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13 Things You May Not Know About Kefir

On Wednesday Feb 1 at 8 pm, the BBC Two television show Trust Me I’m a Doctor unveiled some ground-breaking science, in the form of an experiment to determine whether probiotics can actually alter gut bacteria and improve health.

The overwhelming conclusion was that a little-known probiotic drink called kefir created statistically significant results for gut health.

So now everyone is talking about kefir! But what is it, and what makes it so special?

At Chuckling Goat we’ve been making kefir in the traditional style since 2011. Here are a few things that you may not know about this now scientifically-proven medical miracle food:

  1. Kefir is a fermented milk drink made from living kefir grains that originally came from the Caucasus Mountains in Russia. You can’t manufacture a kefir grain – grains only grow from other grains. NO ONE KNOWS where the first kefir grain came from. A mystery for the ages!
  2. Kefir is similar in taste and consistency to drinking yogurt,  but as demonstrated on the show, it’s a lot more medically powerful. Yogurt contains “ transient bacteria,”  that gets killed off by the digestive process. Kefir contains “non-transient bacteria”, that survives the digestive process and re-populates the gut with the good bugs it needs for health.
  3. The best (and most traditional) base for kefir is goats milk, as cow’s milk is highly allergenic for human beings, and is a known trigger for eczema and other autoimmune conditions.
  4. Elie Metchnikoff, known as the Father of Natural Immunity, won the Nobel Prize in 1908 for his work on kefir. He observed that the peasants in Bulgaria who drank kefir lived to an extremely long and healthy old age, and this observation stimulated his award-winning research.
  5. Kefir is helpful for many autoimmune conditions, allergic and inflammatory conditions, including eczema, psoriasis, rosacea, acne, IBS, asthma, diabetes, Crohn’s and colitis.
  6. Never buy flavoured kefir, or kefir that contains sugar or other sweeteners. The flavourings and glucose kill off the good probiotics in the kefir, ultimately doing more harm than good.
  7. If you want to safely sweeten kefir at home, you can blend it with your favourite fruit and stevia, which won’t harm the probiotics. If you do blend your kefir with fruit, consume it immediately and don’t let it sit overnight, as the fructose will harm the probiotics over time.
  8. Never blend kefir with honey, as honey is a natural antibiotic which will kill off the good probiotics in the kefir.
  9. Kefir never goes “off,” – it just continues to ferment, getting stronger in taste and potency over time. If you leave it to ferment long enough, it will separate into curds and whey, turning itself into cheese and alcohol!
  10. Kefir was traditionally made in a goat’s skin bag that hung by the door of the peasant hut. It was considered etiquette to kick the bag as you entered or left the cottage, as this would “stir” the kefir and speed the fermentation process.
  11. Heat also speeds the fermentation process, causing the kefir to “work” more quickly. Keeping your kefir in the fridge isn’t necessary, as it won’t go off, but it will keep the kefir from blowing out of the bottle.
  12. Always look for kefir made in the traditional style, with real grains. Kefir can be made with a powdered sachet, but the result will not be as powerful as the kefir made with grains.
  13. If you want to make kefir at home, be sure to ferment it until the pH is under 4.5, as this is the level at which most pathogens are unable to survive. You should test your kefir at a public health lab from time to time, to ensure that your grains remain free from contamination.

To watch the Trust Me I’m a Doctor episode that features the kefir experiment, click here:

Traditionally made kefir, ready to drink, is available from

Shann Nix Jones has investigated the science behind kefir and how it can benefit the skin in her new book, The Good Skin Solution: Natural Healing for Eczema, Psoriasis, Rosacea and Acne, due out from Hay House on Feb 7, 2017.

29 thoughts on “13 Things You May Not Know About Kefir

  1. Hi
    Is it ok to add salt to kefir?
    If we blend kefir to make butter and then ghee out of it, would it lose its probiotic properties?
    Hope you answer
    Thank you

    1. Hi Nirala,

      Mixing Kefir with sea salt is perfectly fine however, we have never tried making butter. 😊

      Ghee requires heating therefore this will kill off the live bacteria – the benefits also come from the metabolites that won’t be affected by heat, so it won’t be without benefit but it won’t be as beneficial.

      I hope this helps!

      Best wishes,

  2. I’m in Cambodia and only have access to cows milk. Do you feel it will do more harm than good to my belly since my kefir is not made with goat milk.

    1. Hi Anne,

      Thanks so much for getting in touch!

      We don’t recommend the use of cow’s dairy at all I’m afraid, as it contains the A1 casein – which is naturally allergenic, a gut irritant and full of fatty molecules. Our kefir is made with goat’s milk, which is an A2 dairy, so is better for human consumption – so ideally, we recommend looking for live, unflavoured goat’s milk kefir locally.
      A water based kefir would also be OK – coconut water, for instance – just not as powerful.

