The Magnificant Health Benefits of Kefir
Is Kefir For You?
The irony of living in the age of information, with the internet always at our fingertips, is that not everything we find on the web is actually factual — and there is quite a lot of fake news and fake information to sift through. Although modern society has granted many of us more access and more opportunity to live more health conscious lives, the consumption of fast food, along with high sugar and salt diets has become the norm among us. This has done nothing but leave us with terrifying statistics of heart disease and other seemingly avoidable health concerns. Surprisingly enough, the response of the natural health community is the evolution of superfoods trends.
I have combatted high stress, anxiety, and depression in the past, and can attest that ongoing mental illness can cause physical ailments. Stress alone can effect your immune system and how well you can fight off a cold. It can cause digestive problems. Additionally, it can cause weight gain and even stop your period dead in its tracks causing an array of reproductive health problems affecting both ovulation and fertility.
So, as you can imagine, at the barely ripe age of 25, my body was indeed out of whack! I wasn’t taking shits or getting my period. My stomach was permanently upset, and I had month-long lingering colds. A friend with similar health concerns recommended I give Kefir a try to help combat my long list of problems. To be honest, at first, I was skeptical. I had, quite literally, heard it all. Once a woman standing in line at the grocery store swore to me that a lemon wedge swimming in a mug of warm tap water was the cure to all human ailments. What most of us failed to realize is that there is no one-size-fits-all solution to our individual health concerns. Additionally, those chia seeds don’t work like a fairy godmother. You can’t blend it into your morning smoothie and magically you’re cured. This is why, in no way, am I suggesting Kefir is the end all be all, because yes, it takes more than a fermented dairy beverage to get your life in check. However, through evidence-based research and consulting with my physician, I’ve come to a realistic solution to a variety of common ailments.
5 Powerful Health Benefits of Kefir (Backed by Science)
Health Benefits of Kefir
The main health benefits of Kefir is its nutrient density and probiotic properties. There is possibly no better solution for digestion and gut health than Kefir. Before we jump the gun, I’m sure you’re wondering what exactly we’re discussing here. Kefir is a fermented drink, traditionally made with cow’s and goat’s milk. It is essentially a more powerful version of yogurt with a much thinner consistency. It is also much less complicated to make, as well. This extremely tart and sour beverage are made by adding kefir grains to milk and allowing it to ferment for 24–72 hours. What is so unique about kefir is these grains can be used more than once, really allowing you to get your money’s worth.
The name is derived from the Turkish word keyif, which means “feeling good” — that’s exactly how you’ll be feeling once you finish a small 6oz glass of it!
High Nutrient Density
Like I mentioned above, Kefir is extremely nutrient dense, and you benefit much from even a small glass:
According to Dietitian Joe Leech, a 175 ml (6 oz) serving of milk kefir contains:
Protein: 6 grams.
Calcium: 20% of the RDA.
Phosphorus: 20% of the RDA.
Vitamin B12: 14% of the RDA.
Riboflavin (B2): 19% of the RDA.
Magnesium: 5% of the RDA.
A decent amount of vitamin D.
Fight Infection and Other Harmful Bacterias
Although the most common known probiotic food product in the western world is yogurt, kefir is actually a much more potent source of this. In fact, kefir contains about 30 different microorganisms, making it the best fermented dairy product. Additionally, certain probiotics are known to protect against infections and harmful bacterias. Lactobacillus kefiri, unique to kefir, does just that. Studies have shown Lactobacillus kefiri prevent the spread of Salmonella and E. coli, for example.
Digestive Problems and Lactose Intolerance
Probiotics such as kefir can help restore the balance of friendly bacteria in the gut. If you suffer from IBS or other digestive problems, kefir can give that poor tummy of yours a break. The great thing about kefir is those with a sensitivity to dairy can consume it safely! In fact, kefir is 99% lactose-free!
According to the article titled 9 Evidence-Based Health Benefits of Kefir, “Regular dairy foods contain a natural sugar called lactose. Many people, especially adults, are unable to break down and digest lactose properly. This condition is called lactose intolerance. The lactic acid bacteria in fermented dairy foods (like kefir and yogurt) turn the lactose into lactic acid, so these foods are much lower in lactose than milk. They also contain enzymes that can help break down the lactose even further.”
Experts in women’s health recommend kefir during pregnancy, as well as to those trying to conceive. To an even bigger surprise, they recommend it not just every once in a while, but regularly — daily if you can manage it.
To start, “it helps create a healthy inner ecosystem in your birth canal before the baby is born. This matters because your baby will then inherit this beneficial bacteria and yeast, creating an inner ecosystem in his/her digestive tract that will help digest your milk while building a stronger immune system.”
According to Alyson Lippman, RN, “pregnant and nursing women can drink kefir or yogurt to prevent the overgrowth of a bacterium called Group B Beta Strep. There is potential for passing (Strep) to the baby, where it can be harmful and cause infection.”
Women can also take kefir to reduce vaginal itching, yeast infections, and general problems of immunity while aiding hormonal balance.
Did you know that probiotics may have psychiatric benefits, as well? Is gut health the secret to sustainable mental health? Consider this — “Kefir contains tryptophan which is an amino acid that raises the levels of serotonin in your brain. According to WebMD, “serotonin acts as a neurotransmitter, a type of chemical that helps relay signals from one area of the brain to another. Although serotonin is manufactured in the brain, where it performs its primary functions, some 90% of our serotonin supply is found in the digestive tract and in blood platelets.”
How To Make Milk Kefir 101
What Are You Waiting For?
There is simply no reason to not try kefir! Although this very sour and tart drink is difficult to adjust to, you can make it a much more pleasant experience by adding fresh fruit or even honey, too. Don’t forget your favorite granola, nuts or seeds! That’s how I like mine — crunchy!
4 Benefits of Milk Kefir That Could Change Your Life. (2015, November 11). Retrieved June 24, 2017, from https://bodyecology.com/articles/4-benefits-of-milk-kefir-that-could-change-your-life
Leech, J. (2017, January 24). 9 Evidence-Based Health Benefits of Kefir. Retrieved June 24, 2017, from https://authoritynutrition.com/9-health-benefits-of-kefir/
Pregnant Women and Kefir. (2017, May 03). Retrieved June 24, 2017, from http://www.benefitsofkefir.com/pregnant-women-and-kefir/
Schizophrenia, Depression, and the Little-Known "Mental Health"/Dietary Link: An Interview with Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride. (2011, October 07). Retrieved June 24, 2017, from https://bodyecology.com/articles/schizophrenia_depression_dietary_link.php
The Secret to Happiness? Gut Health. (2017, April 12). Retrieved June 24, 2017, from http://lifewaykefir.com/mental-awareness-month-kefir/