There are two basic natural sources of beneficial probiotics to select from kefir and yogurt. Both are often made by fermenting dairy products, which results in the development of beneficial bacteria, microorganisms, and yeast.
The fermentation of milk with a live bacterium culture produces yogurt. Lactose (the natural sugar in milk) is fermented by the culture to form lactic acid, giving yogurt its characteristic flavor.
Kefir is a fermented dairy beverage that has several health advantages. It has a high nutritional value and a high concentration of probiotics. Nutritionists and healthcare specialists believe consuming kefir daily can enhance health in 2–4 weeks.
Kefir has several health advantages, including improving heart, gastrointestinal, kidney, liver, and skin health. Kefir also has anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory, and antibacterial properties.
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The liver is the largest solid organ in the human body. This organ is essential to your body's metabolic, immune system, and detoxification functions. This means that without a well-functioning liver, you cannot live.
Unfortunately, the liver is affected by many problems that impair its functions. These problems include:
Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) and non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH)
Fatty liver disease, or an excessive buildup of fat in the liver, affects 15 to 20% of adult Americans.¹
Fatty liver risk factors include:
Having insulin resistance
Having high cholesterol levels
Frequent excessive alcohol intake, environmental pollutants, and certain medicines can also bring on a fatty liver. There is no proven medicinal treatment for fatty liver disease. Instead, doctors advise individuals with fatty liver disease to reduce their risk factors.
Conventional approaches include:
Improving your diet
Enhancing physical activity
Kefir and yogurt share several similarities, including the following:
They both have a creamy taste.
They're made from fermented dairy products and other alternatives.
They're a good source of protein.
They contain healthy probiotics, potassium, calcium, and B vitamins.
They're made using active yeast, which cultures the beneficial bacteria.
On the other hand, kefir and yogurt differ in various ways, including the following:
Kefir is mainly made by fermenting kefir grains with goat, cow, and sheep milk. Homesteads and manufacturers usually add kefir grains to the milk to ferment it.
Once the milk is fully fermented, they remove the grains and leave them with kefir. It's worth noting that these kefir grains can be kept for future use.
Nowadays, you can also find dairy-free versions of kefir. They're usually made by fermenting kefir grains using water, coconut milk, or sugar. These dairy-free kefir versions are suitable for people with lactose intolerance.
On the other hand, yogurt is made by heating a yogurt mix, cooling it, and then adding beneficial probiotics. Yogurt is available in various flavors and can also be categorized into various types, including Icelandic yogurt, Greek yogurt, European yogurt, and many others.
Even though both products are renowned for being all-natural sources of good bacteria, kefir contains a higher probiotic count than yogurt. Recent studies show that kefir grains contain up to 61 healthy bacteria and yeast strains — this includes saccharomyces cerevisiae and saccharomyces unisporus, two of the most beneficial healthy yeasts. However, the probiotic count may vary from one batch of kefir to another.²
Generally, kefir has a thinner consistency than yogurt. In terms of taste, kefir is sourer than yogurt. Kefir's taste is similar to a mixture of yogurt and buttermilk. On the other hand, the taste and consistency of yogurt vary depending on how it is prepared. Some yogurts tend to be thicker than others.
Yes. Kefir can significantly improve your liver health by combating fatty liver syndrome. This medical condition usually arises when there is increased fat accumulation inside and around your liver.
Fatty liver is mainly associated with obesity, diabetes, insulin resistance, high cholesterol, excessive consumption of alcohol, viral hepatitis, and some medications. However, if fatty liver is not caused by alcohol, it's referred to as non-alcoholic fatty liver.
According to a report by the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) affects approximately 24% of US adults.³ ⁴
If left untreated, a fatty liver can easily cause inflammation of the liver and even liver failure. However, improving your diet, losing weight, and regularly exercising can help you minimize the risk of having a fatty liver and may even improve the liver altogether.
