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What Are the Health Benefits of Kefir?

Milk, which is used to make kefir.
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  • Written By: O. Parker
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
  • Last Modified Date: 07 July 2014
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Kefir is a fermented drink made from milk and has the consistency of liquid yogurt. The probiotics, or healthy bacteria, in kefir improve the digestive system and immune system. Drinking kefir also is a healthy way to get calcium, which is important for strong bones and teeth, as well as protein and important vitamins. Kefir is made from powdered kefir starter or from kefir grains formed by beneficial bacteria and yeasts.

The digestive system requires beneficial bacteria to function properly. Healthy intestinal flora can be knocked out by antibiotics, leaving the digestive system weakened. When harmful bacteria build up in the digestive system as a result of an imbalanced diet and poor health, they lower the levels of the beneficial bacteria. One of the benefits of kefir is its ability to replace and improve levels of healthy intestinal flora, which attack and replace the harmful bacteria. A serving of kefir supplies the intestines with billions of beneficial bacteria in quantities typically higher than regular yogurt.

Probiotics, the name for the live bacterial cultures found in kefir and other fermented foods, improve the immune system by helping the body respond to harmful bacteria. Diarrhea caused by a poor diet, antibiotics or travel, for instance, can be improved with the probiotics found in kefir. One of the benefits of kefir is its ability to soothe and treat irritable bowel syndrome, and it may help prevent vaginal yeast infections and bladder infections as well.

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Kefir is made from fermented milk. Kefir grains, or powdered kefir starter, is mixed into the milk. Kefir grains are a gelatinous colony made up of 30 different beneficial microorganisms. One of the benefits of kefir is that the grains live forever with proper care. Once the kefir grains are obtained, this drink can be made indefinitely with a supply of milk.

Calcium is an important dietary mineral for building and maintaining strong bones and teeth. It is also important for muscle tone, regulating heart beat and overall nervous system health. The benefits of kefir include a high calcium content. A serving of kefir provides 30 percent of the recommended daily intake of calcium. Drinking kefir also helps the body absorb calcium from other foods.

Kefir has a tangy taste and is naturally slightly carbonated. To get the benefits of kefir, it can be added to smoothies, mixed with fruit or consumed plain. It is a good source of protein, with 3/4 of a cup (about 6 ounces) of kefir providing about 10 grams of protein. Along with high protein and calcium content, kefir also provides vitamin B12, magnesium, folate and riboflavin while being low in calories.

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