10 Surprising Health Benefits of Kefir
Kefir is a fermented dairy drink with several health benefits. It is high in nutritional value and has a large number of probiotics. However, to make a kefir drink, you require starter kefir grains. Kefir is similar to Greek yoghurt, except it contains more probiotics. It is usually compared to Kombucha. However, kefir contains more protein and vitamins than kombucha. Nutritionists and healthcare professionals suggest that regularly drinking kefir may improve health in 2-4 weeks. The several health benefits of kefir include improving heart, gut, kidney, liver, and skin health. Kefir also has anti-cancerous, anti-inflammatory, and anti-bacterial effects.
Nutrition Value of Kefir
Every teacup of kefir contains:
Calories: 109 Kcal
Proteins: 6.2 g
Carbs: 7.2 g
Fats: 6.2 g
According to the daily value (DV), intake
Vitamin A: 6% (DV)
Calcium: 30% (DV)
Sodium: 4% (DV)
Health Benefits of Kefir
1. Improves Gut Health
Kefir is a rich source of probiotics, which help maintain the gut microbiome. Probiotics are healthy bacteria found in certain foods that aid in digestion. Our gut has a specific bacteria microbiome that keeps it healthy. However, certain processed foods and lifestyle habits can disrupt this microbiome and cause bloating, indigestion, acid reflux and flatulence. Therefore, it is essential to reintroduce healthy bacteria into the gut. You can easily do that by using probiotics.
The probiotics found in kefir can remove mutagens and carcinogens from our bodies. Therefore, it can reduce the risk of getting cancers and other illnesses.
2. Improves Heart Health
One of the leading causes of heart health issues is lifestyle disorders. Health problems like atherosclerosis, high cholesterol, hypertension, etc., may damage heart health. The main reason behind these disorders are the high levels of unhealthy fats, called saturated fats, in our body.
Studies suggest that kefir may lower cholesterol and serum triacylglycerol in the blood. These are unhealthy fats that may accumulate in the arteries and cause blockages. In addition, the probiotic microorganisms in kefir can enhance fat metabolism in the body. They help form bile acids, which digest and metabolise fats. By reducing unhealthy fats in the body, the risk of acquiring lifestyle-related heart problems reduces.
Kefir can also reduce blood pressure or hypertension. The fermented products of the probiotics in kefir can help control blood pressure. For example, kefir reduces the formation of the hormone aldosterone, which increases blood pressure.
3. Improves Liver Health
Kefir can improve your liver health by reducing fatty liver syndrome. Fatty liver syndrome happens when there is an increase in fat accumulation in and around the liver.
A study suggests that kefir can reduce fat deposition around the liver. It can also lower cholesterol and triglyceride deposition in the liver by improving lipid metabolism in the body. As a result, it reduces the content of excessive fat deposition throughout the body. It also helps keep organs healthy.
4. Improves Kidney Health
Kefir can reduce the amount of uric acid and creatinine in the body. The probiotic population in kefir can consume and degrade toxic waste like uric acid and creatinine. As a result, this can be beneficial for reducing the kidney’s load.
5. Improves Bone Health
Kefir is an excellent source of calcium and vitamin K2, both required for healthy bones. Calcium is essentially responsible for our bone health. The lower the calcium levels in our body, the weaker our bones get. Vitamin K2, on the other hand, helps in absorbing calcium into our bones. Therefore, we need to have a regular calcium intake and vitamin K2 to maintain our bone health. 100 g of kefir provides 120 mg of calcium, 20% of the recommended daily intake value.
Regular calcium and vitamin K2 intake can reduce the chances and slow down bone diseases.
Osteoporosis, a bone disease affecting the elderly, causes pores or cavities in bones. As a result, this can make them very weak and easy to break. Also, kefir may aid in preventing fractures and improving overall bone health.
6. Improves Skin Health
Kefir can promote healthier skin and reduce blemishes. It can also improve skin abnormalities like scars, burns, and even eczema. The cell membranes, bacterial metabolites and dead bacteria derived from the probiotics play a role in improving skin health. In addition, these compounds help in strengthening the skin barrier and preventing the growth of other microorganisms.
For example, hyaluronic acid found in probiotics helps in wound healing. In this case, it may help heal scars on the skin. As a result, many cosmetic products have started incorporating hyaluronic acid to promote skin healing.
7. Antibacterial Properties
Kefir shows anti-bacterial properties against several harmful microorganisms. A study demonstrates the antibiotic potential of kefir against various types of bacteria and yeast. Kefirs antimicrobial effects were comparable to common antibiotics like ampicillin. Therefore, kefir kills harmful bacteria, helicobacter pylori, salmonella typhi, escherichia coli, streptococcus aureus.
