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Culture club: Kefir is the new fermented kid on the block – Irish Examiner

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Valerie Kingston of Glenilen Farm in West Cork with Glenilen Kefir Yoghurt. Picture Denis Minihane.
In a world where kombucha is easy to pick up at a service station shop and sauerkraut sits next to hummus on supermarket shelves, kefir is the new fermented kid on the block that’s making inroads into our daily lives. There are two different types of kefir: milk kefir and water kefir, both of which deliver probiotics. While water kefir is dairy-free – useful for vegans or those who want to avoid dairy – milk kefir has the edge when it comes to the variety of beneficial bacteria and yeasts it contains.
Though it might be relatively new to us, milk kefir has a long history of being made and consumed in the Northern Caucasus mountains that divides Asia and Europe, an area notable for having a high number of centenarians. For many people in Ireland, their first introduction to kefir was via the 2017 publication of The Psychobiotic Revolution: Mood, Food, and the New Science of the Gut-Brain Connection by UCC academics John Cryan and Ted Dinan and US science writer Scott Anderson. 
A talk given by Dinan drew the attention of Valerie Kingston from Glenilen Farm, a West Cork dairy business that started off with Kingston making yoghurt in her farmhouse kitchen in 1997. With a background in food science and technology, Kingston has long been fascinated with the whole area of fermented dairy. 
“I first heard Ted Dinan speak about kefir at Ballymaloe Litfest a few years ago. He was talking about the link between the gut and the brain and how it can be improved through diet,” she says. 
The research carried out by Dinan and Cryan has found that eating fermented food rich in probiotics, foods like yoghurt, kombucha, kefir and sauerkraut, helps to feed microbes in the gut which play a fundamental role in regulating our physical and mental health.  There are between one and two kilos of bacteria in the adult intestine – about the same weight as our brain – and, as Kingston points out, “that bacteria produces the kind of amino acids, like tryptophan, that we can’t get in our food.”

At Glenilen they started to experiment with introducing kefir into natural yoghurt, which already contains live probiotic cultures. “It’s the same process as making yoghurt,” says Kingston. “We take in milk from our neighbours in the surrounding area, pasteurise it and ferment it. The cultures, or bugs, that we use come in frozen form. We add a pack of them into a huge vat, leave it overnight and it’s like magic – the next morning it’s transformed into a lovely silky curd. We stir it gently, pop it in the pot and into the fridge. It’s so simple, you can make it in your own kitchen.”
Many people do: it’s possible to buy milk kefir grains – which look somewhat like rubbery cauliflower florets – online, introduce them to milk and let them ferment overnight for your very own homemade kefir. The only problem is in keeping up with the output. Milk kefir grains are productive little organisms and need regular feedings of fresh milk, often producing more fermented milk than one household is capable of consuming.
That’s not such a problem for Kingston, who has been delighted with the reaction to this new Glenilen product: “It has really taken off for us. It’s one of those new products that is really resonating and the sales have shown that.”
She believes kefir is “a little part of the big picture” when it comes to a healthy gut. “It’s also about daily exercise, eating good, wholesome nutritious food and having plenty of fibre in your diet. And,” she laughs, “you could eat the sauerkraut – but I’d prefer the kefir.”
Ferment your own
“Organic starter cultures are available from Limerick-based Live Ferments, starting at 5g for €14.50, which makes 250ml of milk kefir. 
“My advice? Start small, or your kitchen will start to resemble something like the magic porridge pot, only with fermented milk.” 
See kefirgrains.ie
Irish milk kefir producers
Blakes Always Organic: made in Drumshanbo, Co Leitrim from locally sourced organic milk, Blake’s kefir is available in 250ml bottles online and via outlets nationwide – check out the map on their website for a stockist near you. blakesalwaysorganic.ie
Glenilen Farm: Find this yoghurt-style kefir, made with 14 strains of live kefir cultures, at supermarkets in natural, passionfruit and vanilla variations. g lenilenfarm.com
Kerry Kefir: Mary-Thea Brosnan started Kerry Kefir in her parents’ kitchen in Castleisland in 2018 before demand saw her move to a nearby repurposed shipping container. She uses kefir grains to make her fermented 1lt glass bottles of goodness that can be purchased online. She also supplies SuperValu and a range of independent food shops nationwide. kerrykefir.ie
Nomadic Diary: based near Killygordon in north Donegal, Nomadic introduces 12 kefir cultures to pasteurised low-fat cow’s milk to make their bottles of lemon, raspberry and natural kefir. Available in Aldi. nomadic-dairy.com
Six things to do with milk kefir
In smoothies: just whizz kefir up with your preferred mixture of fruit and serve with a straw. 
On porridge: the more yoghurt-like texture of Glenilen kefir is perfect for a porridge topper, along with a handful of nuts and seeds.
Overnight oats: soak your oats or chia in kefir, diluted with extra milk if necessary, for an extra boost of nutrition in the morning.
As a snack: spoonable kefir is a great substitute for yoghurt.
Salad dressing: this tangy salad dressing works especially well drizzled over roasted vegetables, crispy lettuce or folded through potato salad. In a jar, shake together 50ml plain milk kefir, 50ml apple cider vinegar, 100ml extra virgin olive oil, 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard and 1 teaspoon honey until creamy and emulsified. Add salt and pepper to taste and keep in the fridge.
In cooking: If you have a surfeit of kefir it can be used anywhere you would use buttermilk: to marinate chicken or in pancakes, soda breads, waffles, scones or even chocolate cake.  Keep in mind that heating kills the good bacteria. 
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Coaching restructure at BAM – New Straits Times

