REMEMBER: These Are 9+ Great Health Benefits of Kefir! Pay SPECIAL Attention to Benefit #8! Contraindications & Dangers INCLUDED!
Rich in gut-healing probiotics, kefir is a traditional fermented milk drink that is made with kefir “grains” (a fermentation starter). Originating in the Caucasus Mountains, this nutritious drink is made by mixing sheep, goat or cow milk with the specially prepared “grains”.
Traditionally, it was stored in skin bags that hung over doorways. Each time someone passed through the door, they would knock the bag around to keep the kefir and milk well mixed.
Today, you can purchase this food in your local supermarket or health food store. As a fermented drink, kefir is rich in probiotics and other vital nutrients that offer numerous health benefits.
Benefit #1 – Rich in Powerful Probiotics
Dealing with gas, bloating, and other digestive issues? Your gut may be out of balance. Kefir is rich in probiotics (good bacteria) that will help repopulate your gut flora and restore balance.
The great thing about this food is that it’s rich in a variety of different strains of bacteria. One study looked at Brazilian kefir grains and found a variety of species, including Lactococcus lactis, Leuconostoc mesenteroids, and Lactobacillus paracasei.
A total of 32 strains were considered, and each showed antagonistic activity against four food pathogens. Lactococcus lactis and Lactobacillus paracasei also exhibited antioxidative activity.
What does all of this mean?
To put it simply, kefir offers a rich source of a variety of different probiotic strains and species. These not only repopulate the good bacteria in your gut but also help fight against food pathogens and act as antioxidants in your body.
Leite, A. M., et al. (2015). “Probiotic potential of selected lactic acid bacteria strains isolated from Brazilian kefir grains”, in Journal of Dairy Science, Vol. 98(6).
Benefit #2 – Boosts Your Immune System & Detoxification
Did you know that 70% of your immune system is in your gut? It’s no wonder, then, that alternative and now even mainstream doctors are advocating the consumption of kefir and other probiotic-rich foods.
Why? Because probiotics strengthen the gut, and in turn, strengthen your immune system.
It’s also a fantastic food for detoxification. One group of researchers tested the effects of kefir on gut inflammation in mice and found that kefir is an excellent candidate for treating inflammatory disorders of the GI tract.
Kefir is also an excellent source of vitamins B1, B12, and K as well as calcium, folate, biotin, phosphorus, and magnesium. All of these vitamins and minerals are excellent for the immune system.
Vighi, G., et al. (2008). “Allergy and the gastrointestinal system”, in Clinical & Experimental Immunology, Vol. 153(Suppl 1).
Carasi, P., et al. (2015). “Impact of kefir derived Lactobacillus kefiri on the mucosal immune response and gut microbiota”, in Journal of Immunology Research.
Benefit #3 – Great Source of Vital Nutrients
As you know, kefir is rich in essential nutrients that keep your body healthy. A single 6-ounce serving of this fermented milk drink will give you:
– Calcium (40% RDA), Vitamin B12 (14% RDA), Protein (6g), Phosphorus (20% RDA), Magnesium (5% RDA), Riboflavin (19% RDA), and Vitamin D.
Keep in mind: It also contains peptides, acids, and bioactive compounds that help contribute to its health benefits.
Benefit #4 – Promotes Healthy Digestion
A healthy digestive system is a key to obtaining optimal health. If you’re dealing with digestive issues or your digestive system is unhealthy, you may not be absorbing all of the nutrients in your food.
Nutritional deficiencies can lead to other health problems and prevent the immune system from working properly. The probiotics and nutrients in kefir can help heal your digestive system by repopulating the good bacteria in your gut.
The result? Better digestion and improved absorption of nutrients. Adding encapsulated Lactobacillus acidophilus can improve the probiotic count in your kefir and ensure that the bacteria makes it through your digestive system.
Ortakci, F. & S. Sert. (2012). “Stability of free and encapsulated Lactobacillus acidophilus ATCC 4356 in yogurt and in an artificial human gastric digestion system”, in Journal of Dairy Science, Vol. 95(12).
Benefit #5 – Strong Antibacterial Effect
You know that kefir can help heal your gut and improve your immune system, but did you know that it can also contribute to kill harmful bacteria? With antibacterial properties, kefir may be an effective alternative to antibiotics in some cases.
