Most of us have heard or read some debate about the benefit or lack-thereof of diary to human health. I am not here to talk you out of consuming dairy if you want/choose/like to. Dairy is included in the Fertility Diet because raw, unpasteurized dairy is a rich source of enzymes and nutrients – like fat-soluble vitamins A, D and K2, calcium, magnesium and zinc, immunoglobulins and proteins, etc. – all known to benefit the body and, in turn, fertility health. We work with couples all over the world, some of whom traditionally include raw dairy in their daily diet. The key here is the word “raw”.
Why Raw Dairy and Not Conventional or Organic?
As of 2013, it is reported that 30 states in the US alone allow the sale of raw milk. Even so, it can be very hard to find a quality source of organically and ethically raised raw milk, and it can be very expensive. It’s easier to purchase pasteurized milk, organic or conventional. It’s available in every grocery store. The catch is that there’s question about the health benefits, if any, that remain in the milk after pasteurization.
If you consume dairy, it is best to, at the very least, purchase full-fat organic dairy preferably from grass-fed cows always. Yet, even organic dairy, milk in particular, is pasteurized, often ultra-pasteurized.
The problem is that pasteurization – irradiating or exposing a raw food to a high heat for enough time to destroy disease or spoilage-causing organisms – greatly alters the nutrients the food offers. Ultra-pasteurization damages the fragile milk proteins making them nearly impossible for the human body to digest. The undigested proteins can end up in the bloodstream (if the body can’t digest and use them, they have to go somewhere), the body identifies them as foreign invaders and the immune system kicks into attack mode. This can result in a rather destructive autoimmune process, or any number of responses/symptoms like dairy allergies, other allergies, eczema and skin issues, etc. Dr. T. Colin Campbell explains this well in his book The China Study, which explains the comprehensive nutrition study of the same name. So, what if you can’t get raw milk and prefer not to purchase conventional milk, even organic because it’s pasteurized?
Culture Your Milk!
Natural Fertility Diet creator Hethir Rodriguez shares, “…you can culture your organic, pasteurized milk you buy from the store to help improve its nutritional profile and digestibility.” This is essentially making either Kefir or some refer to it as buttermilk!
“The microorganisms in kefir produce vitamins, degrade protein and hydrolyse lactose, resulting in a highly nutritious and digestible foodstuff. The microbiological composition of kefir has been investigated using a wide range of microbiological and molecular approaches. The microbiological and chemical composition of kefir indicates that it is a very complex probiotic, with Lactobacillus species, generally the predominant microorganisms,” according to CyTA Journal of Food.
Your cultured milk will be nutritionally similar to the milk you start with containing fat-soluble vitamins A, D and K2, but will also contain vitamins B2 and B12, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus and tryptophan. It is also much easier to digest than pasteurized milk and filled with good bacteria for your gut. Kefir bacteria produce lactic acid that can soothe the gut lining and the good bacteria in our digestive tract give the immune system a boost.
How to culture organic pasteurized milk
All you need is organic, grass-fed, full fat slow pasteurized or High-Temperature Short Time (HTST) pasteurized milk and starter grains.
Starter or Kefir grains are a community of lactic acid bacteria and yeasts added to the milk and allowed to comingle for several days on the kitchen counter. The bacteria and yeast ferment the milk, resulting in an acidic, tangy, thicker, sometimes effervescent milk product. Seems too easy, right? But it’s truly not harder than that!
Makes 1 Quart
Roughly 1 Quart of organic, grass-fed, full-fat milk
1 Tablespoon Kefir grains
- Fill a 1 Quart Jar 2/3rds full of milk.
- Add 1 Tablespoon Kefir grains and cap the jar.
- Let sit at room temperature for 24-48 hours approximately (length of time may depend on the season of the year or where you live).
- Swirl or agitate the jar a couple of times a day. See the milk become bubbly and begin to separate.
- Upon seeing the separation, strain liquid off of the grains. This is your cultured milk or Kefir. Store in the refrigerator.
- Start a new batch of cultured milk (start again with step 1) or store 1-2 Tablespoons Kefir grains for later (store in a capped glass jar in the pantry or refrigerator).
- Enjoy your Kefir BUT start slowly with only a few tablespoons a day for a couple of weeks to introduce the healthy bacteria to your gut with ease.
For fun: Start a new batch of Kefir and after step 5 leave the Kefir in a capped jar at room temperature for three days approximately. You’ll begin to see it separate and the thick Kefir that rises to the top can be used just like and may taste similar to, sour cream (the liquid on the bottom is whey).
For those of you who do not consume dairy and have read this far, this same process should work for rice and nut milks as well.
Questions: What kind of milk do you drink (and why)? Have you tried Kefir or made it yourself; please share? We’d love for you to share your experiences with making Kefir and how you feel you are benefiting your overall and fertility health by doing so. Please share in the comments below!
Resources for Kefir grains:
Cultures For health at https://www.culturesforhealth.com
G.E.M. Cultures at http://gemcultures.com/
- Katz, S. E. (2011). Wild fermentation: a do-it-yourself guide to cultural manipulation. Lansing, KS: Microcosm Pub.
Pasteurization. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/pasteurization
- Pope, S. (2017, September 23). Organic Milk: Healthfood Trojan Horse. Retrieved from https://www.thehealthyhomeeconomist.com/organic-milk-healthfood-trojan-horse/
- Campbell, T. C., & Campbell, T. M. (2017). The China study: The most comprehensive study of nutrition ever conducted and the startling implications for diet, weight loss and long-term health. Dallas, TX: BenBella Books.
- Arslan, S. (26 Nov 2014). A review: chemical, microbiological and nutritional characteristics of kefir – Una revisión: Las características químicas, microbiológicas y nutricionales del kéfir. CyTA Journal of Food. Pages 340-345. https://doi.org/10.1080/19476337.2014.981588. Retrieved from https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/citedby/10.1080/19476337.2014.981588?scroll=top&needAccess=true
- What’s in Raw Milk? (2012). Retrieved from http://www.raw-milk-facts.com/what_is_in_raw_milk.html