Kefir: the not-quite-Paleo superfood

One of the key components of a strict Paleo diet is the complete elimination of dairy products. Unfortunately, this may lead to many dairy-tolerant individuals missing out on some of the most nutritious and beneficial foods on the planet. One dairy product that not only offers a wide range of vitamins and minerals, but also provides a variety of probiotic organisms and powerful healing qualities, is kefir (pronounced /kəˈfɪər/ kə-FEER).

The word “kefir” is derived from the Turkish word “keif”, which literally translates to the “good feeling” one has after drinking it. (1) Traditional cultures have attributed healing powers to kefir for centuries, but it has only recently become the subject of scientific research to determine its true therapeutic value.

What is Kefir?

Kefir is a fermented milk product that originated centuries ago in the Caucasus mountains, and is now enjoyed by many different cultures worldwide, particularly in Europe and Asia. It can be made from the milk of any ruminant animal, such as a cow, goat, or sheep. It is slightly sour and carbonated due to the fermentation activity of the symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast that make up the “grains” used to culture the milk (not actual grains, but a grain-like matrix of proteins, lipids, and sugars that feed the microbes). The various types of beneficial microbiota contained in kefir make it one of the most potent probiotic foods available.

Besides containing highly beneficial bacteria and yeasts, kefir is a rich source of many different vitamins, minerals and essential amino acids that promote healing and repair, as well as general health maintenance. (2) Kefir contains high levels of thiamin, B12, calcium, folates and Vitamin K2. It is a good source of biotin, a B vitamin that HELPS the body assimilate other B vitamins. The complete proteins in kefir are already partially digested, and are therefore more easily utilized by the body. Like many other dairy products, kefir is a great source of minerals like calcium and magnesium, as well as phosphorus, which helps the body utilize carbohydrates, fats and proteins for cell growth, maintenance and energy. (3)

Kefir has positive effects on gut and bone health

It is a potent probiotic, consisting of both bacterial and yeast species of beneficial flora, and may help protect against gastrointestinal diseases. It has also been demonstrated to improve lactose digestion in adults with lactose intolerance. (4) In addition to providing the gut with healthy symbiotic microflora, many studies have also demonstrated the anti-fungal and antibacterial properties of kefir. (5) Certain bacteria strains from the kefir culture have been shown to help in treating colitis by regulating the inflammatory response of the intestinal cells. (6)

As we know, vitamin K2 is one of the most important nutrients that is greatly lacking in the American diet. (7) Vitamin K2 is a product of bacterial fermentation, so kefir is a likely a good source of this nutrient, especially if made with milk from pastured animals. (8) Vitamin K2 plays a key role in calcium metabolism, where it is used to deposit calcium in appropriate locations, such as in the bones and teeth, and prevent it from depositing in locations where it does not belong, such as the soft tissues and the arteries. (9) Since kefir is high in calcium and phosphorus and also contains vitamin K2, drinking kefir is likely beneficial to bone health, providing the essential minerals needed for bone growth as well as the vitamin K2 needed to effectively deposit those minerals in the bone

Kefir modulates the immune system

Certain compounds in kefir may play a role in regulating immune function, allergic response, and inflammation. One study found that kefiran, a sugar byproduct of the kefir culture, may reduce allergic inflammation by suppressing mast cell degranulation and cytokine production. (10) Another study found that certain bacteria in the kefir culture inhibited IgE production, helping to moderate the body’s allergic response. (11)

Research has also demonstrated that kefir may have an anti-tumor effect. In one study, kefir consumption inhibited tumor growth and induced the apoptotic form of tumor cell lysis, suggesting that kefir may play a role in cancer prevention. (12) When applied topically, kefir and its polysaccharide compounds have even been shown to be effective antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory agents for improved wound healing. (13)

As kefir clearly has a wide variety of health benefits, you may be interested in including this fermented dairy beverage in your diet. Cow, goat, or sheep dairy are all good choices, and all types of kefir are generally very low in lactose. Raw milk kefir would be the ideal choice for anyone looking for maximum nutritional quality, but may be challenging for most consumers to find.

Kefir is becoming more mainstream for health-conscious Americans, so you may be able to find full-fat, plain kefir at your local grocery store. Look for a brand with minimal additives and extra ingredients. Good commercial products include Redwood Hill Farm’s Traditional Goat Kefir and Lifeway’s Organic Whole Milk Plain Kefir.

Making your own kefir at home

Finding high quality kefir at your local store may not be an option for you. In this case, you can make your own kefir at home. Making kefir is surprisingly simple, and Cheeseslave has a great instructive blog post on how to make kefir at home. You can buy kefir grains online at sites such as Culture for Health, and provided you take care of the culture, it should last indefinitely. Making kefir from raw dairy products is ideal, but if you don’t have access to raw dairy, you can use organic full-fat dairy, preferably from a grass-fed animal. For those who cannot tolerate any form of dairy, kefir can be made from coconut milk, coconut water, and even just sweetened water, which will provide many of the benefits found in dairy kefir.

Kefir is a great source of vitamins, minerals, probiotics, and a variety of other unique compounds that can greatly contribute to your overall health and wellbeing. I highly recommend including this nutritious superfood in your diet, even if it doesn’t fall under strict “Paleo” guidelines!

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Comments Join the Conversation

  1. Darren says

    Hey Chris, great article. Also really enjoyed the Paleo Summit presentation! I just want to ask if there’s an amount of kefir you recommend consuming. A couple ounces a day with breakfast?

    • Chris Kresser says

      It really varies from person to person. I drink at least a cup a day, but I do very well with fermented dairy.

      • SSSSam says

        What about someone who is blood-type O and apparently not meant to have any dairy or fermented foods? … Just try and see how it feels? What would be the signs of an adverse reaction to kefir?

        Thanks.

        • Yolanda says

          I just want to mention that I have blood-type O and have NO problems with drinking our raw goat milk, eating the cheddar I made from it, and I consume at least 8 ounces of home-brewed milk kefir a day. In fact, I recently cured myself of a case of the common cold by going on a raw goat milk only fast for a couple of days. Obviously, if the milk was bad for me, I would not have had such remarkable health benefits. I think there must be something wrong with the theory.

          • vlasta says

            I would say the one thing wrong with the theory of blood type diet is, that it is based on evolution theory and that is not the truth. The truth is we were created and not evolved from nothing. There are many mentions of the milk and fermented foods in the Bible.

            • Davd Cook says

              The theory of evolution is an established scientific fact. Much like the ‘theory of gravitation’ or the ‘germ theory’.

              • Jonatan Flish says

                The theory of gravitation is still just a theory. When will we have flying cars with this “theory”, hmmm?

                And last I heard I never seen a germ, let alone a germ evolve into a dog.

              • wyndham wales says

                The theory of evolution is still a mere theory. There’s not a single “bone” to support it. It’s a travesty of honesty and truth that science and the secularly-blackmailed educational system teach it as a proven theory. It’s a sham and a shame.

                • Hermione Hairpie says

                  This is a thread about facts of objective reality and scientific fact. Religious whackjobs have no place in this discussion. Now if you don’t mind I have to get back to shaving my beaver. Thank you

                • Kate says

                  As with many words in the English language – theory as has more than one definition. When used scientificly theory means: A scientific theory is a well-substantiated explanation of some aspect of the natural world that is acquired through the scientific method, and repeatedly confirmed through observation and experimentation. —– it does not mean it is not proven. To the individual who thinks gravity has not been proven… *rolls eyes* well I just have nothing to say to them – however that gave me a very good laugh. Thanks. :)

              • becky says

                you are wrong!!!! Evolution is not and has not been proven as a fact. Anyone who says this as you did is as ignorant as the statement made. Science and the Bible go hand in hand and most scientific discoverys were first proclaimed in the Bible.

            • kim says

              The Tora bible is proven false by science. We know for a fact that humans lived long before Adam & Eve of the Tora bible.

            • Salman says

              Just because something written in the bible does not make it divine or out of this world. So called holy scriptures are claims not proofs.

              Milk has been around for a long time before the bible was written. If someone included it in the bible, that does not mean that it is divine.

          • kim says

            what about possible bacteria in milk.? Redwood Hill Farm says any such bacteria will multiply when culturing the kefir.

            • Vlasta says

              I culture my milk kefir grains in organic grass-fed raw milk. Have been doing this for 9 months. I sell my grains too, and I have never heard from anyone that they got sick from drinking raw milk kefir. Quite the opposite, drinking kefir will protect you from contracting all kinds of viruses and bugs, that have been going so strong this winter. People we know, have been sick- whole families for the fourth or fifth time this season, and our family is just going strong.The reason why people of Caucus mountains made milk kefir was, to preserve the milk. Raw milk in itself if it was handled correctly, has a natural protection of the good bacteria in it. You can do an experiment of raw milk and store milk. Raw milk will not go rancid, because of the good bacteria in it.In a month it might turn sour, buttermilk kind of sour and still eatable. As is with any natural fermentation process, fermented food becomes preserved, through the chemical process and the good bacteria has overtaken the small amount of the bad bacteria. I am talking about the milk kefir grains kefir, if you make it with the powdered culture, I don’t know much about that one.

        • D says

          I have that blood type and use a milk based kefir because i have tried the water and coconut milk kefirs and did not like them (personal preference). Kefir is one of those interesting foods because it is so nutritious and strange especially if you make it at home and it doesn’t typically bother those who have an intolerance to dairy. I have been making and using kefir for the last three years. I don’t drink a lot of it but I do use is as a supplement in my daily routine. I will add it to my fruit smoothies 1/4 cup or so. Some of the adverse side effects you may experience if you eat way too much is diarrhea, gas, bloating etc. Some of the good side effects are better digestion, sleeping more soundly, and all of the good things this article mentions. I would suggest doing your own research and deciding for yourself. When people who are unaccustomed to eating kefir first start they may feel butterflies in their stomach that is normal. I am not a doctor but a frequent user of kefir and these are my experiences using it as well as reports from my close family and friends who like kefir as well.

          • Jon says

            Blood type diet is silly pseudoscience. Colds are self-limiting conditions that get better no matter what you do. It wasn’t the milk.

            • Kate says

              Absolutely and well put. There are a great many things which are “blamed” on science …and used in an attempt to disqualify actual scientific evidence – when in fact they are “psudo-science” …or in other words…make believe.

          • Fifi says

            I cannot believe that doctors do not recommend kefir! It is a true miracle. Just stay away from sugar, and you will be a different person.

          • Katie says

            If you have gas and bloating from drinking kefir, that may indicate that you are experiencing die-off from Candida and that you need to back off on the dosage to let your body acclimate.

        • Allison says

          Aaron, I’ve read that kefir is meant to be good for those with Crohn’s – I sure hope so, since I’ve got it!! “Patient Heal Thyself” by Jordan Rubin recommends it – the author had terminal Crohn’s and made a full recovery.

          I’ve recently started my own home batches, and while I’m currently dealing with some detox gas (at least, that’s what I think it is), I do feel certain it’s helping. Still hoping for lots of improvement!

            • Melinda says

              Hi Orly, I’d be interested to know if you’ve had any Crohn’s episodes since starting thr fenugreek? Also was your Crohn’s active at the time you started the fenugreek? I have Crohn’s – thankfully in remission at present but wondering if fenugreek would help me even while in remission?

