Yet Another Cycling Forum

General Category => The Knowledge => Health & Fitness => Topic started by: geoff on October 17, 2010, 12:57:31 pm

Title: Kefir the wonder food. True or False?
Post by: geoff on October 17, 2010, 12:57:31 pm
My other half has had a major problem with allergic asthma, now thankfully improved by boosting her immune system (well, that was the theory, at least). In part this has been through the use of Kefir as a pro-biotic. (The other part was "enzyme-potentiated desensitisation", EPD (http://www.epd.org.uk/)).

The Kefir culture usually goes bad after c. a week, so we get through a starter culture pack every month or so. And the packs are not that cheap (£26).  I was just re-odering Kefir from the web (http://www.synergy-health.co.uk/supplements/kefir_culture_kit.html?fr=GBASE*%28Kefir_Starter_Kit%29), when my eye fell on the description (in the link) and I wondered if anyone here could comment on the microbiology? To me it seems a mixture of opinion, "science" and pseudo-science.

The point of using these methods at all is that the NHS doesn't do this stuff well. It's not in the mainstream, probably not yet subjected to double-blind trials or peer-review of papers. But it's probably not just the placebo effect (powerful though that is). But how to tell the fact from the fantasy?

Title: Re: Kefir the wonder food. True or False?
Post by: clarion on October 17, 2010, 08:46:10 pm
Desensitisation is a perfectly respectable therapy, and I underwent several courses under Dr Harold Morrow Brown of Derby Chest Clinic, who was the leading expert at the time.  It fell out of favour for a while, after a couple of cases of anaphylaxis, but it's now recognised they were pretty rare, so it re-emerged.

However, that website seems to add a layer of 'woo' to it, and I wouldn't trust them as far as I could throw them.

Kefir, in particular, seems to be snake oil. 
Title: Re: Kefir the wonder food. True or False?
Post by: Cudzoziemiec on October 17, 2010, 09:18:22 pm
Kefir is just another cultured dairy product, like yoghurt, as far as I can see. I like it. You can get it in every supermarket here in Poland, I can't remember the price off hand but 26 pounds to make 6 litres seems way over the top, even allowing for the obvious international price difference. However, I've not heard of people making their own at home - I expect some people do though. It had never occurred to me that it was possible to make non-dairy kefir, either! Presumably the bacteria or whatever it is will also grow on soya milk etc. Sorry, I know nothing of it being used to treat asthma. I'd imagine you'd be just as well with yoghurt, really.
Title: Re: Kefir the wonder food. True or False?
Post by: pcolbeck on October 17, 2010, 11:23:16 pm
I may be being over simplistic here but don't probiotics add bacteria to your digestive system and isn't asthma a lung and respiratory tract issue. I don't see how a probiotic would help.
Title: Re: Kefir the wonder food. True or False?
Post by: campagman on March 29, 2013, 03:52:23 pm
I picked up some kefir grains y'day, will taste my first fermentation this evening. My grains were free, I contacted somebody local using this (http://www.torontoadvisors.com/suppliers) site. They do kambucha too so I might pay another visit when i've mastered the kefir.
Title: Re: Kefir the wonder food. True or False?
Post by: andygates on March 29, 2013, 04:28:33 pm
If it was a wonderstuff, ubermench fuelled by it would be marching on London.  Or something.  Anyone selling wonderstuff who isn't just saying it's wonderfully tasty is shilling.  The bumf as written is pure sales flannel; if it truly adds flora permanently, why would you need to buy it more than once?

I note that the wiki article on EPD makes the distinction (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Enzyme_potentiated_desensitization) between it and the desensitisation Clarion mentions.
Title: Re: Kefir the wonder food. True or False?
Post by: Bledlow on March 29, 2013, 08:58:07 pm
Desensitisation is a perfectly respectable therapy, .
My stepfather had it for his hay fever, in the 1970s. He found it effective, but by no means permanent. He got at least one good hay fever season out of each treatment, though.
Title: Re: Kefir the wonder food. True or False?
Post by: Wowbagger on July 27, 2020, 08:55:57 am
I'll resurrect this thread.

My daughter has been an evangelical advocate of kefir for quite some time. She's also pursuing a course in ayeurvedic (sp?) medicine, which is also one of the bees that buzzes inside her rather voluminous bonnet. She's been trying to persuade me to partake in one or the other, if not both. She is utterly convinced that gut biome is a Very Important Thing and is convinced that mine is All Wrong and that could well account for my obesity.

