Kefir is a Wealth of Probiotics and Health Benefits
Kefir Health Benefits and Nutrition
Milk kefir vs yogurt, yogurt although good, doesn’t come close to providing the nutritional benefits of kephir (alt spelling). Kefir furnishes us with an array of health benefits. Let’s look at the solid facts and 5 scientifically-proven benefits that you can receive from it.
Kefir Health Benefit #1 Healthy Intestinal Flora
The information available on intestinal flora is constantly expanding. A study entitled The Gut Microbiome in Health and in Disease clearly states that our intestinal flora aids digestion and directly influences our nutrient intake.
The microbiome within us releases enzymes that digest and absorb nutrients, transform fibers into short-chain fatty acids, synthesize vitamin K and some B vitamins, as well as inhibit the growth of harmful bacteria.
Fact: Kefir Probiotics vary slightly according to the origin of the grain. On average milk kefir contains over 30 different strains of beneficial bacteria, including 20+ strains of Lactobacillus and 2 of Bifidobacterium, along with more than 10 strains of healthy yeasts and fungi. One of the main health benefits of Kefir is that its probiotics repair and then maintain the microbiome in our gastrointestinal tract.
Kefir Health Benefit #2 Weight Loss
Kris Gunnars, B.Sc. states that protein is essential for weight loss. A diet that obtains 25-30% of its calories from protein can increase your metabolism by 80-100 calories each day, satisfy your hunger and decrease cravings, as well as provide the building blocks for lean muscles.
Fact: One cup of whole milk contains about 8 grams of complete protein. Milk fermented with kefir has an impressive protein efficiency rate because its protein has been broken down into easily digested peptides and free amino acids by the probiotic bacteria. This Hydrolyzation of protein also benefits those who are lactose-intolerant by reducing the risk of undesirable side-effects.
Kefir Health Benefit #3 Risk of Osteoporosis
Milk kefir is the ultimate osteoporosis prevention food, providing health nutrients and minerals required for maintaining good bone health including calcium, vitamin K2 and magnesium.
According to data made available by the International Osteoporosis Association, osteoporosis causes 8.9 million fractures every year.
This disease occurs when our bodies do not receive enough calcium or they reabsorb calcium leaving our bones weak and brittle. Standard prevention and treatment of osteoporosis includes balanced nutrition coupled with calcium from milk products and supplements, as well as adequate doses of vitamin E to help our bodies absorb the calcium.
Fact: Milk is the best source of calcium because it also contains other bone-friendly minerals like phosphorus, magnesium and zinc.
Milk Kefir benefits our health in two ways as we wage war on osteoporosis; first, it all but eliminates the lactose in milk which makes it easier for us to digest larger amounts of milk and secondly, produces vitamin K which aids the absorption and binding of calcium in our bones.
Kefir Health Benefit #4 Efficient Immune System
Our immune system includes the mucous membrane in our gastrointestinal tract. This membrane works together with our intestinal flora to differentiate between healthy and harmful microbes and take appropriate action.
Dysbiosis, or an imbalance in the intestinal microbiome, has been directly linked to increased infections, digestive diseases and immune hypersensitivity or allergies. Unfortunately, poor nutrition, antibiotics and stress make dysbiosis a common problem in our modern society.
Fact: Kefir’s probiotics renew our intestinal flora. Comprehensive studies show that ingesting probiotics benefits the intestinal barrier, decreases the number of bacteria that cross the mucous membrane. This encourages immune tolerance and can reduce the severity of digestive diseases. Take all probiotic foods and drinks in conjunction with balanced nutrition for it to provide the best, long-term benefits.
Kefir Health Benefit #5 Potentially Reduced Risk of Cancer
Cancer is an uncontrolled division of abnormal cells in our bodies, is currently the second leading cause of death in the world. Cancer can be caused by physical, chemical and biological carcinogens, which includes certain bacteria, viruses, and parasites.
Fact: Although more research is needed, kefir consistently shows anticancer qualities. One study found that water kefir effectively killed specific breast cancer cells and stimulated the immune system to produce beneficial T cells. The probiotics in milk kefir have also proven themselves effective against drug-resistant myeloid leukemia cells and in some cases, they prevent cells from becoming carcinogenic.
Different types of Kefir
Strictly speaking, the nutritional value is the beneficial bacteria and yeasts that it contains, however it also takes on nutrients from the liquid cultures that it thrives in. Milk vs water kefir, let’s take a look at some of the nutrition that your body will receive if you incorporate kefir into your daily diet.
The traditional form is raw goats milk kefir. Most people grow theirs in cow’s milk, but goat’s milk is also a great option. One advantage of goat milk is that it has significantly less lactose and by the end of fermentation, the main goat milk kefir benefit is that it has virtually no lactose, an important consideration for those who have a true milk allergy.
One cup of milk kefir contains between 7-9 grams of whole protein that has been partially hydrolyzed by the probiotics. It also benefits us with 13 different vitamins, including vitamins A, D, E and 10 important minerals which contribute to our overall health.
Kefir grains prefer milk, but they can be transitioned to sugar water. Water kefir contains slightly fewer probiotic benefits than when using milk and has a fizzy flavor with a touch of sweetness.
Water kefir has no other nutritional value besides the probiotics. Using brown sugar to add another source of minerals. Brown sugar includes macrominerals along with iron, zinc, manganese, and selenium. These trace minerals are essential contributors in a variety of biochemical processes.
With a little extra care, kefir grains can be grown in both coconut water and milk. This lactose-free form of kefir provides between 2-5 grams of protein per cup and a small amount of dietary fiber. Coconut kefir also contains vitamin C and a variety of B vitamins in every serving.
Wight warning – Coconut milk kefir does include about 50 grams of fat per cup. To prevent have it for a special treat and use coconut water a the fermenting medium for consumption on a daily basis.
Milk kefir eventually separates into curds and whey. We can make soft and spreadable or hard kefir cheese by straining the curds out of the whey with cheesecloth or several layers of paper filters. Gently stir the strained curds and seasoned before being used.
To make a hard cheese version, you need to compress the curds and allow them to drain a while longer. The easiest way to do this is to wrap them in cheesecloth and lay them in a colander. Cover the curds with a dinner plate and gradually add weight to the top until whey stops dripping out. Hard kefir cheese is easily grated or crumbled and then added to salads and a variety of other dishes
Kefir cheeses include most of the probiotic benefits and nutrients that are present in its milk state, but some of its nutrition is lost in the whey. You might want to add the whey to smoothies and soups so as not to lose any of its benefits.
Good Health and High-Quality Life
Our generation strives for long, healthy lives. Unfortunately, our efforts are constantly being undermined by stress, the abuse of antibiotics and poor nutrition. Incorporating kefir into our daily diet is a vital yet simple way that we can counteract these negative aspects of our lives.
The beneficial bacteria and yeasts found in kefir increase nutrient absorption, enhance weight loss, decrease the risk of osteoarthritis, modulate the immune system and in short, bring us closer to the high-quality life that we are aiming for. Who can complain when all of these benefits come from simply dropping kefir grains into water or milk and allowing them to ferment for 24 hours?
Check out our Kefir references page to see where we get our information.