              • vlasta says

                Randy, no you can not “convert” the milk kefir grains to make water kefir or vice versa. They are completely different organisms and the yeasts and bacteria’s on the actual grain surface are all different. If you put your milk grains in water they will die. Milk kefir grains need food aka milk lactose which is then converted to lactase, there is no food for them in water. I sell milk grains grown in A2 organic grass fed jersey raw milk on Ebay. One customer contacted me how, excited he was to be able to find these milk kefir grains. He told me I am the only one on the internet. My family will never go back to stoer bought milk! My husband has Chron’s, that is why we started with kefir in the first place.

              • Antonio Lopes says

                Hi Randy
                It’s not about “converting”.
                Water kefir (tibicos) will work with water, milk, soy, rice…
                Only needs some form of sugar to feed on.
                I used to add sugar to a bio soy/rice drink.
                Here in Portugal it’s harder to find. Milkkefir is very common.

  2. Ed says

    Can you comment on nutritional differences/benefits of Kefir vs high quality Yogurt? I know the low fat stuff is laden with HFC and other junk, but does high fat yogurt have similar levels of K2 and other vitamins?

    • Sybil says

      “Yogurt contains transient beneficial bacteria that keep the digestive system clean and provide food for the friendly bacteria that reside there. But kefir can actually colonize the intestinal tract, a feat that yogurt cannot match.

      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 do so by penetrating the mucosal lining where unhealthy yeast and bacteria reside, forming a virtual SWAT team that housecleans and strengthens the intestines. Hence, the body becomes more efficient in resisting such pathogens as E. coli and intestinal parasites.

      Kefir’s active yeast and bacteria provide more nutritive value than yogurt by helping digest the foods that you eat and by keeping the colon environment clean and healthy. Because the curd size of kefir is smaller than yogurt, it is also easier to digest, which makes it a particularly excellent, nutritious food for babies, the elderly and people experiencing chronic fatigue and digestive disorders.”…from the kefir.net website.

    • says

      Ed, while yogurt is a wonderful food, especially when made with full-fat (preferably Jersey !-) ) raw milk from a pastured herd, it only contains 2 or 3 probiotic strains. Kefir on the other hand has anywhere from 24-36! Hence, it is much more potent. For those with damaged guts who are in the healing process, it is usually best to start with the weaker yogurt first, and then step up to kefir. The K2 is probably similar, but may be higher; this has never been measured as far as I know.
      You can usually acquire kefir “grains”, the self-perpetuating sort that never wear out, from a farmer who sells raw milk, or a WAP-connected type. Around my house they never seem to last for more than a few months, however, as one of the kids will occasionally mistake the grains for something the chickens will want to eat…

  3. says

    Not specific to kefir, but whenever I consume lots of fermented dairy (up to 2500 calories), I have a very good sleep. Lactobacillus is pro-GABA, so I wonder if it’ll benefit other neurological conditions.

    • Chris Kresser says

      Hydrolyzed casein is a popular insomnia treatment in Europe. And of course grandma always recommends warm milk at bedtime!

      • jo says

        I suffer with insomnia. Where can I get hydrolysed casein? I already take home brewed rice milk kefir which I feed on goats milk every 10 daysdays. This is to treat candida and ME.

  4. says

    I try to eat as paleo as possible while also trying to keep my carbohydrate intake low (usually ketogenic but not always). Currently, one of my primary goals is to lose weight. Over the past year I have lost 65 lbs but am currently working on the ever-so-difficult “last ten”. For quite some time now, I’ve felt my gut health could be significantly better and think probiotics could help.

    I know it would vary person to person, but what do you think the insulin response from kefir would be in comparison to other probiotic sources like greek yogurt or kombucha.

    I plan to get a pickling crock in the near future so I can make my own saurkraut but until then, kefir sounds really tasty.

    • Jessica says

      You don’t need to spring for an expensive pickling crock to make sauerkraut. I make mine in Mason jars and it is excellent! Can’t get any cheaper than that. :) Check out Sally Fallon’s Nourishing Traditions cookbook for kraut recipes that don’t involve expensive equipment.

      • Jenn H says

        The book Wild Fermentation by Sandor Ellix Katz is also excellent for all things fermented. He has a very informative but laid back approach.

      • Craig says

        yes, yes, you can get a box of 6 wide mouth 1/2 gallon mason jars for about ten bucks. make to jars every week, it takes two weeks to cure, and you always have a fresh batch in the refrigerator that way.

    • says

      Both Nourishing Traditions and Wild Fermentation are excellent – I use them both. However, I would recommend that instead of sealing your mason jars tightly as Sally Fallon suggests, try leaving the jar open, inserting a smaller jar as a weight to push out the air bubbles, and lightly covering it with a cloth. In my experience, this helps the sauerkraut ferment faster and better because it keeps the environment anaerobic.

      Also, eating probiotics can be beneficial if you’re trying to lose weight because, at least for me, I feel satisfied and full faster when I eat them.

    • Dominic says

      sorry. just saw the line where you said water kefir is pretty good too. so dairy is still better? I make my own water kefir using sucanat and spring water. souble ferment it with some berries and apple juice after. If milk kefir is much better I will get into making that also. I do buy milk kefir but its pasturized so I doubt the nutrient level is that great.

    • Chris Kresser says

      It doesn’t contain the fat soluble vitamins and other nutrients specific to dairy, but it does contain the beneficial probiotics.

      • Catherine says

        I have been searching for nutritional data for water kefir. I am trying to lose weight using paleo/wapf principles and keeping my carbohydrates low.
        Will water kefir hinder that? would dairy kefir be better? Or should I just get my probiotics from homemade kimchi?

      • somaya says

        I have an 4 month infant with MSPI soy/milk intolerance .. has so much gas , colic and e.coli infectsion….

        please advice ? shall i start with water kefir or u think milk kefir will help her to get the guts ready for dairy?

        thanks in advance

  5. Donovan Jaymz says

    Whoah! Hold your horses here folks! If you’re following a REAL paleo diet, you can easily make Kerif yourself with almond or sunflower seed milk. Go on craigslist, find someone who is giving away Kerif kernels, put them in a yogurt making pot, and in a couple days the kernals will adjust to fermenting the different sugars in the milk and you’ll have non-dairy kefir.

    There’s dozens of reasons why you shouldn’t drink another species milk that goes way beyond whether your lactose intolerant or not. Even in organic, grass-fed cow’s milk, there are dozens of chemicals that trigger an immune response in your body that you’re not even aware of. Drinking milk also contributes to leaky gut syndrome.

    • Martin says

      The research regarding cows milk is shady at best. Raw cows milk for example has a plethora of health benefits which far outweigh any limited, even insignificant implications in the human body.

      I has been said by others (Even Chris I believe), I dont see the point in cutting out foods from the diet when 1.There are many benefits and insignificant problems, if any for those who loterate it well and 2. For the sake of “Sticking” to a Paleo diet just for the sake of eating like our ancestors.

      If you can point me in the direction of research that is unbiased and shows that organic grass fed cows milk causes inflammation I would like to see it. Also – Where is the research that it contributes to leaky gut syndrome? In Robb Wolfs book the arguments against using dairy were definitely the weakest and largely unsupported imo.

      • Matt says

        Hi Martin

        My sister and I cannot tolerate any form of dairy even the pastured form. We break out in severe cystic acne.
        Despite what Chris says on grass fed butter and ghee it causes acne for us.

        Absolutely no dairy for us.

        I will try kefir though, I’ll start of with water kefir then slowly move onto dairy.

        • jennifer says

          i am learning the reason for the acne is because of the sugar.. sugar is cleansing causes acids/toxins to be released into the blood… if when kidneys bowels etc are not healthy= acne.
          try 48 hour homemade milk kefir should be fine
          drink bentonite clay to mediate until you heal your kidneys/ gut

          peace

          • star says

            uniquehealing.com or donna pessin on youtube for some info on healing gut.. once gut is healed most of time milk sensitivity goes away.. know your tolerance level to both casein types.. research it all.. go with what the body says.. DUH everyone is different..

        • Andrew Graves says

          All these people are advocating dairy kefir when there is such a thing as “WATER” kefir, which is dairy free, falling under paleo dietary restrictions. If someone says they are intolerant to dairy, why would you continue to advocate dairy consumption??? Water kefir is superior to dairy kefir, in my opinion.

        • Eddy says

          Kefir has digested most of the milk proteins- created its on environment for the good bacteria and yeast and has the fermentable ,soluble fibers , both PRO and PRE Biotics. It is truly a SUPPER FOOD. but lets look at some other underlying problems that face most people.
          the PH of your stomach acid is to high…as with most people…carbonated drinks ,,antacids, raise the PH in the stomach not allowing the ENZYMATIC activity to cleave apart the milk proteins, and other proteins, leaving them whole to pass into the small intestine… simple carbohydrates, processed foods usually anything white like sugar, white bread ,pasta,cookies ,cake, icecream;; and so on, you get the picture, instead of complex carbs can destroy the environment in the intestines. Soluble, (FERMENTABLE) ,insoluble ,resistant fiber…create the proper environment for the good bacteria ;;; the soluble fiber in the lining of the gut protect and nurture the micro villi ,; which filter out vitamins, minerals,and nutrients,and absorb them into the blood , also separating them from waste or indigestible food products, the lack of these fibers and the good bacteria allow for and over growth of bad bacteria causing the villi and micro villi to thin out and allow the bad bacteria against the GUT lining which can cause all kinds of digestive track bacterial infections. The thinning out of the villi and micro villi also allows some of the whole proteins to be absorbed into the blood, the body reacts as tho these proteins are pathogens, which causes an immune response attacking the proteins, giving you an allergic reaction. Try Cutting out the simple carbohydrates , carbonated drinks ,,antacids. Add (KEFIR) along with other soluble,(FERMENTABLE) insoluble ,resistant fibers (COMPLEX CARBS) to your diet…. this is Essential and must be maintained every day,,,,, My youngest son suffered with Cystic Acne. Went from bad Carbs to good Carbs changed his GUT environment and with a little Kefir a day no more flair ups. It’s no coincidence that you and your sister suffer from the same symptoms;; I see this all the time;; most likely, you both share the same “DIET”

      • S.Rose says

        Martin, I’ve tried Kefir for the last two weeks and my leaky guy syndrome has returned after being gone for almost a year. I was hopeful. There were good health advantages. But not worth it if nothing stays in you.
        Just my personal experience. Not a scientific report.

      • Elle says

        70 years ago I was deathly allergic to cows milk. And even more so to wheat. We assumed since the cows were eating wheat then that is why I was allergic to the milk. That was before all the heavy additives.

    • Roma says

      Hi,…. I was thinking of making some goat milk Kefir,… but also rethinking dairy,.. and trying to wean myself off of it,… so interested in making kefir with Almond milk. What do you mean by a yogurt pot…? Can I just follow the directions making it in a glass jar like regular milk kefir,.. with the same proportions of kefir grains to Almond milk (instead of cow or goat milk)…? Thanks.

      • Marilyn says

        You can use milk kefir but every couple of batches you would have to ferment the grains in milk to keep them alive. You might want to check with some other sites that are devoted to kefir making, however, as you’ll find much more comprehensive information on those sites.

        I’m not sure if water kefir would work as I haven’t used it, but I would google how to make kefir from nut milk. I hope this helps.

    • Mary says

      As far as Paleo goes, I have nothing to back it up but it seems to me that, people of the past would be at least as likely to eat the contents of a calf’s stomach as they would gathering, preparing and making milk from almonds and sunflowers.

