As interest in our microbiomes has increased, medical researchers in the Western world have started to take an interest in finding out if there is any truth to the wide-ranging claims about kefir. Multiple studies have been completed with extremely encouraging results.
Some of the research includes:
- Immune System. Several studies have confirmed that the immune system response is enhanced by kefir, although it is not yet clear whether it is the bacteria in the kefir, metabolites produced during fermentation or an element of the its grains themselves that cause this effect. A stimulated immune system is better at identifying and combatting disease. Kefir is very effective at maintaining a balanced and healthy gut microbiome, which boosts the ability of the gut to fend of pathogenic microbes.
- Gastrointestinal Disturbances. Kefir consumption has been shown to be helpful both in preventing constipation as well as preventing and treating diarrhea. It has also been shown to reduce flatulence. Lactose intolerant subjects have been shown to be able to tolerate it without symptoms.
- Allergies. It has been shown that consuming kefir has reduces asthma symptoms in mice. It can decrease the allergy response to symptom triggering allergens, according to research. It has also been shown to reduce food allergies in study participants.
- Anti–Inflammatory Effects. In mouse studies, it has been shown to reduce inflammation.
- Cancer. There have been many promising studies on the effect of kefir (including the probiotics in kefir) and cancer. The probiotics in kefir have been shown to bind to mutagens that are potentially cancer causing, thereby reducing their potential harm to the body – anti-mutagenic effects. Those people who drink kefir regularly are statistically much less likely to get colon cancer than those who do not. It has been shown to have anti-mutagenic effects with respect to colon cancer and thus may play a role in colon cancer prevention. The kefir grains themselves have been shown to have tumor inhibiting capabilities for sarcomas, melanomas, lung and breast cancer cells – anti-carcinogenic effects. It will be really exciting to see the results from studies on cancer and probiotics that are currently underway.
- Antibacterial and Antifungal. Kefir has shown anti-microbial activity against a wide range of harmful bacteria and fungi. It can help to control rotavirus and Clostridium difficile (C. difficile) infections as well as ulcers related to Helicobacter pylori. It can be used as antibiotic therapy. It has been effectively used to treat travellers’ diarrhea.
People have been drinking it for thousands of years without concern, it is apparent that the microorganisms it contains are not generally pathogenic. However, the microbes in it might be potentially harmful for people with significantly compromised immune systems and anyone with this concern should consult with their physician before taking any probiotics, including kefir.