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The Difference Between Aerobic and Anaerobic Workouts For Swimmers – Swimming World Magazine

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The Difference Between Aerobic and Anaerobic Workouts For Swimmers
The correct management of aerobic and anaerobic sets within a swimmer’s training will influence performance. This balance includes sharpening cardiovascular endurance and sprint speed. For instance, sprinters are more anaerobic-oriented. On the other hand, distance swimmers rely on the benefits of aerobic sets. In analyzing these types of workouts, the primary difference between aerobic and anaerobic exercise is the workout’s intensity.
Swimmers increase their cardiovascular conditioning by maximizing the amount of oxygen in the blood. The goal is to build cardiovascular conditioning and improve the muscles’ oxidative capacity. For that reason, athletes should perform the sets at a moderately high intensity with minimum recovery between sets. However, since swimmers can consistently breathe and send oxygen through their bodies, aerobic workouts are categorized as “less stressful.” Subsequently, since oxygen is the main source of energy, swimmers should breathe faster and deeper when their heart rate is at rest. Subsequently, athletes can do aerobic workouts for longer periods.
Aerobic training is fundamental at the beginning of the season, approximately during the first eight to 12 weeks. Following this training approach will prepare athletes for high-intensity workouts and competitions that arise later in the season. Meanwhile, sme of the benefits of aerobic exercise include an increase in a swimmer’s stamina and a decrease in fatigue during exercising. Equally important, aerobic workouts also improve a swimmer’s ability to perform more efficient strokes with less energy.
The purpose of anaerobic exercise is to improve the muscles’ ability to lessen lactate. Lactate, also known as lactic acid, is a byproduct produced in the body after cells produce energy without oxygen around. Furthermore, during this process, the body grabs energy through glycogen. Glycogens are stored calories that the body uses when oxygen is not being pumped to the muscles to continue working out.
Anaerobic sets involve short-distance and high-intensity intervals. These strength-based workouts also include exerting a swimmer’s maximum effort. Since it is fundamental to reach maximum effort within the sets, anaerobic workouts can include long periods of rest. Then again, due to their high physical and mental demand, anaerobic sets sometimes are considered “more stressful.”
When done properly, anaerobic workouts benefit a swimmer’s muscle strength and mass, reduce soreness, and boost joint protection.
These sets occur when the athlete holds 1650 yards or 30 minutes (without stopping) pace. While doing so, the swimmer should tolerate the buildup of lactate. To sum up, a threshold set is a long workout in which the swimmer must speed through the set. For that reason, the required effort should be located between the aerobic and anaerobic zones.
Some of the benefits of doing thresholds include improving the swimmer’s stamina, the ability to process lactate, generating aerobic fitness and developing anaerobic explosiveness. Consequently, swimmers will be able to perform more repetitions of high intensity. The threshold set gives the swimmer a better idea of what the desired race pace feels like.
Usually, sprinters do not feel the need to perform aerobic sets. In the same way, long-distance swimmers may exclude anaerobic workouts. However, swimming has evolved and its training methods, too. Therefore, new training phases have emerged such as the threshold. It is best for coaches and swimmers to identify the correct balance between aerobic, anaerobic and threshold workouts. Additionally, it is fundamental that each swimmer keeps straight communication with his or her coach to avoid burnout, injuries and overtraining.
All commentaries are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Swimming World Magazine or its staff.
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The #1 Root of Diabetes, According to Science — Eat This Not That – Eat This, Not That