Anyway, I've been resisting her persuasive forces for quite a long time, but she mentioned the other day that she had over-ordered and it would be a shame if it went to waste. Now this could genuinely be accidental, but she also knows my frugal nature and that I hate waste (an attitude which probably has a lot more to do with my obesity than the wrong gut biome) so I have a bottle in the fridge. I've had a couple of tablespoons full so far, one yesterday and one today. I think it's utterly revolting but I'll see this bottle out.

She gets it from this lot: https://www.chucklinggoat.co.uk/product/live-goats-milk-kefir/

<canardly>'Ow much???</canardly>

Blimey, no wonder the goats are chuckling at that price. They are based in Llandysul. Do you have any interesting local gossip on them, Basil?
Title: Re: Kefir the wonder food. True or False?
Post by: Ham on July 27, 2020, 08:59:44 am
1 Litre of kefir from my local polish sklep, £0.99.

Tastes good, too.
Title: Re: Kefir the wonder food. True or False?
Post by: Rod Marton on July 27, 2020, 09:23:26 am
Kefir has always struck me as one of the less offensive Eastern European off-milk products, though that doesn't mean that I'd go out of my way to drink it. I can imagine that goat's milk kefir would be pretty rank, though.

Obviously you should try kumys. Described as the world's most refreshing drink, it is often said that you don't need a second glass. This is absolutely true, I've drunk a glass of kumys and felt no desire whatsoever for a second. Ever. Rancid feta cheese is the best description I can come up with for the taste, but this really doesn't do it justice.
Title: Re: Kefir the wonder food. True or False?
Post by: sojournermike on July 27, 2020, 10:13:22 am
There does seem to be some evidence that gut biome is important, but there are a whole bunch of snake oil salesmen (and women) out there. Best advice seems to be plenty of fibre and veg, varied diet and a bit of blue cheese. Or you could eat the barely cooked entrails of freshly killed porcupine;)
Title: Re: Kefir the wonder food. True or False?
Post by: mrcharly-YHT on July 27, 2020, 10:16:37 am
I was going to mention blue cheese. Much underrated.
Title: Re: Kefir the wonder food. True or False?
Post by: Karla on July 27, 2020, 10:22:57 am
Obviously you should try kumys. Described as the world's most refreshing drink, it is often said that you don't need a second glass. This is absolutely true, I've drunk a glass of kumys and felt no desire whatsoever for a second. Ever. Rancid feta cheese is the best description I can come up with for the taste, but this really doesn't do it justice.

You made it to the end of the glass?  Chapeau!

Kumys  :sick:
Title: Re: Kefir the wonder food. True or False?
Post by: Polar Bear on July 27, 2020, 11:29:54 am
It can be had very cheaply at the various european supermarkets and even mainstream ones such as Asda and Waitrose for not very many pennies. 

As for it's health-giving qualities:  if it was genuinely as good as the claims then it would be a massive success.  Snake oil is truly marvellous stuff you know ...

Nothing beats a properly balanced diet free from excesses and a decent amount of physical exertion for the vast majority of us.
Title: Re: Kefir the wonder food. True or False?
Post by: T42 on July 27, 2020, 11:30:45 am
There does seem to be some evidence that gut biome is important, but there are a whole bunch of snake oil salesmen (and women) out there. Best advice seems to be plenty of fibre and veg, varied diet and a bit of blue cheese. Or you could eat the barely cooked entrails of freshly killed porcupine;)

Notably supported by the fact that faecal transplants have cured gut problems in some people.

...I could imagine putting blood donor on a CV.
Title: Re: Kefir the wonder food. True or False?
Post by: Rod Marton on July 27, 2020, 11:38:44 am
Obviously you should try kumys. Described as the world's most refreshing drink, it is often said that you don't need a second glass. This is absolutely true, I've drunk a glass of kumys and felt no desire whatsoever for a second. Ever. Rancid feta cheese is the best description I can come up with for the taste, but this really doesn't do it justice.

You made it to the end of the glass?  Chapeau!

Kumys  :sick:

Only because it contained alcohol.
Title: Re: Kefir the wonder food. True or False?
Post by: sojournermike on July 27, 2020, 11:51:17 am
There does seem to be some evidence that gut biome is important, but there are a whole bunch of snake oil salesmen (and women) out there. Best advice seems to be plenty of fibre and veg, varied diet and a bit of blue cheese. Or you could eat the barely cooked entrails of freshly killed porcupine;)

Notably supported by the fact that faecal transplants have cured gut problems in some people.

...I could imagine putting blood donor on a CV.

