Kefir: there’s a lot of interest in kefir at the moment. Eastern Europe and Central Asia have been drinking it for years. Many believe that kefir is the most successful way of helping your gut health. And good gut health is attributed with all sorts of health benefits: improved immunology, mental health, digestive problems, symptons of the menopause, even sleeping. One of the reasons could be that kefir has a variety of different orgamisms, not just one strain of probiotics which is what is often found in probiotic supplements. It therefore is less likely for the bacteria to get displaced by other organisms in the gut, it is a powerful community of good bacteria that won’t be out-competed.
Milk is almost a perfect food. Having all the food groups: protein, fat, carbohydrate and essential vitamins and minerals (the only thing it lacks is fibre). This is why mammals choose milk to raise their infants. And in Europe we have developed many different ways to ferment milk and therefore stretch the goodness it provides into the winter months when fresh food is scarce. Most European countries have some form of fermented milk: cheese, skyr, kefir, yoghurt, villi, filmjolk and so on. As well as the boon of having great food over the winter, unknowingly people have for millenia been populating their gut with wonderful microbes. There’s a lot to be said for farmhouse practices passed down the generations.