Kefir is a fermented milk product that originated centuries ago in the Caucasus mountains, and is now enjoyed by many different cultures worldwide, particularly in Europe and Asia. It can be made from the milk of any ruminant animal, such as a cow, goat, or sheep. It is slightly sour and carbonated due to the fermentation activity of the symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast that make up the “grains” used to culture the milk (not actual grains, but a grain-like matrix of proteins, lipids, and sugars that feed the microbes). The various types of beneficial microbiota contained in kefir make it one of the most potent probiotic foods available.
Besides containing highly beneficial bacteria and yeasts, kefir is a rich source of many different vitamins, minerals and essential amino acids that promote healing and repair, as well as general health maintenance. Kefir contains high levels of thiamin, B12, calcium, folates and Vitamin K2. It is a good source of biotin, a B vitamin that HELPS the body assimilate other B vitamins. The complete proteins in kefir are already partially digested, and are therefore more easily utilized by the body. Like many other dairy products, kefir is a great source of minerals like calcium and magnesium, as well as phosphorus, which helps the body utilize carbohydrates, fats and proteins for cell growth, maintenance and energy.
It is a potent probiotic, consisting of both bacterial and yeast species of beneficial flora, and may help protect against gastrointestinal diseases. It has also been demonstrated to improve lactose digestion in adults with lactose intolerance. In addition to providing the gut with healthy symbiotic microflora, many studies have also demonstrated the anti-fungal and antibacterial properties of kefir. Certain bacteria strains from the kefir culture have been shown to help in treating colitis by regulating the inflammatory response of the intestinal cells.
As we know, vitamin K2 is one of the most important nutrients that is greatly lacking in the American diet. Vitamin K2 is a product of bacterial fermentation, so kefir is a likely a good source of this nutrient, especially if made with milk from pastured animals. Vitamin K2 plays a key role in calcium metabolism, where it is used to deposit calcium in appropriate locations, such as in the bones and teeth, and prevent it from depositing in locations where it does not belong, such as the soft tissues and the arteries. Since kefir is high in calcium and phosphorus and also contains vitamin K2, drinking kefir is likely beneficial to bone health, providing the essential minerals needed for bone growth as well as the vitamin K2 needed to effectively deposit those minerals in the bone
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