I am often asked what can be done to help to improve health. This could be related to digestion, to sleeping or to feeling down and lacking energy. In the last couple of weeks I have found myself talking to more and more clients about kefir and the difference that drinking it regularly can make.

One thing I have learnt is that if one of you is asking, it is a question that most of you would like to have answered! So today we are going to look at what kefir is and why it could make a difference to you all on a daily basis.

What is kefir and why should you care?

Gut health is phrase that is hot in the media at the moment. There is lots of research being done about the connection between our gut and our brain. Increasingly we are told that if we focus on the health of our gut we can address many health issues. So why is this?

When we eat a healthy and varied diet with lots of fresh vegetables, our gut works well. Our biome is healthy and there is variety in the flora in the gut. The issues come when our diet is limited or we eat lots of processed food. The gut struggles to deal with the food presented and over time issues can arise. If this continues you could develop issues such as leaky gut or other digestive complaints such as IBS. Put very simply the lining of the gut wall is compromised and at this point there can be a problem if your immune system is not up to dealing with the issue either.

Why you want to reduce inflammation 

Stress affects your immune system leaving you in a highly charged state. Over time this can cause increased inflammation in the body and the appearance of many autoimmune conditions. Inflammation is thought to create the conditions whereby many diseases can develop and take hold, from diabetes to heart problems, even to cancers.

With this is mind our priority needs to be to keep our gut healthy and functioning well. This is one simple action that will help to reduce inflammation. We need to eat a diet with lots of variety and colour. Eating fresh food cooked from scratch is the key. Our body will then get the nutrients we need to feed the gut bacteria and keep it functioning well.

More about Kefir

Where kefir comes into the discussion is that it is full of really great cultures. It is milk that has been fermented with a yeast/bacterial fermentation starter of kefir grains and it is full of goodness. It is easier for the body to digest than milk and puts a lot of goodness back in. Kefir grains originate from the northern parts of the Causasus Mountains.  It can be particularly effective at helping the body to repair after a course of antibiotics which will have had an detrimental effect on your gut health.

A word of warning for you before you race out and buy some kefir. It has a distinctive taste and in some cases can taste awful! It certainly took me a while to get into the habit and to see past the smell and the taste. You can buy kefir in supermarkets (not all so ask if you can’t see it). The supermarket version is more palatable and can come flavoured with honey or cherry for example. It will work for you but isn’t as strong or potent as the version you can buy by mail order or grow for yourself.

Many online retailers such as ‘Chuckling Goat’ or ‘Freshly Fermented’ will do one off, regular subscriptions or sell a starter pack. To get started at home all you need is a packet of kefir grains, organic milk, a glass bowl or jug and a plastic spoon and plastic sieve (avoid using metal as that can affect the bacteria). I found a video on Youtube demonstrating what to do and I was off.

Nothing had prepared me for the smell or the overpowering taste. The longer you leave it the stronger and more potent it gets. It is a case of finding the point at which you can manage to still drink it!

It does work though and it really is worth it! I am lactose intolerant but manage to cope with kefir as it is already fermented and therefore easier to digest. My skin is better, my stomach less irritated and I have more energy. I definitely notice the difference if I stop taking it and very soon get more supplies. I was given the grains to ferment my own kefir by my sister, but I had to admit defeat. It was pungent and needed looking after and redoing every couple of days. That was fine until we went on holiday. I thought taking it with me could be a step too far with the smell in the car!

I know that there is resistance from many of you as to whether we should have to supplement our diet to get what we need. In years past our food would have provided everything required for our health. Our modern diet however is not always so nutrient dense and there is some mileage in the suggestion that we need to get additional support. Adding in a drink of kefir each day is a great way to start. Healing the gut will go a long way to helping with a host of increasingly common complaints.

Taking 15 minutes every day just for you

Dealing with stress is the other action that you can take to heal your gut. Drinking kefir helps to put the goodness back in. Stress is what creates the conditions in which our body cannot cope. Your approach needs to address stress too if you are going to see lasting progress.

It is easy to get started. All you need to do is to block out some time each day to do something for you and that makes you slow down. I can feel you starting to resist the idea probably on one of two counts. You will either be thinking that you haven’t got time as you are so busy already, or that meditation is not your thing. You need to stop right now and think about where you will end up if you don’t take care of yourself and your body.

Put 15 minutes a day in your diary and make sure it happens. You could go for a walk, listen to your favourite playlist, read or listen to a book or simply sit and focus on your breath. That is it – this is your time so own it and make a start on investing in your health.

Next steps

I hope you have found that useful and are keen to get more ideas as to how to get stronger, healthier and happier. A great place to start is with my book ‘ Moving More’ here. There are trackers, planners, help to get you started, recipes, workouts and more.

Here are some of the reviews from those who have already purchased the book from Amazon.

‘I enjoyed reading Clare’s book immensely. It is user friendly, full of helpful advice and taking you carefully through the stages necessary to achieve success in finding a healthier, happier lifestyle. The use of quotations from her clients is extremely motivating – if they can do it, I can. I have already recommended this book to my family and friends here and in North America.’

‘This book will have you off the sofa and moving well before you get to the end. Clare takes a simple no nonsense approach that is impossible to ignore. She is the little angel on your shoulder dismissing all your excuses with sensible and practical advice. This book is definitely worth the small investment and you also get access to lots of additional advice and support through her website. The stories of real clients making small steps are hugely motivating too. You won’t regret buying it.’

Buy your copy of Moving More by Clare Nielsen

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