Kefir and Lactose Intolerance

People that suffer from a common condition known as lactose intolerance, could use kefir to start introducing dairy back into their diets again.

Lactose intolerance is actually a common digestive issue that results from very low levels of the enzyme known as lactase. The body needs this enzyme to digest milk sugar, better known as lactose. The results from lactose intolerance include diarrhoea, bloating, and gas.

This issue varies a lot from one person to the next, with some people having to completely cut out all products that contain milk, while others might be able to consume small portions.

Historically, kefir was prepared from milk that came from cows, goats, and sheep. Today, there are now plant-based kefirs such as soya.

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Similar to yogurt, made from milk that ferments, kefir contains loads of bacteria which assists with lactose digestion. Yogurt usually does not produce the common symptoms linked to lactose intolerance since the bacteria in the yogurt helps to break down and digest lactose. Kefir also contains more nutrients when compared to yogurt and it is drinkable. It has a tart taste and the consistency is thicker when compared to milk.

Similar to other fermented products and foods, kefir provides added health benefits when compared to milk. Fermented milk contains probiotics, which include lactic-acid bacteria that improve digestive functions, especially in the area of the intestines. Most of the kefirs also contain over 30 different types of lactobacilli strains. People with lactose intolerance can usually tolerate kefir. At the same time, kefir can also lower abdominal gas which is one of the main characteristics linked to lactose intolerance.

It is possible to drink kefir as it is or add flavours with fruits. It also makes a great base for smoothies. Kefir can be used in soups, but when you heat it up, it decreases the probiotic effectiveness. Traditional recipes from Eastern Europe and Russia often include kefir in cold dishes such as soups.

Kefir owes its beneficial characteristics to fermentation processes. Kefir grains, which are starchy carbohydrate clumps that are produced from every fermentation batch are then mixed into goats or cow’s milk. These grains contain proteins, fats, sugars, and lactobacilli. From here the kefir is left at room temperature to ferment for 24 to 36 hours. Once finished fermenting, the grains can be strained out and then saved to make another batch. It is important to refrigerate both the grains and the kefir.

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