I am led to believe that they are smelly, messy and that you need to be confident in the donor’s health. Blue cheese remains my preference.
Title: Re: Kefir the wonder food. True or False?
Post by: ian on July 27, 2020, 12:59:37 pm
There does seem to be some evidence that gut biome is important, but there are a whole bunch of snake oil salesmen (and women) out there. Best advice seems to be plenty of fibre and veg, varied diet and a bit of blue cheese. Or you could eat the barely cooked entrails of freshly killed porcupine;)

Effectively few of the bacteria you eat won't survive your stomach, which is a big bag of acid. I am sure someone, somewhere is offering a kefir enema. I'll pass.

A healthy gut microbiome seems to be a function of variety, the more diverse the population of microbes, the better your intestinal (and other health) is likely to be. This is a reflection of overall diet and dietary diversity, so the same practical nutritional advice applies: eat plenty – and a wide range of – fruit and veg, cut down on meat, refined and processed foods. Not as exciting as a wonder drink, of course, but tastes a lot better.
Title: Re: Kefir the wonder food. True or False?
Post by: Cudzoziemiec on July 27, 2020, 01:19:03 pm
I don't believe in the concept of superfoods but kefir is very tasty and, I'm sure, quite good for you. Dairy products as slimming aid is a concept I'm not entirely convinced though.
Title: Re: Kefir the wonder food. True or False?
Post by: campagman on July 27, 2020, 07:12:02 pm
As post above. I picked up some Milk Kefir grains in March 2013 and they are still in production. Homemade is more superior than shop bought.
Title: Re: Kefir the wonder food. True or False?
Post by: ian on July 27, 2020, 08:36:29 pm
I checked so you lot don't have a browser history like mine, but probiotic enemas are a thing. I'd probably avoid the more effervescent kombuchas though.
Title: Re: Kefir the wonder food. True or False?
Post by: Gattopardo on July 27, 2020, 08:45:02 pm
There does seem to be some evidence that gut biome is important, but there are a whole bunch of snake oil salesmen (and women) out there. Best advice seems to be plenty of fibre and veg, varied diet and a bit of blue cheese. Or you could eat the barely cooked entrails of freshly killed porcupine;)

Eating things like fermented foods like saurkraut, kimichi etc helps too.
 
Title: Re: Kefir the wonder food. True or False?
Post by: Gattopardo on July 27, 2020, 08:46:37 pm
I checked so you lot don't have a browser history like mine, but probiotic enemas are a thing. I'd probably avoid the more effervescent kombuchas though.
Maybe a coffee enema first thing in the morning.
Title: Re: Kefir the wonder food. True or False?
Post by: Jurek on July 29, 2020, 03:34:43 pm
kefir is very tasty. I'm 100% sure it's a healthy drink. many people who drink it for the first time cannot understand what it is. one friend was surprised that I drink kefir. for him it's like sour milk. but this drink creates a healthy flora in the intestines.
All of the red lights on the wall behind me have started flashing.
And a number of buzzers have gone off.
I could be wrong.
Jus' sayin'.

All I hear is this (https://bigsoundbank.com/detail-0451-iphone-ringtone-alarm.html).
Title: Re: Kefir the wonder food. True or False?
Post by: citoyen on July 29, 2020, 05:36:29 pm
Fizzy milk. :sick:

No thanks. I have no intention of learning to like it. I do like yoghurt, it's mostly the fizziness that puts me off kefir.

Kimchi and sauerkraut, on the other hand, I could eat by the bucketful. I quite like kombucha as well.

A couple of people have alread said upthread that the best way to support your gut microbiome is to eat a healthy, varied diet ("eat a rainbow" as they say) with lots of fibre. This is exactly right. Gut bugs feed on fibre.

It's still a developing area of science but there's a lot of evidence these days to support the importance of healthy gut flora, with proven links to other aspects of health seemingly unconnected with the gut (eg depression, joint inflammation, skin allergies).

I think the jury is out on probiotic supplements though*, and on the supposed health benefits of things like kefir and kombucha. I know in some countries they prescribe kefir following a course of antibiotics to help replenish gut microbes, but drinking a daily dose of fizzy milk won't do you any good if you live off Coco Pops and KFC.


*as ian said, the acid in your stomach will kill most of the bugs in your food, which is a really, really good thing on the whole, and probably one of the main reasons the human race didn't die out hundreds of thousands of years ago
Title: Re: Kefir the wonder food. True or False?
Post by: ian on July 30, 2020, 11:02:25 am
I've never tried kefir. I'm not opposed to fizzy milk (I like colorado bulldogs, after all, and ice cream floats – I used to work at a university with proper dairy bar, good god I was so fat) so I might. Kombucha is fine. I'm pretty sure they bung half a tonne of sugar into many of these, so they're basically a standard soft drink with a pretend leanings towards being healthy.