    • Adyia says

      I second this request! I’ve been tested as allergic to casein, but have been eating kefir and yogurt anyway–just coz I love it so much. But I still have some health issues and am deciding to finally eliminate dairy to see how I do.
      Any suggestions on suitable replacements? Would goat milk kefir be OK? Can casein allergies be resolved? I am on a mostly GAPS diet. Will the gut heal enough to tolerate the foods I cannot tolerate now (such as dairy)?

  6. Annika says

    What do you think about water kefir? I recently started making water kefir with kefir grains from Cultures for Health, and I really like it. Obviously it wouldn’t contain the vitamins and minerals that milk kefir does, but how do the probiotics compare?

    • Andrew Graves says

      They are comparable, probiotic colony counts would vary depending on variables during fermentation, but water kefir is very healthy, and has many biologically available minerals.

  7. Charlie says

    I’ve just started the GAPS intro diet. I’m taking a high-potency probiotic, but GAPS recommends kefir. I’m hesitant to try it, because I seem to be sensitive to the histamines in fermented foods. But perhaps if I start small, mix it in with other food, and gradually increase my dosage it will help me rebuild my gut garden.

  8. Jaime says

    Just wondering about how to introduce kefir to improve lactose intolerance? Does the process involve just starting small (eg. a tablespoon per day) and slowly increasing amount? If symptoms are experienced do you titrate back on the amount or persevere through symptoms?

    Also, do you have any advice on how to differentiate between symptoms of lactose intolerance versus a full-fledged dairy intolerance (eg.dairy proteins)?

    • Chris Kresser says

      If you ferment kefir for 24-36 hours, it will have almost no lactose at all. Start with 1 tsp per day and build from there.

      • says

        Chris, I was wondering what fermenting the kefir for 24-36 hours does for the casein levels and the glutamate levels. My daughter has a genetic mutation that makes her not tolerate high glutamate and we were on gaps so now I am trying to re analyze her diet. She also ate lots of cultured vegetables which I am hearing could be high glutamate as well?

  9. Mamatha says

    Chris,
    Can kefir be consumed by someone with casein intolerance or dairy sensitivity? Is it true that the protein is predigested and may not be problematic.

    • Sybil says

      I am very sensitive to milk but love the taste of our local organic pastured whole milk. I recently started making kefir from this milk and do not experience any of the symptoms that I get from regular milk…flatulence and bloating mostly, sometimes indigestion if I drink more than one glass. I’ve read that it varies from person to person though. There is a tart taste to kefir but a second fermentation of a 1/2 day AFTER straining the grains takes the edge off that and results in a smoother taste that many people prefer. :)

    • Devon says

      I’d be curious to hear Chris’s response here too. If insulin resistance is a problem, do the benefits outweigh the costs? Is kefir more insulinogenic than ghee or does the fermentation neutralize the compounds leading to an insulin spike?

  10. brandon says

    Hey Chris,
    One of my biggest problems with dairy is the acne flare ups. I also tend to notice increased inflammation in other ways occasionally as well. Kefir is safe in this respect?

  11. Adam says

    When I obtained an ulcer from a bacterial infection when traveling abroad (H. Pylori). Kefir was a big part of my daily regimen getting my gut back on track after I had finished my full round of antibiotics. Great stuff, I had to really search around though for the full-fat plain version. All of the flavored low-fat versions had about 20 grams of sugar/serving added to them.

  12. Julie says

    I have tried making kefir using grains and did not have the good outcome I expected. However, I do get good results using a dried kefir starter made by yogourmet. It works every time. Do you know anything about kefir made with a powder starter versus that made using the grains? How would the nutrition differ?

    • inde says

      I have lots experience using DRY Kefir starter. I bought it in Germany in a REFORMHAUS (health foof store) and it had two packets for ca. $7.- It gave exact directions: warm 1 liter (ca. 4 cups) of organic full-fat milk to 20 degrees Centigrade, which is about “lukewarm.” Empty package content into it, stir and close the jar tightly. Let milk sit for 24 hours at room temp. ~ This makes the most delicious tasting Kefir, its thick and creamy and has the consistency of Greek Yogurt! ~ And to make a new patch, just take 4 T from the one you made and start again…I’ve done this now for a long, long time…and almost seems to good to be true! ~ I don’t know if the “nutrient content” of this Kefir made with a powder is the same as that from “grains,” but I really don’t care…I love it so much, I could eat a quart daily. I don’t, I eat just 1 cup, because too much of it make my skin break out!

  13. John says

    Chris, thanks for this article. A couple questions, though.

    You say that “kefir contains high levels of…folic acid” I thought folic acid was the synthetic form of folate. Do you mean kefir is a good source of folate?

    I’d like to try kefir but have a known fungal overgrowth. Reading about the possibility that dietary fungus can share DNA with our endogenous fungus makes me concerned that drinking kefir would ultimately make my infection harder to cure. But you say kefir has anti-fungal properties. Should I not be concerned about the DNA-sharing possibilities?

    • Chris Kresser says

      1. It should say folates. I updated it.

      2. This isn’t totally clear. Both arguments have merit.

  14. Claudia says

    I’m lactose and casein intolerant and have thought of trying the coconut kefir. What do you think?

    • says

      You may need to discard the first few batches as the grains get used to a non-dairy source of “food” (ie/ the milk feeds the kefir grains) and there should be a pretty big reduction in lactose and casein after a few rounds using coconut milk. Hope that makes sense! I’m about to re-start making kefir using milk grains but with coconut milk, I also avoid dairy.

  15. Yolanda says

    If your readers want to make kefir from “sweetened water”, as you mentioned, they need to get “water kefir grains.” Milk kefir grains will not thrive without some kind of milk. They can be bought on eBay.com

    • Sybil says

      You can also find milk kefir grains and water kefir grains on the facebook page named…” Share or Find Kefir grains, Kombucha, Sourdough starter”. Sometimes there is someone local but if not, I got mine simply by paying the postage for someone to mail them to me…just a couple bucks. They multiply so lots of people have extras to share.

  16. says

    I love eating kefir the times I have tried it. So thick, creamy and yummy. I love making it and seeing it on the counter and watching it ferment. Too bad my body reacts and doesn’t have the same idea about “love” that my brain and emotions have!! :(

    Becky
    WholeandWell.com

  17. sheila says

    mamatha-
    i have tried kefir knowing the benefits; but really struggled with the results (the good offered outweighing the bad symptoms i got)… too many gastro side effects for me… even leading to migraine!

    i am coureous as to how Chris answers your question….
    and if i possibly was simply not drinking a ‘high quality’ enough brand….

  18. Kyle says

    Hi Chris

    Great article. I have one question. A few of the Kefir brands I see add FOS to their product. I have read that companies add this to probiotic food to help “feed” the good bacteria. Is there any truth to that? It seems like it is sugar that could help feed that bad bacteria.

  19. says

    Chris – how long do you normally ferment your dairy kefir? My assumption is that the kefir grains are fermenting the lactose sugar and after 24-36hrs most of the fermentation should have happened take place… leaving little to no lactose. Have you seen any research or indications that most of the lactose would be gone? Thanks!

    • Chris Kresser says

      Hi Steve,

      Over on Dom’s Kefir site he has some research suggesting that 24/36-hour kefir has <1% lactose. We do ours for about 24 hours.

    • says

      Also just like most fermenting processes, ambient temperature plays a huge roll in the time it takes to ferment completely. However, the longer you ferment, you run the risk of killing some of the grains. A great trick I have been doing for years is letting the kefir ferment to a point, removing the grains, and then letting it sit for another 12 hours or so without grains.

  20. greg says

    Hey Chris,
    Nice article. I’ve got a gallon of kefir brewing on the counter as we speak:) In the article you said Kefir is a good source of ‘folic acid’ (the cancerous man made chemical). I’m sure you mean to say folate.

    • Jen says

      Hi Greg,

      I think that Chris already corrected himself in a past post above.

      I take certified organic folic acid made from lemon peel extract by Futurebiotic. The only additives listed are rice maltodextrin; rice concentrate; and rice extract. It seems that you are pretty familiar with supplements. Any thoughts on this one? I have recently been very careful with what supps I buy and the fillers/additives in them.

      Thanks :)

      Jen

  21. ReneeAnn says

    I *love* dairy kefir, but a few years ago I became so intolerant of dairy (even ghee) that I switched to water kefir. Recently, I had occasion to go off of water kefir for a few days and noticed that I felt much better. I added it back in, got worse, removed it and got better. I am very sensitive to yeast. Do you suppose that I am sensitive to the yeasts in water kefir? Is there anything that can be done to overcome my yeast sensitivity? I don’t tolerate komboucha at all because of the high oxalate level of the black tea and I even have problems with sauerkraut.

    • Jenn H says

      Have you tried kombucha with green tea? That is how we brew ours, though it sounds like you may be sensitive to the yeast in kombucha.

      • ReneeAnn says

        Thanks for the idea, but I can’t tolerate green tea either because of the caffeine content. I can’t tolerate even decaf green tea or coffee. I brew roasted chicory root “coffee.” It is actually a caffeine free tea. Do you suppose it would work for kombucha? The yeast might get me anyway, but I might try it.

        • Lou says

          ReneeAnn, you may be salicylate sensitive. I’m too, and sadly cannot tolerate any camellia sinensis – black, green or oolong teas, whether decaffeinated or not. Camellia sinensis is very high in salicylates.
          (lots of info down at salicylatesensitivity.com)

          Interesting you should mention you don’t tolerate Kefir well: same here, though I tend to add it to my regime every once in a while, assuming it is good, and because I like it so much. I do better on (sheep) yogurt, actually.

            • Lou says

              Antonio, I haven’t but only because I can’t find it here – neither sheep milk nor sheep kefir. Only sheep yogurt and sheep cheese are available (Houston), both of which I do eat. I’ll probably tolerate it much better than goat and cow kefir (and I bet it tastes great).

  22. Charlene says

    I usually get a stomach upset when I drink raw milk kefir by itself. However, I’ve discovered that if I mix a raw egg into the kefir, I can tolerate it very well.

  23. colleen says

    I would also love to know if the kefir is less insulinogenic than regular milk. If so, I might give it a try.

  24. cindy says

    I also would like to know if the casein is predigested or altered in a manner that would make it not problematic for those of us with casein problems. Lactose doesn’t bother me.

  25. says

    Chris, I always enjoy your posts and learn something new from each of them; thanks! I’ll just add to what you’ve already said that for those on a GAPS diet and/or who are very sensitive to lactose/casein/dairy in general, fermented on the counter for an additional 24 hours after straining, and removing, the grains often helps. I’ve known several people who find they need to do this, but definitely do benefit from the kefir. Like you mentioned, a lot of people do water, coconut, young green coconut water, etc. kefir. But I’m with you-you can’t beat the nutrients from the dairy variety! Besides, I’m of the persuasion that dairy has been a part of many people’s diets way far back, perhaps from the beginning…

    • Denielle says

      Yes, i totally agree with you, and why wouldn’t they drink the milk from cows and sheep and goats, its silly to think they wouldnt have.

  26. Sarah says

    My son suffers from migraines. I recently had him tested, and he is gluten intolerant and his gut is impaired. His MRT150 results reveal that he does not react to cow’s milk. For a while I’d been giving him fermented vegetables daily, but I backed off from that in case he was not tolerating fermented foods. (I’d read about this but can’t find the article anymore). I’d like to re-introduce fermented vegetables, and also kefir, and anything else to help heal his gut. How can I determine if he’s a person whose migraines are worsened by fermented vegetables and dairy – anything to look for in his MRT150 results? Or simply give it to him and see how he reacts?

