Kefir: Powerful and Packed with Nutrients and Benefits. Never heard of kefir before? Chances are you’re much more familiar with closely-related yogurt, another probiotic-rich dairy food that offers similar health benefits. Kefir is a unique, cultured dairy product that’s gaining popularity as more people learn about the many benefits of probiotic-rich foods. But kefir actually isn’t new at all – it’s been consumed for hundreds of years in parts of Europe and Asia as part of traditional folk medicine practices, used to cure a variety of health conditions naturally without the use of medications.
How is kefir made?
Kefir is a fermented milk product made from either cow, goat or sheep’s milk. Many people think of it as “drinkable yogurt” because it has a sour flavor that is very similar to tart, unsweetened yogurts. Compared to yogurt, kefir has more of a liquid consistency and is a bit tarter, due to the fermentation process. If you’re familiar with the sour tastes of kombucha (another fermented drink) and Greek yogurt, kefir is somewhere in the middle of those two.
Kefir is formed when live probiotic strains are combined with dairy, which results in the growth of healthy bacteria and also a natural reduction in the amount of lactase present within the milk. This makes kefir a good choice for those who don’t tolerate lactose well (lactose-intolerant) since lactose levels in kefir are much lower than in regular milk or even yogurt.
What benefits does kefir have?
Kefir is rich in vitamins, minerals, and beneficial probiotics including vitamin B12, calcium, magnesium, vitamin K2, biotin, folate, enzymes and various “live” cultures. Kefir’s probiotics include the Bifidobacteria species and Lactobacillus acidophilus, in addition to at least eight other strains of beneficial bacteria.
Many studies have shown that kefir helps to:
What do probiotics in kefir do?
Kefir’s stomach-loving, immune-boosting benefits are due to the presence of probiotics, beneficial for the immune system because they act as a kind of “good” bacteria that thrive inside of your intestinal tract. Your immune system is actually largely stored inside of your gut. Probiotics work to defend your immunity by killing bad, dangerous bacteria and flourishing the gut “microflora” with helpful bacteria that digest your food and use nutrients to your benefit.
Kefir can help soothe an upset stomach and also rebuild healthy gut bacteria in order to prevent future digestive problems.
To get the maximum benefits, make sure you consume unsweetened kefir that is also certified organic. This ensures there won’t be any growth hormones or chemicals present within the kefir, in addition to keeping the sugar content lower.
How can you use kefir at home?
Many brands of fruit-flavored kefirs and yogurts can be packed with sugar, bringing the total content to the equivalent of eating ice cream! Choose plain kefir and add your own fruit, cinnamon and perhaps vanilla extract to add flavor without excess sugar and calories.
Try having some with oatmeal, in a smoothie, with some granola and fruit, or any other way you’d use yogurt or milk. You can also drink kefir plain, bake with it, or use it to thicken soups and sauces.
Now you know Kefir: Powerful and Packed with Nutrients and Benefits