If you have ever wondered what kefir is, how it is made and its nutritional benefits. Let me share some details with you. While kefir has gained prominence in recent times, it is an ancient food dating back thousands of years. The fermented food is rich in probiotics, vitamins and minerals. These have elevated it to a superfood status with its ability to improve your immunity and aid in regaining overall health. But, what are the specific kefir benefits and nutrition facts?
Let’s start by finding out what kefir is and how it is made.
What Is Kefir?
Kefir is a drink made from milk fermented using a combination of bacteria and yeasts. While it tastes like yogurt, kefir is a more potent superfood containing more vitamins, minerals and probiotics. Traditional kefir is prepared from cow, sheep or goat milk; however, coconut and water kefir have been developed and are available in supermarkets, grocery stores and healthy food stores.
How Is Kefir Made?
Kefir is prepared by adding cultures of live bacteria and yeasts to milk, coconut milk or coconut water or even fruit juice. The bacteria and yeasts require sugar for them to multiply and cause the fluid to ferment. For this reason, where natural sugar is lacking, some form of sugar such as cane or fructose is added. This, however, does not make kefir a high sugar food as the bacteria and yeasts eat most of it to produce a tart tasting probiotic drink.
Kefir Nutrition Facts
While it is 90 percent water, kefir is one of the richest sources of friendly bacteria and fungus, also known as probiotics. These live mainly within the gut from where they support your health by destroying dangerous bacteria and fungus. They also play an important part in strengthening your immune system. Heal your gut with these foods.
But kefir has more nutritional benefits. It is an important source of minerals, electrolytes and vitamins. It also contains some protein, fat and sugar. Analysis by the United States, Department of Agriculture shows that a typical sample of kefir may contain more than 30 nutrients.
Analysis of 100g sample of kefir
|Net carbohydrate||4.48 grams|
|Total sugar||4.61 grams|
|Total fat||0.93 grams|
|Vitamin C||0.2 mg|
|Vitamin B-6||0.058 mg|
|Vitamin E||0.02 mg|
|Vitamin A (RAE)||171 µg|
|Vitamin A (IU)||569 IU|
|Vitamin B-12||0.29 µg|
|Vitamin D||41 IU|
|Vitamin D (2+3)||1.0 µg|
|Vitamin K||0.1 µg|
|Total saturated fatty acids||0.658 g|
|Total monounsaturated fatty acids||0.310 g|
|Total polyunsaturated fatty acids||0.053 g|
|Total trans fatty acids||0.037 g|
Source: USDA, National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference
What are the benefits of drinking kefir?
The wide range of nutrients gives kefir many nutritional benefits. Besides, because kefir is made by using a combination of many bacteria and yeasts, it is a richer source of probiotics. Kefir cultures contain more than 10 strains of bacteria and yeasts, while yogurt is typically made using less than five strains.
12 Kefir benefits:
1. Immune Booster
Research shows that your immune system is 75 percent dependent on your gut. It has also been found that many infections begin in the digestive system. By providing a wide range of friendly bacteria and yeasts, kefir helps to boost your body’s immunity by destroying infection causing organisms. Some studies have also indicated that probiotics can also help in treating some conditions similar to how antibiotics work.
2. Improves Digestion
Kefir is a healthy and wholesome food drink that helps to reestablish a healthy balance of good and bad bacteria and fungus. This improves digestion. These foods can help boost your immune system
3. Helps to Detoxify
The foods you eat and the environment contain various toxins including aflatoxins in grains, seeds and nuts. These can cause allergies and other problems including causing DNA mutations and even cancer. Some friendly bacteria in kefir can neutralize these toxins and protect you from their effects.
4. Helps Prevent and Improve IBD and IBS
Irritable bowel disease (IBD) and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) are conditions that involve inflammation of the bowel. In studies carried out in Canada it was found out that regular consumption of probiotic foods such as kefir and yogurt reduced the inflammation and helped to clear these conditions.
5. Controls Allergies
Some studies have indicated that kefir reduces the inflammation associated with allergies and asthma. In one study, it was reported that kefir suppressed specific inflammatory markers. These anti-inflammatory qualities may help prevent or control allergies and asthma attacks.
6. Controls Cholesterol
Regular consumption of kefir helps to establish a healthy balance between good cholesterol (HDL) and bad cholesterol (LDL). This helps to improve circulatory health and protect against heart disease.
7. Improves Bone Density
Reduction in bone density occurs if adequate calcium and magnesium are not absorbed within the digestive system. Low bone density causes osteoporosis among other skeletal diseases. Probiotics have been found to improve absorption of these minerals besides other nutrients. Kefir also contains reasonable quantities of calcium and other minerals and vitamins necessary for healthy bones.
8. Provides B Vitamins
B vitamins are required for the proper functioning of your body including the brain and the nervous system. Kefir provides a reasonable portion of the B vitamins; niacin, riboflavin, B-6 and thiamin. Do you know why B Vitamins are essential for a healthy body?
9. Provides Calcium
Calcium is essential for healthy bones. One serving of kefir (175 g) will provide you with one fifth of your daily calcium requirement (RDA). Kefir also provides other important minerals including phosphorus, potassium, and magnesium.
10. Reduces Stress
Tryptophan, an amino acid present in kefir, helps you to relax and let go of stress. It can also help you to sleep better.
11. Helps to Manage Lactose Intolerance
While people with lactose intolerance do not take milk, they may safely take it when fermented into kefir. The process of fermentation changes the nature of lactose. If you have lactose intolerance, you may get over it by progressively taking increasing quantities of kefir over a period of time.
12. Protects Against Cancer
Studies done on mice have shown that regular consumption of probiotic foods such as kefir may protect against cancer. Some studies even report that regular consumption of kefir destroys tumors.
Will these kefir benefits and nutrition facts help you choose kefir the next time you buy a drink?
12 kefir benefits and nutrition facts that prove this probiotic drink is a superfood. Immune booster, allergy and asthma control, cancer prevention.