Additionally, there are certain compounds called bacteriocins present in kefir which can also stop the growth of harmful bacteria. Bacteriocin is a type of protein that can attack particular bacterial cell walls and kill them.
8. Anti-cancerous Properties
A study demonstrates the effectiveness of kefir against a specific type of cancer in mice. Additionally, the study showcases an immunity boost after the consumption of kefir. Furthermore, other studies have shown a reduction in breast cancer due to kefir consumption by 56%. Therefore, kefir shows promising results of kefir against cancer.
Furthermore, in kefir, bioactive compounds, like proteins and polysaccharides, can directly act on cancer cells. They can disrupt the cell cycle and the growth of cancer cells. By doing so, they activate apoptosis, or the cell-death mechanism, in cancer cells.
Kefir helps provide anti-inflammatory effects in the body. Specific bioactive compounds present in kefir can reduce the inflammatory cells. Eosinophils are inflammatory cells that cause inflammation and other allergic responses against foreign microorganisms. Therefore, kefir may be a potential treatment for allergic bronchial asthma.
A study suggests that the wound-healing properties of kefir are due to the probiotics. Also, wound healing is due to kefir’s anti-inflammatory effects. Inflammation is the body’s defence mechanism against bacteria and other microbes. However, prolonged inflammation can be dangerous to the body and cause several health issues. For instance, it can lead to diabetes, obesity, cancer, and other chronic illnesses.
10. Kefir for Weight Loss
Consumption of kefir can lead to regulation of metabolism. It is due to the minerals, vitamins, and probiotics present in it. . It helps in boosting metabolism. As a result, there is a decrease in excessive fat deposition in the body. It also helps flush out harmful chemicals and toxins from the body. Furthermore, the combined effects of anti-inflammation, hypercholesterolemia and probiotics found in kefir may result in a healthy weight loss.
Drinking kefir can make you feel satiated . As a result, it reduces the urge to binge eat or overeat. In addition, replacing processed and sugary foods with kefir can promote weight loss. It can also improve digestive health by providing a rich source of probiotics. Therefore, it can help you maintain a healthy diet plan.
How to Use Kefir
Consume kefir as a drink. Drinking kefir is the most common way to consume it. Also, you can add it to smoothies and specific recipes as well. For example, we can use kefir to make probiotic ice cream or add it as a substitute for milk in baked goods.
The best time to drink kefir is on an empty stomach at the start of the day. As a result, it improves gut health and digestion. Moreover, you may also take it at night before bed. Kefir contains tryptophan, an amino acid which can promote better sleep. Tryptophan helps increase the levels of the hormone melatonin, which regulates the sleep-wake cycle.
You can use kefir as a face mask. It can be applied on the skin for 15-20 mins 2-3 times a week for optimal results. Incorporate additional ingredients like honey, rose water, turmeric, avocado, olive oil, or eggs yolk into the face mask as well.
Healthy Recipes Using Kefir
Serving size: 4
Preparation time: 5 mins
- Milk: 4 cups
- Kefir grains: 1 tablespoon
- Add one tablespoon of kefir grains along with 4 cups of milk into a jar.
- Cover the jar and secure it in place.
- Set aside the pot at room temperature for one day to ferment.
- Strain the liquid into glasses. You can store kefir in the fridge for two weeks.
- You can add sugar or honey to sweeten it.
Note: To start a new batch, you may add the collected kefir grains from the strainer back into the previous jar and add 4 cups of milk.
Possible Side Effects and Things to Remember
- People with milk allergies should avoid drinking kefir made of cow’s milk. However, they may substitute it with another milk of choice. People who have diabetes should consume kefir without added sugar.
- Excessive consumption of kefir may cause bloating, gas, cramping, nausea, and constipation. However, consuming 1-3 cups of kefir daily will not cause these symptoms.
- Since kefir contains a large population of probiotics, it may not be safe for everyone to consume it. For example, people with weak immune systems should avoid consuming kefir. In addition, people undergoing chemotherapy for cancer should also avoid using kefir.
- It is better to drink homemade kefir rather than store-bought. Store-bought kefir can have added sugars and preservatives. On the other hand, homemade kefir is healthier, fresh and less expensive.
Kefir contains a lot of nutrients, vitamins, and probiotics. It offers many health benefits like improving heart, gut, kidney, liver, and skin health. In addition, it has anti-cancerous, anti-inflammatory, and anti-bacterial effects. All these properties can offer many health benefits. Kefir can also be used as a face mask to reduce skin blemishes. Therefore, adding kefir to your daily routine may prove beneficial to your health.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Q. How long does it take for kefir to work in the body?
