Benefits of Kefir Grains

Water kefir grains
An overhead view of homemade kefir grains in a strainer. (Image: blackboard1965/iStock/Getty Images)

Kefir is a fermented drink which is made by culturing kefir grains in milk, sugar water or juice. Milk-based kefir is frequently sold in supermarkets and health food stores on the yogurt aisle. Water kefir, when made at home, results in a delicious carbonated beverage. Both milk and water kefirs contain beneficial bacteria which promote general health and well being. Kefir grains can be purchased online and are often given away, as they multiply and you may soon have extra grains.

Boost Immune System

Bacteria naturally live in the digestive tracts of all human beings. Drinking kefir helps to replenish healthy bacteria, which are essential to fight viruses and germs that can cause illness. A study published in the June 2008 edition of the "BMC Immunology Journal" researched the effects of feeding probiotic fermented milk to mice. Kefir is classified as a probiotic fermented milk product. Their conclusion was that the milk had a beneficial effect on the immune systems of the mice, as well as on their offspring.

Inhibits Progression of Breast Cancer

A surprising effect of drinking kefir is the possibility that it slows breast cancer cell growth. A study published in the 2007 issue of the "Journal of Medicinal Food" found that kefir is beneficial in suppressing the growth of breast cancer cells in animals. In this study, kefir proved more beneficial than yogurt and pasteurized cow’s milk. Studies have not been performed on humans yet, but scientists feel that this discovery is promising in the future treatment and prevention of breast cancer.

Improves Digestive Function

Individuals suffering from lactose intolerance may be able to drink kefir without any difficulty. According to Dr. Kristie Long, MD, on HealthMad.com, the bacteria contained in kefir beverages help to break down lactose in milk kefir, allowing easy digestion even in those considered lactose intolerant.

Promotes Overall Health and Relaxation

According to Organic-Cultures.com, along with promoting a healthy immune system, kefir has been used to relieve a variety of conditions, including fatigue, intestinal disorders, AIDS, herpes and cancer. Although kefir has been around for centuries, the scientific community has only recently realized its possible health benefits; therefore human studies have not been performed to verify these findings. Kefir also has been used in people with difficulty sleeping, depression and ADHD due to its calming and tranquilizing effect.

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