Tag Archives: obesity

In Search of the Perfect Microbiome: What to eat for more Akkermansia!

Thanks for visiting my blog! First, a brief bit of news: In the next series of blog posts, I will be focusing less on theory and more on practical information about what to do. This signifies a shift that goes along with my working on my next book! And, now you know more about the next book-it will be quite a bit more how-to, still backed up by peer reviewed research but of a more practical nature than The Symbiont Factor is.

Ok, the first thing to cover? There is apparently no perfect universal microbiome. There is, however, an optimum microbiome for each particular individual, at least in theory. There are patterns that researchers have revealed, however, and these can serve as a guide to improving our own microbiome and health.

Last week a research study was published indicating that pomegranate consumption boosted the levels of Akkermansia mucinophilia, one of the (usually) beneficial healthy bacteria. Akkermansia has been the subject of many recent articles, as it has been found to reduce body fat accumulation and helps build more lean muscle while reducing inflammation. Using prebiotics to preferentially nourish desirable organisms can be a vital part of your symbiont strategy.

Pomegranate is available in many forms; it is available as a juice, it is available in capsule form and of course as a pomegranate fruit. For long-term use I recommend capsules. The study was 4 weeks in length, and resulted in a 47-fold increase in Akkermansia so it is important to consume it regularly for best results.

Of course, Pomegranate has many other health benefits, but its prebiotic tendency to improve the microbiome is very significant. The microbial by-products of metabolizing pomegranate have powerful anti-cancer effects as well!

References:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26189645

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26180600

http://progressivelabs.com/product.php?productid=16981&cat=0&page=1 

(remember to register as a patient on Progressive Labs, and specify me, Dr. Richard Matthews, as the person who referred you there. Thanks!)

From the Zombie Files: Ampulex dementor, obesity, and brains. What’s the connection?

One of the central concepts of The Symbiont Factor is that there are times in nature that organisms can take control of another organism’s nervous system, rendering it “a zombie”. This isn’t a zombie in the Hollywood sense, just a host organism that no longer is singularly in control of itself due to the effects of other organisms that “hijack” its nervous system.

In this case, a new organism has been discovered, a fearsome looking wasp in Thailand. This wasp hunts cockroaches, and injects a neurotoxin into them. This makes the cockroach lose active control of its legs so that it cannot escape, and the wasp can eat it slowly while it is still alive. Nature really has some gruesome stories, doesn’t it?

In our own bodies, we have a colony of trillions of bacteria. The late Prof Eshel Ben-Jacob performed experiments and wrote articles documenting how large bacterial colonies were able to act with logic, more as multicellular  organisms. Like multicellular organisms, their activities have a goal: survival. In the case of our microbiome, it is beginning to appear that their ability to alter our nervous system function and our brain activity is not randomized. There is a bi-directional influence at work: as an example, the bacteria that thrive on a fatty diet make us crave fatty foods, and those that thrive on sweets make us crave sweets. If we eat the fatty foods or sweets, it of course preferentially benefits the organisms that thrive on it. This is why there seems to be a “tipping point” in gaining weight such that our energy level drops and our appetite changes, facilitating weight gain. The actual organisms that help us lose weight and stay lean have been identified (Akkermansia mucinophilia is one example), as have those that make us gain weight. Their effect is significant enough that they have been called “obesogens”. It isn’t a single organism but a pattern of demographic shift-more of these/less of those-that results in weight gain or loss.

The changes to brain function, sensory sensitivity (ie what smells tasty to you), mood and behavior shift (a stress microbiome!) make us just a little like a zombie too in some cases. Certainly our behavior and our function is the result of the activity of trillions of symbiont organisms as well as our own decision-making. In effect “we” are composed of many organisms!

Relevant links (many are in the bibliography of The Symbiont Factor: http://tinyurl.com/p3b9o9d):

http://www.treehugger.com/natural-sciences/terrifying-new-dementor-wasp-species-named-evil-spirits-harry-potter.html

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3995701/

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4380304/

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26047662

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24430437

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25968641

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25401094

http://iopscience.iop.org/1478-3975/11/5/053009/pdf/1478-3975_11_5_053009.pdf

The Brain as a Puppet: Gut Bacterial Control of Human Development and Behavior

Human intelligence brain medical symbol represented by a close up of active neurons and organ cell activity related to neurotransmitters showing intelligence with memory and healthy cognitive thinking activity.