A. It may take from 2-4 weeks for kefir to improve health. Therefore, one should consume 1-2 cups of kefir every day for best results. However, stop taking kefir if any of the side effects persist.
Q. Is kefir better than Greek yoghurt?
A. Both kefir and Greek yoghurt provide many health benefits. However, kefir contains more protein and probiotics than Greek yoghurt.
Q. Which is better, kombucha or kefir?
A. Both kefir and kombucha provide many health benefits. However, kefir contains a higher amount of protein and vitamins than kombucha.
Q. What are the benefits of taking kefir?
A. Consuming kefir has many benefits like improving heart, gut, kidney, liver, and skin health. Also, kefir has shown anti-cancerous, anti-inflammatory, and anti-bacterial effects. All of these properties can offer many health benefits.
Q. Is kefir anti-inflammatory?
A. Yes, kefir has anti-inflammatory effects on the body. In addition, probiotics present in kefir can reduce inflammatory cells like eosinophils in the body.
Q. Is kefir good for gut health?
A. Yes, kefir is good for gut health. It is a rich source of probiotics, which aid in digestion and prevent bloating and flatulence. Also, it eliminates harmful toxins and mutagens from the digestive system.
Q. Is kefir good for your skin?
A. Yes, kefir is good for the skin because it can help heal scars and blemishes. Kefir contains hyaluronic acid and specific proteins that help wounds heal and improve the skin barrier. These effects will lead to clearer skin with less scarring and acne.
Q. Is kefir good for your liver?
A. Yes, kefir is good for your liver. Kefir can decrease the fat deposition around the liver and reduce oxidative stress. Therefore, this can lead to a healthier liver which is more efficient.
Q. Does kefir help you lose weight?
A. Yes, consuming kefir is a good way for healthy weight loss. Kefir helps regulate the metabolism, reducing excess fat in the body. Also, kefir creates a feeling of fullness for an extended period. Thus, it prevents the urge of eating unhealthy food. As a result, this can help regulate weight.
Q. Does kefir reduce bloating?
A. Yes. Since kefir is a rich source of probiotics, it helps strengthen the digestive system. By doing so, it reduces bloating and flatulence.
Q. Is kefir good for blood pressure?
A. Yes, kefir is good for regulating blood pressure. However, this is because kefir helps regulate lipid metabolism, thus reducing cholesterol and other unhealthy fats in the body. Also, kefir minimises the production of angiotensin, which can increase blood pressure. Therefore, this can help reduce hypertension or high blood pressure.
Q. Is kefir good for kidneys?
A. Yes, kefir is good for kidneys. The antioxidants present in kefir can reduce oxidative stress to the kidneys. Also, the probiotics in kefir can help filter out the toxic waste in our bodies. As a result, this reduces the load on the kidneys and keeps them healthy.
Q. Will kefir lower cholesterol?
A. Yes, kefir may lower blood cholesterol levels. Kefir helps enhance lipid metabolism, thus reducing cholesterol and other unhealthy fats in the body.
Q. Is kefir good for acid reflux?
A. Yes, kefir is good for acid reflux. However, this is because kefir helps strengthen the digestive system, thus reducing problems like gas and acid reflux. Also, probiotics present in kefir help in better digestion.
Q. Is kefir good for kidney infections?
A. Yes. Due to its antibacterial properties, consuming kefir is an excellent way to reduce infection in the kidney. Simultaneously, the probiotics in kefir can help reduce the load on the kidney by filtering out toxic waste.
Q. What happens if you drink kefir every day?
A. Kefir is healthy and beneficial to health. Drinking kefir every day may have several advantages like improving gut, heart, liver, and kidney health. However, if you experience any side effects after drinking kefir for more than two weeks, then avoid kefir.
Q. How much kefir should you drink a day?
A. The recommended daily intake value of kefir is 1-2 cups. The best time to drink kefir is on an empty stomach is at the start of the day or night.
Q. When should I drink kefir at night or morning?
A. You can consume kefir early in the morning or at night. Drinking it on an empty stomach can improve gut health and digestion. Also, drinking kefir at night can promote better sleep.
Q. Should I drink kefir on an empty stomach?
A. Yes, you may drink kefir on an empty stomach. Drinking it on an empty stomach can improve gut health and digestion.
Q. Why is kefir bad for you?
A. Kefir may cause some side effects like bloating, gas, and flatulence initially. However, the side effects should stop once you have it regularly.
Q. Is kefir high in sugar?
A. Homemade kefir isn’t high in sugar. However, store-bought kefir may contain added sugar and sweeteners. Therefore, make kefir at home.