nutshell, probiotics are the friendly bacteria that line our digestive tracts. They protect our gut from invading bugs, they help us to digest food, and they help to remove toxins. When their balance is disrupted, either by poor nutrition or antibiotic overuse, digestion can become compromised. Some children with insufficient gut flora may suffer from symptoms like nausea, poor appetite, tummy aches, constipation, diarrhea, yeast infections, and reduced immunity.
Eating kefir daily is a wonderful way ensure children are getting enough of the good bugs to protect their systems. Just one tablespoon of kefir contains upward of 50 billion probiotic organisms.
Several studies confirm that kefir has the ability to enhance the immune system and to inhibit certain bacteria and fungi. Some of the bugs that kefir may prevent against include Salmonella, Shigella, Clostridium difficile, and the bacteria that causes ulcers (Heliobacter pylori).
Rich in thiamine, biotin, B12, calcium, vitamin K, and amino acids, Kefir helps build healthy bones, muscles, and tissue. Kefir is also anti-inflammatory. Since we now know that most chronic diseases stem from over-active inflammation. It only makes sense to start our children off right by feeding them healthful foods that encourage their bodies’ anti-inflammatory mechanisms and prevent disease. Kefir also helps to digest lactose so may be helpful in some children with lactose intolerace. For the children with dairy intolerances, kefir can be made dairy-free with coconut milk for dairy-intolerant children.
Kefir is made by combining milk (I prefer to use raw grassfed whole goat milk) with kefir grains (that contain yeast and lactobacillus bacteria). Kefir can be made using most kinds of milk: You can use cow, goat, sheep, or coconut milk. For those of you who would rather someone else did the dirty work, plain full-fat kefir is readily available at most grocery stores across the North Shore and BC.