When it comes to gut health and general health, nothing beats kefir. Traditionally a cross breed between yogurt and milk, kefir has been a popular drink in parts of Europe and Asia. Its impressive health benefits have put it on the global map and it’s gaining popularity fast. The main difference between kefir and yogurt is that, while yogurt is the fermentation of bacteria in milk, kefir is created by combining bacteria and yeast fermentations which are called kefir grains. Kefir drink can be made from any kind of milk including, sheep, goat, cow, rice, coconut, and even soy. It’s much lighter than yogurt and has an acidic taste, depending on the duration of the fermentation process. So, why all the rage about kefir? Let’s get right to it.
Proven Health Benefits of Kefir Strong Bones
Lack of sufficient calcium is a major issue for many people today and it can lead to osteoporosis. While milk may be one of the main sources of calcium, kefir prepared from full-fat milk supplies an even higher percentage of calcium. A study has shown that feeding kefir to rats for 12 consecutive weeks led to an increase in bone mineral density and thickness. In another research on osteoporosis patients, regular consumption of kefir increased their hip bone density and calcium levels.
Kefir May Lower Cholesterol
An eight-week study about the effects of kefir on cholesterol was conducted on a number of women. The participants were divided into three groups – one group drank two servings of low-fat milk, the second group drank four servings of low-fat milk and the last group consumed four servings of kefir daily. After the eight-week period, the group that drank kefir showed a significant decrease in bad cholesterol compared to the group that consumed two servings of low-fat milk. Kefir also reduced blood pressure levels and high heart rate in rats with high blood pressure
Supports Cancer Treatment
Kefir contains plenty of good bacteria that can prevent the growth and spread of tumor cells, especially in the treatment of breast cancer, leukemia, and colorectal cancer. Several studies have shown that drinking kefir gives your body the ability to slow down the enzyme that converts certain carcinogenic compounds into carcinogens. Because of the probiotics in kefir, it enhances your immune system and helps it to curb the development of cancer cells.
Keeps Your Digestive System Healthy
The digestive system comprises of good and bad bacteria. If bad bacteria exceed good bacteria, then you could develop certain complications such as Crohn’s disease, stomach ulcers, and irritable bowel syndrome. Other factors like medication can disrupt the balance between good and bad bacteria. Probiotics have similar properties like those of the good bacteria found in the stomach and help to restore the balance, thereby preventing complications associated with the digestive tract.
Kefir Has Healing Properties
Believe it or not, kefir can heal certain infections such as yeast and vaginal infections as well as gastroenteritis. Although we need more studies to conclude these findings, laboratory studies have shown the potential of kefir to reduce the severity of symptoms in parasite-infected mice. It was also discovered wounds healed quickly in animals that consumed kefir regularly and had a topical gel made from kefir applied to wounds. Another important health benefit of kefir is that it improves skin health by reducing scar tissue. Lab tests have shown that applying kefir gel helped to prevent the bacteria responsible for skin infections.
Helps to Fight Allergies
When your immune system reacts to an allergen, it releases Immunoglobulin E (IgE), the antibody that gives rise to allergic reactions. Taking kefir suppresses this antibody and reduces instances of allergic reactions. The anti-inflammatory properties of kefir help to alleviate the symptoms associated with allergies. Incorporating kefir in your daily diet can control how allergies affect you.
Lowers Instances of Lactose Intolerance
Most dairy products contain lactose, a naturally occurring sugar that a majority of people find it hard to digest. Many people who suffer from lactose intolerance have to look for alternative sources of calcium other than milk. The good news is that you can enjoy your favorite dairy products by adding kefir to your diet. Kefir contains lactic acid which helps to break down the lactose, hence making it easier for your body to digest.
Aids in Weight Loss
For weight loss to be effective, you have to take in plenty of high-protein foods that accelerate metabolism. On average, kefir packs about eight to 11 grams of protein per one cup serving. More importantly, the protein comprises a mixture of whey and casein from dairy foods. According to scientific proof, casein digests much slowly compared to the other forms of protein. This means that you will feel full for longer, hence keep your weight in check.
Possible Side Effects of Kefir
If you’re just introducing probiotics to your body, you need to start gradually to adapt to the new entry. Some people have reported diarrhea and abdominal pain after drinking kefir. However, the side effects only affect a few people and should not be a reason to worry.