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Does Kefir Really Help Reduce Bloating? Testing Gut-friendly Food

Gut-friendly Food

When your digestive system is thrown off balance, it can lead to uncomfortable symptoms like gas and bloating. Fortunately, certain foods have the power to alleviate these issues, and one that's been in the spotlight lately is kefir – a fermented drink with a plethora of health benefits.

Kefir is like a tart, yogurt-like milk that's teeming with probiotics – beneficial bacteria that can work wonders for your gut health. Made from a combination of yeast and bacteria known as "kefir grains," this gluten-free elixir is praised for its probiotic and nutrient-rich qualities.

Many studies have shown that not only does kefir help regulate blood glucose, cholesterol, and weight, but it's also been linked to improvements gut and digestive related issues. With its antifungal and antibacterial properties, kefir is a true gut-health superstar.

Loaded with millions of probiotics, kefir is low in lactose and packed with essential vitamins and minerals. Probiotics, in particular, are known to produce bioactive compounds like short-chain fatty acids, which have anti-inflammatory effects and can aid in issues. With its impressive array of health benefits, it's no wonder kefir has been making waves in the wellness community.

As someone who has battled bloating myself, I decided to put kefir to the test.


The Science Behind This Gut-Friendly Drink

The science behind kefir's gut-friendly reputation is fascinating and rooted in its ability to enhance the diversity of beneficial bacteria in your gut microbiome – the community of microorganisms that reside in your digestive tract.

By consuming fermented foods like kefir, you introduce a variety of live bacteria and yeasts into your gut, which can contribute to a more robust and diverse microbiome. A richer diversity of "good" bacteria in your gut means a healthier digestive system overall, as these beneficial bugs perform essential functions that support your well-being.

Moreover, kefir may offer relief for individuals with lactose intolerance, a condition characterized by the inability to properly digest lactose, the sugar found in dairy products. Lactose intolerance often results in symptoms like gas, bloating, and diarrhea due to insufficient levels of the enzyme beta-galactosidase, which is necessary for lactose digestion.

Interestingly, kefir grains naturally contain beta-galactosidase, which helps break down lactose during the fermentation process. As a result, the lactose content in kefir is significantly reduced, making it easier for lactose-intolerant individuals to tolerate. However, if you're highly sensitive to lactose, it may be wise to opt for non-dairy forms of kefir that still offer probiotic benefits without the lactose content.

In addition to its gut-friendly properties, kefir is also known for its anti-inflammatory effects, further supporting digestive health.


What's the Difference Between Kefir and Yogurt?

The distinction between kefir and yogurt lies primarily in their production process and microbial composition. While both are cultured dairy products rich in probiotics, they differ in certain key aspects.

Kefir, made from kefir grains containing bacteria and yeasts, offers a wider array of probiotic strains compared to yogurt. Some studies suggest that kefir may contain up to three times more probiotics than yogurt, making it a powerhouse for gut health.

When it comes to kefir yogurt, it differs from traditional kefir in that it lacks whey, a liquid byproduct of yogurt fermentation. This absence of whey gives kefir yogurt a thicker consistency similar to Greek yogurt.

Ultimately, both kefir and yogurt offer valuable probiotic benefits and can be incorporated into a balanced diet to support digestive wellness. Whether you prefer the tangy fizz of kefir or the creamy texture of yogurt, these fermented dairy products provide valuable nutrients and microbial diversity to promote gut health.


Does It Help with Gut Health?

I have been struggling with bloating ever since I moved abroad to the United States, and I've tried numerous remedies, from eating healthily to improving my diet, but the problem persisted. I didn't think anything could alleviate it, but to my surprise, I found that kefir went the extra mile in helping.

Incorporating kefir into my daily routine alongside a meal plan rich in whole foods, such as fiber-rich veggies, proved instrumental in restoring my digestion. Throughout the testing period, I experienced regular bowel movements and minimal bloating, leading to an improved mood and an overall sense of relief. I found kefir to be a palatable addition to my morning routine and noticed a gradual reduction in bloating over a two-week period, even after consuming starchy foods, which wasn't the case previously.

If you're new to kefir, I recommend starting with a small amount at a time. This allows your gut to adjust to the probiotic bugs and helps you get accustomed to the tangy, sour flavor. Overall, I consider my experience with kefir a success, and I believe it's worth trying, especially considering its health benefits and enjoyable taste.

Here are some options for you to try and get started -

  • Bowl & Basket Specialty Probiotic Plain Kefir

  • Lifeway Kefir, Organic, Unsweetened, Plain

Dealing with gut health is an ongoing process that requires consistency in the food you consume and your level of physical activity. There are times when I'd have a good stretch where my stomach felt great and I felt like I was in my best shape, only to be followed by days when I felt so bloated I felt like a balloon ready to lift off. This would often dull my spirits and make me question if it was worth the effort.

However, I've come to realize that it requires a lot of pep talks and a deeper understanding of how your body and gut work to facilitate better digestion. All you can do is eat and include more gut-healthy foods in your diet, such as kefir, prebiotic drinks, fiber-rich foods, ginger, fennel seeds, yogurt, kombucha, and more.

Be kind to your body and treat it right.

What does kefir do to your body?

Kefir supports gut health by providing a rich source of probiotics, promoting a balanced gut microbiome. It enhances nutrient absorption and boosts immunity by maintaining a healthy bacterial balance in the digestive system.

How often should I drink kefir?

For optimal benefits and to avoid any potential digestive issues, it's recommended to consume kefir in moderation. Incorporating a small glass of kefir into your daily routine or enjoying it a few times a week can provide your body with the probiotics and nutrients it needs without overwhelming your digestive system.

Is it better to drink kefir in the morning or at night?


Remember, it's a journey, and every step counts towards better gut health!



Image Credits - Mariana Rascão and George Milton

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