Human intelligence brain medical symbol represented by a close up of active neurons and organ cell activity related to neurotransmitters showing intelligence with memory and healthy cognitive thinking activity.

One of the most fascinating discoveries of the last decade is the extent of influence that our bacterial microbiome has on our brain. We are really quite used to thinking of “ourselves” as a singular identity and yet our very mind may be more of a chorus than a solo. Trillions of bacteria all compete to have their needs met and their voice heard, and all of them have the ability to alter the very function of our brain at the most fundamental level. Several research papers have documented this (see references below in case you feel I’m off my rocker for saying some of the things I’m going to say 🙂

Today’s researchers are examining the many ways that gut bacteria can communicate with the human brain, and have found many pathways. The symbionts can alter the sensitivity of our neurotransmitter receptors, can release molecules that mimic neurotransmitters, produce neurotransmitters and release them into blood circulation, inflict pain or stimulate pleasure. What is the motive and why would they do this? How did bacteria learn Pavlovian training and use it to manipulate our mood, behavior and activity? The answer goes back quite far, but comes down to one thing: survival. From the beginning of evolution, bacteria have influenced the development of the multicellular organism. In many ways, you could look at bacteria as the most basic unit of life although this is generally a title attributed to the cell. Cells themselves are composed of structures that may have originated as bacteria that learned/evolved cooperative relationships. Today’s robotics researchers are studying spontaneous collective functioning as well, a parallel interest of mine. We now are fairly certain that gut bacterial symbionts not only guide the development of the human brain after birth, but influence its development before birth as well. To take that thought a step further, previous generations of symbionts have guided and facilitated the evolution of the human brain itself. Their genetic reservoir of DNA “data” is orders of magnitude greater than that of the human host, and has the ability to evolve and adapt on-the-fly during a lifetime. This gives the potential for intragenerational evolution as well as intergenerational, allowing us to evolve a bit during our lifetime and then pass this on to our children (unless they are born by caesarian section or blasted with antibiotics and vaccinations at a young age, but…that is the subject of other posts!) During our lifetime, from our earliest moments, our symbiont organisms are constantly tweaking our behavior and senses to suit their needs. In a way, we are the machine that permits them to live as a multicellular organism in a far more advanced manner, and in a world that many of them cannot survive in without us. It’s as if we built a gigantic robot that could house the entire human population (except, well, there are more gut bacteria in one human than there are humans on the planet) and used this robot to live in places that we normally could not survive in. We would certainly guide the robot to find foods that we can benefit from and do things that aid our survival. Gut bacteria do exactly that, and very elegantly. It isn’t coincidence that obligate anaerobes cause us to be stressed, which makes us breathe shallowly, tense up our muscles so they burn up oxygen, and even begin to develop apnea during the daytime and at night. What is the result? less oxygen in the gut, and that is what an obligate anaerobe benefits from. Our eating behavior is controlled by gut symbionts, to the point that some can inflict pain directly if we don’t eat something they need or trigger euphoric feeling when we give in and eat what they need. This is the reason that “diets” are so challenging, and particularly so for the obese individual-we are Pavlov’s dog, and the trainer has a cattle prod in one hand and a direct brain pleasure stimulation in the other. What will be your choice today? Yes, we can overcome that and eat a diet of “our” choosing, but only successfully after that diet and behavior changes result in changes to the microbiome. You see, once the microbiome is fed a certain way, the organisms that survive on that diet are the ones that become dominant. You can “starve out” harmful/nonbeneficial organisms, but it isn’t easy or pleasant. During a recent podcast interview with the entertaining and brilliant Clint Paddison (The Paddison Program for Rheumatoid Arthritis) he explained to me that fasting is a primary step in recovery/healing from RA. So, you see, we are as much the puppet as the master-it’s a two way street and while the host influences the symbionts, it works both ways. Symbionts can change our very perception of our world, altering our senses to guide our behavior to their benefit.

