More health advocates and communities are going crazy about the benefits and nutritional content of milk kefir.
Milk kefir is a Greek yogurt also known as a super drink. It is not a regular type of yogurt because in addition to being healthier, it is also thicker – a cross between milk and yogurt.
Yes, milk kefir is a fermented drink made from all types of milk – sheep, cow, goat’s milk, soy, rice, coconut – and is rich in calcium and probiotics that are good for the gut and digestion.
Although you will be surprised by its nutritional content, it all depends on the milk, the fermentation process of its creation and the flavors added to it.
For example, different nutritional strengths can be found on the dairy-free versions of kefir made from coconut milk and coconut water.
According to the US Department of Agriculture’s MyPlate guidelines, low-fat or fat-free kefir is good for improving health.
For every cup of low fat cow’s milk kefir without sugar, you will get the following nutritional benefits:
- 110 calories
- 11 grams (g) protein (22 percent daily value, or DV) (5)
- 2 g fat (3 percent DV) (6)
- 12 g carbohydrates (4 percent DV) (7)
- 12 g sugar
- 390 milligrams calcium (30 percent DV)
- 90 micrograms vitamin A (10 percent DV)
History of Milk Kefir and How It’s Made
Milk kefir may not sound familiar to some, but the truth is that it has been around for thousands of years now.
The term “Kefir” comes from the Turkish word meaning “good feeling” and is a popular probiotic drink among the Muslim community, where they believe the grain is a gift from Allah.
However, it is believed to have started in the Caucasus Mountains in Russia, and then eventually adapted in the countries of Eastern Europe.
Traditionally, the way to make milk kefir is to culture milk with kefir grains – which are usually a mixture of yeast and lactic acid bacteria and can be found in some grocery stores, either displayed in the dairy aisle or refrigerated in the health food section.
Milk kefir grains have a slightly tangy flavor.
As to why it has become so popular, it is because of its benefits.
Researchers have studied its chemical compounds and proven that it contains high levels of probiotics, vitamins and minerals.
Here Are Some of the Health Benefits of Kefir.
1. More Powerful Probiotic Than Yogurt
This means that Milk kefir contains more microorganisms, which are good bacteria that promote gut health when ingested.
Although yogurt is more popular, especially in Western culture, kefir is actually considered healthier, containing up to 61 strains of bacteria, making it a great drink that can influence health, especially by weight loss, good digestion and mental health.
This is different from other fermented dairy products which only contain less strains.
If kombucha is more your style, check out my beginner’s guide to making kombucha.
2. Kefir Has Potent Antibacterial Properties
Due to the many probiotic strains that kefir contains, some of these bacteria, such as Lactobacillus Kefiri, are believed to protect the body against infection.
According to research studies, probiotics ingested in milk kefir may also suppress the growth of harmful digestive bacteria, such as E. coli, Helicobacter pylori, and Salmonella.
Researchers have also found that it contains a certain type of carbohydrate that contains antibacterial properties.
3. Kefir Can Improve Bone Health and Lower the Risk of Osteoporosis
Osteoporosis is a dreaded disease characterized by weak and deteriorated bone tissue.
It has become one of the main health problems for some people in Western countries.
Different treatments and drugs have been tested to prevent those at risk, but the risk of fractures, especially in older women, remains high.
Fortunately, natural alternatives have proven to be effective, such as in consuming milk kefir.
With this fermented beverage, researchers discovered that it is an excellent source of calcium, one of the ways to keep our bones healthy and reduce the risk of getting osteoporosis.
In addition to this, studies have also shown that kefir is rich in vitamin k2, an important vitamin that takes part in the metabolism of calcium in the body, thus reducing the risk of fractures by up to 81%.
There were also animal studies that were conducted recently to prove the effects of kefir in the absorption of calcium in bone cells.
The result proved that they are directly related, which means that consuming milk kefir can improve bone density, lowering the risk of fractures.
4. Kefir May Be Protective Against Cancer
This is good news for anyone at risk for cancer, because time and time again researchers have constantly searched for cures for this number 1 deadly disease.
Although the results of the studies carried out are not yet concrete, the first data obtained already left a promising hope.
Cancer occurs when healthy cells become abnormal and start to proliferate and affect all other healthy cells, like in a tumor.
Researchers in several test-tube studies have found that probiotic foods can reduce tumor growth by stimulating the immune response.
For this reason, it can help fight cancer by protecting the body against them.
Another small study was conducted on the effects of kefir extract on human breast cancer cells, and the result was a significant 56% reduction in these cancer cells, compared to just 14% for those who consume drinkable yogurt extract.
As mentioned, more human studies are needed to make concrete conclusions.
5. The Probiotics in It May Help With Various Digestive Problems
The probiotics in kefir also improve gut health by restoring the balance of good bacteria.
Anyone with digestive issues can benefit greatly, especially different forms of diarrhea and irritable bowel syndrome. It can also be perfect for those suffering from lactose intolerance.
Research shows that it can also help relieve peptic ulcers caused by harmful bacteria, such as H. pylori infection and many others.
6. Kefir May Improve Allergy and Asthma Symptoms
Even with your body’s inflammatory defenses, kefir is able to influence it.
Inflammatory responses occur as a way for the body to protect itself and fight against bad bacteria and viruses, and certain foods or substances.
Allergic reaction is a type of inflammatory response that occurs in people who are overly sensitive.
Although most allergic reactions are manageable, certain conditions, such as asthma, may warrant immediate medical treatment.
Researchers conducted several animal studies to determine kefir’s ability to suppress inflammatory responses related to asthma and allergies, and the results were promising!
However, as no human studies have yet been conducted, it is difficult to draw any concrete conclusions at this time.
Milk kefir is a healthy fermented drink that is more nutritious and has more potential benefits than regular yogurt, making it a great drink for improving health.
It is commonly used to improve bone health, boost the immune system, fight cancer, and help with digestive issues.
If you want a daily dose of a healthy drink, consider a homemade kefir in your diet!
But make sure to consult a healthcare practitioner first.