07/13/2009 05:12 am ET Updated Nov 17, 2011

Kefir Madness

I got my first "intellectual" taste of kefir while listening to Amanda Love's interview with Patrick Timpone on Amanda is a chef and health strategist, and was discussing fermented foods that evening.

Her biggest focus was her favorite item, kefir. Preferably made from grass-fed, raw mammal milk. Usually goat or cow (I am not necessarily suggesting this for legal reasons of course).

Her voice sounded healthy. I saw pictures of her that later confirmed this, which was reassuring. She stressed the importance of getting good microflora (good bacteria, certain types of yeast, etc) into our digestive tract. She brought along with her coconut kefir, made from coconut milk and dates, and even a ginger ale made from fresh ginger and an organic sweetener.

We were pretty impressed. We have been kombucha fans for a while and took probiotics also, but this sounded so alive. So very teeming with life. Pills...powders...kefir.

Some of you might be asking...what the hell is kefir? This is what Wikipedia had to say:

Kefir grains are a combination of bacteria and yeasts in a matrix of proteins, lipids, and sugars. This symbiotic matrix forms grains that resemble cauliflower. Today, kefir is becoming increasingly popular due to new research into its health benefits. Many different bacteria and yeasts are found in the kefir grains, which are a complex and highly variable community of micro-organisms. Traditional kefir is fermented at ambient temperatures, generally overnight. Fermentation of the lactose yields a sour, carbonated, slightly alcoholic beverage, with a consistency similar to thin yoghurt. Kefir fermented by small-scale dairies early in the 20th century achieved alcohol levels between 1 and 2 percent, but kefir made commercially with modern methods of production has less than 1% alcohol, possibly due to reduced fermentation time.

Variations that thrive in various other liquids exist. They may vary markedly from kefir in both appearance and microbial composition. Water kefir (or kefir d'acqua) is grown in water with sugar (sometimes with added dry fruit such as figs, and lemon juice) for a day or more at room temperature.

We ordered the water kefir grains from Marilyn the Kefir Lady. Wonderful woman. She makes me want to own a few goats.

It has been about 3 weeks now. My digestion is good. But then again, I've been taking probiotics for a while in pill form. These drinks are wonderful though, and considering the price we pay if someone else makes them, Ill gladly have a little kefir farm on the kitchen counter. Looks good next to the blender.

We eventually purchased the milk kefir grains (feeds off lactose, unlike the "water" kefir grains, which feed off of glucose and fructose) as well. I had not knowingly consumed milk in a very long time, but thought that because it was kefir and had been eaten and converted by the microflora, it was now a different food.

A week or so before that, I bought some at the co-op in Minneapolis. A grass-fed, goat kefir from Northern California. It was cold and I took some sips. Wow. I was taken back at first. It was so chilled and sour, but still creamy. It really shocked me. I thought it was pretty damn good. I was thinking about all the minerals in there from the grass which the goats had eaten, and thought about the animal protein that I may or may not have been missing out on over the past 5 years.

So I am experimenting with this now. And so far so good. No mucus like before with regular milk. No pimples like before. I found some biodynamic milk here at the farmer's market in New York City, and we have a little kefir lab going on in the kitchen. Like little pets...little colonies of life.

I highly recommend this. Investigate more if you must, but you will find that by improving your digestive flora, your immunity MAY greatly increase. When the population of good bacteria is strong...good things can occur.

Look into the work of Dr Natasha Campbell McBride. She has discovered a very strong link from lack of good bacteria to autism. And candida. And autoimmune diseases. It really does seem that our immunity is really centered in our digestive system.

And what a bonus that a fizzy creamy coconut kefir happens to taste amazing too.

If you make this a part of your daily routine, I highly doubt you will regret it.