Award-winning nutritionist, broadcaster and ‘gut health’ expert Christine Bailey offers a comprehensive and insightful perspective on ‘The Rise of Kefir‘ and how we can ‘Culture our way back to Health‘ with fermented foods.

Indeed every human culture’s traditional diet included at some point fermented foods. There were the Romans, who ate sauerkraut and sourdough bread because of their health giving properties, India, where lassi is commonly drank on a daily basis, and Korea, which is best known for its kimchi and miso pastes. Kombucha (fermented tea) is popular in many cultures too. Here in Europe we love pickles, sauerkraut, rakfisk (salted, fermented trout), yoghurts and then obviously the probiotic powerhouse Kefir.

The growing awareness of the health benefits of fermented products, particularly fermented milks like Kefir, is slowly but surely moving into the mainstream (‘thank gut’!), changing not only the palate of the nation, but importantly the composition of its  gut flora.

By now there is an extensive library of scientific literature that demonstrates how the right balance of good and bad bacteria in your gut forms the foundation for physical, mental, and emotional well-being. With an estimated 75-80% of your immune system located in your gut, probiotics play a crucial role in keeping your body healthy. Furthermore, healthy gut flora can have a positive effect on the body€™s immune system that can decrease the risk of disease including depression, obesity, diabetes, eczema and allergies.

For anyone with digestive problems, Kefir could be the answer. Not only does it provide plenty of beneficial flora for your gut but there are various studies to support its anti-microbial and anti-fungal properties. Studies have found that Kefir can inhibit the growth of dangerous bacteria like Salmonella and Escherichia coli and help manage Candida overgrowth. Other studies show that the good bacteria found specifically in Kefir may reduce the effects of toxins released by Clostridium difficile.

Further, the bacteria in Kefir produce a structural sugar called kefiran. Studies have suggested it can exert many health-promoting effects including boosting the immune system, lowering inflammation and alleviating allergic responses.

Besides its satiety-inducing protein, Kefir should be at the top of your list of flat belly foods due to its probiotics, which may aid weight loss. Kefir contains calcium, protein and friendly bacteria that are all known to help weight loss. However, it all comes down to the type of probiotics Kefir contains. Certain probiotics appear to reduce the number of calories you absorb from food and affect hormones and proteins related to appetite and fat storage.

Try our Bio-tiful Kefir smoothie recipe:

Using pineapple is a great way to ease digestion thanks to the digestive enzyme it contains called bromelain. Spinach provides alkalising greens, while the chia seeds add lots of great fibre to kick-start your digestive system in the morning. You can use frozen banana and pineapple for a delicious iced smoothie.