Kefir is not a “boutique” drink anymore! You can find different kefir varieties in most local shops and supermarkets, from flavored and sweetened versions to typical and plain ones.
But did you know apart from being delicious, kefir can actually offer you plenty of health benefits? So if you are searching for reasons to include kefir into your diet, this article is for you! It will guide you through 9 amazing facts about kefir that will help you understand this food’s properties better.
Let’s dive in!
Kefir can be made from milk or water
Generally, kefir is a fermented drink made with kefir grains that have cauliflower-like texture (consisting of colonies of bacteria and yeast, proteins, and sugars) and liquid.  What you may not know is that there are two different types of kefir grains, which makes two types of kefir drinks:
- Water kefir (also called tibicos). The water kefir is made only from water (sometimes juice), grains, and sugar, and is very similar to kombucha (which some people make an association with beer).
- Milk kefir. It’s made from milk (most often dairy, but sometimes nut milk can also be used) and grains. It has a taste and texture similar to yogurt when ready to drink.
Both types of kefir have significant health-related properties, but when people refer to kefir as a drink, they most often mean milk kefir (as this is the more popular version). For this reason, the following facts in this article refer mainly to milk kefir.
Other than directly drinking kefir, you can also eat it by using it to replace milk or yogurt in your favourite recipes. However, be mindful that you can reduce the beneficial effects of the probiotics if cooked at high temperatures. Some suggestions: use kefir to make overnight oats, smoothies, salad dressings and dips, or add kefir as a finishing touch to soups after they are taken off the heat.
Is kefir lactose-free?
While water kefir is naturally lactose and dairy-free, milk kefir loses its lactose content in the fermentation process. And when the kefir is ready, it has minimal lactose content, which makes it suitable for lactose-intolerant people. 
What nutrients are in kefir?
- B complex vitamins (thiamin-B1, B12, folate)
- Vitamin K2
- Bioactive peptides
This makes kefir a highly nutritious drink that can be associated with various health benefits.
According to a 2016 review paper published in the Frontiers of Microbiology Journal, regular consumption of kefir or kefiran (a by-product of the kefir fermentation process) can introduce more “healthy” gut bacteria (Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium) while decreasing the abundance of “harmful” microorganisms that populate the gut (such as Clostridium perfringens). 
This way, kefir can be associated with improved balance and increased (healthy) bacterial abundance of human gut microbiota. Or, more simply said, regular kefir consumption can support your gut health and suppress the growth of harmful bacteria in your GI tract, as well as prevent infections and intestinal damage.
Immune system support
The relation between probiotics (found in most fermented foods), gut health, and immune system are often suggested, yet, poorly understood.
That being said, a 2019 study published in the PLOS Genetics Journal found out that consumption of lactic acid bacteria found in fermented foods can likely fight inflammatory processes in the human body and support healthy immune system response. 
May reduce risk of obesity
According to a 2018 study in the Journal of Functional Foods (conducted on obese mice), traditional kefir consumption can neutralize the negative effect of a high-fat diet and reduce weight gain, which can reduce the overall risk of obesity. 
However, the paper suggested that these kefir properties can only be applicable to traditional kefir, not commercial ones. So that’s one more reason to buy kefir grains and try to make a homemade one!
May improve cholesterol profile
The same study also found out that drinking traditional kefir may lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels, and thereby, improve metabolic dysfunctions related to obesity.
May relieve allergy symptoms
A 2007 study (conducted on mice) published in the Journal of Immunobiology suggests that kefir consumption can reduce airway inflammation caused by allergens/sensitizers, and may result in reduced allergic and asthma symptoms. 
May support bone and heart health
Kefir contains not only calcium (which is a building block of strong and healthy bones), but also vitamin K2, which is essential for proper calcium metabolism and prevention of calcium buildup in the arteries (which can otherwise result in an increased risk of heart disease). 
Drinking moderate amounts of kefir daily may provide you with various health benefits, including improved lactose tolerance, gut health support, immune system regulation, allergy relief, reduced risk of obesity and bone fractures, as well as improved cholesterol profile and heart health.
That being said, the differences in the health properties of commercial kefir and homemade ones are considerable. So if you are not an enthusiast for making homemade kefir, it’s better to go for plain and traditional kefir products in the supermarkets instead of choosing flavored, sweetened, and additionally-processed ones.