Kefir is a popular health “it” food that contains a plethora of bioactive compounds, up to 30 of which are beneficial probiotic strains. These healthy bacteria make kefir a beneficial beverage for digestion and overall gut health. In fact, health experts actually consider kefir to be better for your gut than Greek yogurt. If you have been on the fence about incorporating kefir into your diet, though, the science-backed health benefits in this article should hopefully sway you.
What Is Kefir?
Kefir is made using starter “grains” that are a combination of yeast and bacteria. It’s a fermented beverage that results from the kefir grains interacting with milk. Even people with lactose intolerance can typically drink kefir safely. Kefir grains exhibit a complex microbial symbiotic mixture of lactic acid bacteria and yeasts in a polysaccharide-protein matrix. What does that mean, though? Well, the potency of kefir spread through tribes over thousands of years, helping treat various health conditions, including tuberculosis in the 19th century. By 2027, health experts project that the global kefir market size will reach $1.84 billion. Why is this drink so popular? Well, continue reading to find out.
More Powerful Probiotic Than Yogurt
Kefir grains contain up to 61 strains of bacteria and yeasts, making them diverse, rich sources of probiotics. This diversity may vary, though. These microorganisms can influence your health in several ways. For example, they may enhance digestion, improve mental health, and aid with weight management. Despite yogurt being a popular source of probiotics in the Western diet, kefir is a much more potent source.
Supports Digestion And Gut Health
Health professionals often encourage people to consume probiotics after they take antibiotics. Probiotic compounds work to restore gut flora that you lose as a result of taking antibiotics. According to research, consuming probiotic-rich foods can restore gut balance and fight gastrointestinal diseases like Crohn’s disease, ulcers, and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Additional evidence shows that kefir may alter gut microbiota composition in a healthy way. Studies link drinking kefir to improved physical performance and an ability to combat fatigue.
Reduces The Risk Of Osteoporosis
Osteoporosis is a major concern in Western countries, especially among older women. Characterized by the deterioration of bone tissue, osteoporosis increases the risk of fractures. Although consuming adequate amounts of calcium is an effective way to strengthen bones, increasing vitamin K2 intake is also an important step to take. Kefir contains sufficient amounts of both calcium and vitamin K2, which has a role in calcium metabolism. People who supplement with vitamin K2 reduce the risk of fractures by as much as 81%. Finally, recent animal studies found that increased kefir consumption led to better calcium absorption in bone cells. That is great news because increasing calcium absorption in bone cells can improve overall bone density.
Potential Cancer Fighter
Researchers indicated that certain compounds in probiotic drinks like kefir help the body defend against the spread of cancer cells. As of now, the probiotics in kefir may inhibit the spread of stomach cancer cells, according to some in vitro studies. Other studies found that fermented dairy products like kefir may reduce tumor growth by enhancing immune function. More research is necessary on this matter, though. One study found that kefir extract worked to reduce the amount of human breast cancer cells by 56% with only 14% yogurt extract.
Improves Allergy Symptoms
More often than not, allergy symptoms are linked to inflammatory issues in the body. A research animal study found that kefir reduced inflammatory cells that disrupted air passages and lung function. Additionally, kefir was able to decrease mucus build-up in a mice study. The live organisms that exist in kefir have a proven ability to enhance immune function, ultimately suppressing allergic reactions. In doing so, kefir may change the body’s response to the system outbreak points for allergies.
Supports Healthier Skin
When you increase the presence of good bacteria in the body, you start to experience better overall health. Bringing good bacteria to the forefront supports the skin in several ways. Not only does increasing beneficial bacterial help with systemic-based skin issues, but it also aids with recovery from burns and rashes. Researchers identified that kefir contains kefiran, a carbohydrate that improves the overall quality of the skin. It also enhances the ability to heal from wounds and protect connective tissues.