Kefir is a fantastic source of nutrients. It’s a fermented drink that is traditionally made by adding kefir “grains” to cow’s milk or goat’s milk. These are not grains in the conventional sense. Rather, they are cultures of yeast and lactic acid bacteria. Once brewed for 24 hours, the micro-organisms found within kefir grains multiply and ferment the sugars in milk, turning it into kefir. The grains are then removed from the liquid and may be used again. In short, kefir is the drink, while kefir grains are the starting kit that you use to produce the drink.
Kefir originated in parts of Eastern Europe and Southwest Asia. The name is derived from the Turkish word, keyif, which means “feeling good”. The lactic acid bacteria turn the lactose in milk into lactic acid. As a result, kefir tastes sour like yoghurt but has a thinner consistency. A 175ml (6oz) serving of milk kefir contains:
In total, a 175ml serving contains approximately 100 calories, 7-8g carbohydrates, and 2-6g fat depending on the type of milk used. Kefir also contains a wide variety of bioactive compounds, including organic acids and peptides that contribute to the health benefits kefir provides.
Dairy-free versions of Kefir may be made using coconut water, coconut milk, or other sweet liquids. These will not share the same nutrient profile as dairy-based kefir.
Kefir grains provide many incredible health benefits. This wholefood is rich in Lactobacillus and other beneficial organisms. In fact, the cocktail of probiotics, micronutrients, macronutrients, vitamins, and minerals found in kefir make it one of the most powerful foods in the world.
Kefir is known to promote bowel movement, bile production, and improved liver and gallbladder function. It is also known to regulate metabolism by aiding digestion and alleviating intestinal disorders. Kefir boosts the immune system, eliminates bad bacteria, flushes pathogens, and has antifungal properties that cause many to refer to it as a natural antibiotic. Kefir strengthens the kidneys, improves blood circulation, and regulates sugar and cholesterol diseases. It also promotes the healing of various skin disorders.
This impressive food is easily consumed by anyone. This includes:
It’s safe to drink kefir every day. Water kefir is not fattening, so it may be taken by those who are concerned about gaining weight. This food is a must-have for those with a desire to be healthy. Generally, people do not experience side-effects when enjoying kefir.
Kefir treats or alleviates the symptoms of a number of diseases and health issues. Although some of these health benefits have yet to be accredited by research, kefir drinkers have stated that they believe it helps with the following:
Kefir is a more powerful probiotic than yoghurt. Some micro-organisms can have beneficial effects on health when ingested. Known as probiotics, these micro-organisms influence health in numerous ways. For example, they aid digestion, weight management, and mental health.
Kefir contains around 30 different micro-organism species, making it a much more potent source of probiotics than other fermented dairy products. Other products contain far fewer strains, and don’t contain any yeast at all.
Lower The Risk of Osteoporosis
Osteoporosis is characterised by deterioration of bone tissue, and is a large problem in Western countries. It is especially common among elderly women and dramatically raises the risk of fractures. Ensuring an adequate calcium intake is one of the most effective ways of improving bone health, and slowing the progression of osteoporosis. When made from full-fat dairy, kefir is a fantastic source of both calcium and vitamin K2. This nutrient plays a central role in calcium metabolism. It has been shown to reduce the risk of fractures by as much as 81%. Recent animal studies have shown that kefir can increase the calcium absorption of bone cells. This leads to improved bone density, helping to prevent fractures.
Kefir also possesses anti-bacterial properties. Certain probiotics found in kefir are thought to protect against infections. This includes the probiotic Lactobacillus Kefiri, which is unique to kefir. Studies have shown that this probiotic inhibits the growth of various harmful bacteria, including Salmonella, Helicobacter Pylori, and E. Coli. Kefiran, a type of carbohydrate present in kefir, also has anti-bacterial properties.
Cancer is one of the world’s leading causes of death. It occurs when there is an uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells in the body, such as a tumour. The probiotics in fermented dairy products and believed to inhibit tumour growth by reducing the formation of carcinogenic compounds as well as by stimulating the immune system. This protective role has been demonstrated within several test-tube studies. One study found that kefir extract reduced the number of human breast cancer cells by 56%, compared with only 14% for yoghurt extract. However, these figures should be taken with a grain of salt – it is far from being proven in humans.
Remedy Digestive Problems
The probiotics in kefir may help with various digestive problems. Working to restore the balance of bacteria in the gut, probiotics are highly effective for many forms of diarrhoea. Other conditions that are thought to be eased by probiotics include irritable bowel syndrome (BS), ulcers caused by H. Pylori infection, and more. A study published in a Canadian medical journal found that probiotic-rich foods, including yogurt and kefir, can help heal IBS and reduce bowel inflammation.
Generally, kefir is well-tolerated by people who are lactose intolerant. The lactic acid bacteria in fermented dairy foods (like kefir and yoghurt) turn lactose into lactic acid, reducing their lactose content. Probiotics also contain enzymes that will help to break down the lactose even further. All of this means kefir is typically tolerated by those with lactose intolerance. It is also possible to make kefir entirely lactose-free by using coconut water, fruit juice, or some other non-dairy fluid. The lactic acid bacteria have already digested the lactose in kefir. As a result, people with lactose intolerance can often eat kefir without problems.
A study in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association showed that “Kefir improves lactose digestion and tolerance in adults with lactose malabsorption.” Please note that in our own experience, we feel lactose intolerant people see best results using goat’s milk kefir. A small percentage of people may still have issues with dairy products.
Kefir may improve the symptoms of allergy and asthma. Allergic reactions are caused by inflammatory responses against harmless environmental substances. People with over-sensitive immune systems are more prone to allergies, which can produce conditions such as asthma.
In animal studies, kefir has been shown to suppress inflammatory responses related to allergy and asthma. Presently, human studies are required to better explore these potentially beneficial effects.
Mutagens are agents that can alter DNA. They are found everywhere in our environment. Aflatoxins, for example, are food-borne toxins created by mould. They may be found in many ground nuts, which is why peanut butter causes allergic reactions. They are also found in crude vegetable oils such as canola, soybean, and cottonseed, as well as grains such as wheat, soy, and corn. As it is rich in lactic acid bacteria, kefir binds (kills) aflatoxins and other fungi – helping to preserve a healthy genetic expression.
Boost Your Immunity
The next time you’re unwell, consider drinking kefir. A study undertaken within University College Cork, Ireland, compared Lactobacillus probiotic preparations to conventional antibiotics in 3 animal models that are similar to humans. They discovered that “in all three animal diseases we observed a positive effect in that the animals were significantly protected against infection.” In fact, the researchers discovered that probiotics worked as well as, or better, than antibiotic therapy – not only in eliminating the infectious agent, but in resolving the symptoms.