Kefir or kephir is a fermented milk beverage made from goat, sheep, or cow milk with kefir grains. This milk drink originated in the Caucasus mountains located at the intersection of Europe and Asia. The word “kefir” is Turkish in origin, coming from the word “keyif”, which roughly translates to “pleasure [R].”
Kefir, like milk, is a good source of calcium but with the added probiotics or good bacteria that aid in digestion [R].
9 Health Benefits of Kefir Supported by Scientific Research:
1. Boosts Immunity
Eighteen healthy adults who consumed kefir for 6 weeks noted a reduction in IL-8 levels and a rise in IL-5 levels in the blood, which resulted in increased immunity in the gut [R].
2. Improves Gut Health
In a double-blind, random-controlled trial with 82 patients, kefir, along with standard triple therapy of amoxicillin, lansoprazole, and clarithromycin, was a more effective Helicobacter pylori treatment than standard triple therapy alone. Kefir improves the efficacy of treatment for stomach ulcers and infections [R].
In a week-long treatment of 76 children with stomach infections, kefir with Bifidobacterium bifidum was able to restore bifidobacteria in the gut to normal levels in 73.4% of the patients and lactobacilli in 82% of the patients [R].
3. Promotes Digestion
A pilot study with 20 participants experiencing constipation found kefir to be an effective alternative for laxatives. It softened stools and increased bowel movement frequency during a 4-week treatment [R].
A 12-week treatment of 2g lyophilized kefir was able to provide complete constipation relief in 9 out of 42 adult participants with physical and mental disabilities. For most participants, symptoms were notably reduced. This shows that kefir is a safe and effective constipation treatment [R].
4. Promotes Lactose Tolerance
In a randomized block design study with 15 lactose intolerant adults, kefir was noted to be as effective as yogurt in improving lactose tolerance and digestion. It alleviated symptoms of stomach pain and bloating. Unflavored kefir should be used as it is more effective than raspberry-flavored kefir [R].
5. Promotes Weight Loss
A 2-month random-controlled trial involving 75 overweight or obese women showed that kefir promoted weight loss by helping to lower body mass index and waistline [R].
6. Potentially Prevents Cardiovascular Diseases
In a 2-month random-controlled study involving 75 overweight or obese women, kefir lowered levels of total cholesterol, triglycerides, and LDL cholesterol in the blood [R].
7. Promotes Healthy Bones
In a 6-month double-blind, random-controlled pilot study, 40 osteoporosis patients consumed kefir, and it significantly raised bone density in the hips and increased levels of calcium and parathyroid hormone in the blood [R].
8. Helps Manage Diabetes
Kefir decreased glucose and hemoglobin A1c levels in the blood in 60 type 2 diabetic patients, according to a double-blind, random-controlled trial study. Incorporating it into one’s diet can help with diabetes management [R].
9. Reduces Tooth Decay
Kefir was as beneficial as a standard fluoride mouthwash in preventing the growth of Streptococcus mutans in 22 perfectly healthy participants. This bacteria is the common cause of tooth decay [R] [R].
Kefir should be fermented well before consumption. Although it promotes lactose tolerance and digestion, lactose intolerant individuals are advised to avoid dairy kefir. Dairy-free kefir, such as those made from soy and coconut, are recommended [R].