What is Kefiran?
Kefiran is the stuff that binds the milk kefir grains and makes the slimy and gummy. Well that doesn't sound very attractive… but it is hard to describe kefiran. When you touch milk kefir grains, healthy ones have a clear viscous coating that is similar in consistency to a thin honey. It feels slippery between your fingers but if you were to touch the pads of your finger and thumb together with kefiran on them, and then pull them apart you will see what I mean.
Chemically it is described as a "complex sugar". Starch, glycogen and cellulose are all examples of polysaccharides. Dietary fiber is made up of polysaccharides that humans can not digest, and therefore stay in the intestine and add bulk.
Polysaccharides are found in all plants, and are responsible for many of the health benefits to humans. For example, the polysaccharides in mushrooms have some tremendous health health benefits like boosting immune system and fighting cancer.
Some scientists have been studying the kefiran in kefir milk to see if it perhaps has some health benefits as well. Of course, the word of mouth information is pretty solid. People attribute kefir with all kinds of health benefits, so many scientists have studied kefiran to see if it is has healing properties.
What Are The Health Benefits of Kefiran:
I specifically looked for studies that identified kefiran alone, because in studies of kefir, it is hard to know if it is the polysaccharide kefiran, the probiotics, or something else altogether that causes the positive effects. In the following studies, kefiran was isolated from kefir and studied independently. If you want to know some of the things I found when scientists studied kefir, in its whole form, view "Benefits of Kefir".
Blood Pressure, Blood Cholesterol, Blood Sugar, Constipation: This study found positive benefits in all of these areas.
A study on the effects of kefiran in animals demonstrated that kefiran significantly suppressed increase of blood pressure and reduced the serum cholesterol levels in SHRSP/Hos rats when subjects consumed excessive dietary cholesterol. Kefiran supplementation demonstrated the ability to significantly lower blood glucose in KKAy mice. In addition, the administration of kefiran in constipated SD rats caused an obvious improvement in the levels of fecal moisture and wet weights of feces. These results suggest that kefiran could be used as a functional food to prevent some commonly occurring diseases.
- Blocked Arteries: This study found that kefiran reduces atherosclerosis in rabbits fed a high cholesterol diet.
- Asthma: Kefiran reduced lung inflammation caused by allergy induced asthma in this study.
- Anti-inflammatory: This study abstract showed kefiran to be a powerful anti-inflammatory agent.
- Immune System: The scientists in this study of kefiran showed that immune cells increased significantly.
- Cancer: In a study of cancerous tumors in mice given kefiran, tumors reduced in size from up to 81% after being administered orally. (they ate kefiran). In this study of breast cancer kefiran was shown to inhibit breast cancer cell growth.