    • Joel says

      Sarah:

      The major players in Migranes are: Cow’s milk, Wheat, Chocolate, eggs (whites and/or yolk) and oranges. With youngsters you may suspect a “Leaky Gut Syndrome” which will perpetuate any food to trigger an immune system response. Look at his eyes (Shiner’s sign) which is a darker circle underneath the eyes. This is not from lack of sleep, but from a constant irritation of the small intestine caused by foods. You are ahead of the curve since the MRT 150 is very accurate and measures the IgG (long term effect 2-72 hours) after the ingestion of a food.
      Consider:
      Step 1: Remove
      Toxins in food
      Gastric irritants (e.g., caffeine, alcohol, and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs)
      Food allergies, sensitivities, or reactions
      Chronic low-grade infections in the gut (e.g., yeast and parasites)

      Step 2: Replace
      Stomach acid (or stimulate stomach acid with bitters)
      Digestive enzymes
      Step 3: Reinoculate
      Restore beneficial bacteria to reestablish a healthy balance of microflora in the gut (Kefir is the best).
      Step 4: Repair
      Provide nutrients to heal the gut wall or lining. (Glutamine is best)
      Support the immune functioning of the gut.

      Hope this helps.

      Joel

  27. suzanne says

    I have been diligently and desperately looking for ways to heal my gut, and fermented vegetables and Kefir have been suggested to me. I am grain, lactose and fructose intolerant. I have not been able to find any brand of enzymes or probiotics after many years of trying that don’t cause more gut problems and a migraine. I was hoping a real food might be tolerated. Should I try Kefir if I am lactose, fructose and grain intolerant???

    • N.E. says

      Hi Suzanne,

      I’m fructose and grain intolerant and borderline lactose intolerant, and I can tolerate homemade kefir very well. (I sometimes have trouble with the store brands because they add either sugars, have lactose remaining, or contain fructo-oligosaccharides.) You might try making your own and doing a long ferment (I do a full 48 hours). Just be very slow adding it to your diet — really start out with a teaspoon and work your way up to a cup! It’s a lot of probiotics to handle at once.

  28. Eric Anondson says

    Can you simply state who should restrict or avoid kefir? Yeast-sensitives, casein sensitive, any others?

    I’m not dairy sensitive (likely due to my scandinavian heritage), but I’ve dialed back my dairy intake while on Paleo except for some cheese now and then. I’ve been looking for a good way to bring in some probiotics into my diet so I’m tempted to try kefir.

    • Chris Kresser says

      People who are casein intolerant often need to avoid it, but some seem to tolerate it okay. Same for people with yeast issues. There’s no black or white here – experimentation is key.

      • N.E. says

        I’m curious to hear more about whether and when kefir is good for people with yeast issues?

        (After a bumpy start, I tolerate home-fermented kefir well, but now after two months I just found out I have esophageal candidiasis. Really hoping that wasn’t caused or exacerbated by the kefir but rather that it would have been much worse without it.)

        • Jen says

          Hi N.E.

          Have you tried ACV; garlic; raw organic honey? http://www.rawfoodinfo.com/articles/art_cidervingarlichoney.html

          Also, you can try a tincture of wormwood and black walnut dropped into warm water sipped very slowly so that it coats the throat/esophagus. Vitacost has a good brand: Nature’s Answer. I also buy my organic raw honey from them for a very reasonable price. I use the YS eco bee farms brand but there are others…..

          Best,

          Jen

    • Devon says

      not always, since it’s generally marketed toward the more health-conscious, however, check the label to see if it says pasteurized on it. If it says “live and active” cultures it’s probably not pasteurized (though the cultures could I guess have been added after pasteurization. . . you’d still at least be getting the probiotics though)

    • Chris Kresser says

      The milk in commercial kefir is pasteurized, but the fermentation of the milk (i.e. turning it into kefir) is what adds probiotic microorganisms to it.

  29. lisatruitt says

    Commercial kefir is nowhere near being as beneficial as real kefir. Real kefir made from living kefir grains that reproduce and increase in number, the kind that are all descendants of the ones used by the original kefir makers in the causasus mountains, is illegal to sell. Real kefir has between 40 and 60 beneficial strains where powdered factory made has less than dozen. Commercial kefir is a fabricated food. I have used both. The real stuff healed my colitis. The fake stuff didn’t. I make my own from real grains.

  30. Mary says

    Chris,
    I’m a big kefir fan but I find that even fermented dairy gives me some acne. Do you recommend eliminating it altogether or is there another way to mitigate this effect?
    Thank you for all of your excellent advice.

  31. susan v. says

    chris, i’m hoping to hear your opinion on store bought vs. homemade kefir. would you agree with lisatruitt’s comment above? also the debate between kefir grains and a powdered culture. any comments on body ecology’s culture?
    i’m also wondering about the casein content. i’m in the process of getting off dairy for awhile to see how i feel, not sure if i need to include staying off kefir for this analysis, or just milk and cheese.

    • Sybil says

      lisatruitt’s comment is very much what I’ve read when I extensively researched kefir…and finally decided that to get the full probiotic benefits I would need to make my own. The powdered culture supposedly will not keep producing forever while kefir grains when properly cared for (they are alive) will last a lifetime and multiply.

  32. Heidi says

    I love the definition of the word, “feel good” after one drinks it, because kefir is one food that I notice how good I feel after I have it. Almost like I can feel it go through my body.

    My question is about dairy and auto-immune diseases. I’m not understanding why dairy is to be removed when one develops an auto-immune problem. Especially with something like kefir that can restore good gut bacteria.

  33. says

    Kefir really is a superfood. My family has been making it for a very long time, and everyone seems to enjoy. Kefir really is great, and like with most fermentable products made at home, every batch has different proportions of the various probiotics so drinking every day really gives you a broad spectrum biotic!

    Some tips for anyone making their own:

    1) Ferment your dairy kefir according to the weather, the hotter the ambient temperature the faster they ferment.

    2) Let your kefir sit after removing the grains for a further 6-12 hours to get a stronger, more lactose free kefir, without the risk of killing your grains.

    3) Water kefir is a great summer treat. Mix some mollases, raw sugar or just add a few fruits like grapes or apples. Keep the lid on tight and you can make a very fizzy and refreshing summer beverage.

    4) You can transform dairy kefir grains to water kefir grains, but make sure you keep some extra as backup because it doesnt always work well.

    5) If you need a break from making kefir, you can put your grains in a little milk inside if the fridge. This should keep them alive for about a week. You can also mix a little condensed milk with the grains and seal them tight to put in the freezer for longer storage (although this still may kill most of the grains, if even a little survives they will re-activate and grow once added to milk and the fermentation process begins again).

    6) Kefir grains are delicious. inevitably the fermentation process will produce larger and larger grain quantities, and there is only so much you can give are away. So munch away! Kefir grains are normally covered in this yellowish, sticky, gel called kefirian. My grandfather would say that this was the best part of the kefir, and would claim its ability to heal almost any malady. It actually is a polysaccharide gel which in mice has been shown to lower blood pressure, cholesterol, blood glucose levels and alleviate constipation. [1] Its made from a bacteria known as Lactobacillus kefiranofaciens which i believe is only present in kefir.

    If anyone has any questions on the kefir making process please feel free to ask (although save the sciency questions for Chris and is monstrous brain)

    [1] http://iospress.metapress.com/content/kfk3vbda80uh2cq8/

    • Marilyn says

      I have a question that I hope you will answer. I have been making kefir since the beginning of January. It is going very well. Every Thursday I get a big gallon jar of raw goat milk. I now have enough grains to just plop them in the jar and let it ferment. I have found 24 hours in my oven with the light on works best (it’s cold here and I’ve been finding it just doesn’t seem to work without the light on). Then I put the grains in some extra raw milk in the fridge until the next Thursday.

      I’m wondering if I’m harming the grains by keeping them in the fridge for a few days each week. They seem to be doing all right, but will doing this long term harm them?

  34. Nancy says

    I too would like to hear more about whether real kefir can cause migraines in those prone to them, and also I’d like to know about the alcohol content of kefir. I’ve heard it said that all these “fermented health drinks” like kefir or kombucha are really just excuses to drink addictive alcohol and that ingredient is why people “feel so good” after drinking them. what is the straight up on that?? And what if someone is a recovering alcoholic? What about children drinking alcohol?

    • says

      From what I know, there is less than .5% alcohol in kefir. Sugar fuels an alcoholic fermentation, and there simply is not that much sugar in milk, or even in water kefir (made with fruit or sugar). It takes more than that!
      As to children, well, historically children consumed wine, ale, mead, or beer with meals right along side of the adults. But bear in mind, it was in small amounts, possibly watered down, and with a meal. In many parts of the world and at many times, there was no reliably “safe” water supply for people to just drink water, and fermenting was a way to preserve the harvest whether it be veggies in vats, or juices, grains, etc. as wine or ale. It shouldn’t be a problem in small amounts.
      Migraines are probably coming from histamines. Are you sensitive to things like chocolate? Melon?

    • Sarah M. says

      There is a very small amount of alcohol in kefir – generally less than 1%. How much alcohol you get depends on how much sugar was in it initially and how long it ferments. However, it is much more likely to make vinegar than alcohol. As someone who consumes both kefir and wine daily, I can tell you that the amount of alcohol in kefir is negligible and I have never felt any effect. Also, my young children drink it daily and they are certainly not getting inebriated. If you are extremely sensitive to alcohol, this may not be for you, but for the majority of people there will be no effects.

  35. Eva says

    If (IF) your gut is healthy, you probably don’t need to be constantly reseeding it with probiotics. The gut should be able to maintain proper balance just by eating healthy foods in general and not eating unhealthy ones. Not everyone likes or does well on kefir. For those that don’t seem to take well to fermented products and/or fermented milk products, another tactic to take is to eat very bland food until the gut gets a chance to heal. Bland food diets have helped everyone I have known who have had gut problems. Part of the problem is likely that each individual has a different setup and problem in the gut so that there is not just one solution that works for all.

  36. MM says

    Add me to those who consistently experience acne with even small amounts of kefir (raw, goat). I intend to play around with different combinations to try to determine whether the problem is the yeast or the dairy, but please let us know, Chris, if you have any insights from your clinical experience into what this acne means.

  37. j man says

    When will we see a comprehensive post on yeast/fungal overgrowth? or a podcast?

    Would kefir be a beneficial food while doing a yeast cleanse with herbs and pharmaceuticals? or is the answer “it depends”.

  38. says

    I teach a workshop in the bay area – Los Altos, Ca is the next one scheduled – check out my website http://www.lisascounterculture.com for more information.

    I cover both water and dairy – and will have grains available for purchase – there are just three spots left for the March 24th class. I do teach using a closed air system – so undesirable yeast and bacteria do not get it….this is a traditional anaerobic ferment – Mason jars are not anaerobic – so they let air in….it does work but the ferment is not as potent or pure.

    • Jenn H says

      Only if the calcium and magnesium are in the coconut milk to start with- and I don’t think coconut milk has a whole lot of minerals in it. But you can look it up on nutritiondata.

  39. Paleo Jenn says

    Chris- I am a breast-feeding mom of a 4-month old. I’ve avoided dairy as much as possible t/out pregnancy and since his birth; any comment on how kefir might help us both?

