Kefir: Lactose-Free and Rich in Probiotics

KefirKefir is a thick, yogurt-like drink made by fermenting milk with kefir grains. It originated in Russia and is characterized by its creamy texture, tart taste and fizzy effervescence. Kefir remains popular in Eastern Europe, where it is commonly used as an ingredient in baked goods such as sourdough bread, often as a substitute to buttermilk. Due to its high nutritional value, however, kefir shines most as a health supplement.

Please note that the benefits listed below apply to kefir sourced from animal milk. The nutritional profile of kefir made from plant milks (such as coconut milk) will differ, though the overall healthiness is maintained.

List of Health Benefits

Rich in probiotics – According to an article on the website of the Cenegenics Medical Institute in Jacksonville, kefir contains between 7 and 10 billion colony-forming units of beneficial bacteria. Some of these bacteria, such as Leuconostoc, Lactobacillus caucasus, Torula kefir, and Saccharomyces kefir, cannot be found in yogurt, while the bacteria that kefir does share with yogurt are more potent in kefir.

These important microorganisms help improve digestive health, often by recolonizing the beneficial bacteria in our gastrointestinal systems and by preventing the growth of harmful bacteria in the intestinal tracts. Furthermore, these cultures can aid the production of vitamins B12 and K (which kefir contains).

Helps with lactose intolerance – Because it is fermented, kefir is almost lactose-free and is therefore beneficial for individuals with lactose intolerance. According to a May 2003 study published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association, for example, kefir can reduce many of the symptoms associated with lactose intolerance, such as abdominal bloating, diarrhea, and gas.

Good source of protein – One cup of kefir made with whole milk contains approximately 10 grams of protein, including all eight essential amino acids. For this reason, a lot of bodybuilders like to add kefir to their pre-workout smoothies. It mixes especially well with blackstrap molasses, a nutritious sweetener that helps disguise kefir’s sourness.

Improves blood sugar levels – Like milk, kefir is low on the glycemic index (16) and can help regulate the amount of insulin produced by the pancreas. Moreover, low-glycemic index foods like kefir have been linked to improve satiety and thus aid weight loss.

Rich in nutrients – Though kefir is primarily consumed for its probiotics and protein, it is also valued for its vitamins and minerals. One cup of kefir, for instance, contains 10 percent of our RDI of vitamin A, 25 percent of our RDI of vitamin D, 30 percent of our RDI of calcium, and 8 grams of fat (of which 5 are saturated). It also contains varying quantities of phosphorus, iron, magnesium, manganese, potassium, and copper. Consequently, long-term consumption of kefir has been linked to improved skin and hair, superior cardiovascular health and immunity, treatment of constipation, and the elimination of unhealthy food cravings.

Purchasing Kefir

As with milk, kefir’s nutritiousness depends upon its production. The pasteurized, low-fat kefir found in most supermarkets, for instance, is not going to be as nutritious as kefir made from raw milk. Sadly, finding kefir made from raw milk is difficult.

Fortunately, kefir is really easy (and inexpensive) to make yourself! All you need is some kefir grains, a large jar and some good-quality milk. Then, follow the simple instructions outlined here.

 

Recommended Articles

Ginger Tea

Three Herbal Teas That Can Aid Digestion and Treat Stomach Problems

According to the American Nutrition Association, over 70 million people across the United States regularly suffer from heartburn, acid reflux, irritable bowel syndrome, abdominal pain, bloating and other gastrointestinal problems. Many of these problems are linked to food sensitivities (especially gluten and dairy), consumption of processed foods, and gut flora imbalances, while others … Read more

Vinegar

Five Surprising Household Uses for Vinegar

It would be difficult to find a household in the United States that does not contain at least one bottle of vinegar. Indeed, this strong-tasting liquid, which comes in many varieties but is primarily made from acetic acid and water, has been considered an essential ingredient in food preparation for centuries. Aside from being a condiment, it was used to pickle vegetables, make … Read more

Soy Beans

A List of Foods Rich in Protein: From Beans to Egg Whites

Protein is critical for the well-being of one's body. While it is commonly understood that protein helps with muscle building and muscle growth, in reality protein does a lot more. For example, it also plays an essential role in cell regeneration (including the growth of hair and skin), it is responsible for the production of hormones, enzymes, and other elements that the body needs on a … Read more

Cacao Beans

A List of Foods Rich in Magnesium: From Blackstrap Molasses to Cacao

Magnesium is a vital macromineral that is needed for more than 300 biochemical reactions in the body. It regulates enzyme reactions, aids the production of energy, helps our body transport ions across our cell membranes, and more. Indeed, all of our organs require magnesium to function properly.Unfortunately, magnesium deficiencies are pandemic worldwide. In the United States alone, … Read more