Why You Should Start Drinking Kefir For Your Immune Health
Today we’re here to talk about a superfood that has exploded in popularity over the last few years: kefir. Kefir is a drink that’s highly nutritious and has major immune-system-boosting properties. With so many interesting superfoods to choose from – and only so much available time and stomach capacity! – it can be hard to know which options are best. But today we’ll make the case for why you should start drinking kefir for your immune health!
It's crucial to adopt regular daily habits that boost your immune system. Your immune system is your invaluable defense against pathogens, such as viruses and bacteria, that make you sick. We’re vulnerable to a vast array of pathogens in our environment that can invade our bodies and make us ill, so maintaining good immune system health should always be a top priority.
Succumbing to sicknesses, such as colds and flu, can not only be unpleasant and painful, but also wastes a lot of time that could otherwise be used more productively! Having to take sick days puts us beyond schedule, increases our future workload, and causes stress. But did you know that even a simple thing like drinking kefir for your immune health makes getting sick much less likely?
So: what is kefir, exactly? How is kefir good for your immune system? Is kefir good for the flu? Why should you start drinking kefir for your immune health? And what are the other health benefits of kefir? Let’s find out!
What Is Kefir?
Kefir is a fermented dairy drink. It is made from milk and originated in Eastern Europe, specifically the Caucasus and Balkans. People have been drinking kefir in Russia, Mongolia, and Tibet for thousands of years, but it has recently become popular in the Western world due to its reputation as an immune-system-boosting superfood. Kefir can now be sourced easily in the dairy section of grocery stores all across the US.
Kefir is very high in probiotics and also contains plenty of protein, calcium, and vitamins B12, C, A, K, and D. Probiotics are beneficial live bacteria that have immune-system-boosting properties. Kefir contains up to 30 different species of live probiotics.
The drink is made by mixing milk with kefir “grains” (referring to the collection of bacteria, yeast, and other microorganisms that look like tiny cauliflower florets, used in the preparation process) and allowing them to ferment for 18–24 hours.
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Different Types Of Kefir
Kefir can be made with any type of animal milk. The most commonly used kinds are cow’s, goat’s and sheep’s milk.
Kefir can be made with full-fat milk or low-fat milk. The higher the fat content in the milk used, the thicker the kefir. The drink can also be made with water, though water kefir contains different probiotics and no protein.
Why Is Immune Health So Important?
So we’ve established that kefir is good for your immune system. But why is immune health so vital?
Your immune system is the network of cells, substances, tissues, and organs that protects you from bacteria and viruses, helps you to heal from injuries and illnesses, and clears away unwanted cells and pathogens. Without a well-functioning immune system, you will be much more susceptible to all types of sicknesses.
Lots of foreign pathogens enter your body via your gut, and beneficial bacteria in your gut are a crucial line of defense against these pathogens. In fact, the diverse populations of beneficial bacteria in your gut make up 70% of your immune system. So, gut health is vital for immune system functioning – and as it turns out, kefir is great for gut health!
Is Kefir Good For Your Immune System?
Multiple studies have demonstrated kefir’s effectiveness as an immune system booster. Kefir is very rich in probiotics. Probiotics are beneficial microorganisms that improve gut health, and as we’ve touched on above, improved gut health is great for your immune system.
Kefir can directly benefit your immune system because it’s so high in beneficial live probiotics. As well as this, the drink is also good for immune health because of its high levels of immune-boosting vitamins such as B12, C, A, K, and D.
Is Kefir Good For The Flu?
Yes, kefir is a good tool to use when fighting against the flu virus. Research suggests that bifidobacterium breve, a probiotic contained in kefir, is effective at fighting viruses, including influenza.
Other Health Benefits Of Kefir
Aside from improved immune system function, what other health benefits does kefir have? Here are just a few…
Research suggests that probiotic foods and drinks, such as kefir, may help to lower “bad” LDL cholesterol.
Blood Pressure Regulation
Research suggests that kefiran, a sugar molecule found in kefir grains, may help to regulate blood pressure.
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Blood Sugar Regulation
Studies suggest that probiotic foods and drinks may help to improve blood sugar regulation and reduce insulin resistance.
Reduction Of Chronic Inflammation
Research shows that kefir can help to reduce the overexpression of cells that can cause chronic inflammation.
Improved Bone Health
According to research, foods high in calcium, such as kefir, improve bone health.
How To Take Kefir
Kefir can be consumed daily. Incorporating this daily drink into your diet gives kefir’s healthy bacteria the best chance to take hold in your gut and helps their populations to thrive and increase.
For people who aren’t fond of the unique taste and mouthfeel of kefir (it’s thick and creamy but can have a slight “love it or hate it” fizz to it!), it can be taken as a shot. But for those who enjoy kefir’s creamy texture, it’s excellent to drink on its own from a glass, mixed into a smoothie, or ladled on top of some fruit with a little honey drizzled over!
Featured image by Adrienne Leonard on Unsplash
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