I first stumbled across kefir years ago when I was visiting a friend in Latvia. She encouraged me to try this “feel good milk drink” so I took a tentative sip.
I’ll admit, I was pretty taken aback at the sour flavor, but once I did some further research into the health benefits of kefir, it became a regular part of my diet.
There’s a reason why my friend called kefir a “feel good milk drink.” The word kefir actually stems from the Turkish word “keif” which is translated as “good feeling.”
And it’s true, drinking kefir really does make you feel good!
You might have heard about kefir or even seen it in the supermarket refrigerator, but perhaps you’re wondering what exactly is kefir and how can it benefit you?
You may be surprised to find out just how beneficial this fermented drink is!
5 Incredible Kefir Health Benefits You Can’t Ignore
1. Abundance of Beneficial Bacteria
According to the Journal of Food Microbiology, kefir contains 23 beneficial bacteria, listed below:
- Lactobacillus acidophilus
- Lactobacillus brevis
- Lactobacillus casei
- Lactobacillus keﬁri
- Lactobacillus paracasei subsp. paracasei
- Lactobacillus plantarum
- Lactobacillus rhamnosus
- Lactobacillus sake
- Lactococcus lactis subsp. cremoris
- Lactococcus lactis subsp. lactis
- Lactococcus lactis
- Leuconostoc mesenteroides subsp. cremoris
- Leuconostoc mesenteroides subsp. dextranicum
- Leuconostoc mesenteroides subsp. mesenteroides
- Pseudomonas fluorescens
- Pseudomonas putida
- Streptococcus thermophilus
- Lactobacillus delbrueckii subsp. bulgaricus
- Lactobacillus delbrueckii subsp. delbrueckii
- Lactobacillus delbrueckii subsp. lactis
- Lactobacillus helveticus
- Lactobacillus keﬁranofaciens subsp. keﬁranofaciens
The amazing thing about the bacteria found in kefir is that unlike the bacteria found in yogurt, which is a transient bacteria that helps to keep the gut clean, the bacteria found in kefir actually colonizes the intestinal tract.
Better yet, kefir bacteria are aggressive little guys who attack and destroy pathogens in the gut.
When you drink kefir you’re working to support healthy digestion. Kefir helps to keep your intestines running smoothly and can keep you from feeling symptoms of lactose intolerance often related to dairy products.
2. Helps Fight Candida
Candida is a type of yeast that is naturally found in the body. It’s present in your gut, on your skin, in your mucous membranes and in the birth canal.
Normally, candida isn’t a problem and peacefully coexists with other bacteria in your gut. However, an overgrowth of candida can cause a fungal infection.
Some of the common symptoms of candida include:
- Chronic fatigue
- Sugar cravings
- Brain fog
- Digestive issues
- Weak immune system
- Joint pain
- Sinus infections
- Recurring yeast infections
- Oral thrush
Just like there are good and bad bacteria, there are also good and bad yeasts (nutritional yeast is an example of a good yeast that is commonly used.)
Kefir contains beneficial yeast strains that can help to keep candida at bay.
3. High Calcium Content
Kefir contains a high calcium content which helps to strengthen your teeth and bones. Additionally, the fermentation process makes it easier for your body to absorb the calcium found in kefir.
4. Aids in Sleep
Kefir contains an abundance of an amino acid called tryptophan. Tryptophan is affectionately known as “Nature’s Prozac” because of it’s soothing effects on the nervous system.
Tryptophan promotes relaxation, reduced stress and good sleep, so trying sipping some kefir before bed for a better nights sleep!
5. Excellent Source of Nutrients
Kefir is a rich source of protein, calcium and B-vitamins (B12 and B2 (Riboflavin)) which also being low in fat and calories.
Other nutrients found in kefir include:
- Vitamin D
Kefir is a high protein drink which can help you to add protein without adding a lot of fat or extra calories. Kefir is also a great source of vitamin B and phosphorous.
Tips for Drinking Kefir
- Kefir can be purchased at most grocery stores or made at home using kefir grains or a kefir starter.
- If you are allergic to dairy or experience lactose sensitivity, you can try making water kefir.
- When buying kefir, try to buy it plain. Many kefir products have added sugars, flavorings, and other chemicals.
- If you don’t like the flavor of plain kefir, try adding it to a fruit smoothie.
- You can also sweeten kefir using natural sweeteners such as honey, maple syrup or stevia.
If you want a healthy beverage with a little alcohol, be sure to check out our Comprehensive Guide to Hard Kombucha.