Ok, so with these thoughts in “mind” consider what the true effect of our diet is. Every single thing you eat and drink or even breathe alters symbiont bacteria to favor those that thrive on the substances in question. Eat a lot of fast “food”? You’ve selectively feeding the organisms that thrive on that. The problem is that apparently most of them are not beneficial to host health! We should also consider that all of these changes to gut bacteria as a result of our eating/drinking/breathing have consequences to our mental function. Everything from mental clarity, intelligence, emotional stability, personality-our very potential as human beings-is influenced by the bacteria that live in our gut. So which do you want to feed, the ones that may make you feel ill mentally and physically or the ones that could help you reach your true potential and live as long and healthy a life as possible?

If you’re intrigued by this discussion even a bit, you should consider reading the reference articles below. If you’d like to understand the subject better but want to read it in English and not research-ese, then please read my book, The Symbiont Factor. You can find it on Amazon as an e-book or paperback at the following link: http://tinyurl.com/p7mx6hh

References:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25401092

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25772005

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25103109

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25974299

Mood: Does it affect gut symbiont health and intestinal function?

flow chart stress intestinal function inflammation

What are the causes of dysbiosis and resultant dysfunction/disease? One cause that seems to be greatly underestimated may be simply our mood! Human beings, having been gifted with large frontal lobes, are capable of experiencing and expressing a variety of moods. Our bodies respond to these moods with different functional states, some of which have been categorized. These are “fight or flight (or sometimes, fight/flee/fortify)” or “wine and dine”.  There are many more physiological functional arousal states that we could elaborate on, but many of them could make this blog post NSFW. We’ll just assume that your imagination can fill in the blanks with how the body responds to the mind! With the brain-gut connection in mind, and being also cognizant that it’s a two-way street since the gut influences the brain, what would be the influence of stress? One that comes to mind right away is a reduction in gut motility. This changes the environment in which the microbiome exists, and will change the demographics of the microorganisms. What about the effects of peristalsis on the small intestine? If there is less peristalsis, wouldn’t it make it easier for colonic organisms to migrate to the small intestine? If transit times increase, different stages of food digestion could release different nutrients, feeding different organisms. When do we cross from fermentative to putrefactive dominance? Using one of the concepts in The Symbiont Factor, this two-way function of gut/brain/gut axis can cause a positive feedback loop. If gut organisms that flourish during emotional stress can also alter neurotransmitter function at the brain, wouldn’t that predispose the brain to perceive stress following stressful events? What if that is why sometimes after a stressful day we just have more stress, no matter what happens? It is as if our very perception of our environment is vulnerable to plasticity. If this is allowed to happen without our conscious intervention (things like deciding to meditate or do some yoga even though you’re angry) the combination of evoked brain plasticity with gut symbiont evolution could be what makes it hard to shake off stress! Ironically, this same plasticity is probably an evolutionary advantage, allowing genetic selection of the microbiome on an ongoing real-time basis to adapt to circumstances. The problem is that our modern circumstances provide constant chemical and emotional pressure to this system, resulting in “learned dysfunction” of both the gut and the brain!  This highlights the importance of “mental housekeeping” and lifestyle choices in determining our “perceptual future”. If you don’t want the world to seem as stressful, start taking care of mind, body, and symbiont health!

Brain/Gut/Symbiont function seen as Rock-Paper-Scissors. Or, why you crave french fries and can’t lose weight!

