The Potential Benefits of Kefir
1. Made with Kefir Grains
The word ‘grains’ does not refer to grains as we know them. Kefir ‘grains’ are a symbiotic culture of live bacteria and yeast, living in harmony (symbiosis) together. They look like little florets of cauliflower! In order to survive, these beneficial bacteria and yeast need a source of energy. The naturally occurring lactose in milk provides a source of carbohydrates for the microbes. Through the process of fermentation, these powerful microbes enter the milk, creating the product Kefir. As they ferment the milk, they grow and multiply and can be re-used over and over again (as long as they are well cared for). Read more about Kefir Grains here (What are Kefir grains)
The most natural form of kefir, is kefir made using the live kefir grains. It’s has a broad range of living cultures and packs a powerful punch.
Kerry Kefir is a home-made kefir using kefir grains, promoting all the time-tested benefits of traditional kefir.
2. May support the Immune System
Research has shown that 70-80% of our immune system is in our gut. The foods we eat and the microbes (living bacteria) in our gut directly impact our immunity.
3. May help to Relieve Constipation and/or Diarrhoea
Slow motility of food through the large intestine can lead to constipation. A study from Turkey gave 20 patients (10 with constipation and 10 with normal bowel transits) kefir twice a day for 4 weeks[Link here]. 50% of the patients with constipation reported having normal stool after the 4-week trial. Overall though, kefir helped increase stool frequency and consistency and the patients also rated a higher satisfaction.
In the case of diarrhoea- having a healthy gut has a huge impact on the instances of diarrhoea, helping to fight off infections etc that can be the cause of diarrhoea.
4. May help Relieve Acid Reflux
Acid reflux occurs when acid from the stomach is pushed back up through the oesophagus. This can cause pain and irritation. A potential cause of acid reflux is an imbalance between the good and bad bacteria in the gut. If there are too many bad bugs digesting our food, this can cause gas to be produced which pushes the acid in our stomach back up our oesophagus. Kefir may help to modulate the gut bacteria (Kefir and Intestinal Microbiota Modulation: Implications in Human Health – PMC (nih.gov)) Kefir also may have anti-inflammatory properties which may help relieve some of the irritation caused by acid reflux.
5. May help Reduce the Symptoms of Anxiety/Depression
Studies have shown that our gut and brain are connected (Gut-Brain axis)! Our gut microbiome (bacteria) send signals to the brain and vice versa. Our gut is responsible for our brain function in regards to our mood! 95% of serotonin (known as the ‘Happy Hormone’) is produced in the gut! Scientists in Co. Cork have identified a specific diet which can improve anxiety, stress and stress-induced conditions. Read Here
6. It’s All Natural
Kefir has been around for so long, it’s one of the most natural fermented foods available. Our process of making Kerry Kefir only involves milk and our beloved kefir grains. That’s it.
7. May Improve your Bone Health
In addition to Calcium, Vitamin D and Exercise, our bones also need Vitamin K. Kefir is a natural source of Vitamin K2
8. May help to Relieve Symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
IBS is a very common digestive ailment, experienced by at 10-15% of the population worldwide! Usually the signs are discomfort after eating, bloating, gas, stomach cramps, constipation, diarrhoea or a fluctuation between constipation and diarrhoea. The causes of IBS are not very well understood or known. One potential cause may be SIBO (small intestinal bacteria overgrowth).
Kefir may help balance the bacteria in our digestive system which may improve the quality of life for those with bowel conditions Read Here
9. May contain Many Essential Nutrients and Vitamins
Protein (in particular an essential amino acid called tryptophan), calcium & magnesium all help to relax our nervous system.
Phosphorus is used for cell growth and energy.
B Vitamins are essential for our kidney and liver function. Vitamin K is important for our bones.
10. May be suitable for Lactose Intolerance
During the fermentation process, the lactose in the milk is broken down by the lactose loving bacteria in the kefir grains. This results in an end product that is very low in lactose. Studies have shown that latose intolerant people may be able to consume kefir, but also that kefir may improve the tolerance levels over time. Read Here
11. Aids Digestion
Kefir contains large amounts of bacteria and yeast. Recently, scientists have discovered that there are many different types of enzymes within these bacteria. By having a good balance and range of bacteria in your digestive tract, you might also have a broad range of different enzymes which may help us to break down our food efficiently. The more our food can be broken down, the more nutrients, vitamins and minerals we might absorb from our food, thus supporting our health even further. Read Here
12. May promote Healthy Skin
Microbes are also present on our skin and have a role to play in protecting us from harmful pathogens. The Gut-Skin axis is the connection between the microbes in the gut and the microbes on the skin!