The prompt for today is to review a health-related product I find particularly helpful. Now, I must tell you that I am unable to tolerate most foods, but since eating is what those of us living with gastroparesis struggle with most, I wanted to review a food product. My options are limited here, but there are still a few items I find both helpful and enjoyable. One of the best I have found is Kefir. I am guessing many of you have never heard of this. I label Kefir as a sort of drinkable yogurt, and I love it not only for its taste, but also for its health benefits and tolerability.
Though thinner in consistency than yogurt, Kefir tastes similar and has many of the same health benefits. Like yogurt, it is a good source of probiotics, or the “good” bacteria we need to promote digestive tract health. Kefir is actually thought to have about three times as many beneficial organisms as yogurt. It is also a good source of easily digestible proteins, biotin, phosphorous, and calcium (and is even offered in a lactose-free version).
Kefir is widely available in supermarkets in a variety of different brands and formulas. I happen to prefer Lifeway Low-Fat Kefir, but there are many others from which to choose. I have tried most of the flavors, and I have enjoyed almost all, but my favorite is the low-fat Raspberry (http://lifewaykefir.com/products/raspberry-low-fat-kefir/).
I have also used Kefir (flavored and unflavored) in cooking. It works well as a substitute for buttermilk, and can be used in biscuits, breads, pancakes, and other such creations. Because of the wide variety of flavors available, Kefir is also a great ingredient for smoothies. You can use it in place of milk or juice. It adds richness to the drink and makes it quite like a shake. I cannot eat many of the foods I cook, but my family enjoys them, and I feel good about them making healthy choices.
If you are able to tolerate thicker liquids and/or soft foods, I highly recommend Kefir. It is one of the first and only foods I have been able to successfully consume. I have included links to additional information regarding its nutritional benefits, production, and varieties below.
For general information and an overview of the benefits of Kefir see: http://www.kefir.net/
For instructions for making Kefir at home see: http://www.instructables.com/id/How-to-Make-Authentic-Milk-Kefir/
For a good discussion of the differences between yogurt and Kefir see: http://www.culturesforhealth.com/difference-between-yogurt-kefir
For Lifeway product information and choices see: http://lifewaykefir.com/
For a variety of Kefir recipes see: http://www.culturesforhealth.com/milk-kefir-recipes