Rock-Paper-Scissors is an ancient Chinese game, often used in modern society instead of flipping a coin. The concept is that each player, on que, puts his hand out flat (paper) or in a Vulcan-like “V” (scissors), or a fist (rock). Each beats the next: scissors cut paper, paper covers rock, rock crushes scissors. It occurred to me that this is quite similar to how symbiont bacteria, the brain, and the gut interact! I’ll explain the short version, then explain more about it. The symbiont bacteria influence the brain, the brain controls the gut (intestines) and the intestines provide a habitat/home for the symbionts. Imbalances in any of these three can therefore affect the next item in the functional triad: Imbalanced symbionts (dysbiosis) can alter brain neurotransmitters, mood, pain perception, cognition, sense of smell, appetite for specific foods and behaviors. Alterations of this type in the brain result in, amongst other things, cravings for specific foods that would benefit the dominant genera of gut symbionts combined with discomfort/lack of satisfaction if those cravings are not met. Here’s a very common example: one pattern of gut bacteria imbalance results in what researchers have termed “obesogens”, dominant populations of bacteria that cause obesity. How do they do that? In part, by altering appetite, olfaction (sense of smell), and frontal lobe processing to create food cravings and increased appetite, specifically for foods that benefit the bacteria-in this case greasy/sweet and fattening foods. Along with this dietary predilection there are behavioral changes that result in lower energy levels, less ambition, and a preference for a sedentary lifestyle that does not burn calories. These behavioral changes have been evaluated in laboratory animals by taking a sterile (no bacteria) animal of normal weight and transferring the gut bacteria from an obese animal to it. The result is a behavioral and appetite/food preference change similar to that which the obese animal had! In other words, the behavior goes with the bacteria. So, what do you do if you want more energy, want to lose weight and get more done? try to work on improving your gut bacteria! Pre and probiotics as well as exercise and dietary changes provide some ways to accomplish this.

Here’s another example of this triad at work: a stressful lifestyle affects the brain’s control of the gut, by altering autonomic function and causing sympathetic (fight-or-flight) dominance. This suppresses the gut digestive process and causes more putrefaction, altering the balance of symbiont populations. Damage to the mucous lining of the intestines and sloughing off of microvilli that normally improve nutrient absorption and house gut bacteria reduce beneficial symbiont populations. What’s the result? As above, weight gain and a cascade of health problems.

The changes to the symbiont bacteria can alter brain function sufficiently to cause depression, anxiety, irritable bowel syndrome, autism, ASD, and altered brain function, personality and pain perception. These are deeply fundamental changes to “who we are” and are representative of the level of influence that the gut symbionts have on our function.

The “rock paper scissors” explanation should also illustrate why researching specific cause-effect/double blind mechanisms are so challenging in this system, as unless the third variable is controlled for (and it often cannot be) the results may be more inconsistent that they would be in a simpler system.

This functional trifecta is one of the reasons why in my clinic, if I recommend an exercise and a dietary change and the patient immediately becomes resistant and “whiney” about making the changes, I record the resistance as a symptom and try to show the patient how their feelings are in fact potential confirmation of this functional system at work!

References:

Modulation of Intestinal Microbiota by the Probiotic VSL#3 Resets Brain Gene Expression and Ameliorates the Age-Related Deficit in LTP.

Distrutti E, O’Reilly JA, McDonald C, Cipriani S, Renga B, Lynch MA, Fiorucci S.

PLoS One. 2014 Sep 9;9(9):e106503. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0106503. eCollection 2014.

PMID:
25202975
[PubMed – in process]

Free Article

2.

Gut microbiota, the pharmabiotics they produce and host health.

Patterson E, Cryan JF, Fitzgerald GF, Ross RP, Dinan TG, Stanton C.

Proc Nutr Soc. 2014 Sep 8:1-13. [Epub ahead of print]

PMID:
25196939
[PubMed – as supplied by publisher]
3.

Probiotics normalize the gut-brain-microbiota axis in immunodeficient mice.

Smith CJ, Emge JR, Berzins K, Lung L, Khamishon R, Shah P, Rodrigues DM, Sousa AJ, Reardon C, Sherman PM, Barrett KE, Gareau MG.

Am J Physiol Gastrointest Liver Physiol. 2014 Sep 4. pii: ajpgi.00238.2014. [Epub ahead of print]

PMID:
25190473
[PubMed – as supplied by publisher]
4.

Obese-type Gut Microbiota Induce Neurobehavioral Changes in the Absence of Obesity.

Bruce-Keller AJ, Salbaum JM, Luo M, Blanchard E 4th, Taylor CM, Welsh DA, Berthoud HR.

Biol Psychiatry. 2014 Jul 18. pii: S0006-3223(14)00520-4. doi: 10.1016/j.biopsych.2014.07.012. [Epub ahead of print]

PMID:
25173628
[PubMed – as supplied by publisher]
5.

