Kefir is the new rage in the natural health world, as it should be! It is jam-packed with nutrients, probiotics, and more, and it is equally beneficial for your animals too!
Kefir is a fermented drink traditionally made with cow or goat’s milk. It is made by adding kefir grains, which are colonies of yeast and lactic acid bacteria, then left to multiply and ferment over 24 hours. Dairy-free kefir versions can be made with coconut water or milk, but they do not benefit from dairy kefir. The grains’ lactic acid bacteria turn the milk’s lactose into lactic acid, so it tastes sour like yogurt but with a thinner consistency. This drink originated from parts of Europe and Asia. The name comes from the Turkish word “keyif,” which means “feeling good” after eating.
Kefir is filled with probiotics and contains up to 61 different bacteria and yeast strains, which make them a fantastic source of diverse microorganisms. These microorganisms (probiotics) benefit health in many ways, such as immune health, gut health, and mental health! This is crucial since over 80% of the immune system lies in the gut, the more beneficial and diverse bacteria we can introduce, the better! Certain probiotics in kefir are said to help protect against infections. Probiotic strains such as Lactobacillus kefiri, which is unique to, kefir, have been studied to inhibit the growth of pathogenic bacteria, such as Salmonella and E. Coli. The carbohydrate present in kefir called Kefiran also has antibacterial properties.
Did you know that over 50% of the canine population is diagnosed with cancer? But, the probiotics in fermented dairy products (especially raw!) help boost the immune system and protect against metabolic diseases. One study by the Journal of Medicinal Food showed that kefir extract reduced the number of human breast cancer cells by 56% compared to 14% for yogurt extract. However, more must be conducted before a firm conclusion can be made.
Many dogs (and people) have a problem breaking down lactose also known as lactose intolerance. But the lactic acid bacteria in fermented dairy foods (like kefir!) turn the lactose into lactic acid which means it is significantly lower in lactose. Therefore, kefir and other fermented forms of raw dairy are usually better tolerated with lactose intolerance animals. Since kefir is so rich in commensal bacteria (friendly bacteria) it can aid in restoring the fragile balance of the gut flora! It actually has been studied to help treat many forms of diarrhea and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) which are forms of gut imbalance. In fact, adding in quality pre & probiotic foods on a regular basis can ensure your dog has a healthy and diverse microbiome. Many stores sell pasteurized kefir (which kills many of the beneficial bacteria) but it is super easy to make at home! All you need is raw milk and kefir grains (make sure they are not water kefir grains). You can source kefir grains from people who make their own kefir already for pretty cheap or online. All you need to do is add 1-2 tablespoons of kefir grains into a small jar and add around 500 mL (2 cups) or raw milk and leave for 12-36 hours at room temperature. Then, strain grains with a plastic sieve and store in the fridge… and that’s it!
Kefir is an amazing healthy fermented food that is great to boost the immune system, digestive health, and may even combat cancer! It’s a great addition for any animal whether kibble or raw fed and is a healthy addition for a human’s diet too.
Disclaimer: Whenever there is yeast overgrowth, it is recommended to avoid fermented foods.
Written by: Hahnbee