The benefits of drinking kefir are extensive. Kefir is is a rich source of calcium, protein and B-vitamins. Kefir also contains a wide variety of bioactive compounds, including organic acids and peptides that contribute to its health benefits. Dairy-free versions of kefir (Water 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. Kefir contains about 30 different microorganisms, making it a much more potent source of probiotics than other fermented dairy products. Kefir contains the probiotic Lactobacillus kefiri, and the carbohydrate Kefiran, both of which can protect against harmful bacteria.
A 175 ml (6 oz) serving of milk kefir contains:
Protein: 6 grams
Calcium: 20 percent of the RDA
Phosphorus: 20 percent of the RDA
Vitamin B12: 14 percent of the RDA
Riboflavin (B2): 19 percent of the RDA
Magnesium: 5 percent of the RDA
A decent amount of vitamin D
This is coming with about 100 calories, seven to eight grams of carbs and three to six grams of fat, depending on the type of milk that is used. 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. 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. Kefiran, a type of carbohydrate present in kefir, also has antibacterial properties.
Kefir Can Improve Bone Health and Lower The Risk of Osteoporosis. 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 percent. 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.
Kefir May be Protective Against Cancer. 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. One study found that kefir extract reduced the number of human breast cancer cells by 56 percent, compared with only 14 percent for yogurt extract.
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. There is also a lot of evidence that probiotics and probiotic foods can help with all sorts of digestive problems. This includes irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), ulcers caused by H. pylori infection, and various others.
Kefir May Improve Symptoms of Allergy and Asthma! Allergic reactions are caused by inflammatory responses against harmless environmental substances. In animal studies, kefir has been shown to suppress inflammatory responses related to allergy and asthma.
Kefir is known to treat numerous disorders:
Respiratory disorders: tuberculosis, acute bronchitis
Cardiovascular disorders: hypertension, anemia
Gastrointestinal disorders: ulcer, reflux, gastritis, hepatitis, constipation, diarrhea, irritable bowel syndrome, colitis, leaky gut syndrome, colon cancer
Genitourinary disorders: urinary tract infection, prostate cancer
Neurological/Psychological disorder: depression, anxiety, attention deficit hyperactivity disorders (ADHD), migraine
Dermatological disorders: eczema, acne, allergies, psoriasis
Musculoskeletal disorders: arthritis, gout, osteoporosis, rheumatism
Although some of these health claims are still under research, most of them are from personal experiences of kefir drinkers.