Kefir is part of a group of products that contain friendly bacteria or probiotics for supporting healthy body function. The probiotic market has shown strong economic growth in recent years, with sales projected to reach nearly $20 billion in 2013, according to BCC Research. The primary share of the market is probiotic foods like kefir. If you suffer from frequent sinus problems, you may have considered trying kefir to improve your condition. Research has yielded some positive evidence that probiotic-containing foods like kefir may help.
Kefir is simply fermented milk and can be made with cow, sheep or goat's milk. It's sold in a wide range of flavors. Some products are formulated to be lactose and gluten free, making it a good choice for those with food sensitivities. Kefir has the consistency of thick milk, not unlike buttermilk. Use kefir in recipes calling for yogurt or add it to your favorite smoothie recipe for extra flavor.
Kefir contains friendly bacteria called probiotics that may offer health benefits including prevention and treatment of upper respiratory conditions like sinus problems. The bacteria in kefir complement existing bacteria in your body to boost immune system function and direct its response, explains a study by New York University Medical Center, published in the March 2011 issue of the "Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.” Researchers found that friendly or commensal bacteria could aid in the body's response to respiratory virus infections.
Some scientific evidence supports the effectiveness of probiotics for treating respiratory conditions. A study by the Denmark-based company, Danisco, published in the July 2009 issue of “Pediatrics,” found that probiotic supplementation reduced cold and influenza-like symptom incidence and duration in children aged three to five years. A study published in the June 2001 issue of the “British Medical Journal” supports these findings. Researchers found that probiotics reduced respiratory infections and their severity in children attending day care, a high-risk group for these illnesses.
Other Health Benefits
If your sinus infection is bacterial in nature, your doctor may prescribe an antibiotic. Side effect of these medications include nausea and digestive distress. Kefir may help relieve your symptoms caused by taking antibiotics. Some medications are broad spectrum, meaning they will act on any bacteria in the body whether it is the infectious agent or not. This can cause the gastrointestinal symptoms you may experience. Kefir can help replace some of the good bacteria that exists in your gut to restore balance in your symptom, explains the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine. You may find that taking kefir during the course of your illness can make you feel more comfortable.
- BCC Research; The Probiotics Market: Ingredients, Supplements, Foods; June 2008
- "Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences"; Microbiota Regulates immune Defense Against Respiratory Tract Influenza A Virus Infection; T. Ichinoche, et al.; March 2011
- "Pediatrics"; Probiotic Effects on Cold and Influenza-Like Symptom Incidence and Duration in Children; G. Leyer, et al.; August 2009
- "British Medical Journal"; Effect of Long Term Consumption of Probiotic Milk on Infections in Children Attending Day Care Centres: Double Blind, Randomised Trial; K. Hatakka, et al.; June 2001
- National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine; An Introduction to Probiotics; January 2007