Copy paste from the source mentioned at the end.
9 Evidence-Based Health Benefits of Kefir
Brunette With Milk Drink and Milk MustacheKefir is all the rage in the natural health community.
It is high in nutrients and probiotics, and is incredibly beneficial for digestion and gut health.
Many people consider it to be a healthier and more powerful version of yogurt.
Here are 9 health benefits of kefir that are supported by research.
1. Kefir is a Fantastic Source of Many Nutrients
Kefir is a fermented drink, traditionally made using cow’s milk or goat’s milk.
It is made by adding kefir “grains” to milk.
These are not grains in the conventional sense, but cultures of yeast and lactic acid bacteria that resemble a cauliflower in appearance.
Over a period of 24 hours or so, the microorganisms in the kefir grains multiply and ferment the sugars in the milk, turning it into kefir.
Then the grains are removed from the liquid, and can be used again.
This is what kefir (jar) and kefir grains (spoon) look like:
Kefir and Kefir Grains
So basically, kefir is the drink, but kefir grains are the “starter kit” that you use to produce the drink.
Kefir originated from parts of Eastern Europe and Southwest Asia. The name is derived from the Turkish word keyif, which means “feeling good” after eating (1).
The lactic acid bacteria turn the lactose in the milk into lactic acid, so kefir tastes sour like yogurt, but has a thinner consistency.
A 175 ml (6 oz) serving of milk kefir contains (2, 3):
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.
This is coming with about 100 calories, 7-8 grams of carbs and 3-6 grams of fat, depending on the type of milk that is used.
Kefir also contains a wide variety of bioactive compounds, including organic acids and peptides that contribute to its health benefits (1).
Dairy-free versions of kefir can be made with coconut water, coconut milk or other sweet liquids. These will not have the same nutrient profile as dairy-based kefir.
Bottom Line: Kefir is a fermented milk drink, cultured from kefir grains. It is a rich source of calcium, protein and B-vitamins.
2. Kefir is a More Powerful Probiotic Than Yogurt
Man Holding a Glass of Milk
Some microorganisms can have beneficial effects on health when ingested (4).
Known as probiotics, these microorganisms can influence health in numerous ways, including digestion, weight management and mental health (5, 6, 7).
Yogurt is the best known probiotic food in the Western diet, but kefir is actually a much more potent source.
Kefir grains contain about 30 strains of bacteria and yeasts, making it a very rich and diverse probiotic source.
Other fermented dairy products are made from far fewer strains, and don’t contain any yeasts.
Bottom Line: Kefir contains about 30 different microorganisms, making it a much more potent source of probiotics than other fermented dairy products.
3. Kefir Has Potent Antibacterial Properties
Kefir Grains in a Bowl and a Kefir Drink
Certain probiotics in kefir are believed to protect against infections.
This includes the probiotic Lactobacillus kefiri, which is unique to kefir.
Studies show that this probiotic can inhibit the growth of various harmful bacteria, including Salmonella, Helicobacter Pylori and E. coli (8, 9).
Kefiran, a type of carbohydrate present in kefir, also has antibacterial properties (10).
Bottom Line: Kefir contains the probiotic Lactobacillus kefiri, and the carbohydrate kefiran, both of which can protect against harmful bacteria.
4. Kefir Can Improve Bone Health and Lower The Risk of Osteoporosis
Osteoporosis (“porous” bones) is characterized by deterioration of bone tissue, and is a massive problem in Western countries.
Older Male Doctor, Smaller
It is especially common among elderly women, and dramatically raises the risk of fractures.
Ensuring an adequate calcium intake is one of the most effective ways to improve bone health, and slow the progression of osteoporosis (11).
Kefir made from full-fat dairy is not only a great source of calcium, but also vitamin K2. This nutrient plays a central role in calcium metabolism, and supplementing with it has been shown to reduce the risk of fractures by as much as 81% (12, 13).
Recent animal studies have shown that kefir can increase calcium absorption by bone cells. This leads to improved bone density, which should help prevent fractures (14).
Bottom Line: Kefir made from dairy is an excellent source of calcium. In the case of full-fat dairy, it also contains vitamin K2. These nutrients have major benefits for bone health.
5. Kefir May be Protective Against Cancer
Kefir Grains in a Brown Bowl
Cancer is one of the world’s leading causes of death.
It occurs when there is an uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells in the body, such as a tumor.
The probiotics in fermented dairy products are believed to inhibit tumor growth by reducing formation of carcinogenic compounds, as well as by stimulating the immune system (15).
This protective role has been demonstrated in several test tube studies (16, 17).
One study found that kefir extract reduced the number of human breast cancer cells by 56%, compared with only 14% for yogurt extract (18).
