Start with the Gut
Posted by Andrea Nakayama
On occasion, I like to write what I call a Consumer Report. I’m not talking about cars or computers here, but instead goodies like coconut and cocoa.
Like you, I can easily get caught out-and-about without a snack on hand. I also really appreciate being able to buy a pre-packaged thing or two that meets my exacting standards. I especially love to get my hands on a product that simultaneously passes the grade and is gratifying to the taste buds.
There are more of these nourishing off-the-shelf items available than when I started my practice as a Functional Medicine Nutritionist over a decade ago, and that’s what these Consumer Report articles are all about!
Today I raise a glass to KeVita, one of my go-to drinks on-the-go.
KeVita is a cultured probiotic beverage—perfect for a hot summer day and even more fitting for the season.
What are Probiotic Drinks?
A probiotic drink is a thirst-quenching way to enhance the good bacteria or flora in your gut. Probiotic means “for life.” To the good life!
Are probiotics good for you?
It’s no longer a mystery that ample good bacteria in your gut or small intestine is the foundation for getting to the roots of many health issues—from allergies to anger, and asthma to anxiety. Those good guys can help shift your emotional and immune blahs into spirited ahas.
Probiotic drinks are one way to invite improved digestion, enhanced detoxification, support for relief of sugar cravings, plus provide a boost of energy. KeVita contains a strain of probiotics from non-dairy kefir cultures. Those are the cultures that have been prized for thousands of years for improving beneficial digestive flora.
Do you need more good bacteria?
You bet! Contemporary culture has done a number on both the balance and bounty of our good guys. There are several key factors that deplete and distort our gut flora populations. These include:
- birth control pills
- environmental toxins
- consumption of animal proteins and dairy exposed to antibiotics
- genetically modified foods
- and the everyday interactions of the food we consume with our unique microbiome
Why is there a rush of probiotic foods and supplements on the market?
Not only are we more depleted in microbial diversity than our ancestors, but traditional cultures regularly consumed cultured, fermented or probiotic-rich foods. Here is a list of just some of those cultured foods:
We’ve strayed from this probiotic-in-the-diet habit, and the market is responding to our physiological need and heightened awareness.
If I’m taking a probiotic supplement do I still need to consume fermented foods and beverages?
It’s great to do both! It’s difficult to know if your probiotic pills are active after they pass through the acidic digestive terrain. When probiotics are consumed through food and drink they’re more readily absorbed and utilized by your body. PLUS, you’re likely getting different strains from different foods and supplements. Tending to your healthy gut is not a one-stop-shopping affair.
Is kefir sugar, gluten and dairy free?
When it comes to KeVita, the answer is ‘yes’ with a caveat. Some of their current flavors do contain cane sugar. I choose to stay away from those. They have many flavors that are sweetened with stevia alone, if that is a sweetener that works for you. My personal favorites are Mojito Lime Mint Coconut and Lemon Cayenne. And I may use one of the fruity flavors, on occasion, to make “ice cream floats” with homemade or coconut based ice cream or sorbet. Is your mouth watering yet?!
KeVita kefir or kombucha?
According to KeVita, their product packs a more potent punch of probiotics due to the fact that the cultures don’t have to eat the sugar and caffeine typically used in traditional kombucha creations. Recently, the KeVita brand started making kombucha as well, so you can certainly give them both a go. And while I love kefir, I’m also a fan of locally brewed kombuchas where I can talk to the makers about their ingredients.
What else can I do with my kefir, besides drinking it straight-up?
You can use the KeVita for a number of things. Try it in smoothies. Use the plain option to soak grains before cooking. Consume a kefir after a workout to receive the benefits of the good cultures along with the great electrolytes provided by the coconut water. Or make a “float” like I mentioned above!
Where can I get KeVita?
Nearly all Whole Foods and most health food stores now carry KeVita. Here in Portland, I can find it at my local co-op. Many grocery store chains also carry KeVita products. Look in the refrigerated drink section to see if yours does.
What about other coconut probiotic kefirs I see at the store?
I love a product by Inner Eco. It’s their Coconut Probiotic Kefir. The difference between this and the KeVita is that you don’t drink the whole bottle (that would be a very expensive drink!) Inner Eco is more like a supplemental dose of probiotics. In fact, at the Functional Nutrition Alliance Clinic, we sometimes introduce this product therapeutically to clients who need an alternative, gentler, or additional probiotic supplement source.
If you’re lucky enough, you may also be able to get your hands on other brands or locally made versions of a healing kefir tonic. Body Ecology has a therapeutic coconut kefir, and Tonix, Quo and Kefir Co. are just some of the brands that I’ve encountered in my travels throughout the states that also specialize in therapeutic kefir. (Yes, I check the local markets for their elixirs and indulge when I can!)
Curious to learn how we help address digestive issues?
As you likely know, I’m passionate about “backing it up” to digestive health, no matter the health complaint, and helping you understand, “what’s going on in there.” We can’t talk about nutrition without addressing gut function. And probiotic drinks are one way to help optimize your digestion!
Your Action Steps today?
Pour yourself a glass of KeVita and consider if your digestive system is in need of some further love and support.
- Food, Mood, Poop Journal (and the real scoop on poop)
- Anxiety, Gender, and Digestion – it’s all connected!
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