In various parts of the world, Kefir is referred to as “Drink of the Prophets”, “Snow us”, “Tibetan Mushroom”, “Balm of Gilead”, and “Yogurt Plant”.
It is believed that the name comes from the Turkish word "keif" which means good feeling. Kefir's flavor is naturally sweet and slightly bubbly. It is mild, but a bit tangy as well.
Kefir made from gelatinous white or yellow particles called “grains.” This makes kefir unique, as no other milk culture forms grains. These grains contain the bacteria/yeast mixture clumped together with casein (milk proteins) and complex sugars. They look like pieces of coral or small clumps of cauliflower and range from the size of a grain of wheat to that of a hazelnut. Some of the grains have been known to grow in large flat sheets that are as big as a person's hand! The grains ferment the milk, incorporating their friendly organisms to create the cultured product. The grains are then removed with a strainer before consumption of the kefir and added to a new batch of milk.
Kefir history started thousands of years ago when shepherds and townsmen of the Caucasus Mountains discovered “kefir grains”.
The shepherds accidentally discovered this magical food when they kept raw milk in their leather pouches, which fermented into an effervescent, carbonated drink. At first, they did not know anything about this new food. They just realized that they felt more energetic, healthier and were freed from diseases after drinking it. What used to be fresh milk turned into a cultured beverage, which the shepherds later discovered to have numerous health benefits.
The very first medical benefit was proven by the Russian people, wherein they said that kefir can cure tuberculosis and intestinal problems. They truly believed that kefir was magically miraculous and very beneficial to one’s health. After several years of follow-ups and research, it was discovered that kefir can treat many other diseases namely atherosclerosis, allergies, cancer, other respiratory disorders, constipation, diabetes and more. Very quickly kefir became a popular health food among the Caucasus, Southwestern Asia, Western Europe and Russia.
Kefir promotes regular bowel movements, bile production and improves liver and gallbladder functions. Kefir is also known to regulate metabolism through improved digestion and to alleviate intestinal disorders. It boosts our immune system, eliminates bad bacteria, flushes pathogens and has antifungal properties, which is why it is sometimes called as the natural antibiotic. Kefir strengthens the kidneys, improves blood circulation and regulates sugar and cholesterol diseases. It also promotes healing of various skin disorders.
The biggest promoter of kefir was one of the greatest biologists, a Nobel prizewinner and the father of cellular immunology, Ilya Mechnikov, who believed that the main method to combat aging and to delay senility was to drink kefir regularly.
A 175 ml (6 oz) serving of milk kefir contains :
Protein: 6 grams
Calcium: 20% of the RDA
Phosphorus: 20% of the RDA
Vitamin B12: 14% of the RDA
Riboflavin (B2): 19% of the RDA
Magnesium: 5% of the RDA
A decent amount of vitamin D
It is about 100 calories, 7-8 grams of carbs and 3-6 grams of fat, depending on the type of milk that is used.
Kefir also contains a wide variety of bioactive compounds, including organic acids and peptides that contribute to its health benefits. (1)
Dairy-free versions of kefir can be made with coconut water, coconut milk, almond milk or other sweet liquids, even sugary water, but 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.
Studies show that this probiotic can inhibit the growth of various harmful bacteria, including Salmonella, Helicobacter Pylori and E. coli. (2)
Some data showed that kefir can help fight cancer by reducing the number of human breast cancer cells by 56%, compared with only 14% for yogurt extract. (3)
Kefir has been shown to suppress inflammatory responses related to allergy and asthma. (4)
Kefir contributes to a healthy immune system and has been used to help patients suffering from AIDS, chronic fatigue syndrome and herpes. Its calming effect on the nervous systems has benefited many who suffer from sleep disorders, depression, and ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder).
The regular use of kefir can help relieve all intestinal disorders, promote bowel movement, reduce flatulence and create a healthier digestive system.
Kefir can also help eliminate unhealthy food cravings by making the body more nourished and balanced. Its excellent nutritional content offers healing and health-maintenance benefits to people with every type of condition.
For people who are lactose intolerant, kefir helps with bloating and indigestion. (5)
Kefir made from dairy is an excellent source of calcium. In the case of full-fat dairy, it also contains vitamin K2, and helps to prevent osteoporosis. (6)
And the latest research showed that kefir causes a significant improvement in serum lipid profile, and improves cardiovascular risks. (7)
How is it different from yogurt? Yogurt contains transient helpful bacteria that keep the digestive system clean and provide food for the friendly bacteria that reside there. But kefir can actually colonize the intestinal tract with beneficial microbes, a feat that yogurt cannot match.
DRINK KEFIR FOR YOUR PLEASURE , FOR YOUR HEALTH, AND FOR YOUR LONGEVITY!!!
For more information on a healthy lifestyle please schedule an appointment with Dr. Koganski at 215-750-7000 or www.newtowninternalmedicine.com
1) de Oliveira Leite, et al. Microbiological, technological and therapeutic properties of kefir: a natural probiotic beverage. Braz J Microbiol. 2013; 44(2): 341–349.
2) Carasi P., et al. Safety Characterization and Antimicrobial Properties of Kefir-Isolated Lactobacillus kefiri.Biomed Res Int. 2014; 2014.
3) Chen C, et al. Kefir extracts suppress in vitro proliferation of estrogen-dependent human breast cancer cells but not normal mammary epithelial cells. J Med Food. 2007 Sep;10(3):416-22.
4) Lee MY, et al. Anti-inflammatory and anti-allergic effects of kefir in a mouse asthma model. Immunobiology. 2007;212(8):647-54. Epub 2007 Jul 10.
5) Guzel-Seydim ZB, et al. "Review: functional properties of kefir". Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 51 (3): 261–8.
6) Chen HL, et al. Kefir improves bone mass and microarchitecture in an ovariectomized rat model of postmenopausal osteoporosis. Osteoporos Int. 2015 Feb;26(2):589-99.
7) Fathi Y, et al. Kefir drink causes a significant yet similar improvement in serum lipid profile, compared with low-fat milk, in a dairy-rich diet in overweight or obese premenopausal women: A randomized controlled trial. Journal of Clinical Lipidology, 11/11/2016.