Clinical proof is lacking, but preliminary research supports the claim that probiotic bacteria in creamy kefir milk ease irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) symptoms like bloating and pain by suppressing mild inflammation in the gut. The cultured milk product also delivers healthy doses of magnesium, calcium, phosphorus, B vitamins, and the calming amino acid tryptophan.
Found in the organic dairy section of many grocery stores, kefir milk contains friendly yeast bacteria and a larger variety of probiotics than yogurt, reports Chris McMullen, Pharm.D., R.N., at the Guyer Institute of Molecular Medicine in Indianapolis. The drink is also easy and inexpensive to make at home by adding kefir grains from online retailers to cow’s or goat’s milk (see recipe below).
“I recommend kefir milk to anyone with IBS, especially when the product is made at home with a high-quality starter—I prefer Yogourmet brand,” says Dr. McMullen. He points out that commercial products may be pasteurized after fermentation, a process that reduces the live bacteria content.
For more info on probiotics, check our our July/August 2012 issue.
Click here for an IBS treatment matrix from the American College of Gastroenterology.
How to Build a Better Kefir Milk
From Chris McMullen, Pharm.D., R.N.
- 1 quart cow’s or goat’s milk
- 5 grams kefir starter grains
Slowly heat milk to room temperature (1-2 minutes). Do not boil. Pour milk into glass container and add kefir starter grains. Stir thoroughly with wooden spoon. Cover and let rest on countertop for 18-24 hours. Once opened, store refrigerated.
The kefir can be mixed with whey protein powder or nutrient-dense fruit like blueberries, raspberries, and strawberries. Flavor with vanilla extract, if desired.