Kefir is among the fermented drinks you’ll often hear along with kombucha. It is a fermented drink that is slowly being recognized for its delectable taste and health benefits. Learn more about several kefir benefits and why it is the best alternative to your typical milk or yogurt.
What is kefir?
Kefir is fermented milk from a cow, goat, or sheep. It is fermented using kefir grains which serve as the starter culture. Unlike kombucha, kefir fermentation only takes 24 hours at room temperature. It is often compared to other fermented foods like yogurt but it stands out in terms of potency in nutrients and gut-nourishing properties.
12 Unique Kefir benefits for your overall health
Kefir has unique health benefits that are not present in yogurt and other fermented drinks. It is the reason why a lot of studies tried to prove its efficiency in the improvement and prevention of numerous metabolic diseases in adults.
Check these kefir benefits below and be one of the newly recruited kefir advocate community today:
#1 Helps aid depression
Kefir contains a unique amino acid called tryptophan, which has a relaxing effect on our nervous system. Our body can’t produce tryptophan and can only be found in certain food sources like cheese and eggs. It plays a significant role in the release of serotonin or the happy hormone which can greatly help the growing number of depressed individuals of our generation.
With its positive impact on mental health, kefir is dubbed nature’s Prozac (anti-depressant). Gut health experts in the UK also call kefir the best mental health first aid due to its huge contribution to the brain-gut connection of depressed individuals.
If you’re looking for a natural way to deal with depression, adding kefir to your diet is one step to healing through food.
#2 Fights harmful bacteria colonies
A specific strain of good bacteria called Lactobacillus kefiri can help the body fight infections. Based on a study focused on the antimicrobial properties of kefir, L.kefiri helps inhibit the growth of harmful bacteria such as salmonella and E. coli and helps the body win the fight against diseases.
#3 Improves bone health
Kefir milk is rich in calcium and vitamin K2 that help strengthen our bones, prevent bone fractures, and reduce our risk for bone resorption and osteoporosis. As we get older, our body’s ability to absorb calcium from food and drinks decreases. Kefir is among the few beverages that help improve calcium absorption of bone cells in adults.
#4 Protects your body against cancer
According to studies, kefir ranks second on the list of fermented foods with anti-carcinogenic effects and tumor suppressant properties. It affects several types of cancers like colorectal and breast cancer, and tumors like malignant T lymphocytes.
#5 Aids digestive problems
Kefir is a probiotic that helps rebuild the balance of good and bad bacteria in your gut. It also helps restore optimal digestive processes which improve digestion and alleviate constipation.
Tryptophan in kefir also affects our gut since it triggers the rest-and-digest function of your body. People suffering from Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) have a hard time digesting dairy products. Luckily, kefir has a high FODMAP rating and does not trigger IBS symptoms like diarrhea and stomachache.
Coconut milk kefir and soy milk kefir are among the best options for IBS patients.
#6 Suitable for people with lactose intolerance
The fermentation process to make kefir and yogurt breaks down the lactose in milk and turns it into acid. So, kefir and other fermented foods are recommended for people suffering from lactose intolerance.
One controlled study attests that kefir helps improve lactose indigestion and lactose maldigestion in adults and commends its ability to improve the diet of patients with digestive problems.
#7 Preserves your healthy gut lining
Our gut is home to millions of bacteria and one of the most important ones is the Akkermansia muciniphila. It protects our gut lining and feeds on mucus to feed other beneficial bacteria.
Without a healthy and sealed gut, bacteria and viruses that enter through our mouth go directly to our body. The role of Akkermansia muciniphila is to reinforce the gut lining or barrier of our body against harmful bacteria and the symptoms of a leaky gut like fibromyalgia.
Kefir helps upregulate or increase the sensitivity of Akkermansia muciniphila and downregulates harmful bacteria like Alistipes in the gut. Alistipes are the strain of bacteria that causes colorectal cancer, liver fibrosis mood disorders, and heart disease.
#8 Lowers bad cholesterol, blood sugar, and fat
Kefir also ticks a lot of boxes when it comes to heart and nerve health. A group of researchers from the University of Vila Velha and the Federal University of Espirito Santo in Brazil studied how kefir affects individuals with metabolic disorders. The study concluded that the cholesterol, fasting glucose, and blood pressure of 48 individuals decreased after consuming kefir for 12 weeks.
A clinical trial is set to be conducted on 21 individuals this December 2022 to further prove the efficiency of kefir in improving metabolic diseases.
#9 Helps manage allergies, asthma, and rheumatoid arthritis.
Allergies, asthma, and rheumatoid arthritis are inflammatory conditions caused by an overactive immune system. Kefir contains kefiran that helps suppress the hyper-inflammatory response of the body to allergens based on this study.
Arthritis Foundation recognizes kefir benefits for arthritis due to its impact on inflammation and C-reactive protein. They found that most patients suffering from inflammatory arthritis also have inflamed intestinal tract or leaky gut. They recommend a good diet that contains probiotics like kefir to keep the gut lining healthy and intact and prevent inflammatory disorders like arthritis.
#10 May improve neurological and spine health
Kefir offers a promising impact in treating neurological disorders. In an animal study, kefir helped prevent neuronal degeneration and reduce the oxidative stress of a rat with spinal ischemia. Patients who experience spinal ischemia often experience severe back pain or loss of sensation to pain and extreme temperatures like cold or hot surfaces.
With the promising results of animal studies, kefir might be one of the leading fermented drinks that can help treat complicated neurological conditions.
#11 Promotes weight loss
Kefir is a low-calorie and low-sugar alternative to typical milk. It is often used as a healthier alternative to popular sauces like ranch and added to popular dips like kefir tzatziki. It also helps suppress your appetite and can help you feel full faster.
#12 Good source of magnesium
Magnesium is probably the hottest topic in the health space today. It is a mineral that’s often underappreciated but plays a huge role in our energy and mood. Dr. James Dinicolantonio calls magnesium a miracle mineral due to its benefits to our body, such as:
- Relieves stress.
- Aids to better sleep.
- Strengthens the bones.
- Improves muscles.
- Lowers inflammation.
- Improve brain function.
The good news is kefir is high in magnesium which will give you access to its wonderful health benefits.
Frequently asked questions (FAQs)
Does coconut kefir have the same benefits as milk kefir?
Coconut kefir contains more beneficial strains of good bacteria. It has lower fat and sugar content than the milk-based kefir. It is among the best beverages for patients suffering from Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and lactose intolerance due to its low lactose content.
How long does it take to see the benefits of kefir?
Most probiotics like kefir take around 15 days to a month causing a significant change in your health. You must consume it regularly but in moderation, to avoid its side effects.
Does water kefir have the same benefits as milk kefir?
Milk kefir has more potent strains of probiotics than water kefir. Though water kefir falls below milk kefir it is still a healthy beverage that can prevent blood glucose fluctuations in patients with metabolic disorders.
How much kefir should I drink for health benefits?
You can reap all the health benefits of kefir by drinking one cup per day. Even though it’s a healthy option, drinking too much kefir can lead to side effects like nausea and diarrhea.