Enteric Bacterial Metabolites Propionic and Butyric Acid Modulate Gene Expression, Including CREB-Dependent Catecholaminergic Neurotransmission, in PC12 Cells – Possible Relevance to Autism Spectrum Disorders.

Nankova BB, Agarwal R, MacFabe DF, La Gamma EF.

PLoS One. 2014 Aug 29;9(8):e103740. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0103740. eCollection 2014.

PMID:
25170769
[PubMed – in process]

Free PMC Article

6.

Altered brain-gut axis in autism: Comorbidity or causative mechanisms?

Mayer EA, Padua D, Tillisch K.

Bioessays. 2014 Oct;36(10):933-9. doi: 10.1002/bies.201400075. Epub 2014 Aug 22.

PMID:
25145752
[PubMed – in process]
7.

Is eating behavior manipulated by the gastrointestinal microbiota? Evolutionary pressures and potential mechanisms.

Alcock J, Maley CC, Aktipis CA.

Bioessays. 2014 Oct;36(10):940-9. doi: 10.1002/bies.201400071. Epub 2014 Aug 8.

PMID:
25103109
[PubMed – in process]
8.

Microbiota-host interactions in irritable bowel syndrome: epithelial barrier, immune regulation and brain-gut interactions.

Hyland NP, Quigley EM, Brint E.

World J Gastroenterol. 2014 Jul 21;20(27):8859-66. doi: 10.3748/wjg.v20.i27.8859.

PMID:
25083059
[PubMed – in process]

Free PMC Article

9.

Serotonin, tryptophan metabolism and the brain-gut-microbiome axis.

O’Mahony SM, Clarke G, Borre YE, Dinan TG, Cryan JF.

Behav Brain Res. 2014 Jul 29. pii: S0166-4328(14)00476-8. doi: 10.1016/j.bbr.2014.07.027. [Epub ahead of print]

PMID:
25078296
[PubMed – as supplied by publisher]
10.

Digesting the emerging role for the gut microbiome in central nervous system demyelination.

Joscelyn J, Kasper LH.

Mult Scler. 2014 Jul 28. pii: 1352458514541579. [Epub ahead of print] Review.

PMID:
25070675
[PubMed – as supplied by publisher]
11.

The impact of microbiota on brain and behavior: mechanisms & therapeutic potential.

Borre YE, Moloney RD, Clarke G, Dinan TG, Cryan JF.

Adv Exp Med Biol. 2014;817:373-403. doi: 10.1007/978-1-4939-0897-4_17.

PMID:
24997043
[PubMed – in process]
12.

Microbiota-gut-brain axis and cognitive function.

Gareau MG.

Adv Exp Med Biol. 2014;817:357-71. doi: 10.1007/978-1-4939-0897-4_16.

PMID:
24997042
[PubMed – in process]

Autism, Gut Bacteria and the HPA Axis-What is the connection?

The HPA axis is not a part of the body that is often discussed. It is a functional “axis” that is used to describe the relationship between three parts of the body: the Hypothalamus, the Pituitary gland, and the Adrenal glands. All three of these organs have critical functions with far-reaching implications for physical and mental health. Many psychiatric drugs have been found to affect the HPA axis, resulting in the therapeutic benefit of the drug. Imbalances in HPA function have been implicated in a wide array of neuropsychiatric conditions including in autism. The gut microbiome, gut bacteria, exert control over the development and function of the endocrine hormone system, in particular the HPA axis. Why does this matter? Because imbalances in gut bacteria can therefore result in imbalances in HPA axis development in early life-and this imbalance has the potential to make the person develop autism (as well as other problems in different individuals). It is important because the gut bacteria are so vulnerable to birth practices (c-section vs. natural), antibiotic use, antibiotics in food, pesticides, herbicides such as RoundUp, and even stress levels perceived by the individual. Higher stress is harmful to the gut bacteria through alterations of the digestive functions, secondary to autonomic nervous system imbalance (more sympathetic, or “fight-or-flight”, function).  Many of these are factors under our influence if not control! Gut bacterial populations are one of the most variable factors in human health, and yet one of the most neglected. My work on The Symbiont Factor is my contribution to spreading knowledge about the gut microbiome, so that more people can take control of their health and more conditions like autism can hopefully be prevented or successfully treated. The book is being configured/edited/reconfigured/formatted so that it works well on all Kindle download platforms, a task that is keeping me quite busy the last two weeks! Almost there, almost there…It will be so exciting when it is finally published! The book will also be available as a print format following its release as an e-book. Until then, stay tuned in and take care of your gut bacteria!

