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Let’s get cultured and talk kefir benefits and disadvantages. Plus, some tasty tips on making it yourself.
Kefir has gained a lot of street cred in recent years, and with good reason. This fermented dairy drink has tons of potential health perks.
Kefir is a fermented dairy drink that contains billions of live bacteria and yeast cultures.
It’s made with kefir grains, a mother culture that has major probiotic swag status. The grains are fermented in milk to create a tangy, tasty bevvy.
The best part? You can easily make it at home!
In addition to being tasty AF, kefir provides beaucoup health benefits. Peek at these 10 benefits of drinking kefir.
1. A bunch of nutrients
Kefir can help you keep your nutrient levels on point. On average, 1 cup measuring 245 grams (g) of plain low fat kefir provides:
|calcium||316 milligrams (mg)|
|vitamin B12||0.705 micrograms (µg)|
2. Powerful probiotic swag
Kefir is chock-full of living microorganisms called probiotics.
More good news: It’s hella diverse! Kefir can contain up to 61 strains of bacteria and yeasts. (That’s basically a friendly bacteria zoo. You could charge admission and have them serve terrible burgers.)
These little microbe mateys can support your health in lots of ways. Probiotics can help with:
One 2013 research review also showed it can ease peptic ulcers in the small intestine or stomach.
Some of the probiotics in kefir might have antibacterial properties. This means they might protect against infections.
This includes a probiotic unique to kefir, Lactobacillus kefiri. A 2014 study showed that this strain can prevent the growth of harmful bacteria like Shigella, Listeria, and Staphylococcus aureus.
Kefir also contains a carb called kefiran which has its own proven antibacterial properties.
4. Reduce osteoporosis risk
Kefir is a solid source of calcium. That means it can potentially prevent osteoporosis — a disease that can make your bones brittle and increases your risk of fractures.
But wait, there’s more! 🙀
In addition to calcium, full-fat kefir is also a good source of vitamin K2. This vitamin plays a key role in calcium metabolism — the way your body absorbs calcium and uses it to strengthen your bones.
5. Possible cancer-protective effects
The probiotics in fermented dairy products like kefir can help stimulate your immune system. This might mean kefir may help protect against cancer and increase the effectiveness of standard chemo to help reduce tumor growth.
One old 2007 study found that kefir extract reduced the number of breast cancer cells in a test tube by 56 percent. Yogurt extract only reduced the cells by 14 percent (up yours, yogurt).
FYI: More research is needed to prove the link between kefir and cancer prevention or treatment.
6. Digestive aid
- infectious diarrhea
- H. pylori
- Clostridium difficile (C. difficile) disease
- antibiotic-associated diarrhea
- irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
- pouchitis (inflammation in the ileal pouch reservoir after an ileostomy)
While it’s not a cure-all, kefir could help get your gastrointestinal (GI) tract back on track.
7. Low lactose
The good news? People with lactose intolerance tend to tolerate kefir well compared to milk or other dairy products.
The fermentation process turns a lot of the lactose into lactic acid. It also provides enzymes that break down the lactose even further.
Pro tip: You can ditch the dairy altogether and go for a vegan kefir.
8. Possible allergy relief
Kefir might help prevent certain food or substance allergies.
Kefir has decreased inflammatory responses related to asthma and allergies in animal studies. But more research on humans is needed to prove that these positive effects carry over — however cute sneezing otters are.
9. May help weight loss
Some folks swear kefir can help you lose weight. But is it too good to be true?
Well, it’s a solid source of dairy-based casein and whey proteins. Casein takes longer to digest than other proteins, so it might keep you fuller for longer.
A 2015 study found that women who had 4 servings of dairy a day (including kefir) showed a greater loss in waist circumference, weight, and BMI than women who only ate 2 dairy servings a day.
An animal study found that kefir reduced total cholesterol and body weight in mice with obesity.
But we need more research to show if kefir alone can help you lose weight (especially when compared to other low fat dairy products).
10. Easy to make yourself
You can prob find a top-notch kefir at your local grocery store. But it’s pretty darn easy to make at home, and then you know exactly what’s in it.
Plus, you get probiotic bragging rights forever.
Gather your ingredients and supplies
- any type of milk
- active kefir grains (these are available online)
- glass jar
- rubber band
- nonmetal mesh strainer
- nonmetal stirring spoon
- cheesecloth or paper coffee filter
Make your kefir
- Use 1 teaspoon kefir grains for each cup of milk.
- Pour into the glass jar.
- Cover with the cheesecloth or paper coffee filter.
- Secure with the rubber band.
- Store in a warm place at around 70°F (21.1ºC) for 12 to 48 hours (until it’s thick and tangy).
- Strain the kefir into a clean storage container.
- Cover it tightly.
- Store for up to 1 week.
P.S. Don’t be afraid to get creative! You can add your fave fruit to the strained kefir. Just let it sit for an extra 24 hours. Feel free to strain again if you don’t like the chunky bits.
In general, kefir is safe to consume on the reg. But there are some factors to consider:
Kefir is a fermented dairy product with lots of potential perks. It’s a fab source of protein, calcium, and probiotics. Plus it’s truly tasty 😋.
Just be sure to stick to the good stuff. Either make it at home or choose brands that don’t add cray amounts of sugar to the mix.