If you search the internet you are going to find many websites that claim Kefir is a weight loss food. In fact, you may even find information about a "Kefir Diet" ! So underneath all the hoopla and hype, is there any scientific proof that kefir can help you lose weight?
Our body is brimming with bacteria, that much you probably already know. In fact there are trillions of bacteria and yeast that live within our intestines. Bacteria also exist, not just in the digestive tract from mouth to rectum, but also externally on skin and hair. Bacteria are largely ignored by the medical community when assessing disease. The scientific community is beginning to focus much more research in this important area. It is becoming abundantly clear that bacteria and yeast affect our health in many more ways than we thought about before.
So we know that our friendly bacteria affect our health. You can review some of the benefits I have discovered in the scientific literature by reading my "Benefits of Kefir" article. Specifically though, I wondered if there was any reason to believe that kefir can help me lose weight.
I found an abstract on pub med where researchers looked at all the data related to fermented milk bacteria and weight loss, metabolic syndrome etc. They reviewed over 600 original studies related to the question "can probiotics help weight loss?" Their discovery was welcome news. The answer is yes, fermented products like kefir can help weight loss!
Here is the conclusion of their study:
Knowledge on the impact of the microbiota on metabolic pathways allows to conceive new factors associated with obesity and modulation by prebiotics and probiotics. In this sense, the main effect observed was the increase in bifidobacteria, usually accompanied by weight loss and enhancement of parameters related to obesity.
This is great news for kefir lovers. Kefir products are easy to make at home, and bifidobacteria are abundant in the millions in home made kefir. Since it is convenent and delicious, diet that includes kefir may help people lose weight by increasing the amount of bifidobacteria in the gut!
Scientists Confirm Yogurt, Kefir Intake Reduces Incidences of Type 2 Diabetes
A study published this month in Diabetologia, the journal of the European Association for Diabetes, confirms that regular servings of fermented dairy products reduces the risk of developing diabetes later in life. It is not a trifling reduction in risk either. In fact, the risk is reduced by nearly a third!
The reasons behind the reduction in risk are as yet undefined, but it is thought to be linked to an increased intake of probiotic bacteria, as well as perhaps a form of vitamin K that is produced during the fermentation process.
Dr Nita Forouhi, the head of the scientific team, from the Medical Research Council (MRC) Epidemiology Unit at Cambridge University, said:
“This research highlights that specific foods may have an important role in the prevention of type 2 diabetes and are relevant for public health messages.
“At a time when we have a lot of other evidence that consuming high amounts of certain foods, such as added sugars and sugary drinks, is bad for our health, it is very reassuring to have messages about other foods like yoghurt and low-fat fermented dairy products, that could be good for our health.”
Researchers have found that the microbiome, or the bacterial community that lives within your intestines, is altered in patients with diabetes. Diabetics have more "bad bacteria" in their gut, and less "good bacteria. In is unknown whether this is the result of metabolic changes or if it is the cause.
The media is free to use the video. The video can be embedded directly from the player (click on icon in lower right corner). Please credit: University of Copenhagen.
Should Diabetics Drink Kefir?
Milk kefir, water kefir and other fermented beverages and foods can help to restore a better balance of good bacteria in the gut. I am often asked whether kefir is safe for diabetics to consume. While I can not answer that question for individuals, I can say that my insulin dependent diabetic mother has consumed kefir in the past.
Milk kefir has much less sugar than regular milk, if you are making it yourself using milk kefir grains. That is because the process of fermentaion reduces the amount of lactose (milk sugar) as the bacteria multiply. Water kefir is made with sugar and water, it is true, but again, the bacteria consume the sugar as they grow, and after a 2 day ferment, you are left with only around 20% of the sugar you started with.
It is my personal opinion that diabetics could try adding kefir and monitor blood sugar. Improved blood sugar control and reduction of obesity was proven in mice being fed probiotics. referenceand more human studies are proving that gut bacteria has a much broader role in sugar control than was previously known.