    • Jenn H says

      Seems like the bone-building and immune building properties mentioned in the article would apply equally to you and the baby just as it would with the study subjects. So, then – give it a try and see how the two of you do! Maybe start with a small amount, like a 1/4 cup and increase by another 1/4 cup every 2 days. If you notice negative symptoms- either physical, mental, or emotional- in either of you then maybe not a good food for you right now.

  40. says

    how much of the sugar in Kefir is fermented. IOW is Kefir high in sugar for those of us on a lower carb diet.

    I used to make Kefir, but found that I had to drink it daily and it was just way too much dairy for me. So I am sticking with my fermented pickles and sauerkraut for my probiotics.

  41. Beth says

    Chris, in your research did you happen to find any information on kefir and glutathione? I think I remember reading that it produces glutathione, especially if you let it sit out and ferment for an additional day (so, 48 hours instead of the more common 24 hours). I can’t find that source of information, however.

    I learned from my doctor and others that kefir does not really lend itself to commercial production and the kinds in stores are not typically made with kefir grains, may not be fermented long enough, and are not nearly as beneficial as homemade. Making it is SO easy that readers should really try to make it! Also, the grains do multiply, and it’s customary to give your extra grains away to a newbie to help share the love. Ask around to see who might have some, such as your nearest Weston Price chapter leader.

    Also, I think there’s a potentially confusing wording issue that could be made more clear in your post. It says: Look for a brand with minimal additives and extra ingredients. My guess is you meant to say OR extra ingredients, or WITHOUT extra ingredients.

  42. Beth says

    P.S. I have always made mine without the gentle heating of the milk recommended in Nourishing Traditions, and it has always turned out great. I pour the milk straight from the frig.

    Kefir completely healed my eczema.

    • Yolanda says

      Me too. My milk kefir is always made with raw goat milk, right out of the refrigerator, and it never misses a step!

  43. Donald Kjellberg says

    Nice topic!

    I purchased some of Organic Pasture’s kefir starter (to go with my raw milk) before the California authorities banned selling it. The original amount was approximately 1 tbsp. I just measured my latest batch and now have over 1 cup to work with. Next on the list, root beer fermented with the kefir vs. kefir whey . . . for a taste test/outcome comparison. I plan to dehydrate some for storage just in case . . .

    BTW, my 6 year old loves our daily kefir smoothies with raw eggs. His health problems stemming from his early life on the SAD have improved dramatically. Amazing how nutritional preventive measures help fix our bodies. His systemic responses (and mine) are greatly improved. With tweaking still needed.

  44. says

    Great article. I appreciate that you included a pronunciation guide, too. Everyone around me pronounces it wrong and gives me weird looks when I say it correctly.

    I’m really curious about the magnesium content of kefir. How does it get there? Because regular dairy is low in magnesium, isn’t it? I’m no scientist, but I didn’t think that culturing actually increased mineral content.

    Also, I would advise people not to buy into any commercial “kefir” that tastes like yogurt. If it tastes like yogurt, then it’s probably really a yogurt drink, not kefir. I got duped by this a couple years ago.

  45. Indy M. says

    Read your article and then got some Organic dairy Kefir from WFoods in Cupertino. Good stuff, tasted like sour ‘Lassi’ that was common during the Indian Summers. Had couple of cups of worth before going to bed. No problem, tummy totally liked it.(I added a teaspoon worth Rice Syrup for palatability).

  46. Scotty says

    This is the real kefir Bible – http://users.sa.chariot.net.au/~dna/kefirpage.html#kefiran

    Dom is from Australia, he healed some “gastro” disease by putting kefir in an enema ( I do not suggest doing that) However this guy has done the most research I have ever seen on the stuff.

    For those who have made their own homemade kefir or been to Poland where the drink is very popular, you know that the lifeway and other us store bought brand cultures are garbage. However in California Mark Mc affee does make store bought kefir with REAL cultures. It tastes alright but goat kefir is better in certain instances.

    Also These probiotics have been known to cause some temporary illness as well. Ferment to long = diarrhea and gas. I have fermented Milk kefir for long periods of time, the strongest batch I have made smelt like Bacardi 151. ( threw it out, not even going to test my luck). I Have drinkn anywhere from1 cup a day to 3 cups a day. Depends on whether your using real milk, how long its fermented ( or even double fermented as dom mentions) so and so forth. I have eatn the grains as well, (gave me a bit of rash.Just a warning, it went away in a couple weeks but was still strange). They are living things so treat them well. They are the jewels of russia that were stolen from the mountain people and our now available to the world. (scientists can still not make a culture from scratch in a lab, kefir grains are truly unique)

    Good luck to all,

    Scotty

  47. Eric Anondson says

    Based on this article, I went and bought my first carton of kefir. I was disappointed that every one in the co-op was low fat. Gah. Guess I’ll be looking for lifeway at my whole foods.

    Anyone try stevia drops in a glass of unsweetened kefir?

    • says

      Aggravating about the low-fat, isn’t it? It’s super easy to make, although you have to keep the grains alive by feeding them regularly, so it’s kind of like having a pet, too, haha. I personally haven’t tried stevia in kefir, but I heard from someone who did it that she liked it just plain with stevia.

    • Bonnie says

      I have used Stevia in plain Kefir, and I really like it. It cuts the tartness just enough. It is also a good substitute for sour cream in a baked potato. It makes a wonderful “dressing” for fruit salad.

  48. Geri says

    Can’t find an article on how to make kefir from kefir….plain, organic, raw, grass fed
    cows. Can u help?

    • Yolanda says

      The only way to make “real” milk kefir is with kefir grains. Once you get some, they will propagate and you will never have to buy them again!

  49. Eric Anondson says

    What is the best age to offer babies kefir? How much?

    What’s the qualitative difference between kefir from low-fat milk vs. whole milk?

  50. Alex says

    Great article.

    Is there any information on how the fermentation impacts the hormone content of the milk?

  51. says

    Scandinavias most popular low carb diet is LCHF (low carb high fat)
    It includes butter, full fat creem, and sour creem. It works well for most people who can eat lactose. About 3 million people in Norway and Sweeden eat LCHF over here:)

  52. Mama Bear says

    How long does homemade raw milk kefir last? Do I store it in the fridge, or will that kill the good stuff?

    • Yolanda says

      Mama Bear, after the first 24 hours, remove the kefir grains from your raw milk, and let the milk sit out at room temperature, loosely covered, for another 24 hours and then put a lid on it and save it in the refrigerator. It will keep nicely for a LONG time.

  53. Andrew says

    Chris, one thing that wasn’t mentioned in the article or comments: what’s your take on eating kefir grains? I have too many to give away and I don’t want to toss them.

  54. SimonPure says

    It’s a little surprising to see a whole article about kefir, and no mention of “labne” (or “lebne”). Labne is a kefir cheese, sort of a cross between yogurt, sour cream, and cream cheese. I do low-carb but not necessarily paleo and I love labne. It’s high in fat and low in carbs, and it fits the bill nicely.

    You can find labne at Middle Eastern and other ethnic markets. Give it a try!

  55. Ryan K says

    Hey Chris,

    We were going to make a batch of kefir from raw milk for lil’ Charlie. Any idea where to find grains in Berkeley? We could only find freeze dried starter at the Bowl and that didn’t seem like a great option.

    Hope all is well with you and the family.

    R

  56. Leah says

    Chris – I am just starting out experimenting with kefir, specifically the Redwood Hills Farms goat milk kefir you recommended. I have started slowly, as you suggested, and have noticed benefits in terms of intestinal motility/constipation. However, I have noticed that it makes my eyes feel dry and grainy for a couple hours after drinking it. Do you think that’s a sign I should stop using it and stick with water kefir and sauerkraut (which I also use) or should I keep drinking the goat milk kefir and see if the symptoms stop? Thanks!

  57. Jack says

    Chris – what do you think of fermenting raw milk for 12 hours? Half kefir/half milk. Or what do you think about letting raw milk ferment out of the fridg w/out adding any cultures?

    thanks,
    J

    • Chris Kresser says

      12 hours could be enough in certain climates. I wouldn’t advise simply letting raw milk sit out without cultures.

        • says

          But people have also been intentionally culturing for thousands of years as well. The flavor of the milk is influenced by what the animals are eating at any given time, which in a truly pastured animal will very constantly. For instance, right now in Pennsylvania there is a lot of wild garlic, which can contribute a strong flavor to milk. When you ferment/culture this milk, the flavors are intensified, not always pleasant. I strongly prefer the taste of a cultured milk partly for this reason; you are introducing organisms which will have an affect not just on the health benefits, but the flavor of the final product as well.

          • Beth says

            Yes, I agree!
            It’s a good thing that so many are rediscovering the beauty and benefits of cultured foods of all kinds. By the way, isn’t it interesting how there’s a sudden push to add probiotics to all sorts of commercial foods — the standard diet has been so deadened and depleted and people’s digestion is so impaired.

            • says

              It is sad that we have come to the state that we have, but good that people are waking up to it! And I always tell people of the importance that we get our probiotics from *food*, rather than a pill, as it is far more effective and broad-spectrum. So now people are also talking “pre-biotics” which, really, is a sad misunderstanding: pre & pro should be present in food anyway, but now there is still another supplement to sell… My husband is taking Dr. O’Hirra’s right now as he is recovering from Lymes Disease & Rheumatoid Arthritis, but this is not your standard “Probiotic”. He also gets fermented foods in every meal: cultured mayonnaise, yogurt or kefir, sauerkraut, beet kvass, whatever else I have made.
              I don’t think he’d be making it without!
              Maybe Chris will weigh in on this?

  58. says

    Jack and Chris, raw milk when left on its own will ferment with its own, intact “cultures” (lacto-bacilli, etc.) However, in this naturally sour state, most people find it unpalatable. I will intentionally leave milk out at room temp all day as I prefer my milk warm and slightly soured, but the days of leaving my gallon of milk out, “un-cultured” for a day or so to make “cream cheese”, as per Sally Fallon Morell/Nourishing Traditions, are far behind. The taste can be downright disagreeable! Twelve hours is, however, fine (depending on room temp). However when a culture is introduced which will of course contain more than just the naturally occurring organisms, the end product, such as kefir, is wonderful! At the moment I have a half gallon out cultured with buttermilk and set with rennet to make cream cheese for the weekend, and can hardly wait to have it as I know from experience it will be fantastic! As is the sour cream I made by culturing slightly (naturally) soured cream the other day-we are eating it by the spoonful! And then there is the yogurt I’m about to make into eggnog smoothie…

    • Geri says

      Recipes PLEASE!!!! So want to make my own chz, cream chz, cott chz and sour cream.
      What r your thought on kefir starter kits like the one on mercola.com? Want to order to get going on making it w my raw, org milk

  59. Jack says

    Thanks Chris and Maureen for the comments! I appreciate them! ‘

    Chris – why should I add a culture to the raw milk when I let it set? Is it suscptiable to being spoiled?
    Also,I drink the fermented milk w/raw eggs in the morning. Do you think this a high insulin meal?

    Maureen – I’m like you – i like the milk warm and somewhat sour. I live in the Los Angeles area so it doesn’t get that warm.

    Looking forward to hearing back from you two!
    Jack

  60. says

    Jack I’ll jump in and answer since I’m here, but of course Chris may have something more to add.
    Raw milk will naturally sour, not spoil; pasteurized milk putrefies-bluck! Adding a culture to the milk simply introduces other beneficial organisms which will allow it to ferment in a more pleasant, and beneficial way. And since the fermenting/culturing process eats up the sugars (lactose), it is actually much lower in carbohydrate content than fresh milk. The longer it is cultured, the less sugar there is.

