Kefir is a rich and cultured dairy-based beverage prepared from kefir grains. It is considered to be one among the very powerful probiotic foods. It contains highly powerful strains of probiotic bacteria and yeast that makes it very effective for the gut health when compared to yogurt or other probiotics.
Kefir is a creamy drink with a tangy taste like that of the yogurt and has magnesium, probiotics, calcium, folate, biotin, and vitamins BK2 and B12. As Kefir is low in fat, sugar, cholesterol, and calories when compared to juices and dairy products, which makes it fit for everyday consumption. A glass of Kefir has billions of Colony Forming Units or CFUs and can be a perfect choice to be included in your regular diet.
Kefir is widely used for many years across Asian and European countries to help people with several health conditions and enhances their overall health. These days, the health benefits of kefir have attained immense popularity among the masses. It is also easily available in health food stores and grocery stores.
There are two variants of kefir – the milk kefir and the water kefir.
Milk kefir is a traditional drink prepared usually from goat or cow milk, which is then fermented to get a tangy thick beverage. You can also prepare it using almond milk or coconut milk.
Water kefir is made by adding sugar to fruit juice or plain water. It has a subtle taste and a light texture. You can substitute sugar in the water kefir with maple syrup or honey.
What are common names for Kefir?
Some of the common names for Kefir are Balm of Gilead, California Bees, Snow Lotus, Tibetan Mushroom, Tibicos or Tibi, Yogurt Mushroom, and Yogurt Plant.
Top 10 Health Benefits Of Kefir
Find the below the list of top ten health benefits offered by kefir.
1. Improves Intestinal Health
As kefir is loaded with probiotics, it can be highly beneficial for your intestinal health and digestion. The probiotics help in removing all types of harmful bacteria within the digestive tract. It also helps in absorbing the food in an effective fashion. Being high in dietary fiber, the kefir kindles the peristaltic motion while preventing constipation.
One serving of kefir can provide over 21% of fiber to your everyday requirement. Consuming kefir during diarrhea will help in getting quick relief, as it restores the balance of bacteria in the gut. It is also useful in treating several gastrointestinal issues like gastric cancer and peptic ulcer.
2. Prevents Lactose Intolerance Reactions
Dairy products usually have lactose, which is a natural sugar. Some people will have difficulties in digesting and breaking down lactose, which is known as lactose intolerance. The lactic acid bacteria present in kefir helps in converting the lactose into lactic acid. Plus, the enzymes in it help in breaking down the lactose quickly.
This health benefit offered by kefir makes it an ideal choice for people with lactose intolerance. If you have lactose intolerance, then you can use kefir prepared using fruit juice or coconut water. When compared to yogurt, kefir can lower the flatulence severity by 71%.
3. Promotes Heart Health
The presence of Vitamin K2 in kefir helps by restricting the buildup of plaque in the arteries and prevents heart diseases. It also keeps down the levels of serum cholesterol and lowers the blood pressure. Using kefir regularly will also lower the chances of developing a stroke and heart attack. It also improves your heart health and rules out risks like atherosclerosis.
4. Aids In Detoxification
Kefir has the ability to decrease the levels of aflatoxin content, caused by the regular consumption of foods with oils, grains, peanuts etc. It helps in detoxifying your body by removing all kinds of toxins. This drink is loaded with lactic acid bacteria that enable it to bind and kill fungi and aflatoxins to keep your body free from toxins.
5. Lowers Osteoporosis Risk
Elderly women face the risk of developing osteoporosis, which deteriorates the bone tissue and leads to fractures. They can drink kefir prepared from full-fat milk will help them get adequate levels of calcium to promote their bone health.
It is a good source of Vitamin K2 that enables it to slow down the progression of osteoporosis and lowers the risk of fractures. Kefir can also promote the absorption of calcium in the bone cells, which, in turn, increases the bone density.
6. Supports Diabetic Patients
Kefir is a perfect choice for the diabetic patients to remain healthy. However, they must refrain from using kefir grains that are made with sugar, as it can spike their blood sugar levels. Plus, it also promotes healing of wounds and improves the recovery time of injuries.
Kefir or Probiotic fermented milk is found to be a very helpful adjuvant therapy that is widely used in the treatment of diabetes. This was found in a Clinical Trial done on Type 2 Diabetic Patients.
7. Fights Cancer
Drinking fermented beverages like kefir is known to kill various types of cancerous tumors. This probiotic-rich drink can lower the development of carcinogenic compounds and kindles the immune system for inhibiting the tumor growth. It has the ability to reduce the breast cancer cells by 56% with regular consumption.
Kefir possesses anti-tumoral properties. This could be attributed to its ability to delay enzyme activities that are responsible for converting pro carcinogenic compounds into carcinogens. Its other feature where it helps immune system also aids in this benefit.
8. Keeps Allergies Away
The anti-inflammatory properties of kefir enable it to keep all allergies at bay. It has polysaccharide that helps in lowering the inflammatory responses, such as hives, itching, swelling, and redness. It has a specific strain of lactobacillus that suppresses the inflammatory markers and keeps asthma and other allergies at bay.
9. Supports Immune System
Loaded with Vitamin C, kefir is a beneficial drink to promote your immune system. It is rich in beneficial bacteria that help in preventing the growth of harmful bacteria in the body. The antioxidant properties present in it help in the prevention of various diseases and allergies.
Immune system gets stimulated due to kefir intake because of exopolysaccharides action which is present in it. Due to the production of bioactive peptides during digestion process also acts as a stimulant for the immune system.
10. Heals Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Kefir has antibacterial properties that help it in curing bowel related issues caused by H.pylori and Helicobacter pylori. This probiotic-rich beverage is packed with bifidobacterium and lactobacillus strains, which makes it a natural treatment to cure IBS or Irritable Bowel Syndrome. It can also cure bowel inflammation issues, Crohn’s disease, and Ulcerative Colitis.
Apart from the health benefits that are discussed above, kefir can improve the functions of your organs and can promote the metabolism of the body. Reap its health benefits to the fullest, by including it in your pancakes, bread, soups, smoothies, juices, and pies.