What is Kefir?
Kefir, pronounced as keh’-feer, alternately known as “Grains of the Prophet Mohammed”, “Drink of the Prophet”, “Tibetan Mushroom”, “Balm of Gilead”, “California Bees”, “Snow Lotus”, tibcos, Yogurt Plant”, “Yogurt Mushroom”, is a cultured beverage that some say originally hails from Russia. It is a fermented, enzyme-rich food resembling yogurt filled with friendly bacteria, known as probiotics. Probiotics are live microorganisms, such as bacteria or yeast, that provide health benefits when consumed. Scientists who studied kefir grains were surprised to discover that there is not a single trace of bad bacteria in the grains. They even injected Escherichia coli, bacteria that commonly inhabitant the intestines, but these were killed by probiotics. It seems that pathogenic organisms cannot exist anywhere near kefir.
Kefir grains are packed with good micro-organisms, micro- and macro-nutrients, essential vitamins and minerals like proteins, vitamin B, vitamin K, folic acid, potassium, magnesium, phosphorus, among others. For thousands of decades ago, townsmen and shepherds of Caucasus mountain had accidentally discovered kefir who kept raw goat milk in their leather pouches. This incident accidentally produced kefir by the act of fermentation. At first, they did not know or had any medical knowledge about this food. They just knew that they felt healthier, stronger and were freed from diseases and lived longer lives after drinking it.
The first proven medical benefit of kefir was made by Russians wherein they said that it can cure tuberculosis, a disease of the lungs caused by Mycobacterium tuberculosis which can lead to death if not properly treated. Not only so, Russian doctors of the Victoria era later even used kefir for healing intestinal disorders, like constipation, diarrhea, irritable bowel disease. And soon, this miraculous food was discovered. After many years of following and research, it was found out that kefir can actually treat many other more diseases. Some places in the former Soviet Union used kefir in treating allergies, atherosclerosis, intestinal disorders, respiratory diseases, cancer and many more. Since then, kefir has become a famous health drink in Russia, Causasus region, Southwestern Asia and some parts in Western Europe.
Karachay natives, Borris keev and some kefir fans were generous enough to share with us the history of kefir. They said that in Karachay or Karachayevsk, a town in Russia near Mount Elbrus, there is a statue of Karachay lady with a cup of kefir welcoming the guests of the town.
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