Recent studies have shown that kefir can prevent and treat fatty liver by reducing fat deposition inside and around your liver. Kefir does this by inhibiting the lipogenesis pathway, improving energy expenditure and basal metabolic rate. Additionally, the healthy bacteria found in kefir help with weight control, digestive health, lowering blood sugar, and reducing cholesterol levels in your body.⁵
If you're looking for another source of all-natural probiotics besides kefir, yogurt is a great option. Regular consumption of yogurt is beneficial for your liver for the following reasons:
It helps reduce weight, body mass index, and serum levels of fasting insulin. These are some of the main risk factors of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD).
It reduces cholesterol and sugar levels in your body.
It helps lower low-density lipoprotein.
It contains healthy bacteria that help improve gut microflora.
It helps reduce the amount of fat inside and around the liver.
Even though yogurt is good for your liver, it's worth noting that not all yogurt varieties contain probiotics. Therefore, ensure you carefully review the ingredients before purchasing any yogurt product.
The following are some of the best yogurt varieties for your liver:
Low fat: You don't need to consume yogurt high in fat, especially when trying to prevent or treat a fatty liver. Fortunately, many retail stores stock low-fat yogurt across the country.
Live cultures: Ensure that the yogurt you're purchasing has the 'live and active' label.⁶
Greek yogurt: Greek yogurt is good for your liver since it's easier to digest and contains less sodium, more protein, fewer carbohydrates, and less calcium than regular yogurt.
Low-sugar: Most of the popular yogurt varieties you see today contain added sugar, which can quickly put you at risk of a fatty liver. Even though yogurt naturally contains sugar, ensure you opt for varieties with less than 15 grams. If you have a sweet tooth, you can always add fresh fruit to your unsweetened yogurt.
Probiotics help the human body in many ways, including boosting the immune system, treating Crohn's disease, reducing the severity of flu, assisting with weight loss, alleviating lactose intolerance, and many others. However, new scientific evidence shows that probiotics are also great for your liver. Studies show that the administration of probiotics in the human body can help reduce fat accumulation around the liver.⁷
This is accomplished by reintroducing beneficial bacteria into the gastrointestinal system, which aids in the restoration of the balance required for proper gut functioning and liver health. This is especially crucial because liver illnesses are one of the main causes of death globally.
A few things might harm your liver, such as binge drinking or taking drugs at excessive levels. However, some foods can also be beneficial for the health of your liver. And it's critical to keep your liver healthy since it's a powerful organ that performs various duties that our bodies require to work properly.
Kefir and yogurt can serve as great additions to your diet. They both present many health benefits due to the high levels of healthy bacteria, microbes, and yeast they contain. You can buy kefir and yogurt from the store or make your own at home. The latter option is rewarding and can save you money in the long run.
You can take between 8–16 ounces of kefir per day. However, if you experience any side effects, it's best that you cut back or drink it on alternating days until your body becomes used to the increase in good bacteria. Also, since kefir contains live and active bacteria, you should speak to your doctor before using it as a remedy for liver damage.
You can consume up to 300g of yogurt per day. If you wish to consume more than that, ensure you first consult your nutritionist.
Drinking lots of kefir in one sitting can cause constipation, bloating, diarrhea, gas, headaches, cramping, and nausea.
Yes. It's safe for pregnant women to drink moderate amounts of kefir unless they're allergic to dairy products.
No. Despite the mild side effects some people may experience, kefir remains a rich source of probiotics that promote good bacteria in the gut microbiome and fight conditions like fatty liver syndrome, obesity, high cholesterol levels, osteoporosis, and many others.⁸ ⁹
Definition & facts of NAFLD & NASH | NIH: National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases
What is AFLD? | Fatty Liver Foundation
Live & active cultures seal | International Dairy Foods Foundation (IDFA)
Osteoporosis basics | NIH: National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases
Beneficial bacteria | Answers in Genesis
What is NASH? | Fatty Liver Foundation
B vitamins | Harvard T.H. Chan
greek yogurt and the liver. | MedHelp
7 Dangers of kefir you’ve never heard of! | Probellies