10 Reasons Why You Should Add Kefir to Your Diet

Probiotic products have been the talk of the town lately, including a particular fermented dairy drink. Learn how kefir can upgrade your diet with these 10 health benefits.

By Jack KnudsonFeb 19, 2024 9:00 AM
Kefir drink with healthy probiotics
(Credit: SewCreamStudio/Shutterstock)


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It’s hard to keep track of every health craze that takes society by storm, but the fermented milk beverage kefir might deserve some recognition for nutrition. 

With the consistency of a thin yogurt and a somewhat sour, tangy punch, kefir accompanies other probiotic powerhouses — like the trendy fermented tea, kombucha — on supermarket shelves.

But this drink didn’t just pop up out of nowhere; kefir has a history as rich as its taste. People from the Caucasus region and all around western Eurasia have consumed kefir for centuries, but it didn’t start spreading to other parts of the world until the 20th and 21st centuries. 

What Is Kefir?

Kefir is made by fermenting milk with kefir grains — living colonies of yeasts and bacteria that almost look like little clumps of cauliflower. Based on temperatures, the type of milk, and the fermentation time, the properties in kefir can change. The traditional version of this drink can easily be made at home with the grains; the nutritional impact of store bought kefir is not as strong since it contains less bacterial strains.  

Is Kefir Good for You?

If you’re thinking of revamping your diet, you might want to consider adding kefir to your fridge. Here are 10 health benefits that will convince you to give it a chance:

1. Combating Obesity

Various studies have demonstrated the potential for kefir to prevent excessive weight gain, control appetite, and increase metabolism.

In one animal study comparing the effects of kefir on body weight, four mice groups were each given a separate diet: Normal diet (ND), high-fat diet (HFD), HFD supplemented with 1 percent kefir powder (LK), and HFD supplemented with 2 percent kefir powder (HK). 

Results showed that the LK- and HK- fed mice had 10 and 24 percent lower body weights than the HFD-fed mice. The HK-fed mice also had the same body weight as ND-fed mice, meaning obesity was essentially prevented. 

Some human studies on weight control through kefir have been conducted, such as one in which drinking kefir led to reduced weight, BMI, and waist circumference in overweight premenopausal women. But it appears that more research on this effect is needed. 

Also, be wary of drinking too much kefir — this may result in weight gain, especially depending on the type of milk used.

Read More: 5 Things That Will Help Keep Your Microbiome Healthy

2. Treating Diabetes

Kefir can also regulate several factors often associated with diabetes and metabolic syndrome (a group of conditions that precedes diabetes). The drink has been shown to decrease patients’ blood pressure, fasting glycemia, and “bad” LDL cholesterol. 

Kefir also causes a significant decline in HbA1C (glucose attached to hemoglobins, causing hyperglycemia, or high blood sugar).

3. Protecting Your Liver

Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) — often paired with obesity or diabetes — occurs when too much fat accumulates on the liver; over time, it can inflict serious liver damage. 

Kefir can keep the liver at a healthy size and condition, as shown by a 2023 study. Researchers proved the drink’s ability to regulate fat and improve inflammation in the livers of rats with diet-induced NAFLD. 

Read More: Fermented Foods: Japan's Secret to Good Health?

4. Lowering Risk of Cardiovascular Issues

Kefir supports the most vital organs in our bodies, including the heart. Since Kefir reduces blood pressure, it can lower the risk of cardiovascular issues.

In certain cases, hypertension may be linked to a lack of diversity in the gut microbiome, sometimes defined by dysbiosis, an imbalance in bacterial composition within the gut. Given the probiotic nature of Kefir, drinking it will likely enrich the gut microbiota and reverse any imbalances, potentially lowering hypertension risks.

5. Strengthening Your Immune System 

Kefir enhances functions that serve as immune responses, hindering inflammation in organs and even alleviating seasonal allergies.

In multiple animal and in vitro cellular studies, consuming kefir has resulted in antagonism against parasites and bacterial organisms, proving that it can assist in protecting the body from outside invaders. Kefir may even promote faster wound healing. 

6. Sharpening Your Mental State

In addition to bolstering your physical health, drinking Kefir may also have an impact on mental health. 

One study administered nicotine to groups of rats and then examined how kefir affected the anxiety and depression induced by nicotine withdrawal. Tests yielded decreased anxiety and depression in the kefir-treated rats, as well as improvements in learning and memory. 

The presence of Lactobacillus, one of the most common microorganisms found in kefir and other probiotic foods, plays a role in managing stress in the body. 

Read More: Gut Bacteria's Role in Anxiety and Depression: It’s Not Just In Your Head

7. Providing Nutrients

Kefir hosts a variety of nutrients required to fuel the physiological functions of your body. It contains essential macroelements such as calcium, magnesium, potassium, and sodium, which all facilitate cell growth and energy production.

It is also a good source of microelements such as iron, zinc, and copper, important for cellular metabolism and blood production. 

8. Aiding With Digestion 

The idea of consuming a drink with bacteria might sound a bit frightening, but don’t worry — Kefir, like other probiotics, is chock-full of “friendly” bacteria that boost your gut health and make digestion easier.

Generally, all probiotics tend to relieve issues like diarrhea, constipation, and stomach pain if taken long term. They produce short-chain fatty acids, which keep the colon healthy. However, introducing a large amount of a new probiotic into your system might temporarily induce digestive complications. 

Read More: Stomachache? Your Gut Bacteria Might Be to Blame

9. Improving Bone Health

Kefir reinforces bone density, ultimately lowering the risk of fractures. Not only is it a great source of calcium, but it also provides Vitamin K2; this vitamin is needed to activate osteocalcin, a protein that fosters bone metabolism.

One study showed that osteoporosis patients who consume kefir may experience quicker bone remodeling and less bone resorption (when bone tissue is broken down, which at higher rates can weaken bones). 

10. Working Against Cancer

Studies have indicated that kefir could possibly deter cancer in some cases. It may help curb certain cancers like colorectal cancer and breast cancer by impeding the growth of tumor cells or inducing apoptosis (programmed cell death that, when properly functioning, is meant to get rid of mutated cancer cells).  

These 10 potential benefits make kefir a unique, healthy drink. On your next trip to the supermarket, consider adding it to your shopping cart. Or even better, buy some kefir grains and make your own. It might take a little while to get used to the taste, but your brain, heart, and gut will be thankful. 

Read More: New Clues to Chronic Diseases Turn Up in the Gut

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