What is Kefir?
Kefir: A Definition And Its Benefits
Although you have probably heard about probiotics, you might be less familiar with kefir. However, it’s pretty common in natural health circles, as it consists of nutrients and friendly bacteria that can assist you in preserving a healthy gut.
Is Kefir just another passing craze or could it provide useful contributions to your diet? Is it all hype? Keeping reading to decide for yourself.
What is Kefir?
Kefir is basically a fermented beverage that’s extracted from what’s commonly known as ‘grains’ by kefir producers and drinkers. These grains, however, aren’t grown from plants. On the contrary, they aren’t a bowl of cereal or anything that looks like a grain found in the food pyramid.
In general, kefir grains are made up of bacteria and yeasts. They’re tiny, whitish, translucent, jelly-like orbs that resemble a bit like small pieces of cauliflower. Kefir can be grouped into two: water and milk.
– Water Kefir – When added to a solution of dried fruit, water, and sugar, the beverage undergoes fermentation since the water kefir grains consume the minerals and sugars and eventually release some useful bacteria that can later colonize your gut. These kefir grains are also commonly known as Tibi, gingerbeer plants and sugary kefir grains.
– Milk Kefir – Milk kefir grains are usually added to milk since they eat up the lactose and release probiotics, as well as other compounds into the drink. About 24 hours later, the grains are sifted from the liquid. The beverage that now consists of probiotics is suitable for drinking, and the grains can be used to create another batch of kefir. As long as they are supplied with the right ratios of sugar, nutrients and liquid, the grains will last indefinitely.
Various studies have found multiple types of bacteria in both milk and water kefir grains. More research, however, has been done on milk kefir compared to water kefir. If you can access these grains, you can create either type of kefir while at home. You can often find these grains sold at health food stores or online.
Milk kefir is mostly sold commercially in specific prepackaged bottles. For this reason, it’s more convenient and accessible to many people. Most people find kefir to be healthier compared to yoghurt. Below we’ve outlined a few health benefits associated with using kefir, as supported by research.
The Benefits of Using Kefir
1. It’s a Great Source of Lots of Nutrients
Like mentioned earlier, kefir is basically a fermented drink, made from kefir grains. Research shows that kefir is a rich source of protein, calcium and B vitamins. The lactic acid bacteria of the grains turn the lactose in the milk into lactic acid; this makes gives kefir the ‘sour’ taste like yoghurt. However, it has a thinner consistency. Kefir additionally contains calories, fat, carbs, based on the kind of milk used.
In addition, it consists of a wide range of bioactive compounds, including peptides and organic acids that add to its health benefits. You can also make dairy-free versions using coconut milk, coconut water or other sweet liquids. However, these won’t have a similar nutrient profile compared to dairy-based kefir.
2. It Can Improve Your Bone Health and Reduce the Risk of Osteoporosis
Osteoporosis is identified by the deterioration of bone tissue and has become a significant problem recently, especially in Western countries and older women. It dramatically increases the risk of fractures. Making sure you take enough calcium is one of the most effective methods to improve your bone health and suppress the development of osteoporosis.
Apart from being a fantastic source of calcium, full-fat kefir is also a great source of vitamin K2, which has a significant role in calcium metabolism. Using K2 supplements has been proven to minimize the risk of fractures up to 81%. In recent animal studies, kefir is linked to improved calcium absorption into your bone cells.
3. Might Assist With Different Digestive Issues
Probiotics like kefir can assist in restoring and maintaining the balance of your gut’s friendly bacteria. For this reason, they are incredibly effective at remedying most forms of diarrhoea. Besides, there’s ample evidence implying that probiotics and probiotic foods can reduce many digestive problems such as ulcers, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), and many others. So kefir can be beneficial if you have issues with digestion.
4. Can Protect You Against Cancer
Undoubtedly, cancer has become one of the leading causes of death in the entire world. It generally occurs if abnormal cells in the human body grow uncontrollably, just like in a tumour. Fortunately, the probiotics found in fermented dairy products stimulate your immune system and, as a result, they’re known to minimize tumour growth. It is possible, therefore, that kefir might fight cancer. According to a particular study conducted, it was found that kefir extract lowered human breast cancer cells number by approximately 56%, while for yoghurt extract it’s only 14%.
5. Low in Lactose
Lactose is a natural sugar found in regular dairy foods. A majority of the people, particularly adults, are unable to metabolize and digest lactose correctly. The condition is known as lactose intolerance. Compared to milk, these foods have a much lower level of lactose.
Additionally, they comprise enzymes that can assist in breaking down the lactose. So, kefir is typically well condoned by people who have lactose intolerance. It’s crucial to remember that it’s possible to create kefir that’s fully lactose-free by using fruit juice, coconut water, or another non-dairy beverage.
6. May Improve Asthma and Allergy Symptoms
Allergic reactions are brought about by inflammatory responses against specific substances or foods. People have an over-sensitive immune system tend to be more susceptible to allergies, which can cause conditions such as asthma. In recent animal studies, there’s limited evidence proving that drinking the beverage might alleviate allergic reactions.
7. More Powerful Probiotic Compared to Yogurt
When ingested, some microorganisms can bring useful effects on health. These microorganisms, known as probiotics, may impact health in very many ways, helping in mental health, weight management and digestion. Yoghurt is the popular known probiotic food found in the Western diet. However, kefir is surprisingly a much more potent source.
Since kefir grains comprise of 61 strains of yeasts and bacteria, it makes them a very diverse and rich probiotic source, even though diversity might vary. Alternative fermented dairy products are created from considerably fewer strains and don’t consist of any yeasts.
8. It’s Easy to Make While At Home
If you happen to buy kefir from an online or local store and you’re still unsure of its quality, you can simply make it at the comfort of your home. Kefir makes up a scrumptious and healthy dessert when combined with fresh fruit. You could find these grains in some supermarkets, health food stores, and even online. The process is straightforward, and you could find lots of videos and blog posts that educate on kefir production.
Kefir is, undoubtedly, a healthy and fermented that has a consistency similar to drinkable yoghurt. Although the product is conventionally made from dairy milk, there are lots of non-dairy options out there. According to recent studies, there is proof that kefir that it improves your immune system, improves bone health, helps in digestive problems, and might even combat cancer. Start using kefir right away to make the most out this sour, but tasty drink.