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Fermented milk beverages like kefir can also improve lactose intolerance. Gut bacteria, and in particular a healthy strain of E. coli, help digest lactose. We normally associate E. coli with food-poisoning episodes, but there are a number of strains of E. coli that live happily in a healthy gut. Furthermore, these E. coli bacteria produce vitamin K2 and can prevent other pathogenic bacteria from setting up shop in the gut. Dr. Natasha McBride explains that as children, our guts are loaded with beneficial strains of E. coli that flourish until antibiotics or other toxins destroy them. Fermenting the milk beverage reduces the lactose, as the bacteria use it up to feed themselves. Research from the Journal of the American Dietetic Association published in 2003 shows kefir to improve lactose tolerance.
Fermented beverages both protect and nourish intestinal cells. One study in the Biological and Pharmacological Bulletin in 2013 showed kefir in particular to have a protective effect against radiation therapy. The research showed that kefir protects the intestine and promotes the regeneration of the cells. This is fantastic news, and perhaps further research will lead to the more widespread promotion of this information by health professionals for those undergoing radiation treatment.
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Reprinted with permission from Superfoods for Life: Cultured and Fermented Beverages by Meg Thompson, photos by Glenn Scott Photography and published by Fair Winds Press, 2014. Buy this book from our store: Superfoods for Life: Cultured and Fermented Beverages.