11 Amazing Benefits of This One “Grainy” Drink

Photo credit: bigstock.com

Photo credit: bigstock.com

What drink is high in healthy probiotics, high in nutrition, super beneficial for digestion, and might be able to prevent cancer? Kefir! This is the “Iron Man” of the yogurt world.

Whether you have tried kefir, thought about trying it, or have never heard about it before, read on so you can discover all the things this wonderfully little fermented drink can do for you and why you should either start drinking it or drink more of it.

 

1.  Helps Those with Digestive Problems

Kefir is a probiotic that can help them restore the balance of the good bacteria that lives in your digestive system. This is one reason why probiotics are powerful medicine for those with diarrhea. There have been many studies showing that probiotics can help ease all sorts of digestive problems including ulcers that are caused by H. pylori infection, irritable bowel syndrome, and many other digestive issues. If you have digestive problems, you should definitely be consuming kefir.

 

2.  Powerful Antibacterial Compounds

It’s believed that certain types of probiotics, like the type in kefir, can protect the body against kefir. Especially a certain type of probiotic called lactobacillus kefir, which is unique to this drink Studies have discovered that this particular type of probiotics can fight the growth of harmful bacteria including E. coli, salmonella, and the ulcer causing helicobacter pylori. Also, a type of carbohydrate that is present in kefir, kefiran, also contains antibacterial compounds. This is great news for those of you who tend to get sick often, especially with those “stomach bugs.”

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Photo credit: bigstock.com

Photo credit: bigstock.com

3. Nutrient Rich Drink

If you aren’t familiar with kefir, it is a fermented drink which is traditionally made from either goat’s milk or cow milk. Kefir grains are added to the milk, causing them to multiply and ferment the natural sugars in milk, changing it into the drink we call kefir. These aren’t grains such as wheat or rice, but are actually grains of cultured yeast and lactic acid bacteria, which looks something like a cauliflower. Once the milk has fermented, the “grains” can be removed and used again. Kefir is thought to have originated in Eastern Europe. This name comes from the Turkish word “keyif,” which means “good feelings,” especially used in terms of how you feel after eating. Kefir is very nutrient rich with a 6 ounce serving containing 6 grams of protein, calcium, phosphorus, vitamin B12, B2, magnesium, and even a bit of vitamin D. All of this comes with only about 100 calories, about 7 grams of carbs, and depending on the type of milk you decide to use, 3 to 6 grams of fat.

 

4.  Beats the Heck out of Yogurt

Although yogurt is often thought of as a terrific source of probiotics, it actually can’t hold a candle to kefir. Kefir contains 30 strains of probiotic bacteria and yeast, making it a super-rich source of probiotics. There are other fermented dairy products that have no yeast and far fewer probiotic strains of bacteria.

 

5. Improves the Immune System

If you tend to get sick often, or when you come down with a nasty flu or cold bug, ditch the antibiotic and better opt for kefir instead. One study done in Ireland at University College Cork compared several lactobacillus probiotics products to the typical antibiotics in several animal studies that were similar to human beings. In all those three studies, scientists observed a positive effect: the animals all had a heightened immune system that offered protection from infection. In fact, scientists found that probiotics worked just as well and in some cases even better than antibiotics in not only killing the infection, but in resolving the symptoms.

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Photo credit: bigstock.com

6. Supports Detox

Found everywhere in our environment, mutagens are various agents that can alter and damage your DNA. Aflatoxins are food born toxins generally created by mold and are found in all sorts of foods such as grains, vegetable oils, and ground nuts, such as peanuts. They can cause severe allergic and immune reactions. Since kefir is super rich in lactic acid bacteria, kefir can kill dangerous fungi, such as aflatoxins, and remove them from the body, making this a powerful detox tool that you can drink every single day. Find out more detox recipes.

 

7. Improves Bone Health

Osteoporosis is a thinning of the bones and is a huge problem in many western countries. This is a severe problem especially among elderly females. Ensuring that sufficient amounts of calcium are consumed is one way to improve bone health and slow the progression of osteoporosis. Kefir that is made from full-fat cow or goat’s milk is a great way to get calcium and vitamin K2, which is vital for the proper metabolism of calcium. Consuming calcium and vitamin K2 has been shown to reduce the risk of fractures by more than 80 percent. Studies done with animals show that kefir can increase the amount of calcium by the bone cells, which will lead to improved bone density.

 

8.  Well-Tolerated by the Lactose Intolerant

Dairy products contain a type of natural sugar called lactose. Many adults find that their bodies are unable to break down these sugars. When this happens, we refer to this condition as lactose intolerance. Fermented dairy products, such as yogurt and kefir, change the lactose into lactic acid, which makes these foods much, much lower in lactose than regular milk or other unfermented milk products such as cheese and ice cream. Kefir also contains other enzymes which help to break down the lactose in milk even further. Many people who are lactose intolerant find that they have no problems digesting kefir.

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Photo credit: bigstock.com

9. Improves Allergy and Asthma Symptoms

Allergic reactions are an inflammatory response by the body from normally harmless environmental compounds. Those who have oversensitive immune systems are much more prone to allergies, which can also provoke problems such as asthma. Animal studies have shown that kefir suppresses these inflammatory responses by the body that is related to allergy and asthma attacks. Although human studies need to be conducted, this is a promising start regarding allergic reactions and kefir’s ability to help quell symptoms. Find out surprising asthma statistics.

 

10.  Protects Against Cancer

One of the leading causes of death, cancer is a disease that is feared around the world. Cancer is an uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells that can occur anywhere in the body.  Fermented dairy products contain powerful probiotics that are thought to inhibit tumor growth by stimulating the body’s own natural immune system and reduce carcinogenic agents. One study found that a kefir extract reduced the number of breast cancer cells by more than 55 percent, when compared to yogurt extract, which only reduced cancerous cells by 14 percent. Studies have yet to be done on humans, but this is another example of the health benefits that can be derived from kefir.

 

SEE ALSO: 15 Ways to Eat Your Way to a Stronger Immune System

 

11.  Super Easy to Make at Home

Alright, so this isn’t necessarily a health benefit, but it certainly is a wallet friendly benefit!  If you have a hard time finding kefir, if you want to save some bucks, or if you simply like making your own foods, kefir is really easy to make at home. You could mix some fresh fruit from your organic store or your own garden and have a super tasty, super healthy drink or dessert anytime you like.

Kefir grains are for sale at many health food stores but if you can’t find any, they are readily available online. Simply put one or two tablespoons of the kefir grains in a small jar, then add 2 cups of full fat cow’s milk or goat milk. Milk from grass fed cows is the healthiest. Be sure to leave at least one inch of space at the top of the jar. The more kefir grains you use the faster the process will be. If you want your kefir to be thicker, exchange one cup of the milk for one cup of cream. Put on the lid and allow the jar to sit, out of direct sunlight, at room temperature for 12 to 36 hours. That’s it! Yes, it’s that simple! How will you know if it’s ready? Your milk should start to look clumpy. Strain out the kefir grains and put them in a new jar with milk and you are ready to make your next batch!

If you decide to buy kefir, look for a high-quality brand that is organic and low in sugar. You can flavor it yourself at home, which will go a long way towards limiting the amount of sugar in your kefir. Kefir is also best kept in glass bottles. Bottoms up!

References:

Sciencedirect.com

Ncbi.nlm.nih.gov

Tandfonline.com