In the past few years there has been a growing trend for fermented foods and beverages. Forbes reported that sales for fermented foods shot up by 149% last year.
This can be attributed to a better understanding of the human microbiome and an increasing affinity for all stuff with good bacteria.
One of the popular beverages in this growing trend is kefir. There are 2 types of kefir; milk and water, but in this article, we will be discussing milk kefir benefits.
Click here to learn the benefits of water kefir!
What is Milk Kefir?
Milk Kefir is a traditional fermented drink made by adding kefir grains to cow, goat or sheep’s milk. Kefir grains are not actually grains, but rather a colony of yeast and lactic acid bacteria that resemble a cauliflower in appearance.
These grains help to ferment the milk over a period of 24 hours. During the fermentation process, the grains feed on the sugars in the milk. The end result is a milk kefir, a nutritious beverage. The grains can be strained from the liquid and reused to create another batch of kefir.
To sum things up, milk kefir is the drink, and milk kefir grains are the starter culture used to make the beverage.
Where did Kefir Originate From?
The name ‘kefir’ is derived from the Turkish word ‘keyif’, which means “feeling good” after eating. The origins of milk kefir can be traced back many centuries to the shepherds in the Caucasus mountains. By accident, they discovered that fresh milk carried in leather pouches would occasionally ferment, resulting in a tangy, carbonated beverage.
There is also a legend that Prophet Mohammed himself gifted the grains to the nomadic people. The nomads guarded the secrets of kefir for centuries, but it eventually leaked to the surrounding regions such as Eastern Europe. Today, it is one of the popular health beverages many enjoy.
The reason why Kefir is gaining popularity is due to the numerous health benefits it brings. In this article we will be discussing 9 health benefits of milk kefir.
Milk Kefir Benefits
Milk Kefir Benefits 1: Super rich in PROBIOTICS
Most fermented foods are packed with probiotics, and kefir is no exception. Compared to yoghurt and other dairy fermented products, kefir is a much more potent source, containing up to 61 strains of beneficial yeast and bacteria.
If yoghurt and kefir were in a boxing match, it would be a knockout in the first 5 minutes. That’s why Kefir is the King!
In the past, we used to be extremely fearful of bacteria. However, through modern science and research, scientists are rediscovering the importance of these ‘good’ bacteria.
The human body itself plays host to trillions of microorganisms. These microorganisms outnumber human cells by 10 to 1 and they play a vital role in human health. This brings us to the next points.
Milk Kefir Benefits 2: Improves gut health and your digestive system
If you’re one of those struggling with gut and digestive health, then kefir might be a solution to your problems. Modern medicine is notorious for the use of antibiotics, and this has long been linked to a depletion of gut bacteria. These friendly bacteria are vital to your gut and digestive health.
A natural cure to constipation!
Kefir, rich in probiotics can help to restore the microbiome balance of the gut. This will enable better digestion, and a stronger immune system (these good bacteria play an important role in helping to fight off bad bacteria).
Milk Kefir Benefits 3: Improves BRAIN function
A healthy microbiome is also important for optimal brain health. Recent studies have shown that gut microbiome also affects the central nervous system, which is responsible for brain functions.
A good gut is linked to having a good brain! Say goodbye to brain fog.
Milk Kefir Benefits 4: Great Alternative for Lactose Intolerants
A study from the University of Malaya Medical Center in 2018 estimated that 87.1% of Malaysian are lactase deficient, and 19.8% are lactose intolerant.
Most of you may be familiar with the term lactose intolerant, but what exactly is lactase deficient? Well, people with this condition are lacking in lactase enzymes. This means that they can tolerate milk… to a certain extent. If overconsumed, it can lead to similar symptoms as lactose intolerance.
If you are one of those Malaysians suffering from lactose intolerance, kefir may be a good option for you. The fermentation process helps to remove most of the lactose from the milk.
Milk Kefir Benefits 5: Amazing NUTRIENT Content
Kefir is an abundant source of vital nutrients. Some of them include calcium, phosphorus, potassium, Vitamin A, Vitamin B, Vitamin D and Vitamin K.
