Kefir: Benefits, properties, uses and nutritional information

From its origins in the Caucasus mountains of Eastern Europe, Kefir is living up to the meaning of its name, which is believed to be a derivative of the Turkish word key if, which translates to feel good, as this probiotic drink provides many properties and benefits to health.

Today it is considered a global phenomenon because it is not subject to Eastern Europe and Southwest Asia. This is mainly because this lightly fermented beverage, a combination of bacteria and yeasts that interact with cow, goat, sheep, soy, coconut, or rice milk, has been linked to digestive health and immune function.

Now, should you consume Kefir? After knowing its therapeutic benefits, nutritional value, and uses, indeed, a convincing answer to this question will be obtained.

Kefir nutritional information

The nutritional value per 100 grams of Kefir is this:

  • Calories: 64 kcal
  • Vitamin A: 30.6g
  • Carbohydrates: 4.8 g
  • Protein: 3.3g
  • Fat: 3.5g
  • Calcium: 127mg

Kefir Properties

  • It has high detoxifying power.
  • It is a probiotic drink.
  • Helps the correct absorption of nutrients.
  • You have antioxidant attributes.
  • It is a good diuretic.
  • The acids of its composition allow balancing the blood sugar level.

Types of Kefir

Kefir nodules look similar to cauliflower but are softer and more gelatinous and are encased in a polysaccharide matrix called Kefir.

There are three kinds: milk, water, and tea or Kombucha. These three types are the same Kefir, with the same medicinal properties, but adapted to different environments.

Water kefir and milk kefir have the same microflora. Instead, milk kefir is more popular, perhaps because its texture and flavor are similar to yogurt, although more acidic, liquid, and viscous.

However, the big difference between them is that yogurt is the product of lactic fermentation, whereas in Kefir, there are two lactose fermentations: one lactic and the other alcoholic.

For its part, water kefir does not present the risk of allergies or intolerances since it does not use milk for its preparation. Instead, it includes the addition of granules, also known as tibicos, which is sugar water that is usually flavored with juices. 

Benefits of Kefir

Serves as support for the immune system

Due to their probiotic properties, compounds and nutrients, such as biotin and folate, optimize the immune system and protect cells. Another example of this is the probiotic strain of Kefir called Lactobacillus kefir.

In another sense, the insoluble polysaccharide called kefiran present in this drink has proven to be a potent antimicrobial, having the ability to combat intestinal candidiasis.

Its probiotic characteristics benefit digestion

According to what many investigations suggest, consuming probiotic foods such as milk and Kefir yogurt can favor the balance of the intestinal flora and, at the same time, the treatment of diseases.

On the other hand, when many antibiotics have been consumed, probiotic compounds help restore the flora lost in the fight against pathogens. They are also effective in treating disruptive diarrhea and other gastrointestinal side effects caused by these medications.

A study carried out by the team of Doctors, Brazilian biochemists, and immunologists, published in the journal Inflammopharmacology in 2005, ensures that gastrointestinal inflammatory processes are reduced by up to 44%, thanks to the probiotic effects of Kefir.

Stops bone degeneration

Kefir, made from full-fat dairy products, has high calcium levels in the milk. More importantly, it contains bioactive compounds that allow the body to absorb calcium and stop bone degeneration, such as phosphorus, calcium, magnesium, and vitamin D.

Since Kefir also has vitamin K2, it effectively improves calcium absorption and strengthens bone density.

uses of Kefir

Although many people make it at home, it is possible to purchase this product ready to eat. Here are some common presentations: 

  • Kefir is made with pasteurized and unsweetened cow’s milk.
  • Kefir mixed with fruit, such as strawberry, orange, mango, pineapple, or blueberries.
  • Goat milk-based Kefir.

On the other hand, it is best to combine it with other ingredients, such as:

  • Nuts like walnuts or hazelnuts
  • Honey
  • With strawberries, blueberries, banana, or kiwi
  • Cereals
  • With chia seeds, when it is liquid

Advantages and disadvantages of kefir

“It is completely digestible, regulates the digestive system, and restores the intestinal flora destroyed or altered by poor diet or disease (diarrhea or celiac disease), use of antibiotics or other aggressive treatments.

Without a doubt, this delicious drink has advantages and disadvantages that are worth knowing.

Advantages of Kefir

  • It is a potent natural antibiotic.
  • It can cleanse the body of salts, heavy metals, and alcoholic beverages.
  • It serves to cleanse the gastrointestinal tract and improve digestion
  • Optimize metabolism.
  • It is very beneficial for the cardiovascular system.
  • It is a good regulator of blood glucose and lipid levels.
  • It can be prepared with different means.

Disadvantages of Kefir

  • It can probably cause specific side effects like gas, bloating, nausea, diarrhea, or stomach pain.
  • It is made from dairy products, and it is not suitable for people with a milk allergy or sensitivity to dairy products.