For years I purchased probiotics, such as those with well-known acidophilus, as a nutritional supplement. When there were yeast or fungus issues, or an infection, these supplements with active cultures effectively helped the healing process. In fact, since we’re married (19 years) we have only used prescription medications in our family three or four times, and it’s at least partly due to this fact.
What would we do in a situation where these supplements were not available? With the good quality supplements being rather costly, is there a better way to make them available for our family?
The answer lies with homemade cultured or fermented foods that were traditionally used before modern industrialization, and are still used in less industrialized nations. Before refrigeration it was necessary to ferment and culture many foods including grains, vegetables, dairy products, and raw meats. The health benefits of the enhanced live enzyme and probiotic activity were great, and they are largely missing from our modern diet.
Some health experts focus on eating large amounts of raw foods, which is great but cannot equal the high levels of enzymes and health-giving micro-organisms in fermented or cultured foods (we’re not talking alcoholic, but fermented using live cultures). Many raw foods contain enzyme inhibitors, so the enzymes cannot be utilized by our bodies unless the inhibitors are deactivated by fermenting or culturing.
In the past six years we’ve spent two summers in Kazakhstan adopting our two Kazakh daughters. While there we learned interesting facts about diet in a traditionally nomadic culture. A cultured food in their diet was Kefir (properly pronounced Keh-FEER per Wikipedia and expert Dominic Anfiteatro). Kefir was credited for the longevity and health of the nomad peoples.
Milk Kefir is a creamy cultured milk drink which tastes similar to yogurt, but can be a bit fizzy depending on how it’s cultured. Yogurt is also a cultured dairy product, but the number of health-giving micro-organisms found in kefir far surpasses that found in yogurt. Like yogurt, it is delicious when mixed with raw fruit and/or a natural sweetener such as honey, maple syrup, or raw sugar.
Check back next time for more about life-giving kefir and how we make it at home. If we can do it, so can you!