The Mailbox: Is Kefir really that different from plain yogurt?

mailbox
Dear Health Junction,
I keep hearing all this hype about how healthy Kefir is, so went out in search of the best one I could find. I went to a health food store and found an organic local Kefir made with 2 simple ingredients: organic skim milk and active bacterial cultures. However, right beside it, from the same company, was an organic local plain yogurt; ingredients: organic skim milk and active bacterial culture. I fail to see the difference, although I find the taste of Kefir much more sour.  So, the question is: Is there really a difference between plain yogurt and kefir? Will they equally stimulate healthy bacteria to flourish in my colon and provide similar regularity?
Sincerely,
Another Stumped Nutrition Junkie
kefir
Dear ASNJ,
Your question is timely considering how Kefir has been popping up in the dairy isle of grocery stores lately.  Here is what I was able to dig up on the difference between Kefir and yogurt.
bacteria
Both Kefir and yogurt contain probiotics which are a “good” type of bacteria.  There are around 400 different types of bacteria that make up our intestinal flora which runs through our gastrointestinal tract.  Probiotics help to prohibit an overgrowth of “bad” bacteria which in turn helps to prevent sickness while simultaneously  boosting the immune system.
Probiotics
The main difference is that Kefir typically has about 40 times as many probiotic cultures as compared to yogurt.  Yogurt contains 1 billion organisms per half cup while Kefir delivers 4o billion.  Additionally, Kefir is made with 10 to 20 different types of bacterial strains whereas yogurt only has a couple.
biotics
As mentioned probiotics help to stimulate the immune system and consumption is tied to a reduction in symptoms for people who suffer from allergies (seasonal, environmental, food), constipation, eczema, bloating, colitis, crohn’s, irritable bowel syndrome, and recurrent yeast infections.  They are killer at helping promote regularity.  Probiotics are also especially helpful for those who are taking antibiotics since this type of medication wipes out all bacteria (both good and bad) from our system.
probiotics2
Your Truly,
The Health Junction

THE DAILY DL (Dalai Lama)

“Happiness and bacteria have one thing in common; they multiply by dividing!”

–  Rutvik Oza

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