What is Kefir?
When people see kefir, they often think that it is a type of yogurt. While it is quite similar in many ways, it is an entirely different food. Kefir is a cultured, fermented dairy product that is going to have a thinner consistency than yogurt, and a nice tart taste. The name kefir comes from a Turkish word, which means good feeling. It comes by this name honestly, as you will see once you review all the great health benefits of this delicious food.
This dairy product is most commonly consumed as a drink. It can be flavored with fruits to give it a sweet taste. Many companies also sell pre-flavored kefir drinks. It can also be used in a variety of recipes, smoothies, and much more.
Nutritional Information of Kefir
The exact nutrients in the kefir can vary depending on the type you purchase. Kefir can be made from any milk, but most commonly cow, goat or sheep. It contains lots of Calcium, Magnesium, Biotin, Folate, vitamin B12, vitamin K2, and other nutrients. It is also loaded with probiotics. In fact, it has one of the highest probiotic levels of any food in the world.
Beneficial for those who are Lactose Intolerant
Fermented milk products such as kefir have been shown to reduce sensitivity to lactose. For those who are lactose intolerant, drinking this milk product can provide much relief. Kefir does have lactose in it, so for those who are severely intolerant, make sure to be careful when consuming kefir.
The fermentation process changes the chemical make-up of the milk, which also changes the way your body will react to it. According to a study that was in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association, kefir helps to improve digestion and tolerance of lactose for those who otherwise struggle with it. Of course, work with your doctor to see if this is something that might be worth trying in your case.
Helps to Build Bone Density
For those who struggle with, or are at risk for, bone density problems (including osteoporosis), kefir is an excellent food to add to your diet. This drink is loaded with calcium, which is extremely important for building and maintaining bone density. Also, kefir has plenty of vitamin K2, which helps the calcium to metabolize and become useful to the body. Getting a sufficient amount of both calcium and vitamin K2 has been shown in studies to reduce the overall risk people have of fracturing a bone by about 81%.
Potentially Effective for Preventing Cancer
Kefir has lots of probiotics, which have been shown to help stop carcinogenic compounds from forming in the body. Stopping the abnormal cell growth like this early on is one of the most effective ways to ensure cancer does not take hold of the body. Also, the probiotics help to keep the immune system strong so that it can fight off diseases more effectively.
A particularly impressive study looked at how kefir extract interacted with human breast cancer cells. The kefir reduced the number of cells by 56%. The study also looked at how yogurt interacted with these cells. Yogurt was only able to decrease the number of cancer cells by 14%. Additional research is certainly needed to confirm the benefits in living humans, but these types of studies are certainly impressive.
Kefir Can Improve Digestive Health
The probiotics found in kefir has been shown to improve the overall health of your digestive tract dramatically. People who struggle with any number of digestive issues such as diarrhea, irritable bowel syndrome, ulcers, and others should begin consuming kefir to help find relief. Probiotics contribute to promoting healthy bacteria in the gut, which helps improve the digestive process.
Specific studies have been done on its effectiveness for diarrhea, IBS, and ulcers. Additional research is needed for other types of digestive issues. Kefir has been used to aid in digestion for a very long time so there is extensive anecdotal evidence that it can help to address these types of problems.
Excellent for Fighting Bacterial Infections
Kefir contains kefiran, which is a particular kind of carbohydrate. This carb has been shown to help inhibit bacterial growth. Studies on specific types of bacteria including Salmonella, Helicobacter pylori, and E. coli have been done, all with very positive results. More generally, kefir can help fight off common bacterial problems such as sore throats. Consuming it regularly contributes to battle off the bacteria that can form in the throat.
Adding Kefir to Your Diet
Whether you are looking for a healthy, great tasting food to add to your diet, or you need the specific health benefits listed above, kefir is an excellent choice. It is readily available in many stores, and it is even pretty easy to make right at home. However you get it, start enjoying it regularly and you will feel better than ever!