However, take all of this with a grain of salt, as this is far from being proven in living, breathing humans.
Bottom Line: Some test tube and animal studies have shown that kefir can inhibit the growth of cancer cells. This has not been studied in people.
6. The Probiotics in it May Help With Various Digestive Problems
Kefir Drink in a Jug
Probiotics such as kefir can help restore the balance of friendly bacteria in the gut.
This is why they are highly effective for many forms of diarrhea (19, 20).
There is also a lot of evidence that probiotics and probiotic foods can help with all sorts of digestive problems (5)
This includes irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), ulcers caused by H. pylori infection, and various others (21, 22, 23, 24).
For this reason, kefir may be useful if you have problems with digestion.
Bottom Line: Probiotics like kefir can treat several forms of diarrhea. They can also lead to major improvements in various digestive diseases.
7. Kefir is Generally Well Tolerated by People Who Are Lactose Intolerant
Brunette Drinking Milk With Milk Mustache
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 (25).
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.
Because of this, kefir is generally well tolerated by people with lactose intolerance, at least when compared to regular milk (26).
Also keep in mind that it is possible to make kefir that is 100% lactose free, by using coconut water, fruit juice or some other non-dairy fluid.
Bottom Line: The lactic acid bacteria have already pre-digested the lactose in kefir. People with lactose intolerance can often eat kefir without problems.
8. Kefir May Improve Symptoms of Allergy and Asthma
Kefir Grains on a Brown Plate
Allergic reactions are caused by inflammatory responses against harmless environmental substances.
People with an over-sensitive immune system are more prone to allergies, which can provoke conditions like asthma.
In animal studies, kefir has been shown to suppress inflammatory responses related to allergy and asthma (27, 28).
Human studies are need to better explore these effects.
9. Kefir is Easy to Make at Home
Young Blonde Cooking
The last one is not a health benefit, but important nonetheless.
If you are unsure about the quality of store-bought kefir, then you can easily make it at home yourself.
Combined with some fresh fruit, it makes one of the healthiest and tastiest desserts I have ever come across.
You can buy kefir grains in some health food stores and supermarkets.
It is also available on Amazon (see here), with hundreds of reviews, testimonials and tips from real customers.
There are some good blog posts and videos on how to make kefir, but the process is very simple:
Put 1-2 tablespoons of kefir grains into a small jar. The more you use, the faster it will culture.
Add around 2 cups of milk, preferably organic or even raw. Milk from grass-fed cows is healthiest. Leave one inch of room at the top of the jar.
You can add some full-fat cream if you want the kefir to be thicker.
Put the lid on and leave it for 12-36 hours, at room temperature. That’s it.
Once it starts to look clumpy, it is ready. Then you gently strain out the liquid, which leaves behind the original kefir grains.
Now put the grains in a new jar with some milk, and the process starts all over again.
Delicious, nutritious and highly sustainable.
Kefir Yoghurt for Life – Fermentation & Storage of your Kefir Grains
Fermentation & Storage
Fermentation times are recommended between 12 and 72 hours. Some instructions from the tropical North Queensland recommend a fermentation time of only 6 hours.
The fermentation time has to be longer with a lower average fermentation temperature and shorter with a higher average fermenation temperature.
Shorter fermentation results in a milder, sweeter aroma and a lively sparkling product. Longer fermentation makes a stronger Kefir aroma, sparkling and slightly sour.
Brigitta Cadisch-Umbricht found that Kefir fermented for 24 hours has a mild laxative effect, fermented for 48 hours is balancing and longer fermentation of about 70 hours has a very mild constipating effect.
The Right Temperature
The best fermentation temperature for Kefir is between 22oC and 30o C (72 – 86o F).
Researchers have found nearly 30 different bacteria and 25 different yeasts in Kefir cultures. Every bacteria and culture has specific temperature requirements, this is why a constant low temperature can’t be compensated with a longer fermentation time, or a constant high temperature with a shorter fermentation time. Your Kefir brewing needs some balance like hatching an egg. A fertilised egg, for example, kept under a temperature of 37.4o C (99o F) for 21 days will bring forth a healthy chick, a higher temperature and quicker breeding time will result in no new living chicken but only in a terrible smell.
It does not matter if your temperature varies during fermentation time between 18o C and 30o C which gives a wider spectrum of bacterial and yeast growth. A fermentation of a constant 18o C or constant 30o C is not recommended.
The temperature requirements of the bacteria Leu. citrovorum has a temperature requirement of 20o C (68o F), Lactobacillus acidophilus a requirement of 38o C (100o C) but some literature recommends 43.3 – 44.5o C (110o – 112o F). Lactobacillus bulgaricus likes temperatures between 43.3 – 46.6o C (110o – 116o F).
