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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.
- healthier digestion
- reduced osteoporosis risk
- possible allergy relief
- help with weight loss
- reduced cancer risk
- a low-lactose dairy
Here’s the deets on this drink (plus how to make it!).
What is kefir?
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. Here’s the DL.
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)|
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 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. Studies have shown this strain can prevent the growth of harmful bacteria like:
- Escherichia coli (E. coli)
- Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori)
Kefir also contains a carb called kefiran which has its own proven antibacterial properties.
How to make your own kefir
You can totes DIY your own kefir. It’s actually super simple! This is how you do it.
- any type of milk
- active kefir grains (these are available online)
You’ll also need:
- 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.
Here are some tips to make your kefir a 10/10:
- Shake it up if it starts to separate.
- Temps over 90°F (32.2°C) can spoil the milk.
- Keep the jar away from direct sunlight.
- You can reuse the kefir grains to make another batch.
- Metal can weaken kefir grains, so stick to wood or silicone spoons.
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.
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.
Possible cancer-protective effects
One 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.
- 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.
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.
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.
Easy to make yourself
You can prob find a top-notch kefir at your local grocery store.
But we give you mad cred for wanting to make it at home. It’s pretty darn easy to whip up and you know exactly what’s in it.
Plus, you get probiotic bragging rights forever.
Kefir the pounds away?
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 four servings of dairy a day (including kefir) showed a greater loss in waist circumference, weight, and BMI than those who only ate two dairy servings a day.
Another study found that kefir reduced total cholesterol and body weight in obese mice.
But we need more research to show if kefir alone can help you lose weight (especially when compared to other low fat dairy products).
In general, kefir is safe to consume on the reg. But there are some factors to consider:
Yogurt has been the Fermented Dairy Supreme Leader for years. (To be fair, Go-Gurt was lit.) Kefir has always been nutritious, but it’s recently given your fave yogurt a run for its money.
Kefir and yogurt are both good sources of various nutrients. On average, here’s what one cup (245 grams) serves up:
|Kefir, low fat, plain||Yogurt, low fat, plain|
|Carbs||11.6 g||17.2 g|
|Sugar||11.2 g||17.2 g|
|Protein||9.21 g||12.9 g|
|Calcium||316 mg||448 mg|
|Phosphorus||255 mg||353 mg|
|Vitamin B12||0.705 micrograms (µg)||1.37 µg|
|Riboflavin||0.328 mg||0.524 mg|
|Magnesium||29.2 mg||41.6 mg|
Whether one is strictly “better for you” than the other will depend entirely on your health and nutrition goals.
In the battle of kefir vs. yogurt, it might come down to probiotics.
Kefir has a wider variety of bacteria than yogurt. It contains 12 live and active cultures while yogurt has 5. Kefir also provides beneficial yeasts like Saccharomyces cerevisiae.
PSA: Not all store-bought yogurts have probiotics. Be sure to check the label for “contains live cultures” to make sure.
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.