We all love fermented stuff (bread, beer, kimchi, etc.)

Gut microbiomes are important, but I don't think you can specifically feed them, other than via a faecal transplant (there's fairly sound body of work on banking your poo, so you can reboot your gut flora after any course of antibiotics, though be wary when reaching into your freezer...) Even then, the stuff that lives in your colon is going to be very different to what lives in your small intestine, your duodenum, etc.

The gut microbiome is undoubtedly important (perhaps some of the claims are over-inflated, but I think it's vital for creating an effective, and not over-reacting, immune system), but it should look after itself if you eat the usual varied and healthy diet, and apparently it can shift quite quickly. That's why eating something new can give you the seismic farts, but after a couple of times, you're back in gentle tooting territory, but there's no way I'm eating Jerusalem artichoke again to test this theory.

Anyway the microbes in these probiotic drinks are very different to the ones in your gut anyway, so even if they got to where they need to be, they'd be bullied into nonexistence by the locals. It's only recently we've started to get an idea that lives down there, metagenomics is a product of fourth gen sequencers* and computational grunt. Anyway, it's a complex ecosystem of bacteria, archaea, protists, yeasts, and viruses, and probably some bigger parasites. Before metagenomics people had to try and identify them by growing them in the lab, but the majority of them can't be grown outside the gut. There are more microbial cells in our gut than there are human cells in our body.

*back when I sequenced DNA, I had to climb a ladder, now you have these (https://nanoporetech.com/products/minion). I am quite tempted to buy one just because.
Title: Re: Kefir the wonder food. True or False?
Post by: zigzag on July 30, 2020, 12:31:55 pm
roasted potato chips and kefir was one of our staples when i was a student. i like the taste (not all of them taste good btw), and it is refreshing in hot summer weather. haven't had kefir in ages now and almost feel like going to the shop and getting some!
Title: Re: Kefir the wonder food. True or False?
Post by: sojournermike on July 30, 2020, 06:45:59 pm
I've never tried kefir. I'm not opposed to fizzy milk (I like colorado bulldogs, after all, and ice cream floats – I used to work at a university with proper dairy bar, good god I was so fat) so I might. Kombucha is fine. I'm pretty sure they bung half a tonne of sugar into many of these, so they're basically a standard soft drink with a pretend leanings towards being healthy.

We all love fermented stuff (bread, beer, kimchi, etc.)

Gut microbiomes are important, but I don't think you can specifically feed them, other than via a faecal transplant (there's fairly sound body of work on banking your poo, so you can reboot your gut flora after any course of antibiotics, though be wary when reaching into your freezer...) Even then, the stuff that lives in your colon is going to be very different to what lives in your small intestine, your duodenum, etc.

The gut microbiome is undoubtedly important (perhaps some of the claims are over-inflated, but I think it's vital for creating an effective, and not over-reacting, immune system), but it should look after itself if you eat the usual varied and healthy diet, and apparently it can shift quite quickly. That's why eating something new can give you the seismic farts, but after a couple of times, you're back in gentle tooting territory, but there's no way I'm eating Jerusalem artichoke again to test this theory.

Anyway the microbes in these probiotic drinks are very different to the ones in your gut anyway, so even if they got to where they need to be, they'd be bullied into nonexistence by the locals. It's only recently we've started to get an idea that lives down there, metagenomics is a product of fourth gen sequencers* and computational grunt. Anyway, it's a complex ecosystem of bacteria, archaea, protists, yeasts, and viruses, and probably some bigger parasites. Before metagenomics people had to try and identify them by growing them in the lab, but the majority of them can't be grown outside the gut. There are more microbial cells in our gut than there are human cells in our body.

*back when I sequenced DNA, I had to climb a ladder, now you have these (https://nanoporetech.com/products/minion). I am quite tempted to buy one just because.

We have a bed of Jerusalem Fartichokes at the allotment. I confirm that we are usually less blowy by Christmas and absolutely fine by Feb (when their finished)
Title: Re: Kefir the wonder food. True or False?
Post by: Ham on July 30, 2020, 07:18:12 pm
Jerusalem Artichokes? Finished? Bwah hahahahahhahahaha!*

Just FTR, certain people of my acquaintance (asking for a friend, obv) have been known to have exceptionally pungent flatulence from time to time, a glass of kefir daily (99p/litre from the Polish shop) appears to help. So I am told.


