The UK’s leading milk kefir producers now stock Atlas Biomed Microbiome Tests. Here’s everything you need to know about the company and the science behind kefir.
We are delighted to announce that our Atlas Biomed Microbiome Test is now available for sale online with The Chuckling Goat. It’s important for us to know that we are working with partners dedicated to enhancing your wellbeing and that of the planet, and that’s exactly what they do.
Made by passionate fermenters with milk from happy goats in recyclable packaging, there is very little not to like about this company. Adorable goats are just the tip of the iceberg. Their team is committed to producing small batches of high-quality live kefir. Watch this incredible video to hear all about their experience.
They source their milk for this beverage from the award-winning dairy St Helen’s Farm and use their own herd of goats to produce a range of skincare products. They even participated in animal studies on the benefits of kefir with Aberystywth University.
So what’s the deal with kefir?
Milk kefir is made with kefir grains that are shaped like spongy, miniature cauliflowers. They are added to milk and kept at a specific lukewarm temperature that allows a community of mainly bacteria and yeasts to colonize the liquid.
So far, 300 different microbial and yeast species have been identified in milk kefir, but scientists expect that number to rise as research continues. It is technology like that Atlas Biomed uses, 16S rRNA genetic sequencing that is also used to establish the profile of microorganisms in this fermented beverage.
Many bacterial members of this microcosm are lactic acid producers. Lactic acid is a product of fermentation by these microbes and is associated with digestive health, supporting integrity of the gut lining and even reducing the risk of depression in healthy individuals.
The list of microbes in kefir includes household names with probiotic features that are found in live-cultured dairy products like yoghurt and kefir, including Lactobacillus acidophilus, L. bulgaricus, Bifidobacterium bifidum and Streptococcus thermophilus.
One study on milk kefir indicates that the complex symbiotic relationship between the many bacterial species, yeasts and fungi produces metabolites that benefit human gut health and also provide sustenance for the other members of the kefir ecosystem.
A 2017 review Milk kefir: nutritional, microbiological and health benefits describes the community’s interactions very well. The inhabitants “produce vitamins, amino acids and other essential growth factors that are important for bacteria. Likewise, the metabolic products of bacteria are used as an energy source for the yeasts.” These are important exchanges that maintain symbiosis in the community.
Furthermore, probiotic and commensal bacteria are able to defend themselves against opportunistic bacteria by producing compounds that wage war against microscopic intruders during fermentation.
There is evidence that the probiotic organisms in kefir also prevent pathogenic bacteria from attaching to the gut lining. This is why correctly fermented foods, like kefir, don’t make you sick, despite the lack of refrigeration.
What science says about fermented foods
Research into the specific benefits of consuming live and traditional fermented foods with probiotic properties like kefir, but also kimchi, natto, yoghurt, sourdough and more is only just gaining momentum. It is currently known that fermentation of foods has a two-fold beneficial effect.
It makes the food more digestible by breaking down hard-to-digest compounds including proteins, sugars and fibres. This activity also produces nutrients, including vitamins and short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs) like butyrate that nourish the microbiome and the lining of the gut directly.
Published evidence on humans has been hard to come by until recent decades, but findings indicate that kefir can improve lactose digestion and tolerance according to one study on 15 healthy individuals with lactose maldigestion. An analysis of cow’s milk kefir showed that fermentation can reduce the quantity of lactose in the end product by up 30%.
Fermented foods can also impact your mental health and influence mood according to other research. Several studies indicate that probiotics may be as effective as antidepressants in treating major depressive disorder.
This could also be linked with the production of beneficial compounds like short-chain fatty acids, including butyrate, that have been shown to prevent inflammation, another factor implicated in depression.
Butyrate, in particular, plays an anti-inflammatory role and helps maintain the integrity of the gut lining, preventing organic compounds from food, toxins and metabolites from entering the bloodstream.
Scientists suggest that this may be key in understanding how gut bacteria can influence so many conditions that are, on the surface, unrelated to the digestive system.
There is a lot of ongoing research into how the gut microbiome and probiotic foods can influence mood, cognitive function and even neuropsychiatric disorders like autism and schizophrenia. In the meantime, you can read more about it in our article on how the gut-brain axis influences disease risk and mental health.
So what now?
The Atlas Biomed team are big fans of fermented foods and we are always on the lookout for exciting partners to build a gut-friendly future. Don’t forget to check out the Chuckling Goat and what they do. Who knows? You might also enjoy the fermented goodness of kefir as much as we do.
And if you want more goats (who wouldn’t want to see more goats?!), this is a Chuckling Goat with a go-pro and subtitles about how grass affects milk quality.