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We’ve consulted with our team of licensed nutritionists and dietitians to bring you informed recommendations for food products, health aids and nutritional goods to safely and successfully guide you toward making better diet and nutrition choices. We strive to only recommend products that adhere to our philosophy of eating better while still enjoying what you eat.
The number of people living with diabetes is staggering. According to the Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention, “34.2 million people, or 10.5% of the U.S. population, have diabetes. An estimated 26.8 million people – or 10.2% of the population – had diagnosed diabetes. Approximately 7.3 million people have diabetes but have not yet been diagnosed.” Eat This, Not That! Health talked to experts who explained what diabetes is, what causes it and how to help prevent it. Read on—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don’t miss these Sure Signs You’ve Already Had COVID.

1

Diabetes and Causes


Dr. Ani Rostomyan, a Doctor of Pharmacy , Holistic Pharmacist and Functional Medicine Practitioner who specializes in Pharmacogenomics and Nutrigenomic says, “Type 2 diabetes is a chronic disease which has multifactorial pathogenesis, which means many factors are involved in disease formation, the root cause of type 2 diabetes is only partially understood even in current day’s medicine. It is a heterogeneous disease and both genetic and environmental components are involved. The combination of these factors, such as obesity, genetics, some ethnicities, certain unhealthy lifestyles, affect insulin release and responsiveness, causing type 2 diabetes. Type 2 diabetes is accompanied with hyperglycemia (high blood sugar), insulin resistance, and impaired insulin secretion, and it is clear that Western lifestyle and diets attribute greatly to vastly growing numbers in the United States as well. Diabetes is getting younger, affecting more and more teens and young adults as well, which again correlates that lifestyle has a tremendous impact on management and prevention of it.”

2

Insulin Resistance


Dr. Pri Hennis, M.D. Family Physician and Functional Nutrition Coach explains, “Type 2 diabetes is a progressive disease caused by a dysregulation of cell response to insulin. Insulin is endogenous to our body and is created in the pancreas. Insulin helps break down the sugar we eat into energy. In type 2 diabetes cells in the body do not respond normally to insulin over time. This causes a rise in blood sugar in the body leading to blockages of small and large blood vessels and nerves. Although type 2 develops typically as an adult, the rise in obesity in America is causing a rise of type 2 diabetes in the young adults, teens and even children. When getting a new diagnosis of diabetes to prediabetes it is important to start some type of lifestyle change in addition to medications if your doctor suggests. Why, you ask? Diabetes is a progressive disease, and the symptoms and damage of the high blood sugars go on much before the actual diagnosis. For most people, without any other risk factors, it can take 10 years to go from normal blood sugars to prediabetes and then to full blown diabetes. So, what can you do to prevent this? Talk to your doctor about your labs checking for diabetes at least annually, if not sooner. If the numbers are not abnormal yet, put in the work with lifestyle changes, ask for support from your doctor sooner than later. Everyone’s journey before and after getting the diagnosis of diabetes or prediabetes is different, so it’s important to ask for help if you are not seeing results in three months.”
RELATED: Lose Abdominal Fat Using These Proven Methods