  61. Jack says

    Thanks Maureen! What’s a good culture to add? In terms of controling insulin and still getting the health benifits of raw milk, it seems that most of you think kefir is the way to go? Am I right?

    Thanks again. Really appreciate you taking the time to educate me!
    Jack

  62. says

    Kefir can be too strong for some to start out with, particularly those with a compromised gut. There are about 36+ organisms in kefir, while with yogurt you have only 2 or 3 introduced. So when you are just trying to start out and re-build gut health, it may be wise to start with yogurt and work up to kefir. But it is also always advisable to make a 24 hour yogurt rather than the usual 4-8. I warm my fresh milk only slightly to about 112 deg., add my culture (either powdered yogurt culture or yogurt from another batch), pour it into a warmed glass jar, wrap it in a towel and stick it in a drink thermos or styrofoam cooler and forget about it for 24 hours. With kefir of course you just add your culture, preferably the actual grains, and let it sit on the counter for that long. Straining out the grains and letting the kefir remain on the counter for another 24 hours further cultures it and lowers the sugars even more. At any rate, the longer you culture, the lower the sugar content no matter what.
    There are a variety of yogurt cultures, buttermilk/sour cream starters, and others available. Cultures for Health is one source, Radiant Life another, Dom’s Kefir website still another. I also really like Piima culture, which is more mild, less sour, and really pleasant. It is what most farmers use to make cultured butter.

  63. Anita says

    For anyone in Australia, I have big healthy Kefir grains to spare.
    Email me at gam go@ optusnet (dot) com.au
    Replace brackets.

  64. A Berk says

    The store bought kefir may not be quite as good for you as home made kefir from milk kefir grains, but it is still one of the best things available out there for the average person. It is so much better than yogurt.

    I tried making my own kefir at home using kefir grains, and it is a lot of work to do it right. You have be very careful to strain out the kefir grains before it ferments too long and turns into curds and whey. Once it does that, it is very difficult to figure out which part is just curds and which part is kefir grains. It also seems to damage the grains, and if you do this repeatedly, you will soon end up with nothing but curds and whey, and no kefir grains left.

    The hotter it is inside your home, the faster it turns to curds and whey. At 80 degrees F, it will turn to curds and whey in about 12 hours or so. You have strain out the kefir grains and give them fresh milk or they start starving and the acids in the whey seem to damage them.

    So, I now only make my own kefir during the late fall and winter months. I just order new kefir grains and start all over every November. By April, it starts getting too hot, so I just eat them all, and then start buying kefir at the store until next November. I use the plain store bought kefir as a kefir starter culture, and just fill a glass bottle 1/4 full of store bought kefir and then fill the rest up with fresh milk, and then shake it up to mix it together and then set it out on the kitchen counter to ferment for 24 to 48 hours, until it has fermented. You can tell– just like homemade buttermilk– it will pull away from the sides of the glass container when you tilt it. That’s how you know it is ready to put in the fridge and drink it.

  65. Heidi says

    For someone with a gut problem, it sounds like a worthwhile goal to eventually drink kefir. Is there any truth to idea that there could be a change in one’s stool by introducing dairy ferments? In other words, if I would get some diahrrea, would it be worthwhile to keep trying for a few days to see if things improve?

    I would start with 1tsp of home made raw milk yogurt and eventually work my way to kefir.

      • Kerry says

        Would you recommend some with a histamine intolerance keep trying small doses of kefir? I get elevated pulse rate, sneezing, mild acne and anxious thoughts when I have more than a few spoonfuls.

  66. Yolanda says

    Just a few of my thoughts…
    1. Milk kefir is EASY to make at home.
    2. I don’t understand why some folks are so concerned about the “curds and whey” that the kefir grains can make. If my kefir separates, then I just strain it out, shake it up in another jar and it is smooth and creamy and wonderful.
    3. I never measure anything. I just put the grains in a jar, cover well with raw goat milk and let it sit around until it is looking rather separated (covered with a coffee filter and rubber band.) Then, I strain out the grains in a plastic colander that has smallish holes, return the grains to my brewing jar, and put the milk kefir in another jar, covered in the fridge, or on the counter loosely covered.
    4. If you are new to milk kefir, just start slowly… maybe an ounce or two for a couple of days and then up from there until you can comfortable drink as much as you like.
    5. Kefir soft cheese is SO easy! Just pour your excess milk kefir into a cotton or linen cloth or bag, suspend above a bowl and let that sit at room temp for 48 hours. So versatile. I use it in place of cream cheese and sour cream. Love it!
    6. When I get extra kefir grains, I sell them on eBay. :)

  67. says

    I agree with Yolanda, don’t sweat about separated kefir, it is not difficult. In fact, I think it is the easiest of ferments to make, and not very messy either, like many. So A Berk, maybe you need to worry less and enjoy more!
    When it is hot, I culture it for less time. Or use fewer grains. If it separates into curds and whey, I use the curds and whey as they are! I always need whey any”whey” (tee hee), so what’s the fuss? The “curds” are good to eat as is with a spoon. And the grains rinse clean easily with warm water and a strainer. No big deal!
    Yesterday I used kefir whey in my fermented fruit chutney, which will be delicious by tomorrow when I am teaching an all-day fermenting/drying/preserving foods “Beyond the Basics” class to the Amish in Lancaster Cty. Pa. I use it for other ferments as well, but by the end of the day will have about a gallon of whey from making cultured cream cheese, so that will go into several other things, like corned beef perhaps?

  68. j*ns says

    With respect, I ask that you give citations of proof of what you are telling us. I am not willing to go on anecdote.

  69. Joshua says

    Hey Chris or whoever else may know. What do you think about the flavored kefirs. I assume they add flavors after fermentation. Would the extra sugar not be a good idea or do those get fermented too?

  70. jenn says

    i have Hashimotos and am gluten free, dairy free (except for eggs), soy free , legume free (except for peas) & grain free (except for brown rice) I recently began drinking Keifer and am so bloated with horrible gas issues and my skin is terrible- is there a connection? should I stop? I’ve been using the life way brand. I’m new to all of this and so any advice is welcome. thank you

    • says

      Jenn, make your own kefir from raw milk; you are not digesting the pasteurized version. Don’t know where you are, but in California Organic Pastures is able to sell raw milk kefir. Other places, there is limited availability from farmers, but you might have to join a buying club to do so.
      However, bloating and skin issues are possibly, even likely, to be a result of die-off of pathogens as the gut is being re-habitated with beneficial organisms as they over-power pathogens. You might just be drinking too much at once.
      Sprout your peas & lentils-they become a vegetable and are easier to digest with less starch. Skip the brown rice as it is also hard to digest.

    • Renee says

      Hi Jenn,
      I was wondering now that it is 2014 if you DID try raw or unpasturised milk kefir and how it went with you? I too have Hashimoto’s and would DEARLY love to but am too scared for the immune response via the gut.
      Thanks

  71. kalle says

    Dear Chris, so does it mean that the bacteria will also break down the Casein as it does the Lactose? greetings, Gregor

  72. Mitch says

    Hi Chris,

    Thanks for the great article! I live in Alameda and want to start making kefir at home. Store bought kefir is expensive and might have added sugars. Temperature is an issue. I run warm and always have windows open. I rarely use heat, and probably benefit from my apartment being sandwiched between other warm apartments. I don’t think Kefir cultures will do much in this environment. I’ve been looking around online for suggestions from other Bay Area folk to find out how they deal with these issues. I saw a suggestion for a reptile mat that might help by providing constant local heat, but this is all new to me. I’ll appreciate any advice or suggestions!

  73. Laurie T says

    Kefir….Oh but it IS very paleo !!! Sour and fermented milk is as old as the first time a hunter sliced open the belly of a suckling goat and found….CHEESE. I have a Greek friend who told me that the old people in her village still consider this was a great delicacy.

  74. Susan says

    Hi, it sounds like u mite need to do an overall candida cleanse. The kefirs can challenge your immune system a bit due to the colonisations of yeast and bacteria. Once your system is strong normally people feel great on it, esp the milk kefir. As with any food it pays to take a break once in a while. Check out the body ecology diet for a great way to address candida.

  75. df says

    i’ve had problems with coconut water kefir (one of the few kefirs i can tolerate) giving me constipation…does anyone know why?

  76. Aaron calder says

    Would you recommend this to crohns and colitis patients? I know dairy and carbonation can be hard on them, no?

  77. Stephen H says

    I just find that it has a really bitter taste and the only way I can make it more pallateable is by mixing it in a smoothie. I typically add one cup latta keifr blueberry yogurt, 1 banana, 1/2 cup oj, and some ice blended up. Makes an awesome breakfast.

  78. Caroline says

    I was just at the Cultures for Health website wanting to order some Kerr grains until I read that:

    “Milk Kefir Grains are produced in a facility that also processes soy, wheat, nut, and fish products.”

    I have celiac disease and can’t take a chance that a product would contain gluten even if it’s a tiny amount. No amount is safe for someone with celiac.

    So I’m looking for another source. Can anyone recommend one?

  79. Joan says

    Did you know that we are the only species that drinks the milk of another species? Our bodies set up a reaction to foreign bodyies so why would it accept these milks? Small wonder so many are lactose sensitive or intolerant or suffer bloating, indigestion and gas. I hadn’t had milk in two years but have been able to digest kefir from cow’s milk since I started fermenting it a few weeks ago.I’m taking it slow, up to 3 oz per day now and no problems.

    • says

      When milk is pasteurized, it deactivates lactase, which is an enzyme that helps to digest lactose. Many people, including my daughter, who are “lactose intolerant,” do just fine with raw milk.

  80. Bernadette says

    I just started making coconut milk kefir recently and have a few questions. Although it has turned out pretty creamy overall there are tiny chunks in it. Is this normal? Can I vitamix it to make it super smooth? Also if I put it in coffee of use it in recipes that require cooking am I ruining the benficial probiotics with the heat? It is ok to use in smoothies where you are blending with frozen bananas and such? Thakns.

  81. says

    We carry Latta Kefir in our store. Latta Kefir products are not mass produced; each small batch is carefully made starting with real pure Amish Country milk. The kefir is made right in the container not in a vat and we use the traditional Russian method of creating kefir. Their products contain zero artificial ingredients (colors, flavorings, or preservatives), thickeners (the texture is achieved from the natural fermentation process, not from additives ), or milk substitutes. Aside from the probiotic cultures*—nothing you cannot pronounce!
    Our customers love the flavor selection.

  82. Rachel B says

    Chris, what do you think of including organic dairy full fat (store bought) kefir made at home, but for someone following an autoimmune paleo + FODMAPS protocol? Would it be better to use organic milk kefir grains with coconut milk instead? Thanks.

  83. S. says

    hi chris,
    do you know where kefir lands in the list of foods with k2 (and other milk ferments if you know)?
    thank you!

  84. Laurie T says

    I can not find any info on making water kefir using sugars other that sucrose. What would happen if you used Dextrose or Lactose or a combination??

  85. Ed says

    I used to use real live kefir grains to make milk kefir from storebought whole milk and it worked well during the winter months, but it gets too hot here in Phoenix, Arizona to keep the alive the rest of the year. They would quickly eat up all the milk in about 12 hours and form a thick layer of curds on the top, and then very clear whey on the bottom of the jar.

    Trying to remove the living kefir grains from the thick curds became a real challenge. It was hard to tell which part was the grain and which was the curd after awhile.

