One of the richest probiotic drinks, kefir is a fermented milk drink that has a sour, tart taste. Kefir is similar to yogurt – especially when it comes to its probiotic content. Apart from probiotic bacteria, kefir is also a great source of calcium, potassium, magnesium, vitamin B12, and protein. Read on to find out some of the best health benefits of kefir supported by research and the differences between yogurt and kefir.
What Is Kefir?
Kefir is produced by mixing water or milk with a gelatinous kefir starter culture of bacteria, yeast, and milk proteins. Kefir can be made with any kind of milk, including low-fat and full-fat cow’s or goat’s milk, coconut milk and soy milk. It’s usually left for 14 to 18 hours to ferment at room temperature.
Kefir is an excellent source of various bioactive compounds, such as peptides and organic acids, which are good for overall health. Multiple studies have shown that kefir is a richer source of probiotics than yogurt. There are more than 61 strains of yeasts and bacteria in kefir grains, making them a diverse source of probiotics, albeit this diversity varies.
What Are Kefir Health Benefits?
Drinking kefir on a regular basis can significantly improve your health. This probiotic drink may positively impact your health in different ways, enhancing mental health, weight loss and digestion. Here are some of the best kefir health perks to know:
1. Relieve allergic reactions
Certain inflammatory responses against substances or foods may cause allergic reactions. According to a study, individuals with weak immune systems are at risk of developing allergies, which can result in serious health problems like asthma. However, more human studies are required to prove that kefir can alleviate the symptoms of severe allergic reactions.
2. It’s a low lactose drink
Regular dairy foods like milk contain lactose, which is a natural sugar that many people can’t digest properly. Kefir has been shown to contain lactic acid bacteria that turn the lactose into lactic acid, reducing the symptoms of medical conditions like lactose intolerance.
Enzymes in the lactic acid bacteria aid in breaking down the lactose. According to a study, individuals with lactose intolerance can drink kefir instead of regular milk.
3. Improve digestion
Due to its rich probiotic content, kefir promotes digestion and ward off many health issues, including diarrhoea. Probiotics play a key role in restoring balance in the gut. Therefore, drinking kefir can be beneficial to people who have problems with digestion.
A Canadian study revealed that consuming probiotic foods like kefir may help reduce the risk of different gastrointestinal diseases. Probiotics had a positive effect on gastrointestinal diseases, such as Helicobacter pylori, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Infectious diarrhoea and Pouchitis.
4. Promote weight loss
Obesity has repeatedly been shown to be associated with an imbalance in gut bacteria. It’s still unclear which strain of bacteria impacts it. The research suggests that LAB group or lactobacillus species, including those that kefir contains, have been linked to weight changes.
If you incorporate low-fat kefir in your eating plan, it may help you shed unwanted pounds. Kefir is packed with protein that makes you feel full longer and prevents overeating. Excess kefir consumption can hinder weight loss, though.
5. Lower cancer risk
Cancer is a life-threatening disease that happens when cancerous cells in the body develop and grow uncontrollably. Multiple studies have revealed that drinking kefir regularly may lower the risk of cancer.
The probiotics in kefir are suggested to decrease tumour growth by strengthening the immune system. A study conducted by the School of Dietetics and Human Nutrition, Canada, demonstrated that kefir extract lowered the number of breast cancer cells in humans by 56%, in comparison with yogurt extract that decreased the cells by 14%.
6. Enhance bone health
Regular kefir made from cow’s milk is loaded with nutrients like vitamin K and calcium. Focusing on an adequate intake of calcium is a great way to enhance bone health and inhibit osteoporosis progression.
Vitamin K2 found in kefir takes a critical part in calcium metabolism. Scientists have claimed that taking vitamin K2 may lower the risk of fractures by 81%. The systematic review also showed that vitamin K can aid in preventing bone loss.
7. Protect against infections
Kefir offers powerful antibacterial properties thanks to its rich probiotic content. The probiotic Lactobacillus kefiri can prevent the growth of different harmful bacteria, such as E. coli, Helicobacter pylori and Salmonella. The type of carbohydrate in kefir, Kefiran offers antimicrobial and healing properties, as well.
Are There Any Side Effects of Kefir?
Moderate kefir consumption rarely triggers health issues. The majority of people tolerate this fermented drink well, albeit you might have some mild side effects from drinking probiotic-rich beverages like kefir. The potential side effects of kefir include constipation, bloating, and other digestive issues. Be careful when adding kefir to your meal plan.
What Are the Best Ways to Add Kefir to Your Diet?
Drinking kefir isn’t the only way to include it in your diet. If you can’t drink kefir on its own because of its sour taste, you can add it to your smoothies, chia puddings, and even chai latte. Depending on where you live, some people add kefir to cold soups. If you mix kefir with a spoon of blueberry jam, you will make a delicious yogurt-like beverage.
Kefir is a healthy addition to your daily menu. This fermented drink offers a plethora of health benefits, including a strong immune system, strong bones, improved digestion, and even reduced cancer risk.
Probiotics found in kefir have been shown to enhance the balance of healthy bacteria in the gut. Keeping your gut healthy is critical as All disease begins in the gut Hippocrates said. You can use kefir in different recipes or drink it as a beverage. Moderation is still important as many probiotic-rich foods have certain side effects. Kefir is typically sold at health food stores and some grocery stores. Just make sure you buy an unflavoured version without any colouring or sugars.