References:

http://www.colorado.edu/news/releases/2013/12/19/research-linking-autism-symptoms-gut-microbes-called-%E2%80%98groundbreaking%E2%80%99-cu

http://www.ageofautism.com/2014/05/the-microbiome-could-it-be-the-epicenter-of-autism.html

http://www.jwatch.org/na33305/2014/01/28/more-evidence-links-gut-microbiome-autism

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24882156

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24715565

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24892638

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3985034/

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24636517

And, best of all, a slide show from one of the head researchers in the field, Ted Dinan: http://www.genome.gov/Multimedia/Slides/HumanMicrobiomeScience2013/33_Dinan.pdf

 

Kefir: How to make your own! Plus, some of its health benefits proven by research.

Kefir is a fermented milk product with at least a two millenium history of human use. Native people such as the Maasai have used fermentation to preserve their milk products. Kefir is the most popular fermented dairy product in Russia and is thought to have originated in the Caucasus mountain region. Milk that is fermented into kefir has been found to last at least six weeks in refrigeration with no spoilage or loss of probiotic organisms! This is significantly longer than pasteurized and unfermented milk, and works the same way whether with camel, cow, goat or sheep’s milk. Kefir has been found to have many health benefits, among them:

-Kills drug-resistant myeloid leukemia cells

-Slows the progression of kidney disease

-Improves fatty liver disease

-Reduces obesity/body fat content

So, how do you make your own? It’s really simple, actually! All you need is milk, a starter culture, and a jar. Starter cultures can be obtained from someone else who is making kefir, or started from commercially available packets:

IMG1330

The culture that ferments kefir is known as a SCOBY, or symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast. Over time, this culture will grow until it looks a bit like soggy cauliflower:

IMG1316

If making kefir for the first time using a package mix, it is best to follow the directions provided with the kefir grains. When you strain out the grains as shown above, they will grow over time and form a bigger SCOBY. This SCOBY is fairly advanced-it’s a good time to share with someone else! This one can ferment a quart of milk into kefir in 24 hours.

The first step to making kefir from a SCOBY is to add the SCOBY to the fermenting vessel (fancy word for quart mason jar in this case!)

IMG1318

IMG1319

The next step is to add the milk:

IMG1323

Then cover the top with a coffee filter or paper towel, to keep dust and insects from contaminating your kefir culture.

IMG1326

and use either a rubber band or one of the threaded rings (since this is a canning jar) to keep the filter attached tightly:

IMG1327

At this point, I place the jar on top of my refrigerator.

IMG1328

It works best if you take it down and stir it lightly 2-3x/day, or at least give it a good swirling-about, to distribute the bacteria more evenly in the milk. If you prefer a lighter fermentation, 24 hours may be sufficient. I prefer a thicker, stronger fermentation, and often leave it 48 hours or place it in the refrigerator the last 24 hours before removing the SCOBY. The next step is to strain out the SCOBY:

IMG1312

IMG1316

The SCOBY culture can then be put into a smaller glass jar with some fresh milk and stored in the refrigerator, or the process can be repeated to start the next batch of kefir. Using this information, you can create your own healthy kefir at home! We use goat milk obtained from a local farm, but it will work with other types of milk or store-bought goat milk also. Fermentation of milk in this manner preserves the milk, as the bacterial culture will actively inhibit or kill any invading bacteria that might cause spoilage or disease. It has been shown to last at least six weeks, as mentioned above. Will pasteurized milk last six weeks if not fermented? Hardly-it would be a horrid stinking mess! In the same manner, unfermented milk that is fermented is safer for consumption than pasteurized milk that is unfermented. Once finished, kefir can be enjoyed as-is, blended with fruit to make smoothies, or added to other drinks and dishes. So get started and enjoy this healthy probiotic beverage!

References:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24215695

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24264228

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24294220

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24335764

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24406684

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3928472/

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24485676

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kefir