    It became too much work for me, so now I only grow my own kefir during December, January, and February. Then I simply eat all the grains in early March and plan on buying fresh kefir grains in late November to start all over again.

    The rest of the year, I just buy Lifeway Kefir at my local grocery store. It used to be hard to find, but now most stores sell it, and it is not as expensive as it once once. If I’m feeling adventurous, I take a glass jar, pour it half full of regular store bought whole milk, and then fill the remaining half with Lifeway Kefir and put it out on my kitchen counter to curdle. The next morning I have a refreshingly bitter treat in store.

  86. alice says

    Hello, just stumbled upon this wonderful site after doing a google search for kefir. I just turned 40 and felt as if my body declared war on itself. Any dairy caused gas, bloating, constipation and/or diarrhea. I experimented with cutting out different foods to test for sensitivity. It seemed dairy was the culprit. I have never been able to digest yogurt–it actually causes bacterial vaginosis for me (apparently I have a high pH, diagnosed by my obgyn). I am now battling my weight, having gained almost 40 lbs. eating the same foods I always have–frustrating. I make a daily smoothie, using green tea as the liquid base, and was using almond milk for vitamins, minerals, and creaminess. Soy was a disaster. I’ve been reading so many wonderful things about kefir, just added it to my smoothie this morning. My question is, am I lessening it’s effectiveness by blending it with strawberries, kale, and hemp protein powder? Thank you in advance for any advice.

    • Eddy says

      Kefir has digested most of the milk proteins- created its on environment for the good bacteria and yeast and has the fermentable ,soluble fibers , both PRO and PRE Biotics. It is truly a SUPPER FOOD. but lets look at some other underlying problems that face most people.
      the PH of your stomach acid is to high…as with most people…carbonated drinks ,,antacids, raise the PH in the stomach not allowing the ENZYMATIC activity to cleave apart the milk proteins, and other proteins, leaving them whole to pass into the small intestine robing you of Nutrition… simple carbohydrates, processed foods usually anything white like sugar, white bread ,pasta,cookies ,cake, icecream;; and so on, are absorbed quickly before any complex nutrient rich food in the same meal; also robing you of nutrition , and simple carbs can destroy the environment in the intestines again robing you of nutrition ;you get the picture. Soluble, (FERMENTABLE) ,insoluble ,resistant fiber…create the proper environment for the good bacteria ;;; the soluble fiber in the lining of the gut protect and nurture the micro villi ,; which filter out vitamins, minerals,and nutrients,and absorb them into the blood , also separating them from waste or indigestible food products, the lack of these fibers and the good bacteria allow for and over growth of bad bacteria causing the villi and micro villi to thin out and allow the bad bacteria against the GUT lining which can cause all kinds of digestive track bacterial infections. The thinning out of the villi and micro villi also allows some of the whole proteins to be absorbed into the blood, the body reacts as tho these proteins are pathogens, which causes an immune response attacking the proteins, giving you an allergic reaction. Try Cutting out the simple carbohydrates , carbonated drinks ,,antacids. Add (KEFIR) along with other soluble,(FERMENTABLE) insoluble ,resistant fibers (COMPLEX CARBS) to your diet…. this is Essential and must be maintained every day

      • Marion says

        Thanks Eddy for Info. I lost 70% Gut Lining. Have Gluten,Dairy (Milk Allergic),Soy,Starch,Sugar, Yeast,Nightshade Problems. Can’t tolerate any Grains (have Ankylosing Spondilitus) Shallow Breathing, Hives (Histamine/Amine Probs). Suffer Headaches (Rare Form of Migraines) Leg,Foot, Stomach Cramps. Depression (SAD) Flushing,Malabsorption (Furry Tongue, lots of Cuts,Grooves) Allergies. Eat only Meat, Tinned Fish, Salad Greens, Nuts, Seeds (Nut Milks) 1xpiece Fruit per day. I’m at wits end. Live in Spain, can’t afford Doctors or health insurance. Had severe reaction to Organic Sheep’s Yogurt. Been given Kefir Grains. Can only source Carton Milks (Pasteurized) mostly UHT. Do I attempt Kefir with Goats Milk or just give up. What a Question!!! HELP!!!! Marion PS: I won’t blame anybody for info. I have researched on-line for last 10 years, so pretty well informed.

        • Amber says

          I thought this comment was from Chris’s B12 Deficiency posts, your symptoms sound so much like the folks commenting there. Have you looked into B12 deficiency? Also check your magnesium intake, as a deficiency can also cause wide ranging systemic problems.

          • Marion says

            Hi Amber,
            Thanks for your comment. Am taking Magnesium (needed this big time). Have been continually looking up my symptoms on the Internet. Narrowed down most things. Yes, I have information on B12 Deficiency. Don’t have Medical Insurance here (the cost is our income here). Had few Blood Tests (Birthday money). Ruled out Diabetes,Thyroid and AS HLA-B27 Gene Negative (although I could still have AS).Can’t tolerate any Starch.Could also be Carb Intolerance.So many things.Actually all these Symptoms are an Immune Problem.Difficult to sort though.Fermenting my Kefir, going to try some Cheese.Tried ordinary Yogurt and paid for that two days of agony! Oh well, back to drawing board.
            Thanks again
            M x

  87. star says

    Ha I would love to see the published reports showing direct link between drinking milk, milk kefir and leaky gut. I have been looking for 7 years and have found none.

  88. Roxanne says

    Hi I have a question my baby is on formula since day one and he is 4 months now and want to start introducing him to kefir cause he suffers from gas and reflux and I believe kefir could fix his gut since he never was breast feed and never able to :( what milk can I use for my baby to make Kefir ??? Please help

  89. says

    Roxanne, two things. First and foremost, I would suggest making the homemade, raw cow or goats milk formula for which you can find the recipe here:
    http://www.westonaprice.org/childrens-health/recipes-for-homemade-baby-formula?qh=YTo2OntpOjA7czo4OiJob21lbWFkZSI7aToxO3M6NzoiZm9ybXVsYSI7aToyO3M6ODoiZm9ybXVsYXMiO2k6MztzOjk6ImZvcm11bGEncyI7aTo0O3M6ODoiZm9ybXVsYWUiO2k6NTtzOjE2OiJob21lbWFkZSBmb3JtdWxhIjt9

    Second, do not start with kefir, but yogurt. Kefir will be quite strong to start your baby on, yogurt is a more gentle but very beneficial food. Make your own, raw-milk yogurt with either cow or goats milk. I just warm my milk very gently until it is very warm to the touch, about 113 deg. Then I pour it into a warmed glass jar and add my starter (1/4 cup whole, plain yogurt or powdered starter). Wrap it up in towels and put it in a thermal container and close it up tight. After 12 hours you should have yogurt. If it is still not thick enough, immerse the jar in a hot water bath for about 10-15 minutes.
    .

  90. Sandy D says

    Thanks for all the information on kefir. I love it and drink it every day. It’s easy to make and if it separates into curds and whey, I just give it a shake after I’ve strained off the grains.

  91. Mark L says

    Hi,

    well I have been drinking kefir at least 3-4 times a week for several years now. I play football competitively and, although not blessed with the greatest touch, I do outrun every one (same age) with ease. I also don’t get the same injuries everyone else does and when I do get hurt I heal very quickly. Its extremely easy to be better than the rest, because most of them will eat crap even when they know better… but kefir truly is one of those foods that give you that super edge.
    I think the probiotic aspect is overplayed in my opinion. For me Its not about being an innoculant (we should all have that gut-flora already) but more about consuming vast amounts of highly absorbable nutrients – minerals and vitamins. Those you DO NOT get from a bit of sugar, couple of strawberries and water (water kefir). If you want to get the most out of milk kefirf, in my experience, drink at least a pint made from the highest quality milk you can find every day, not forgetting to consume the grains and lots of them. It can and should, IMO, replace meals when drunk in sufficient quantity.
    If professional athletes are taking kefir I suspect that none of them would talk about it for fear of helping the competition. In fact if you look into the history of kefir, this is the reason the shepherds of the Caucasus mountains kept it to themselves for milenia. Google “dom’s kefir’ for the most well researched kefir information available. Like everything else, pay attention to how it was consumed traditionally!

  92. Debbie says

    Hi,
    I have been taking Kefir for about a month, however as I have casein intolerance,
    I have been getting gassy & pains in the stomach, would fermenting for longer decrease,
    increase or have no affect on the casein levels?

  93. Filer Smith says

    I have Aids, Hep B Wild Tangent, Hep C and I am currently in remission with lymphatic cancer. I have been making my own Kefir and I’m feeling great from it. I’m not able to find information about medication concern while taking Kefir. This would be a great show idea. This is the site that I found good information (http://chriskresser.com/kefir-the-not-quite-paleo-superfood/print/). Filer Smith @ 206-387-9666 (Cell Phone). You are welcome to call my cell phone directly too.

    • says

      This page has a couple of links to different places where you can purchase kefir grains (water or milk) or even get them for free:
      http://www.yummykefir.com/get-milk-water-kefir-grains

      You can also buy premade kefir from the store (big chain grocery, health food stores, etc) but it does not have as many probiotics as what you can make at home. It is also much cheaper to make from home. (1 quart non-organic kefir is around $3-$5, as opposed to one gallon organic milk is around $6 which will make almost 4x the amount of kefir. Better price and better milk, and more probiotics.)

  94. Arjana says

    Hi! :) I have two questions,and I hope you could answer to me :)
    1.How long can I use Kefir safely ? Can It cause any harm to my body if I use it for a long time(more than 6 months for example).
    2.Does it have any serious side effects ?

  95. GS says

    What if you already take a probiotic supplement? I use one from Kirkman that is refrigerated. Can you consume too much probiotic?

  96. Brooke says

    I know several people have already asked this but received no answer so I will ask again and hope Chris or someone else might have some commentary…

    Is it safe/ beneficial to eat the actual kefir grains themselves?

    Thank you!

    • Jay says

      Yes. The bacteria count in the grains are much much higher compared to the actual milk kefir. Start slow if you want to eat the grains. Eating a teaspoon and for some people, up to a tablespoon at a time sometimes will help populate your gut even more.

  97. says

    Hi Chris really Kefir is the superfood!!We love the way you explain and make everything so easy to understand.We hope is ok to copy and paste some of your info about yogurt Kefir in our website We personally take Kefir and we had suggested to many of our clients and they have seen the difference,ps let us know if is there a problem and we take your post off and use our personal experiences with kefir. thanks
    lumascolonics.com

  98. Kimo says

    Hello Chris. Would milk kefir be suitable for eczema? As I understand dairy products, and therefore milk is not encouraged in the diet. What are your views on this?
    I value your advice on this. Also I note that with the consumption of milk kefir, the healing crisis would be more dramatic. Please advise. Thanking you in anticipation.

  99. Kimo says

    Hello Chris.
    I have Eczema. Just started talking kafir about 2 weeks ago.
    Plus with my lifestyle changes of healthy eating am now experiencing a healing crisis. I suppose with the introduction of this super food the detox reaction and the dying off of the bacterial is more pronounced. .
    What is your view on this, and how much kafir sould l consumed a day.

  100. Renee says

    I can’t get raw milk where I live, sigh. Would Kefir be worth doing if the only milk I can get is the pasteurized milk at the store?