In winter and in cooler ares a heating device is recommended. A special designed heating panel for Kefir home production is available.
The Fermentation Pot
The most suitable fermentation pots are glass, glazed pottery, or porcelain. When using pottery please make sure that non lead glaze is used.
Copper is not recommended either and I think everyone knows that aluminium should not be used for food processing at all and in any case, aluminium is not suitable for lactic acid fermentation. In the country of origin, leather bags have been used for Kefir fermentation too.
Problems Associated with Kefir Fermentation
There is no doubt that you should ferment Kefir hygienically, as with any food processing. Contaminated bread, meat or fish is unhealthy and Kefir is no exception. Kefir is fermented in a covered container, and is not likely to be contaminated.
Don’t make a science out of simplicity and believe scare tactic campaigns from people who don’t really know about Kefir and/or do not want you to be healthy. Kefir was with us for a very long time and was produced in Russian farm kitchens where modern hygiene was not much known.
In my opinion if the Kefir grains or plants are left in natural balance, then brewed in a home environment as before, then you are on the safe side.
If manufacturers extract a single strain of a bacteria and culture that, as it is done with acidophilus or the Yakult Strain then laboratory cleanliness is the only solution. Both products are a blessing and so is your own product.
Kefir, an alcoholic beverage?
Depending on the fermentation process, fermentation temperature, time and type of culture used, the alcohol content of Kefir will vary from 0.06 % (Marshall 1984), up to a maximum of 3% alcohol. The average alcohol content in home brewing is around 0.5% with a loose lid and 1% in an airtight jar. Shaking the fermentation container during the fermentation time also results in higher alcohol content.
Can I eat the grains?
Yes, you can. The stories about Kombucha which are now starting with Kefir, that cultures can grow in your brain, stomach and so on, have never been proven. I received thousands of phone calls in this regard and offered in broadcast interviews $1000 for the first person who has a culture grown inside the body. The $1000 has not been claimed. If you hear fairy tales like that, ask for the address of the person, and talk to the person or the doctor personally, and let me know only if you have proof. Please don’t waste your money for a phone call or letter and my time with nonsense like that.
How long does the culture live?
The grains or plant live, with proper care as long as their owners. Kefir cultures reproduce themselves and do not know a physical death.
Storage and Care for the Kefir Culture
There are many brief information sheets given to friends along with the Kefir culture and the recommendations of care for the culture and storage vary dramatically. Most recommendations advise to wash the culture before every use. Some say with cold water, some with water around 20o C. Washing is recommended to clean up unwanted or unfriendly bacteria which may settle on the sibiotic system. The advice to wash a culture, you only find in Western literature. The people I know from Russia, Poland, Romania and Hungary who have known about Kefir fermenting from childhood do not recommend washing. They say that the beneficial micro flora around the culture will be disturbed or destroyed – definitely with chlorinated water and fluoridated water – and don’t wash the culture except for drying purposes or if fermentation is paused for a short term.
I personally agree with the natural way in not washing the culture.
For a short break of Kefir fermenting, like going on a holiday for a fortnight, the grains are placed in fresh milk, and then stored in the refrigerator at 4o C.
The Kefir grains are tougher than most people think. To compare different cultures, I asked a friend in north Queensland (and it’s really hot up there) to send me a culture. I live 3000 km south and the parcel was 12 days on the road by Australia Post. The fresh grains, bottled together with a 1/4 litre milk arrived absolutely active and the first brew was perfect. Not only that, the long fermentation and 3000 km truck shaking, produced a very pleasant tasting Kefir.
If you are not sure in the handling of Kefir then try to think a few hundred years back in a simple farm kitchen in the Caucasus mountains and make your own mind up. Like the Australian saying- “use the KISS method” Keep It Simple Silly.
For long storage it is recommended to change the milk every few weeks to feed the grains and keep them fully active.
Some say that deep freezing may kill the culture and others had no problem to reactivating the culture after a long storage in a deep freezer.
Storing your Kefir once it has Fermented
After fermentation with the culture, you may store it in the refrigerator. At a temperature of 4oC your Kefir will be of good quality for about 14 days.
Maybe you can try different ripening processes with a few batches. Instead of storing your Kefir in the refrigerator until you use it, you can ripen it at 10 – 18o C for another one to four days. Ripened Kefir has a stronger aroma, takes on a mousse-like appearance, the yeasts become more active and the alcohol content rises to 2 – 3 %.
Harald W. Tietze
Kefir for pleasure, beauty and well-being.