*For those not aware, Jerusalem artichokes cannot be got rid of once you have planted them.
Title: Re: Kefir the wonder food. True or False?
Post by: ian on July 30, 2020, 09:05:19 pm
Jerusalem artichokes don't just make me fart explosively, that's the mild symptom, they genuinely made me feel like I was going to explode. I was convinced I was visibly inflating. I couldn't fart fast enough and I was already basically pumping out gas in a continuous stream like I'd been turned into an unwilling rocket engine. It's not an experience I have any wish to repeat. Celeriac comes a close second.

I think they both contain inulin. Nothing good comes of this carbohydrate.
Title: Re: Kefir the wonder food. True or False?
Post by: citoyen on July 30, 2020, 09:17:38 pm
Inulin is another thing people take as a supplement, supposedly as a “prebiotic”, ie something that feeds the microbes in your gut.

Wouldn’t want to share a lift with those people.
Title: Re: Kefir the wonder food. True or False?
Post by: ian on July 30, 2020, 09:24:40 pm
Given my experience, I wouldn't want to share the same county with those people.

It was like an episode of the Haribo sugar-free gummy bears saga.
Title: Re: Kefir the wonder food. True or False?
Post by: Ashaman42 on July 30, 2020, 10:15:14 pm
I'm tempted to try Jerusalem artichokes now for science. But I already fart more than enough. Maybe it'll be kill or cure for my gut problems though  ???
Title: Re: Kefir the wonder food. True or False?
Post by: sojournermike on July 30, 2020, 11:28:39 pm
Jerusalem Artichokes? Finished? Bwah hahahahahhahahaha!*

...


*For those not aware, Jerusalem artichokes cannot be got rid of once you have planted them.


This is true - the crop gets bigger (and better?) every year. I usually plant a few from the previous year, but it’s just a free for all once summer arrives. The heavy laggy clay is no problem for them and they seem to outcompete all the weeds. It doesn’t do any harm that at 6-10 get tall they get the sum earlier I think.

Ian, it certainly makes the nights interesting. Not sure I’d use inulin as a supplement, other than to precondition for said vegetables.
Title: Re: Kefir the wonder food. True or False?
Post by: sojournermike on July 30, 2020, 11:29:23 pm
I'm tempted to try Jerusalem artichokes now for science. But I already fart more than enough. Maybe it'll be kill or cure for my gut problems though  ???

Remind me and I’ll send you some for Christmas.
Title: Re: Kefir the wonder food. True or False?
Post by: ian on July 31, 2020, 09:39:39 am
I'm tempted to try Jerusalem artichokes now for science. But I already fart more than enough. Maybe it'll be kill or cure for my gut problems though  ???

You may also simply take off a like a rocket. Or messily expire there and then in a rapidly expanding cloud of your body parts.

I'd recommend googling 'Haribo Sugar Free' and take some of the stories you find as a cautionary tales.

And honestly, maybe the suffering might be worth it if they tasted great, but really they're a bit meh.
Title: Re: Kefir the wonder food. True or False?
Post by: citoyen on July 31, 2020, 09:46:34 am
'Sugar free' is your guarantee of disappointment.

On a recent episode of Bake Off: The Professionals, one of the challenges was making sweets. The results looked a lot better than Haribo anyway. Tempted to try making my own and putting ALL THE SUGAR in them.
Title: Re: Kefir the wonder food. True or False?
Post by: Aidan on July 31, 2020, 10:03:04 am
Bit late to this, but I homemake my own kefir, which I share with the dog!   I also make my own yoghurt, Greek and natural.  My yoghurt culture has been going about 4 years, kefir about a year.   Both are easy to make and delicious.   
Title: Re: Kefir the wonder food. True or False?
Post by: ian on July 31, 2020, 10:13:29 am
Most sugar-free isn't sugar-free, they've replaced the sugar with a sugar-alcohol (sorbitol, xylitol, mannitol, erythritol etc.) These are sweet but not as sweet but don't get converted to acid in the mouth, so don't cause tooth decay. Hence the popularity in sweets and chewing gum.

They're not calorie-free, but they're difficult for everything to absorb (us and your gut flora) because while they look like sugars, they're not, so they offer effectively fewer calories and a lower glycaemic index. Bacteria that can make better use of these chemicals will, of course, make the most of the influx which may throw things out of a balance. Which is why you start to guff like a leaky gas main. Also, in large quantities, because they're slow to be absorbed, they result in osmotic diarrhoea (basically, they make it difficult for your gut absorb water, so it squirts out the back end). That's why they're usually used in products that you'd consume in smaller amounts, but if you eat a whole kilo bag, all bets are off. Make sure you're close to a toilet.