Probiotics: Cultured Enough For Kefir?
Tuesday, April 28th, 2009
When I usually meet people and they find out my profession. Something like the following typically ensues:
“You are a dietitian! That is so great. I love kefir.” This has happened one too many times in my life, especially in the last few years. My confession:
My name is Anu and I am a Registered Dietitian and I have not tried kefir. That is until recently.
I had been pretty satisfied moseying along with my daily 2 to 3 live healthy bacteria found in my favorite yogurt. Then just the other day as I was perusing one of my favorite grocery store I saw Lifeway’s kefir on sale and I thought why not?
I bought myself an organic low-fat sweetened pomegranate/acai flavored kefir drink. Then one morning I finally poured myself a cold glass of kefir not exactly sure what to expect.
After one sip – I realized this was LASSI!! What the?!?? Or was it?
To me kefir tasted pretty much like the classic Indian drink, lassi that dates back about 6000 years except kefir was slightly thicker and I thought it was a bit more tangy albeit delicious.
It reminded me of when my mom would make her own lassi drink with yogurt, water, sugar and sometimes add fresh mangos on a lazy Sunday afternoon. The other lassi version was with salt. You heard me right – a tangy salty version can hit the spot for some people. Kefir also comes in savory or sweet versions.
Not sure why I have been missing out on lassi’s younger cousin sister, “kefir the cultured milk smoothie” that dates back about 2000 years and supposedly originated from the Caucasus Mountains in Europe. In fact, back in the 1970’s National Geographic and other journalists went to check out the super-centenarians from this region. Did they live so long because of what they drank? Perhaps.
I wish I had realized sooner that kefir is a yummy ready-made smoothie with a boatload of probiotics (10 to be exact) and Lifeway’s brand has the prebiotic, inulin, added to the mix to boost calcium absorption.
Note, prebiotics are not to be confused with probiotics, the healthy bacteria. Prebiotics are complex sugars that act as the fuel for probiotics. Probiotics work to restore the healthy intestinal flora in our gastrointestinal tract. The evidence-based science indicates probiotics help with gastrointestinal issues, antibiotic-induced diarrhea, excezma and even your overall immune system.
Despite knowing all of this I had never actual bought kefir. Maybe it has been a marketing thing. Julie Smolyansky, the current 30-something president and CEO of Lifeway Foods Chicago-based company has been doing something right in the last few years given the popularity of kefir. Check out Lifeway’s Virtual Smoothie Bar and gather ideas for topping your super kefir smoothie!