Commercial v traditional kefir for weight loss; which is best?

Are their differences in traditional and commercial kefir?

kefir and weight loss.
Kefir and weight loss

This is the second part of the feature, you’ll find part one here.

Despite my scientific training, regular followers of my blogs will have realized I have an established scepticism for extravagant scientific claims. I am a fan of science generally but feel the need to maintain a discriminating eye and treat each scientific claim on its merits. However a recent study into the relationship between kefir and obesity has been worth a closer look.

In a research paper titled Traditional kefir reduces weight gain and improves plasma and liver lipid profiles more successfully than a commercial equivalent in a mouse model of obesity, Bourrie, Cotter and Willing found that kefir appeared able to meditate metabolic health. This study compared the ability of traditional with commercially produced kefir to mediate mouse weight gain, plasma cholesterol, and liver triglycerides. Four traditional and one commercially available kefirs were used in the experiment. Commercial kefir was shown to have no beneficial effect whilst two of the traditional kefirs demonstrated a reduction in the rate of weight gain and increase in blood cholesterol. This was (as far as I know) the first ever study comparing mass produced with traditionally produced kefir, so the research must be regarded as preliminary. It was a study with mice so the extent to which results can be generalised to humans is uncertain.

Traditional kefir may contain a greater diversity of bacteria and yeast

The research concluded that when also considered in relation to the modulation of the gut microbiome, traditional kefir has the potential to mediate obesity through the improvement to metabolic dysfunction.

The report also explained that different forms of traditional kefir do not generate identical microbial populations. It is assumed that this could be linked to variable health benefits. Further that whilst Lactobacillus, Lactococcus, and Leuconostoc would be expected to be found in most forms of kefir, acetic acid bacteria was not found in a majority of commercial products. Research has also suggested that traditional kefir possesses highly complex fungal communities (including, S. cerevisiae, Pichia fermentans, Kazachastania unispora, and Kluyveromyces marxianus and lactis) not always found in commercial products.

In conclusion, three take home points:

  • This is preliminary research, it’s early days!
  • Traditional kefir may support improved cholesterol and fatty acid metabolism.
  • Traditional kefir appear to offer a much greater microbial diversity to the host than commercially produced kefir.

Make your own kefir: everything you need to know

Milk and water kefir, resources for anyone thinking of making their own at home.

Kefir in a glass

Kefir resources to help you on the journey of fermentation

Why not make your own kefir, it’s good for you, cost effective and much simpler than you’d imagine. Kefir is really hot right now, it’s got a high visibility in the health and fermented food niche and shows signs that it could break out in the mainstream. I say this as a guy that never heard of kefir a few years ago, now I’m making my own at home. Although making kefir is pretty easy there are a few potential pitfalls, particularly to people new to fermentation, so I decided to share resources that I found useful.

For our own practical guide into home kefir production click here.

Keeping your kefir going, a practical video guide on how to keep the grains living whilst harvesting the product.

There is a BBC guide to the health benefits of kefir, it’s a little bit dated in approach, I guess you wouldn’t expect anything less from the BEEB.

Mad Millie Kefir Kit at Lakeland was our first experience of DIY kefir. The kit contains everything you need to get started and so is a useful first step for beginners. The Lakeland site also has a lot of items that fermenters might find useful including, Kilner jars, cheesecloth, wooden utensils.

A journal study exploring the microbial interactions in kefir, largely linked to the composition and health benefits of lactobacillus.

The Wikepedia kefir page is not the best DIY resource on the internet but it gives a good overview and links to a lot of the relevant research to anyone interested in the science.

The Cultures for Health guide to Kefir, useful information for new and experienced fermenters. Links to plenty of related articles including some water kefir insights.

For information on vegan kefir, visit the Nourished Kitchen website. All the ins and outs of  home productions, tips and recipes.