Kefir is a beverage worth adding to your diet if you’re interested in powerful health and longevity benefits.
It has been popular in Turkey and northern Russia for thousands of years. The people of this region enjoy lifespans that are among the longest in the world.1
Kefir is a natural drink made by a fermenting goat, cow, sheep, or nut milk. This may not sound appetizing…especially when you consider that it looks like a cross between milk and yogurt. But like yogurt, it is teeming in “good” probiotic bacteria.
Its taste is slightly more tart than yogurt—but not in an unpleasant way. Study after study has found that kefir could be the healthiest thing you’ll ever drink.
7 Health Benefits of Kefir
Kefir boosts oxygen in the blood. It acts as an antibacterial and antimicrobial. And it has strong antioxidant properties. All these combine for huge health benefits:2
Blood sugar control. One university study gave 60 type 2 diabetics a kefir drink or a placebo for eight weeks. Afterward, those drinking kefir had significantly lower blood sugar levels than the control group. And over a month later, their blood sugar levels remained stable.
Researchers said the probiotics in kefir ease diabetes by helping the body metabolize sugar.3
Lower cholesterol. A 2017 study had 75 overweight women drink four servings of kefir a day. They lowered their total cholesterol levels by 10 mg/dL.4
Improved intestinal health. The bacteria in your stomach are your first defense against infection, inflammation, and toxins. The powerful probiotics in kefir increase and diversify the good gut bacteria found naturally in your digestive tract. Researchers have found that kefir eases intestinal problems. In Russia, doctors successfully use kefir to treat ulcers.5
Speeds healing. Studies have found that kefir has antibacterial and antifungal properties. In a 2012 study of mice with severe infected skin wounds, a seven-day treatment of kefir gel was found to speed healing, lessen inflammation, and kill bacteria at a faster rate than antibiotics. Human studies have found drinking kefir prevents and speeds healing of gastroenteritis and vaginal infections.6
Cancer prevention. Kefir prevents cancer and suppresses early stage tumors, according to animal studies. Kefir slows the enzyme activities that produce carcinogens. One study found that it stopped the growth of cancerous tumors in mice.7
Weight control. A study found that people who start to drink kefir report reduced appetite and steady weight loss. Research with obese mice confirms kefir’s role in weight loss. In a 2017 study published in the Journal of Bioscience, Biotechnology, and Biochemistry, researchers added powdered kefir to the diet of mice. The animals lost weight and lowered their cholesterol and triglycerides.8
Improved lactose tolerance. People with lactose intolerance often say they can drink kefir without any problems. The bacteria in kefir breaks down much of the lactose. Some brands of kefir are 99% lactose-free.
You can find kefir in the refrigerated section of health food stores. And many supermarkets have started carrying it. Look for the plain version with no added flavoring.
One more thing… Most Americans pronounce kefir it as “KEE-fir,” as in Kiefer Sutherland. But if you want to sound knowledgeable, use the correct Russian pronunciation: “keh-FEAR.”