3

Environmental and Genetic Factors


“It comes naturally to blame someone or something when it comes to a new diagnosis,” Dr. Hennis says. “But remember our current state is the result of our past actions whether self-inflicted, environmental, or genetic. The effects of some of these factors are not always reversible, but if you don’t change your habits today you create more problems. Medications help some but cannot stop you from having the highs and lows of blood sugar if you continue to eat high glycemic index foods. Exercise helps the cells of your body become more efficient with managing insulin. So, walk past the donut in the lunchroom; opt to go for a walk instead. Sugar is addictive and requires a lot of support, so get the help you need from your doctor.”
RELATED: The #1 Cause of COVID-19, According to Science 

4

Poor Nutritional and Lack of Physical Activity


Dr. Hennis states, “It is important to incorporate a healthy lifestyle with both the right foods and right activity to help you. You might have heard your doctor say, “eat better, move more.” But how do you do this, each new habit feels like it needs some drastic changes in your lifestyle. You make a goal and stop after a week because it becomes unsustainable. I can start by sharing some important tips to get you started. Let’s talk about specifics:
RELATED: Think You Have COVID? Here’s the First Thing You Should Do

5

Prevention


Dr. Rostomyan explains, “There is a great body of evidence showing that by the time people are diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, 50% of beta cell function is already impaired so reversal oftentimes refers to managing Diabetes to a degree where major micro and macro vascular complications are prevented, we cannot fully reverse diabetes or cure it, since it’s a metabolic disease and prevention here is the key. Although in some instances it is possible to partially regain insulin sensitivity through weight loss, exercise, healthy Mediterranean Diet, and certain Diabetes medications as well.”
RELATED: I’m a Virus Expert and Here’s How to Escape COVID 

6

Ways to Put Diabetes in Remission


“Prevention and diabetes awareness is the only proven way to avoid type 2 diabetes complications and living and breathing a healthy lifestyle and making core life changing habits is the way to go,” says Dr. Rostomyan. “I suggest the Mediterranean Diet. Adopting diets that exclude refined carbs, sugars, a variety of added sugars and adding foods that don’t increase insulin levels, such as healthy fats and lean protein is the key to keeping the insulin levels low and preventing carbohydrate overload . High insulin levels promote weight gain and more insulin resistance, which is the mechanism of progressing type 2 diabetes to a higher degree.”
Dr. Hennis recommends other methods of prevention. “One habit is drinking one 8 ounce cup of water before putting any food in your mouth. This helps you stay fuller, so you don’t overeat. Another habit is not shopping for processed or complex sugars which include: white flour, candy or juice. If you don’t keep it in your home, you are less likely to consume it. You can buy almond or coconut flour, sugar free gum or real fruit to replace those foods. Another habit is setting aside 15-mins at least three times a week to do some sort of moderate physical activity. This can include doing jumping jacks when your kids are playing, or using a skipping rope. Remember, you don’t have to complicate how to exercise, the important thing is getting it done. Your doctor is always a good support system, and can refer you to a dietician if you need more direction!”

7

The Difference Between Prediabetes and Diabetes


“If your body is starting to become insulin resistant, your blood sugar after an 8 hour fast will show numbers between 100mg/dl – 125mg/dl. If you are diabetic these numbers will be greater than 126mg/dl. For a non-diabetic numbers are below 100mg/dL upon fasting,” Dr. Hennis explains. “You have three options when you are diagnosed with prediabetes: lifestyle change, medication + lifestyle, or medication only. Your doctor can talk to you about what medication options you might be eligible for; however I cannot stress the importance of incorporating lifestyle changes. As humans we don’t like change, but choosing one item you could incorporate in your daily habits can make a big impact. If you change one habit per week, that’s at least 52 habits you can change in one year!” And to get through this pandemic at your healthiest, don’t miss these 35 Places You’re Most Likely to Catch COVID.
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