Posted on Fri, 15 May 15
Kefir is not your average fermented food; unlike most yoghurt it is rich in probiotic bacteria and may improve regularity and digestive health.
Kefir is a traditional fermented beverage originating from the Caucasus Mountains and consumed in Eastern Europe, Russia and Southwest Asia and it is now gaining popularity as an artisanal functional food throughout the world (1).
Unlike most yoghurt, which is typically produced with only a few bacteria and may have little to no probiotic effects; Kefir is produced by fermentation with a wide range of yeasts and bacteria, many of which are viable probiotics (2,3).
A number of emerging human clinical studies suggest that Kefir may have health benefits including improving lactose digestion, reducing gut pathogens, and improving blood glucose metabolism (4-6).
A recent clinical study in people with constipation found that kefir improves digestive health. In the study, people with functional constipation took 500 mL per day of kefir for 4 weeks (7).
At the end of the study, there was an increase in colonic transit time, increased stool frequency, improved stool consistency, and decreased laxative consumption with 50% of people stopping laxatives completely. The degree of straining during evacuation showed a tendency to improve after kefir administration and bowel satisfaction scores also significantly improved.
“Our study is the first to show that kefir may have favorable effects on colonic transit in constipated patients with slow transit” commented the study investigators. “Although the exact mechanisms of how probiotics accelerate intestinal transit are still unclear, it has been proposed that probiotics lower the pH in the colon by producing lactic acid, acetic acid, and other acids. These effects result in enhanced peristalsis and, subsequently, in decreased colonic transit time.”
- de Oliveira Leite AM, Miguel MA, Peixoto RS, Rosado AS, Silva JT, Paschoalin VM. Microbiological, technological and therapeutic properties of kefir: a natural probiotic beverage. Braz J Microbiol. 2013 Oct 30;44(2):341-9.
- Zheng Y, Lu Y, Wang J, Yang L, Pan C, Huang Y. Probiotic properties of Lactobacillus strains isolated from Tibetan kefir grains. PLoS One. 2013 Jul 22;8(7):e69868.
- del Campo R, et al. Scarce evidence of yogurt lactic acid bacteria in human feces after daily yogurt consumption by healthy volunteers. Appl Environ Microbiol 2005;71:547–9.
- Hertzler SR, Clancy SM. Kefir improves lactose digestion and tolerance in adults with lactose maldigestion. J Am Diet Assoc 2003; 103: 582-7.
- Bakken JS. Staggered and tapered antibiotic withdrawal with administration of kefir for recurrent Clostridium difficile infection. Clin Infect Dis. 2014 Sep 15;59(6):858-61.
- Ostadrahimi A, Taghizadeh A, Mobasseri M, Farrin N, Payahoo L, Beyramalipoor Gheshlaghi Z, Vahedjabbari M. Effect of probiotic fermented milk (kefir) on glycemic control and lipid profile in type 2 diabetic patients: a randomized double-blind placebo-controlled clinical trial. Iran J Public Health. 2015 Feb;44(2):228-37.
- Turan İ, Dedeli Ö, Bor S, İlter T. Effects of a kefir supplement on symptoms, colonic transit, and bowel satisfaction score in patients with chronic constipation: a pilot study. Turk J Gastroenterol. 2014 Dec;25(6):650-6.