It was food and music at the Pattaya City Expats Club meeting on October 15. The food portion was a presentation by member Ren Lexander as he informed his audience about the health benefits provided by Kefir milk. Musical entertainment was provided by a super-entertaining appearance of child-prodigy Ben Rudolf for the second half. Ben, who is only 10 years old, offered up some of his original compositions and music skills, to the delight of the audience.
The first presentation provided insights and information into the many benefits of a food product called Kefir (pronounced kuh-FEAR). Ren offered his views on this remarkable drink that has been around for centuries. It likely originated in the Caucasus Mountains, a mountain system in West Asia between the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea, although its origins are disputed. The intent of kefir is to increase the shelf life of milk, since there was no refrigeration in the early days and milk spoils in about four hours if it is kept at room temperature. However, if milk is allowed to ferment, the shelf life increases dramatically.
Ren explained that the human body has 100 trillion microscopic life forms living in our gut and that there are more bacteria living in our body than there are cells. He recommended a book by David Perlmutter, MD, titled, “Brain Maker” which talks about the power of gut microbes to heal and protect the brain, for life. One of the simple dietary recommendations to improving gut ecology is the use of cultured dairy foods, including kefir.
Fermented milk products (cultured dairy foods) have been fermented with lactic acid bacteria, such as Lactobacillus, Lactococcus, and Leuconostoc. The fermentation process increases the shelf life of the product, while enhancing the taste and improving the digestibility of milk. There are many types of cultured milk products around the world. For example, soured-cream provides cheese, sour cream and many other products while soured-milk provides buttermilk, curd, other forms of cheese and kefir.
This transformed milk product makes the “good stuff” in milk much more accessible. It is packed with “good bacteria”, much more so than yoghurt. It is drinkable, nutritional, and very easy to make yourself. Another big benefit of kefir is its antibacterial properties. Studies show that it can inhibit the growth of various harmful bacteria, including Salmonella, Helicobacter Pylori and E. coli.
Ren talked about his own lactose intolerance and how he can tolerate kefir with no problems. Animal studies shows that kefir suppresses inflammatory responses related to allergy and asthma. It can help with digestive problems as well. He says that he is now able to eat bananas again after having a reaction to them before he started to use kefir. He also says that the use of kefir is extremely cheap.
Kefir is made from the milk of cows, goats, or sheep. It is made by placing the liquid of choice in a non-reactive and acid-proof container and then add the kefir grains. These grains, called as such because of their characteristic granulated appearance, are comprised of a symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast. These grains initiate fermentation and are a combination of lactic acid bacteria and yeasts in a matrix of proteins, lipids, and sugars.
This “Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria and Yeast (or SCOBY) forms the “grains” that resemble cauliflower. The mixture must be agitated, in the container, twice a day, to ensure even exposure to the symbiotic colony, to produce a creamier drink. After the fermentation process, which usually lasts for 24 hours, the kefir grains are taken out by straining. These grains can be frozen and used as a starter for subsequent kefir production. The fermented drink can then be consumed as a beverage or as an ingredient in a variety of recipes. Ren played a video, called “How to Make Milk Kefir 101”, which is available on YouTube and explains the simple process for making and using the product.
The second part of the program featured a 10-year-old, child prodigy, Ben Rudolf. Ben entertained the Club with outstanding piano music, including some of his original compositions. He was joined by one of our members, a noted prize-winning composer, Marcus Tristan. Marcus introduced Ben, also known as Benjamin Khinkhunthod. Ben has been playing music since the age of four and has been composing for the past two to three years.
Ben attends Anda Performing Arts School, located on Pattanakam Road in Pattaya. This school was founded with the vision of encouraging students to try many new artistic activities in a nurturing environment, while enjoying themselves at the same time. The school has professional instructors from the USA, UK, Philippines, and Thailand. They have many years’ experience in nurturing young artists. Marcus Tristan has worked with Ben and is very impressed with his talent.
Ben’s first performance at our meeting was a piano piece by Verdi, The Grand March. He followed with one of his own compositions called “Events in Life”, a piece he originally wrote or the funeral of an uncle. Ben recently won first place in the 4 to 11 age group at the Yamaha Junior Eurasian Competition in Bangkok. He is also certified by the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music as a grade 5 and soon hopes to attain a grade 6.
Marcus showed slides of some of the many events Ben has participated and achieved awards. Ben also sings. He performed two songs, Hallelujah and John Lennon’s Imagine. Ben finished the program with Marcus as they played a four handed boogie.
Member Ren Lexander dis a post presentation interview with Ben Rudolf which can be viewed at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC2opW5oFp784YjaUT-6JoLw.
After the presentation, MC Roy Albiston brought everyone up to date on upcoming events. This was followed by the “Open Forum” portion of the meeting, where questions are asked and answered and comments made about expat living in Thailand. For more information on the Club and their activities, visit www.pcec.club.