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Why Does Good Kefir Taste So Sour? And Why You Should Drink It Anyway

If you struggle with the taste of the goats milk kefir, you’re not alone! The sharp, fizzy, fermented taste is unfamiliar to us, in these days when everything is sweetened. 

But there’s a good reason for that tangy taste. What you’re tasting is butyric acid, a short chain fatty acid famed for its distinctive scent, its bite (butyrate is what gives parmesan cheese its flavour) and most importantly – its anti-inflammatory health benefits for your gut. 

Butyric acid is so critical for good gut health that many people take it on its own, as a food supplement. Science has found that butyric acid butyric acid can aid in the prevention, management, and/or treatment of gastrointestinal problems, IBS, colon cancer, diabetes/metabolic disorders, and neurological disorders.

In fact, butyrate is so important inside your gut that your butyrate score has its own category in our Microbiome Tests, where it is measured separately.  Your gut bugs’ ability to synthesize butyrate is one of the things that will be explained to you in a free consultation with one of our nutritional advisors if you take the test. 

At the end of the day, good medicine doesn’t always taste sweet – nor should it. As human beings we can perceive five basic tastes (sweet, salty, sour, bitter and umami). Each taste activate specific receptors—the taste buds—of the sensory system, which map directly to cranial nerves. 

In this culture we focus mostly on sweet, salty and savoury flavours. And sweet tops the list – both in its contribution to obesity and disease, and in how much we crave it. We want everything to be sweet these days! 

There are solid biological reasons behind that. Normally the body makes its own glucose—an ingredient in sugar and the “energy of life” that powers your every cell—by breaking down healthy fats, proteins, and complex carbs. In the brain, sugar stimulates the “feel-good” chemical dopamine, because this process is so central to our existence. 

When cave folks came across something sweet, their brains rejoiced, since sweet meant a rare glucose boost from the outside world – a survival hack. Our hunter-gatherer ancestors who hoovered  up the rare bits of sugar upon which they stumbled on (honey or berries, hurray!) probably had a better chance of survival. Our earliest ancestors likely downed about 20 teaspoons of sugar…per year. 

But now sugar is everywhere – and that evolutionary adaptation once meant to save us, is now killing us. The average UK adult eats 90 grams – or 22.5 teaspoons of sugar – per day. You read that right – we eat the same amount of sugar in one day, that our ancestors consumed in a year. 

Needless to say, our bodies aren’t cut out for it, and this sugar glut is killing us. Obesity – related to sugar overconsumption – now causes more cases of four common cancers in the UK than smoking, according to a charity Cancer Research UK.  

In the meantime some tastes that have fallen out of flavour – particularly bitter and sour – have their own health benefits for your system. Recent studies now confirm that bitter foods can enhance digestive health, sharpen the appetite, aid in the prevention of leaky gut syndrome, optimize nutrient absorption, improve the gut microbiome and more.

Sour foods are secretagogues– which stimulate the secretion from various mucous and secretory linings and hence, moisten up and freshen up the dry palate by stimulating the secretions from the gastrointestinal tract. Organic acids present in sour foods improves the efficiency of nutrient absorption from foods and therefore, increases the bioavailability of these nutrients to the body.

This process aids in digestion as well as smooth peristaltic and bowel movement.

So use your forebrain, to push back against your knee-jerk biology. Push yourself to eat bitter, sharp, fermented and tangy flavours. Try your kefir neat – you’ll be surprised how quickly it grows on you. 

Love your sour! ; ) 

Questions? Talk to a Nutritional Therapist on live chat!

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