Kefir, A History

Yorlife Kefir Grains

The history of kefir is really rather fascinating and the fact that it is still part of many people’s daily diet across the world is testament to its potency and efficacy.  While production scale may have increased the recipe which we use for Yorlife  has not changed much from the early days of kefir.  This week in our blog we thought you might all enjoy a brief history lesson of this miracle milk- don’t worry I will try to keep this as short and interesting as possible!

 *Puts on glasses and serious face* “Ahem…”

Kefir originated in the Caucaus Mountains.  Its roots can be traced back over 2000 years ago to the prophet Mohammed who, as the story goes, gave kefir grains to the Orthodox people.  It is well known that at this time kefir grains were an extremely precious commodity, regarded as part of a family’s wealth and passed on from generation to generation.  Kefir grains were so highly regarded that they were mentioned in the chronicles of Marco Polo during his adventures in the East.

For centuries it was little known outside this region and production was restricted entirely to private residences, or in many cases royal palaces.  It was not until early this century that kefir started to be produced outside of the family home.  Until then commercial or indeed any kind of production to scale had been almost impossible due to grains being so closely guarded.  The story of kefir being brought to the masses is one of bold adventure and quite frankly may not be entirely historically accurate but hey, who doesn’t love a good story…

The health benefits of regularly consuming kefir had long been known and it is said that members of the All Russian Physicians Association set out on a mission to acquire kefir grains to produce and distribute kefir to the wider public for medicinal purposes.  However grains were still closely guarded and generally reserved for the rich and powerful.  So they sought to acquire grains from a prince called Bek-Mirza Barchorov.  They decided to send in a covert agent, and, knowing the princes penchant for beautiful ladies sent their associate Irina Sakharova who was known for her beauty.  Her mission was to persuade the prince to gift her some of his grains, however her powers of persuasion ultimately failed and he refused.  Defeated, the team made to return to their home in Kislovodsk when they were accosted and Irina kidnapped by the prince who had decided to claim her as his wife.  After a daring rescue mission, the details of which are somewhat sparse, Irina was rescued by the rest of the group and returned to her home.  As penance the prince was ordered to pay her 10 pounds of kefir grains and so her mission, though not as planned was indeed a success.  The Russian Physicians soon began to make and distribute kefir to their patients and in turn marked the start of kefir being available to the masses.

While the details of this story may have been lost or embellished over the years there must be some truth to the tale as in 1973 the Minister of the Food Industry of the Soviet Union wrote to the beautiful Irina to thank her for her services and for bringing kefir to the market all those years before.

While kefir is still not as widely known in the UK as it is in Eastern Europe it is starting to become much more widely recognised for its wide and varied health benefits as well as its pleasant taste and versatility.

So there you have it, a history as intriguing as the product itself.  We hope you enjoyed our little history lesson, do let us know if you have any suggestions of what you would like to see covered in the Yorlife blog.

 

Jo x

Yorlife Kefir and Pregnancy

Kefir and pregnancy

Ah pregnancy, the miracle of childbirth, the magic of growing a teeny tiny human.  It is a truly exceptional experience.  It is also a huge strain on our bodies.  For anyone who has been there or currently in the throes of this miraculous time you may be aware that this marvel often comes at somewhat of a price.  Raging heartburn, nausea, swollen feet (and hands and everything else), mood swings, not to mention the fatigue, which is probably nature’s way of preparing us for the sleepless nights which come with tiny humans, are all part and parcel of the process.  So we thought we would give you some information about how drinking Yorlife Kefir can help.

It is so important that we nourish ourselves and our babies throughout pregnancy.  We often get asked if probiotics are safe to take during pregnancy.  In short. Absolutely.  I would, however, always recommend discussing any radical diet changes or the taking of any probiotic tablet supplements with your GP first.  Instead you can ensure you are getting enough probiotics by including natural foods such as kefir and sauerkraut in your diet.

Kefir is important during pregnancy for several reasons.  The first being that it is important now more than ever that your digestive system is working as efficiently as possible so that your body can extract all the nutrients it requires from your diet.  One of the unfortunate side effects of being with child tends to be a slowing of the digestive system due to higher levels of progesterone in your system as well as there being additional pressure, often literally due to baby’s position, on your system which often results in constipation.  Drinking kefir daily helps to keep everything in the best possible working order and should help keep things regular.

Did you know that 75% of your immune system lives in your gut? This is just one of the areas Kefir benefits. Billions of good bacteria reside in your gut and fight the bad bacteria which come its way.  Kefir has been shown to reduce incidences of the yeast infection Strep.  This often starts in the breast and can be passed to your baby during breastfeeding.  Taking regular probiotics has been shown to reduce the prevalence of this infection.  Kefir will help keep these infections at bay and keep your immune system in the best working order to protect you and baby.

In addition to the hundreds of good bacteria in Kefir there are also high levels of tryptophan which produces seratonin (the feel good hormone) which is exceptionally efficient at improving your mood, balancing your hormones and maintaining your energy levels, all of which are mighty beneficial to mums-to-be. This tends to be one of the lesser known Kefir benefits but is certainly one of the most instantly noticeable. Kefir is also full of essential amino acids which help control and regulate our stress levels which can lead to more restful sleep resulting in increased energy the following morning.

 

So while we may not be able to do anything about your little dear kicking you in the ribs at 2am hopefully our yummy kefir will help you during your pregnancy and beyond.  And if you already have little ones why not check out our family friendly kefir recipes.

