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Many foods come with dedicated followers who claim they'll basically grant you life eternal, but few come with scientifically-backed verification. Kefir is among the exceptions in that it truly is great for your health.

Meet kefir. Tangier than yogurt. Thinner than yogurt. Containing all the probiotic bacteria found in yogurt, plus more — and yeast species, too. [1] Kefir is more than a "weird yogurt-looking thing" to try if you're looking for something new. Though some prefer the rich flavor of kefir over the milder taste yogurt offers, its health benefits are also plenty of reason to fall into the habit of daily kefir consumption and start looking into how to make kefir at home

The fact that the word kefir comes from the Turkish word for "feeling good" isn't just an advertising gimmick; love kefir, and it'll love you back! Not convinced? Let's look at some of the scientifically-proven health benefits that drinking kefir regularly can confer!

Kefir Fights Bad Microbes

A number of studies have found that the friendly Lactobacillus (lactic-acid bacteria) species found in kefir do a pretty good job fighting a whole range of microbes, including many you've probably never heard of. The more familiar ones include Salmonella and Shigella as well as Y. enterocolitica, which is linked to arthritis and thyroiditis [2]. Kefir has also been revealed to battle fungal infections, and some studies suggest that it is potent enough to take Candida albicans on [3].

Kefir's antimicrobial properties are one reason for which the probiotic drink is so useful for people with gastrointestinal disorders [4] — the friendly microorganisms you ingest with your kefir can help restore your gut microbiome to a healthy state. 

Can Kefir Fight The 'Unholy Trinity' Of Elevated Cholesterol, Blood Sugar, And Blood Pressure?

A study of a group of diabetic patients who consumed kefir for eight weeks revealed that kefir consumption led to improved blood glucose levels, leading researchers to conclude that kefir may serve as a complementary treatment in people with type 2 diabetes [5].

Other research — albeit conducted on hamsters — showed that kefir can reduce serum triglyceride and cholesterol levels [6]. I'll add my own completely unscientific bit of "ancedata" too; the person who introduced the friend who got me into making kefir with kefir grains to the probiotic drink was able to come off her cholesterol meds after drinking kefir daily for a while. 

Kefir has also historically been recommended in the treatment of hypertension, especially in the now former Soviet Union, where kefir still remains popular [4]. A rat study confirms kefir has potential in this area, but further research would need to be done to find out how much anti-hypertensive power kefir might have [5]. 

Kefir Strengthens Your Immune System

Yes, I know — kefir seems to have so many health benefits that we're almost in snake oil territory now. Nonetheless, there's research to suggest that drinking kefir benefits the mucosal and systemic immune system. This means, in short, that consuming kefir on a regular basis may increase your body's ability to produce antibodies such as IgA. [6, 7] That's always good news, whether you are hoping to keep healthy or are sickly and your body needs an extra boost.

Is Kefir A Cancer-Fighter?

Also hailed as an anti-tumor drink, can kefir really fight cancer? Currently available research indicates that fermented dairy products may be able to supress "early-stage tumors, by the delaying of enzyme activities that convert pro-carcinogenic compounds to carcinogens, or by the activation of the immune system". Any further anti-tumor properties can be attributed to the fact that kefir's potent probiotic mix boosts the immune system. [4] Simply said, drinking kefir isn't a reason to think smoking is now OK or you can stop your chemotherapy treatment, but it just might help reduce your risk of cancer. 

Does Your Gut Health Need Some Help?

Whether you're suffering from something temporary — like excessive flatulence, diarrhea, or food poisoning — or from long-term digestive system disorders like Irritable Bowel Syndrome, the fact that kefir has an impressive probiotic content can help you out. [8, 9] Probiotics can play an important role in your gut health by balancing your gastrointestinal microbiome.

And Then, The General Health Benefits Of Things You'll Find In Kefir

Being created from milk, kefir offers the same kind of nutritional benefits milk does (plus more explained by its added extras) — calcium, protein, and B vitamins, for example. These are all things you need for overall health, including bone health. Combined with kefir's probiotic content, the fact that it contains plenty of calcium and protein also explains why drinking kefir can help you achieve weight loss

Relying On Your 'Gut Feelings': Give Kefir A Try!

If you're making kefir at home with kefir grains, "your grains" will contain a unique mixture of yeasts and friendly bacteria, while store-bough kefir will give you more consistent, but fewer, cultures (as the result of the pasteurization process). The exact health benefits you'll reap from the kefir you drink will depend on the mix the culture you are drinking offers you, but all are good. 

My family has been drinking kefir daily for a while now. I started out as an open-minded skeptic who thought we'd at least get a daily dose of calcium tastier than milk out of it, but can now say I'm on board — my daughter's digestive issues have improved, I've lost weight, and my skin is clearer. I had nothing to lose in trying kefir, and neither do you. Why not rely on your literal gut feeling and test whether kefir, from the word for feeling good, really does do what it says "on the tin"?

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