      Please don’t hesitate to get in touch if there’s anything we can help with 🙂

      Best wishes,

  3. Hi,
    I have an autoimmune skin disorder. Is boosting the immune system not likely to make this worse? I have been advised by a dermatologist that I shouldn’t do anything that boosts the immune system.

    Thank you.

    1. Hi Suzanna,

      Your skin is just a map of what’s going on in the gut – in order to heal the skin, you need to heal the tummy! This is why skincare alone will never fully cure the issue. Our kefir will work to re-populate the gut with the healthy balance of good bacteria it needs to function properly, so ‘outside’ symptoms, such as skin complaints, will alleviate. Kefir does help boost the immune system – if you’re taking immuno-suppressant medication, I’m afraid we wouldn’t advise taking the kefir.

      It’ll be a personal decision as to whether or not you go ahead with the kefir, and one you may like to discuss with your dermatologist or consultant.

      Feel free to give us a call on 01239 654072 if you’d like to chat more 🙂

      Best wishes,

    1. Yes, kefir is great for breast feeding. Increases lactobacillus, which alleviates colic in baby. x

  4. I have SIBO and bacteria overgrowth in my stomach, do you think this will be good for this? I have extreme bloating and fatigue.

  5. Hi, I’ve been taking your kefir for 2 months now and am definitely feeling the results more than I’m seeing them at the moment – but that’s fine as I’ve had psoriasis for over 40 years so I know it’ll take time. What I’m curious about is the strains of probiotic kefir has. According to the ingredients it includes Lactobacillus kefiranofaciens
    Lactobacillus kefiri
    Lactococcus lactis
    Leuconostoc garlicum
    Leuconostoc lactis
    Enterococcus faecium

    My question is are we not missing out on other probiotics or are these enough to heal the gut? From what I’ve read our gut state is constantly changing so is it enough just to take the kefir (as well as doing the GSS)?

    Thanks – I absolutely love your kefir!!

  6. Hi Shann, I’m on day 12 of your kefir for treating psoriasis that I’ve had for around 40 years. I realise this is going to be a slow process but that’s fine. I’m really motivated by your book and the reviews and it all makes perfect sense to start with the gut. Around days 5-8 I had diarrhoea together with a cold and sore throats and felt so tired. That’s all gone now – would you say that’s the good bacteria attacking the bad? I haven’t read much about other peoples reactions to kefir and was wondering if this is really common?

    1. Hi Anne – Yes, this sounds like a typical detox reaction. As the kefir does its spring cleaning work inside your system, it gets rid of the bad bacteria, and they come out in a variety of ways! Sounds like you’re through the worst of it – sometimes people with severe dysbiosis will get a second detox towards the end of their second course. Keep going – the positive benefits of the kefir accrue over time! Best, Shann

          1. Nuts in general – good. Avoid peanuts and cashews however, because they are high in lectins which irritate the gut.

        1. Pearl barley no, as it contains glutens, Lentils and beans are good. Just make sure to soak them overnight first and cook them thoroughly.

  7. Hi Shann,
    Does probiotic capsules have transient or non-transient bacteria? Are probiotic capsules a good source for a healthy gut?


    1. Hi Nishana – Probiotic capsules generally only contain one or two strains of dehydrated or dormant bacteria that are dying off over time, which is why their numbers decrease as they sit on the shelf. Kefir contains a synergistic combination of multiple live bacteria strains, thriving in their own environment, which are increasing and growing over time. So kefir is exponentially more powerful than any capsule probiotic. It’s like the difference between one violin and the entire orchestra. ; )

  8. Hi This is my first morning taking fefir and I want to get better I am a veggie and live on baked potatoes all sorts of pastas with beans and chick peas I will have to change from dairy but at the moment I feel I will loose so much weight I managed to keep it on with my bread maker, would it be OK if I don’t put yeast in it? I haven’t yet seen you mention eggs are they alright with fefir?
    Regard Tricia Gallagher

    1. Hi Patricia – Goat milk, goat butter and goat cheese are all good for you. It’s only cow dairy that you need to avoid. Instead of baked white potatoes, try new potatoes or sweet potatoes, which are lower-GI. Important to try to add “Good Grains,” which are low-Gi and gluten-free: oatmeal, quinoa, amaranth, buckwheat and millet. Eggs are fine. Goat dairy, any meat or fish, any fruit or veg is fine. Yeast is not the problem – it’s the gluten, which is a gut allergen, that you need to avoid. Try a gluten-free flour in your bread maker. Good luck and keep us posted! Best, Shann

  9. I am trying to clear up some areas on my legs which are still a bit red after steroid cream for eczema like condition. I have just started your goats milk course with the soap and cream. I want to finish off some cheese in the fridge (gorgon zola and cheddar) before getting onto goats cheese instead. That should be OK shouldn’t it?

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