A few months ago I realised that a lot of my health issues were a result of problems with ‘leaky gut’ or intestinal permeability to give it its medical name. The gut is our first line of defence against the many dangers presented by the outside world. It has to figure out what to let in and what to keep out. When there are holes in this defence, as there is with leaky gut, then unwelcome guests can bypass the normal security screening and cause havoc inside the body. This is obviously a simplified version of what actually happens but it serves to illustrate the need for a strong secure and robust intestinal wall as an essential first line of defence and a critical prerequisite to good health. Mine was damaged and needed fixing and this is where kefir came in.
The gut biota is made up of billions of microbes, a kind of internal jungle, with a vast array of different species. Unfortunately, over the years my gut had been repeatedly napalmed by antibiotics and this had rendered large parts of it barren and weak. This had ultimately led to my leaky gut and my subsequent health issues. I needed to fix it and one of the best ways of doing this I discovered was to drink a probiotic called kefir, a kind of milky yoghurty drink containing billions of friendly microbes.
Kefir was available to buy online and was available in some big city shops, however I also noticed that it was possible to make the stuff at home, something practiced by millions of Turks where kefir is a daily essential. Anyway, I chose the homemade option and placed an order for ‘kefir grains’ with a supplier on Amazon.
The grains arrived in a small plastic bag which I duly stored away in a kitchen cupboard and forgot about!! Three days later I remembered to get them out and read the accompanying instructions, the first of which was to add the grains to milk on receipt! Oops!!
I decided to go ahead and see if I could revive them. As instructed I put the grains in a jar with a half pint of whole milk and left them in a dry warm cupboard. The following day I noticed some activity so I was encouraged they were still alive at the very least. The following day there was an unpleasant smell coming from the jar. I stirred the contents as instructed and put them back in the cupboard. The day after the smell was worse and there was frothing on the surface. I decided to ditch the batch, sieve out and clean the grains and start again.
The second batch looked and smelled much better so I ventured to taste the solution. Unfortunately, it was too sour and smelly for my liking so I ended up ditching it again. As I’d read that kefir could be made with coconut milk I decided to give it a try. After two days I tasted the solution and was delighted at the result: it was very slightly sour, it was pleasantly aerated and the strong coconut flavour had been reduced to something far more subtle; yes, I had finally made my first batch of kefir! I poured it into small individual containers and stored them away in the fridge. Over the next few days I happily consumed each one of them.
I went on to make another two batches of coconut kefir, however, having done additional research I realised that I would have to return the grains to milk at some point to ensure they remained vigorous and strong. I duly complied. After two days the grains did their job and this time the result was a very slightly soured kefir with a lovely smooth aerated texture. I’d struck gold, this time I had made my first proper batch of milk kefir!
So what difference has the kefir made? I used to suffer irregular bouts of itchy inflamed skin and after taking kefir this has now gone away. I don’t remember any stomach upsets and I’ve been as regular as clockwork. Joint pains which I’ve endured for years have subsided significantly. All in all I definitely feel better drinking kefir every day.
I like taking kefir as opposed to popping pills as it just feels so natural. If I take my earlier analogy of the gut biota as a jungle then it feels like I am feeding it both the compost and the fauna that it needs in order for its flora to flourish and multiply. Apart from anything else it tastes good and adds welcome variety to my daily diet. I also take great satisfaction in making something myself rather than buying it in. The venture has definitely paid off and although its early days my big hope is that one day my gut will develop into a kind of personal ‘Avatar’ one which sustains and feeds my good health and well being.