One group of researchers studied the healing and antimicrobial activity of kefir as well as kefiran extract. Both kefiran extract and kefir showed activity against all of the organisms tested, which included several bacterial species and Candida albicans.
The two were most effective against Streptococcus pyogenes inoculation. You’ll find countless stories of people using kefir to treat illnesses and bacterial infections. Antimicrobial and immune-boosting properties help not only kill the infection but speed up the healing process.
Rodrigues, K. L., et al. (2005). “Antimicrobial and healing activity of kefir and kefiran extract”, in International Journal of Antimicrobial Agents, Vol. 25(5).
Benefit #6 – Provides Relief for Allergy & Asthma Symptoms with Effective Anti-Inflammatory Properties
If you suffer from allergies and asthma, the anti-inflammatory properties of kefir can help you find relief. One study looked at the anti-allergic effect of a particular probiotic in kefir grains and found that it inhibited the production of immunoglobulin E when exposed to ovalbumin, the main protein found in egg whites.
The results showed that kefir does have anti-allergic activity, and may be used to treat food allergies. Because of its anti-inflammatory properties, kefir may also minimize asthma symptoms and reduce the severity of attacks.
Hong, W. S., et al. (2010). “The antiallergic effect of kefir Lactobacilli”, in Journal of Food Science, Vol. 75(8).
Benefit #7 – Promotes Health of Your Bones & Lowers Risk of Osteoporosis
A loss of bone matter and osteoporosis are critical concerns for women, especially after menopause. But kefir can help keep your bones healthy and strong while minimizing your risk of developing this debilitating disease.
Rich in calcium, all women should add kefir to their diet.
One study demonstrated the effectiveness of kefir in promoting bone health in rats. Over 12 weeks, the team treated rats who had OVX-induced osteoporosis with kefir. The results showed reduced levels of bone turnover markers and increased bone mineral density.
It also improved the absorption of calcium. The bottom line – adding kefir to your diet will help keep your bones healthy and strong.
Chen, H. L., et al. (2015). “Kefir improves bone mass and microarchitecture in an ovariectomized rat model of postmenopausal osteoporosis”, in Osteoporosis International, Vol. 26(2).
Benefit #8 – Helps Prevent & Treat Cancer
With immune-boosting vitamins, antimicrobial properties, and probiotics, kefir may be effective at preventing or even helping treat cancer. One group of researchers studied the antitumor activity of kefir.
Kefir grains were added to the water of lab mice, and the mice were injected with carcinoma.
The results showed tumor inhibition ranging from 40-59%. Some kefir advocates recommend letting some of the grains make their way into the milk to take full advantage of the cancer-fighting properties of this drink.
Liu, J. R., et al. (2002). “Antitumor activity of milk kefir and soy milk kefir in tumor-bearing mice”, in Nutrition & Cancer, Vol. 44(2).
Benefit #9 – Provides Relief for Lactose Intolerance
Lactose intolerance is a common health issue in our modern world, but strangely enough, kefir may help relieve the effects of this condition. In one study, 11 people who were lactose intolerant were given supplementation of cultured yogurt and a Bifina capsule (probiotic).
The trial was separated into 3 phases, and lactose challenge tests were performed the day before and the day after the supplementation period.
The results? The symptoms of lactose intolerance were significantly reduced after supplementation. If you’re suffering from lactose intolerance, adding kefir to your diet can provide you with symptom relief.
Zhong, Y., et al. (2006). “Effect of probiotics and yogurt on colonic microflora in subjects with lactose intolerance”, in Wei Sheng Yan Jiu, Vol. 35(5).
Side-Effects & Dangers of Using Kefir
Kefir is considered safe for the most adults, although it can cause constipation and cramping when first used. This is likely due to the introduction of probiotics.
Digestive discomfort may also be the result of introducing a new food into your diet (your body won’t have the enzyme needed to digest the food until after it’s been exposed to it).
However, here are my recommendations:
- The effects of kefir on pregnancy are not known, so it’s best to avoid consumption if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding.
- Because kefir contains active bacteria and yeast, some physicians recommend patients with AIDS and compromised immune systems to steer clear of this drink!
People have been drinking kefir for centuries in many parts of the world, but its healing and health-promoting properties are only now being recognized in the Western world. Adding this nutritious fermented drink to your daily routine will not only improve your gut health but your immune system and bones, too. Give kefir a try and experience its benefits for yourself.