    • Deanna says

      Renee, I have been making Kefir for many years using pasteurized organic milk. There are differing views of making kefir using raw or pasteurized milk. Some think that using raw milk will have competing enzymes with the kefir grains and others believe that is is not a big deal. Some people use pasteurized milk because they are concerned with bacteria from the raw milk. It is up to you. If you know someone with a cow or have access to fresh raw milk then use it. If you don’t feel comfortable with using raw milk or don’t have access to it use pasteurized. Personally I use pasteurized milk with no issues it tastes great and never fails to do its thing.

  101. Scott says

    I wish there was more an exact number on the amount of vitamin K2 in kefir even a ballpark figure. I wonder if water kefir has a small amoutn of K2 also.

  102. Lan says

    ***What would be some signs that one is intolerant to kefir?*** From everything I’ve read, it sounds to me if you chose just ONE dairy product to consume, kefir should be it. But my daughter (4YO) has slowed motility – she only poops once every other day – and her ND wants me to try eliminating all dairy, including kefir. The only dairy product she consumes daily is milk kefir (homemade from raw grass-fed cow milk). She also eats some (raw) hard cheese a few times a week, and I use butter in cooking sometimes. BUT even though she had sensitivity to cow milk (conventional, pasteurized, homogenized) as a baby, I introduced all the above products gradually one by one and didn’t notice any adverse effects (BUT the ND said it could produce a built-up effect, which may cause her constipation now), so it’s very hard for me to think she’s sensitive even to fermented dairy. She is a healthy, happy and active child who gets sick a few times a year with colds and such, has had no ear infection, and has never taken OTC meds or antibiotics.
    The ND wants me to remove all dairy for one week. ***Is it even enough time for an effect to take place?***
    I’m also suspecting magnesium deficiency, so I’ve started supplementing her with magnesium. I couldn’t find magnesium glycinate the first time I tried so I got magnesium BISglycinate. ***Is this okay (for a 4YO) to take, and how much?*** ***How long does it typically take for an effect to take place, if it were the deficiency that caused the slowed motility?***
    I would GREATLY appreciate anyone’s info that helps me answer some of these questions.

    • Linda says

      Ask the pharmacist about the magnesium for a 4 year old. Magnesium citrate is the one for constipation. From what I read she should be eliminating more frequently and obviously it is diet related.
      I think a week off of all dairy could really make a difference. Read the book wheat belly either from the library or Amazon. Amazing the problems caused by wheat. I almost died as a child due to wheat allergy. There are loads of recipes on the net for gluten free. Try taking her off of wheat. Wheat is in everything so you would have your work cut out for you. Don’t know how my mother did it for me.

      • Lan says

        Thanks Linda. We’ve been gluten-free (even before going gluten-free we were eating wheat in the form of sprouted or sourdough bread maybe once a week, and almost no other sources of gluten) for maybe two months and dairy-free for about a month now. She’s still going every other day. Thing is we had a crazy holiday and I stopped giving her the magnesium. I’d been giving her. :-/

  103. suzanne says

    please can anyone advise me if water Kirfir is ok with Fructose intolerance? maybe in
    very small doses? I also have lactose intolerance.
    Thanks.

  104. Renee says

    Hi Chris,
    I have two questions for you.
    1) regarding colonics- I’ve had many, and have felt they have helped tremendously with my health. I’ve tried looking for info on if good bacteria are removed during colonic irrigation but am yet to find it. What info do you have on this subject. If it removes good bacteria does it equally remove bad?
    2) I am really wanting to introduce milk kefir, but have had a leaky gut for a long time, and one naturopath told me to stay off dairy. I’ve been having milk kefir, sauerkraut, and kombucha. The reason for being scared of starting milk kefir is my leaky gut and i have hashimotos. (Been grain free for several months now). Another naturopath said I shouldn’t stress my immune system anymore than it is. I believe it it the casein protein in the blood via a leaky gut that aggregates the immune system.
    That being the case, should people with hashimotos/leaky gut be exposing themselves to the casein in kefir, and how do you know if it it is casein that you are actually sensitive to?
    I’ve heard such wonderful things about kefir and its ability to cure digestive issues so I’m a bit confounded, since autoimmune disorders stem from gut issues – yet kefir (casein) may aggregate immune disorders.
    What to do?
    Regards,
    Renee

  105. Sara says

    There seems to be a big push for full fat dairy now. I have tried this, but am now experiencing red finger joints. I have also put on quite a bit of body fat which I have never had before.
    I am wondering if non fat or low fat kefir is OK? That doesn’t seem to bother my finger joints. I have heard that fat in kefir is not so necessary as that in regular yogurt, or even just milk.

    • says

      Any milk can be made into kefir (low, skim, full). Some people swear by their milk types whether it is pasteurized, raw, or UHT.

      Some have noticed a difference in their grain health depending on the type of milk they use (specifically full fat milk seems to make their grains super happy and grow a bunch) but I would use whatever works for you. If full fat milk is causing you issues, then kefir the lower fat milk instead.

      Keep in mind that if you are using live grains to kefir, switching their milk source will cause them to go through an adjustment period. It usually lasts from a couple of days up to a week or two. During this time your kefir will probably not be as thick as it used to be. Just keep on going until it adjusts and in the meantime, use the runny/odd kefir in smoothies or cooking, no need to toss it!

    • laurie says

      yes, try to find milk that is NOT “ultra-pasteurized”. if it just says “pasteurized” that is the best most of us can do. Here in the US I buy local, organic, grass fed, regular pasteurized, whole milk.

  106. Romona says

    Does anyone know/experience whether kefir has helped them in lowering cholesterol. I am pre-diabetic with cholesterol of 220+.

    Thanks.

    • anja says

      Lowering serum cholesterol? Research shows that taking kefir has little or no effect on cholesterol levels Info from medical website.

    • Cindy says

      Romona, look into the high fat low carb way of eating to help with being pre-diabetic. I went to a talk by Prof Tim Noakes recently and he is seeing amazing results by eating in such a manner. Also, he is able to shed light on why and where the diet changed to make people prone to being diabetic when our ancestors didn’t have this problem.

  107. Samantha says

    I ferment my Kefir for 48 hours and it is wonderfully sour, just curious if anyone knows whether he carbs are reduced in the fermentation process and if so by how much? I use full fat raw milk.

  108. Cindy says

    I would like to know if a dairy intolerant person could benefit from milk kefir. We already use water kefir. Do you think that a dairy intolerance can be healed – I know that the gut health needs healing, but can kefir milk aid in that? Also how can you sort out an egg intolerance? Paleo without egg is very difficult. Am I destroying the gut further by using egg in hidden forms like baking?

  109. Rob says

    my son has milk allergies. He seems to be growing out of this allergy since he can now eat processed food with milk in it. Can I find a non-dairy product or do I have to make it? Also this article says it helps with allergies. Does that mean this too may help with my sons allergy to dairy? I’m just now doing some research about kefir so any additional information would help

    • says

      You can make non dairy kefir if you need to. You can use coconut milk, almond milk, etc. If you are using live grains, you will want to periodically put them back in mammal milk to keep them healthy (every 2 or so batches they should go back into cow’s/goat’s etc).

      If your son is lactose intolerant, he may be able to drink kefir because the grains actually eat the lactose in the milk as their food. Many people who have lactose issues have successfully been able to consume kefir (or raw milk, but that is another story altogether!).

      If your son has dairy allergies, it is probably best to steer away from dairy so as not to cause any adverse reactions.

  110. says

    Thanks for this well researched article on kefir. I shared it with my readers. I’m over here in Laos trying to follow a healthy “semi paleo” diet. Unfortunately, the only milk available is boxed UHT milk. My kefir grains seem to be doing well, so I continue to make it and drink it. Hoping to get my own goat someday.

  111. Islandgirl says

    I have a blood clot in my lower leg (superficial, not. DVT) & my NP has me on 4,000 fu’s of Nattokinase/ twice a day for six months. The Vit K2 has been removed. I love Keifer, califlower, Brie & Gouda cheese but they are high in Vit. K2. I am Paleo plus dairy.

    One related question: I have whacked out blood pressure. I was athletic & healthy at 59 ( saying I was 27 since that’s how old I felt) until 3 yrs ago when my GP put me on low dose cortisol to bring up my low-normal Free T3 hormone. I was on 60 mg of Armour for 2 yrs prior & feeling great! I didn’t use my best judgement & took it. Two months later I became extremly anxious, w/ blood pressure going higher all the time. I nearly died from the Meds, was bedridden a year living on only 3 protein shakes a day from the drugs given to control my Hypertension. All my systems were affected. My heath & life as i knew it, has been gone for 3 years now. A integrative NP has brought me a long way in the last year. If my blood pressure was controlled I could become active again & possibly avoid clotting w/ the eventual getting off BP meds. Now that I can’t use K2, I feel lost to get myself out of this scary scenario. Any suggestions, if this was your wife???

    Thank you for any guidance you could offer. I have no where else to turn to for help. BAtW, congratulations on your excellent work & new book!

    What else would you take if this was you to keep the calcification out of where it doesn’t belong & into the bones & teeth, without causing overly blood thinning, which is my NP’s concern?

    • Kellie says

      Magnesium Chloride Oil, Flakes or Gel (Ancient Minerals) lowers blood pressure. Iodine/Iodide. Nescents Iodine.

  112. says

    It was great to see you in Manhattan Beach on your book tour. I just want to thank you for your committment to provide clear health information to the public. When one is trying to uplevel their health and there is so much information that doesn’t agree, it’s nice to read blogs like yours where you take the time to unravel the truth. Like Kefir. I had cut out all dairy, but now I am going to add Kefir in because I have gut issues and I actually think it might be good.

  113. says

    OK to include 4 oz of kefir in my daily green smoothie while on the 30 day reset? I think I remember Chris said it was ok for me two years ago, but want to make sure so I don’t mess up my reset.

  114. Judy Swan says

    I am wondering is it possible to use low fat organic milk to make Kefir and if so are the health benefits the same or equal to

    • says

      You can use any type of milk to make kefir, even non mammal milks. So, yes, you can use low fat milk.

      Lower fat, though tends to mean a more sour and less thick kefir. The fat helps to make it more mild and it helps to tone down the tartness. Also, less fat = more lactose, if that is a concern for you.

      In any case, it will work and happy kefiring!

  115. mandy says

    I have an autoimmune condition that has gone into remission some months after I adopted an anti-inflammatory diet. I’m very much into healing my gut flora and eat sauerkraut and make my own beet kvass. I would like to drink kefir – it means re-introducing dairy into my diet, which I am not so worried about…. but I’ve been reading a lot about how important it is to keep our bodies slightly alkaline. Dairy makes us acidic – what are your thoughts on this? is it ok if you balance it with eating lots of green veggies etc.?

  116. says

    Our household has become obsessed over the past month since we started making and taking kefir. One question for people is whether the probiotic bacteria eventually colonises in your gut, and then there’s less need to keep taking it, or does this become a life-long addition to the diet?

    For anyone interested, here’s more information about the history of kefir and an overview of some of the science that’s emerging about it.

    http://www.healthygutbugs.com/kefir-wonder-beverage-ancient-world/

  117. Paula says

    I have developed SIBO since starting to drink water kefir. Could the kefir have been the cause or is it just coincidence? I was having reflux initially, which the kefir helped with. Then I started getting some gas after drinking it for a month or so. So I went off it. Now I’ve developed fructose malabsorption. I don’t know what to do now

  118. Joy says

    Hi, I use some Kefir and Whey sometimes in Enema and i’m sure it gives me stomach pain and gas. am i uses too much? usually use 1/2 cup in a quart of water

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