Kefir is similar in taste and consistency to yoghurt (ANDREW CROWLEY)
Kefir is a fermented dairy milk drink, made by adding a live culture of yeast and bacteria to milk and leaving it to ferment for a few hours. The result? A tartly flavoured drink reminiscent of, and with a consistency between, milk and yoghurt.
Originating from the region where Europe meets Asia, kefir has been made for over 2, 000 years and is drunk religiously in countries including Russia and former Soviet states for its health benefits. The drink is rich in good bacteria, containing around 47 different strands, whereas yoghurt which contains just one or two.
Natasha Bowes of, a company who makes and sells kefir in the UK, was previously a professional athlete for the Russian figure skating team. She says that in Russia, kefir is drunk every day. Children are given it in nursery and patients leaving hospital are told to drink it as part of their recovery. "Living in Moscow meant I was brought up on kefir. I have been drinking kefir and other cultured milk since I was four months old - it was an essential part of my diet and health regime to help me stay fit and healthy, " she explains.
Another fan of the drink is Shann Nix Jones. A former talk show host from San Francisco, who inspired Drew Barrymore’s character in ‘Never Been Kissed’, Shann and her Welsh husband began breeding goats a few years ago. As an experiment, they fed their son Benji, who suffered asthma and eczema, kefir made from the animals' raw milk. It worked miraculously - and did again for Shann's husband Rich, after an operation for his ulcerative colitis left him with an open wound on his stomach that became infected whilst in hospital with MRSA, the antibiotic-resistant life-threatening infection. Believing that kefir is "as good for the skin as it is for the gut", she began putting it on his wounds. Rich was healed back from near death within a fortnight, because Shann believes the kefir repopulated the good bacteria on his skin and prevented the MRSA from spreading further.
Shann with one of her beloved goats (CHUCKLING GOAT)
We reckon kefir won't have truly hit the big-time until Gwyneth Paltrow starts touting its benefits. But one thing is clear - when it comes to healthy drinks, green smoothies could have some serious competition.
Kefir's health benefits
- Digestion. Kefir is naturally very low in lactose and so easier for some people to digest. The probiotic bacteria also help to break down the ‘bad stuff’ in our bodies and support the digestive tract, which is good for those that suffer with digestive issues such as IBS.
- Nutrients. Kefir has high levels of calcium, phosphorus, vitamins and minerals.
- The skin. Shann says that "your skin is a map of your gut": if your gut is in good working order, it should show in your skin. It has been suggested that kefir can help autoimmune diseases such as roseca, acne and eczema.
Where to buy kefir
Bio-tiful kefir ia available from
Shann's kefir can be ordered from (There is a warning on Shann's kefir that says ' It tastes nasty'. She suggests using it in smoothies with fruit and something sweet to make it more platable.)