Just a cup of kefir (240ml) alone provides you lots of nutrients to meet your RDI (Reference Daily Intake), for example:
Protein: 12 grams
Phosphorus: 43% RDI
Calcium: 40% RDI
Potassium: 16.5% RDI
Vitamin A: 10% RDI
Vitamin D: 17% RDI
These are just some of the nutrients present. To add to that, the fermentation process just makes the nutrients much more bioavailable to the body. Bioavailability of nutrients can be defined as the efficiency of absorption of the nutrients present in a particular food.
Taking these factors into consideration, it’s no surprise that milk kefir benefits are dominating the fermented foods category, as will be discussed in the next few points.
Milk Kefir Benefits 6: Prevents OSTEOPOROSIS
Due to its richness in calcium and Vitamin K2, kefir is an excellent source for bone health, another powerful contribution of milk kefir benefits.
Calcium plays a vital role in maintaining and strengthening bone tissues.
Vitamin K2 plays an important role in activating osteocalcin, a protein hormone that takes calcium and binds it to the bones.
These 2 nutrients function in harmony to provide optimal bone health. A recent study involving osteoporotic patients showed that 6 months of daily kefir supplementation led to improved bone mass density.
Milk Kefir Benefits 7: May Help Prevent CANCER
Although the research in this area is still in its infancy, scientists are proposing that kefir can help to inhibit cancer cell growth. Experiments have been conducted with success in animal and test tube studies, but there are no current studies involving humans.
Researchers claim that kefir’s anti-cancer properties come from its bioactive polysaccharide compounds. There are also claims that kefir can suppress tumors by activating the immune system and by delaying enzymatic reactions that convert potential carcinogens to actual carcinogens.
The later claim is supported by a study involving a cell culture, where kefir demonstrated that it can induce apoptosis (cell death), slowing the spread of cancer cells.
However, these studies don’t confirm that kefir prevents cancer. Animal and cell culture studies are very different from human clinical trials and more evidence is needed to support this claim.
Milk Kefir Benefits 8: Enhances the IMMUNE System
Kefir contains many strains of beneficial yeast and bacteria. Some of these probiotic strains are linked to immune boosting properties.
There are a couple of studies done to test this. One of them looked at participants who consumed 200ml of kefir daily for 6 weeks. The results showed improved immune response and reduced levels of several inflammatory markers.
Further studies also showed that kefir may help to boost endothelial function and provide anti-bacterial effects against food pathogens.
Hence, this supports the claims that kefir has potential immune boosting and anti-inflammatory properties.
Milk Kefir Benefits 9: Weight LOSS
Spoiler alert: Kefir doesn’t have any unique properties which contribute directly to weight loss. It does however have the advantage of being a satiating food, leaving those who consume it less hungry that usual. This could explain why people tend to lose weight while consuming kefir.
What’s the best way to consume Milk Kefir?
Since kefir is rich in yeast and bacteria which will affect the gut flora, it is important to be mindful when you integrate it into your diet.
You can start by drinking about 100ml of kefir a day and slowly upping the dosage from there. If you are new to fermented and probiotic foods, there is a possibility of some side effects, depending on how sensitive your stomach is. Some of the side effects are stomach cramps, constipation and bloating. If you experience some of these effects (but not severely), give your body some time to adapt. If the problem persists, seek medical advice. It’s possible that kefir may not be for you.
If you don’t experience any side effects (or if your body has adapted), consider building up the dosage to about 200-300mls a day, which is the recommended daily amount. It’s best to drink kefir continuously for 3 months to obtain the desired benefits for your well-being.
Here’s how you can get milk kefir delivered to you on The Kefir King website.
And here is a video suggestion on how to make DELICIOUS milk kefir smoothies! So a tasty snack or breakfast while enjoying the milk kefir benefits.
If you’d like to make milk kefir yourself, here’s a step by step video guide!
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