Kefir–Health Benefits

Kefir is a creamy, tangy and tasty fermented milk beverage that is more healthful than yogurt. It builds immunity and imparts a sense of well being. A daily glass of kefir is a delicious and fuss-free way to support your energy and overall health (unless that is, you’re sensitive to casein in which case all dairy products are contraindicated). You can purchase this fermented milk beverage ready-to-drink or you can culture it at home. I hope you’ll try the later as once you’ve got the hang of it, kefir is as easy to make as a cup of tea.

You can make kefir from any milk, be it low or full fat, raw or pasteurized, dry or wet, cow or goat. Other milks (soymilk, almond or coconut milk) may be used but the grains will not replicate.

Kefir is in a different class of ferments than live-cultured yogurt. When made from a grain starter, kefir literally colonizes your gut, whereas yogurt’s bacteria are transient. Kefir contains major strains of friendly bacteria and beneficial yeasts not commonly found in yogurt. Its dynamic mixture of various organisms is self-sustaining from generation to generation, while yogurt weakens with each batch you make.

Traditional kefir is a remedy for many people with digestive disorders. It’s an excellent source of protein, calcium, magnesium, biotin and vitamins B1, B12 and K. It’s also an abundant source of tryptophan, the “relaxant” amino acid.

Because traditional kefir grains multiply, you can share the starter with many friends. You may use kefir (or fil mjolk) as a buttermilk substitute in baked goods or, further separate out the whey to make a soft cheese.

If you’re new to culturing milk, making your first batch may take a leap of faith. But, you can do it. And here’s your safety net: culturing makes a food taste better. Should a fermented food smell or taste bad—it’s probably bad—so toss it.

Authentic kefirs grain (not the dried, shelf-stable grains) contain the complete range of beneficial flora that only self-sustaining ferments offer. They’re available from G.E.M. Cultures and other on line sources. Or, find a kefir aficionados willing to share starter grains.  Here’s one kefir chat group that’s been on line since 1999.

May you be well nourished,

Rebecca Wood

25 Responses to Kefir–Health Benefits

  1. Help! I have read so many articles on health blogs etc. (nothing from a credible source) that I can find that boasts kefir is only beneficial from milk that has not been pasteurized. Can anyone point me to a source of info backing this claim up? I cannot find it. I have only found research on the merits of Kefir (including those prepared with pasteurized milk) without discussion on whether pasteurization destroys the beneficial bacteria. It seems it does not and that other factors may come more into play such as the starter dose used for example. Thanks!

  2. Hi, I have been making kefir for about a year with live grains. I am becoming very confused as to whether or not there are any benefits in what I am making because I used pasteurized milk. Many articles I have read tell me that the good bacterias are in the milk and the pasteurization kill them. I interpret your article to say that the the good bacterias or flora are from the grains. I’d really like to know if what I am making and consuming is beneficial or not.

    • There are so many options. Kefir from raw milk is a more vital food and so, as possible, favor it. If that’s not possible, then enjoy kefir made from pasteurized milk (if, that is, you can assimilate dairy products).

  3. Hi,
    I used muslim bags for awhile for my kefir and they worked great for a couple months. One day I noticed a foul smell and removed the kefir and rinsed them with my well water from the tap. That was a couple months ago. Now I only have 2-3 grains left and cannot get them to grow. please help!

  4. I have erosive gastritis., do you think that kefir would help me with this issue? My digestion system is a mess.
    Thanks a lot

    • It might help. But not if your sensitive to milk in which case even kefir would contribute to erosive gastritis. Consider reading my book:Clean and Free.

  5. AT 26 -27 deg. C my milk kefir always separates into curd and whey 18hrs after brewng, even if I add just add half teaspoon grains to 2 cups pasteurized milk (500 ml.) , using cold milk straight out of the fridge. Are there any ways to slow down the process to 24 hrs. ?

    How can Water Kefir grains brewed in distilled water(no minerals but free of chlorine and flouride) and raw sugar produce nutrients and vitamins?

    Why do some recipes call for Sodium Bicarbonate and sea salt in water kefir during brewing?

    Please advise. Thank You>

  6. I drink kefir every day made with raw milk. Someone told me that it’s a recipe to invite parasites. Do you think raw milk kefir can contain parasites or flukes ?

    • Yes there’s a lot of ungrounded fear about raw milk products but that they might contain parasites or flukes is unfounded.

      The kefir process produces lacto bacillus that actually would kill many potential pathogens.

  7. Calcium supplements are really needed if you want to have strong bones and also if you want to avoid osteoporosis. Pregnant women needs even more calcium.

    • Yes, that’s the conventional recommendation and it may be applicable to you, especially if there are factors that deplete your calcium, including: being sedentary; stress; eating refined, processed, packaged foods; not getting enough dietary calcium from sources like sea weed and leafy green vegetables.

  8. […] here’s a terrific website on how to make kefir,  just in case your interest is piqued:  Trust me, it isn’t hard.  If you’ve made homemade yogurt before, you worked too […]

  9. Hi, I am very new to this. I have been useing the powdered freeze dry Kefir. Is it really the same & I would like to buy some real Kefir grains. I have been reading alot on different websites. And very confused!!! Can I use Almond Milk? And do I have to heat it first? I need HELP!!
    Thank you,

  10. Hi Rebecca
    Thanks for all the info.
    I am trying so hard to find unadulterated milk to use ie raw milk which is difficult and although I can get organic milk it is still homogenised. Do you know if Kefir cancels out the bad affect of homogenisation. Otherwise I wondered how diluted raw cream would work as milk. Not having that much lactose in it would it thicken properly. I have just put my first batch of diluted cream in sort of 1 to 4 as don’t want to be drinking pure cream!! So far not thickening as the usual milk yet. I can only buy frozen goat milk which separates a lot on defrosting and never gets nice and thick like raw milk does but I suppose it is healthier than diluted cream. Any comments?

    • Kefir improves a lesser product (homogenized milk), but doesn’t “cancel” out homogenization.

      I’ve not experience using diluted cream as per your experiment. Perhaps another reader can help. In the meantime, keep on experimenting and I’m sure you’ll come up with a system for your givens.

  11. Dear Rebecca,
    As a follower of nutritional information. I was delighted to find your blog on Kefif. I was curious as to the different fermentation process (fizzy) texture. It is delightful, refreshing and so beneficial.

    Thank so much of the great information. Vanessa

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