 

Team Yorlife x

Recipe, Prebiotic Artichoke Super Soup

Prebiotic Artichoke Soup

Ok so it may be unseasonably warm right now but we all know Autumn is just lulling us all into a false sense of security and before long we are going to be digging out the scarves and (amazing) woolly jumpers.  So here’s a little recipe to get you ready to those chilly days, our Prebiotic Artichoke Super Soup!   A couple of weeks ago we were talking about the importance of prebiotics in your diet as much as probiotics.  Now while many raw foods such as bananas contain prebiotics and are a great inclusion in kefir smoothies we thought you might like to try our gut soothing prebiotic soup with a hint of turmeric, perfect to ease you into those Autumn evenings or to take to work on a soggy afternoon.

Make sure you share a pic of your soup creation and use the hashtag #YorlifeYourway

 

Recipe:

1 Onion

10g Flour

1 large Jerusalem Artichoke

1 tbs Fresh Lemon Juice

1 tspn Ground Turmeric

1 tbs Butter

50ml Milk

Salt & Pepper (as desired to taste)

100ml Vegetable (or chicken) stock

Yorlife Original Kefir to drizzle on serving

Wash peel and slice the vegetables, squeezing lemon juice over the artichokes to keep their colour. Melt the butter in a saucepan and toss the vegetables in it for about 5 minutes, with the lid on, shaking to prevent them sticking or getting brown.  Pour on cold stock, bring to the boil and simmer gently until all vegetables are soft and tender. Blend your soup, if possible, then add the milk mixed to a smooth paste with flour. Bring to the boil for 5 minutes, stirring continually.  Sprinkle your soup with cracked black pepper and drizzle with Yorlife Original kefir to serve.

 

For more great recipes which the whole family can enjoy see our child-friendly kefir recipe ideas here.

 

Enjoy, Yorlife Team x

Recipe, Carrot Cake Kefir Smoothie Bowl

Yorlife Kefir Smoothie Bowl

Kefir smoothie bowls are a fantastic way to start the day, or indeed as a snack throughout the day.  You can chuck just about any ingredients you like in there and they are a great way to ensure you are getting a nutrient packed and filling breakfast (or lunch, snack etc.) full of probiotics to get you ready to take on the day.

Kefir is a natural way to ensure you are getting a good dose of good bacteria to keep your gut flora happy and thriving.  This will improve your digestion, metabolism and support your immune system.  Kefir has also been linked to a more restful nights sleep and better energy levels throughout the day.  Yorlife kefir is great to drink on it’s own in one of our three fab flavours (Original, Blueberry & Elderflower and Mango & Passion Fruit) but it’s also a perfect addition to smoothies which you can create using fresh fruit, vegetables, nuts, seeds…well anything you fancy really.

Try our gut loving and filling carrot cake smoothie bowl, a delicious blend of dates, grated carrot and Yorlife (as well as some spices) – it’s the perfect balance of naughty and nice!  It is rich in fibre and the turmeric adds an anti-inflammatory to soothe your tum.  Make sure you share a pic of your creation and use the hashtag #YorlifeYourway

Recipe:

250ml Yorlife Original Kefir

2 Grated Carrots

5 Medula Dated (pitted)

1 tspn Cinnamon or Ginger

1 tspn Turmeric

A small handful of walnuts

A small handful of cacao nibs

Desecrated coconut (to garnish)

Add all to a blender and blend for 1-2 mins until smooth.  Pour into a bowl and garnish with the coconut and some leftover carrot (or anything you like really!)

For more great recipes which the whole family can enjoy see our child-friendly kefir recipe ideas here.

Enjoy, Yorlife Team x

Gut Week, Time to learn to love your gut!

Gut health week kefir

So here at Yorlife kefir HQ it’s pretty much Gut Week every week.  We are fairly obsessed with all that is gut health but this week gets us extra excited as it’s an opportunity to get everyone else talking about their gut health too!

We thought we would mark the occasion by sharing with you lovely folks a few tips for maintaining gut health as if you really make an effort to look after your gut flora we promise it will start to look after you in return.

  1. Ok so I am going to start with the obvious- take probiotics. It’s so simple yet so many people do not get enough probiotic rich foods and instead suffer because of a poor balance in their bacteria.  So get started by drinking kefir daily, whether it’s on the go or you take your time and make one of our delicious smoothie recipes just make sure you are getting at least one 250ml serving per day.  You may also find that taking a probiotic supplement can help too but we would only recommend adding this once you have been consuming kefir daily for a month or two as you may overwhelm your body.
  2. Don’t forget your prebiotics too. We wrote a post last week on the importance of this often overlooked food group which you can read here.  You will find that you see much quicker and more noticeable results by ensuring you include prebiotics alongside probiotics.  It can be as simple as starting the day with a banana or adding one to your smoothie as they are packed with prebiotics and will aid absorption and efficacy of your kefir.
  3. I know this sounds silly, of course you chew your food but are you chewing it enough?  Eating or indeed swallowing too quickly is one of the biggest causes of bloating as when you eat quickly you often take in too much air which can make you uncomfortable.  When we chew we produce saliva which contain enzymes that actually help us break down and properly digest our food.  Taking your time over your meal, that means sitting down, preferably not being distracted by our phones or computers (easier said than done I know) and actually taking note of what and how you are eating can help you avoid bloating and encourage you to feel fuller for longer so you avoid those 4pm naughties!
  4. Walk it off. Take a gentle walk after lunch or at some point during the day to help encourage your metabolism to keep working throughout the day.  While high intensity work outs are great for fat burning and cardiovascular health, gentle movement throughout the day is great for your digestion and peace of mind.  So when you can, get away from your desk- leave technology behind and get 10-20 minutes of fresh air and movement!

 

We hope Gut Week gets you thinking a bit about your own gut health and perhaps even gets you on a journey to improving your inner flora!

 

Happy Gut Week, Yorlife Team x