Kefir (keh-FEER) from the Turkish word for "well-being,” has long been used in Russia for treating ailments ranging from stomach ulcers to pneumonia.
Kefir is similar to a drinking-style yogurt but it contains beneficial yeast as well as friendly ‘probiotic’ bacteria found in yogurt. It is prepared by inoculating cow, goat, or sheep's milk with kefir grains and is considered a power food because it's low in calories, high in protein and calcium and it supplies complete protein, essential minerals and valuable B vitamins. One serving of plain, non-fat kefir (3/4 cup or 175 ml) has only 87 calories while providing 10.5 grams of protein and 20 percent of the daily value for calcium. This fermented dairy food is also a good source of magnesium, riboflavin, folate and vitamin B12. Nutrient-dense kefir, delivers a healthy dose of "friendly" lactic acid bacteria to your intestinal tract.
Research has shown that probiotic bacteria (like the kind found in kefir) is good for people with common gastrointestinal upsets like lactose intolerance, irritable bowel syndrome, constipation and diarrhea. Both Kefir and yogurt are cultured milk products but they contain different types of beneficial bacteria. Kefir contains several major strains of friendly bacteria not commonly found in yogurt: Lactobacillus Caucasus, Leuconostoc, Acetobacter species, and Streptococcus species. It also contains beneficial yeasts, such as Saccharomyces kefir and Torula kefir, which dominate, control and eliminate destructive pathogenic yeasts in the body. They penetrate the mucosal lining where unhealthy yeast and bacteria reside and helps keep the colon environment clean and strengthens the intestines enabling the body to become more efficient in resisting such pathogens as E. coli and intestinal parasites. The curd size of kefir is smaller than yogurt, making it easier to digest, which makes it a particularly excellent food choice for babies, the elderly and people experiencing chronic fatigue and digestive disorders.