Kefir contraindications: everything you need to know

Fermented beverages are on the rise among health and nutrition conscious people. However, it is not common to hear about the contraindications of kefir, for example. Despite its many benefits, these also exist.

And although serious problems related to their intake are rare, on some occasions its consumption is not indicated or side effects may appear. We invite you to learn more about this drink in the following article.

What is kefir?

Kefir is a fermented food whose consumption originated in the Caucasus and today has spread around the world. It is prepared from kefir granules, a mixture of bacteria and yeasts that ferment the liquid in which they are immersed.

The best known type is cow's milk. However, other varieties made from water, vegetable drinks or goat or sheep milk are currently on the market.

Its main strength at the nutritional level is the contribution of microorganisms with a probiotic action. In addition, if it has been prepared with cow's or goat's milk, it has all the nutrients that a yogurt can have: proteins, calcium, phosphorus, zinc, vitamin A or B12.

Most people consume it to improve aspects such as digestion, constipation, and immune activity. It is considered a healthy food. But in some cases, kefir can present contraindications, since not everyone tolerates it in a positive way.

Read more: What are the contributions of yogurt?

Some benefits of kefir

The main positive effects that kefir has on the body are due to the presence of microorganisms known as probiotics. Bacteria are usually present Lactobacillus, Lactococcus, or Streptococcus and some yeasts (Saccharomyces, Kluyveromyces, and Candida). Found in greater amounts than in yogurt.

Although in some cases the evidence is not entirely conclusive, for now science has linked the regular consumption of kefir with the following benefits that we will discuss.

Kefir can be prepared from various liquids, but if they are dairy, their nutritional benefits are added.

Effects on the microbiota

The organisms that inhabit the intestine are the main beneficiaries of kefir intake. Positive microorganisms are provided and they help feed those that already reside in the colon.

The growth of beneficial bacteria, such as Lactobacillus Y Bifidobacterium, occurs in parallel to a decrease in harmful species. It has been observed that the severity of poisonings by Giardia Y Salmonella.

As indicated in an article published in the magazine Medicine, some problems and diseases of the digestive tract can be improved. It is positive to accompany the treatment of diarrhea and to improve symptoms when there is infection by Helicobacter pylori or irritable bowel syndrome.

Antifungal and antibacterial capacity

This type of fermented drink has been tested against a wide spectrum of pathogens, finding a antimicrobial action similar to some of the antibiotics most commonly used.

Effects on the immune system

During the fermentation process, a series of bioactive compounds appear with different activities in the body. One of them is the activation of the immune action which, for the moment, has been observed in animal models.

Cholesterol and cardiovascular disease

Health problems related to the heart and circulatory system are known to be one of the leading causes of death in the Western world. High blood cholesterol is one of the risk factors.

In this case, the diet can be of great help and the fermentation process of products such as kefir also. With the action of microorganisms it seems that the amount of cholesterol that is found naturally in milk decreases.

Another observed action is a less absorption of cholesterol ingested with food. In tests with mice, a decrease in total cholesterol, LDL or bad and triglycerides in blood plasma.

Discover: 5 habits to prevent cardiovascular diseases

Kefir contraindications

Probiotic foods are regarded as reliable products. However, the authors of the aforementioned journal article Medicine they also point to the possible appearance of inconveniences and some conditions in which the use is not considered safe. We discuss them below.

1. Appearance of discomfort

Its intake may present side effects in some people, especially those with the most sensitive digestive system. Those that appear more frequently are the following:

  • Bloating and flatulence.
  • Sickness.
  • Constipation.

In many cases, they tend to disappear over time and with continued use.. The fermentation can also be introduced spacedly or in small quantities. If the situation does not improve, it is preferable to withdraw it.

2. Contraindications of kefir in diseases with immunodeficiency

It is also advisable to be cautious when taking them if you suffer from these types of health problems, such as lupus, rheumatoid arthritis or AIDS. It is also not appropriate when drugs are administered to decrease the action of the immune system..

3. Recurrent yeast or fungal infections

Another of the contraindications of kefir is for those who suffer from yeast infections, as is the case with candidiasis. Although the microorganisms in fermented beverages have been shown to help fight pathogens, this is not the case for everyone.

Recipe for preparing water kefir at home

Fermenting food is a process that can also be done at home, since it is not necessary to make an economic investment to test it. A few common kitchen utensils are sufficient.

You need to get a few kefir granules first. As a general rule, these are not sold, but are passed between users. A good option is to ask in the nearby herbalists or search in internet forums.

In order to start experimenting, we share below the step by step of the preparation of water kefir.

Making kefir involves a few steps that can be done at home. The granules are not sold and are shared between users.

Ingredients needed to prepare water kefir

  • 1 liter of filtered or bottled water.
  • 40 grams of sugar.
  • 4 tablespoons of granules.
  • 20 grams of raisins.

Step by Step

  1. First, warm a little water (the equivalent of a cup). Add the sugar and mix until it dissolves.
  2. Add the rest of the water at room temperature and place it in a bottle or glass jug. Put the kefir granules and raisins. Instead of these, it is also possible to add other dehydrated fruits, such as dates or dried figs.
  3. Cover with a cloth and leave to ferment for 48 hours. This time can vary depending on whether you like it more or less strong. Ideally, place it in a warm area with a temperature between 20 and 30 ºC.
  4. After the fermentation time, strain the preparation and keep in the fridge. The drink thus prepared is ready to consume and the kefir granules can be easily separated for reuse.

For more variants of the recipe you can experiment with different flavors. The possibilities are endless and adapt to everyone's taste: drops of vanilla extract, fresh mint leaves, 3 or 4 slices of fruit or a little infusion of ginger.

The benefits outweigh the contraindications of kefir

In general, water or milk kefir is a safe food and it is advisable to include it in the daily diet. Although due to the possible negative effects it is convenient to introduce it little by little and test tolerance first.

However, excessive consumption does not produce more health benefits either. In this case, it can be combined with other fermented foods and dairy products, such as cheese or yogurt.

Most of the kefires that can be found in the market are prepared with milk, either cow or goat. However, for allergy sufferers there are also other versions made from vegetable drinks or water.

Due to the action of bacteria in fermented products, lactose is converted into lactic acid, so the final amounts are lower than in milk. Therefore, they can be better accepted by people with intolerance to this sugar.