Kefir Fever - Dietetic Directions - Dietitian and Nutritionist in Kitchener/Waterloo
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Kefir Fever

Kefir Fever

Kefir Fever

When strolling down the dairy aisle have you noticed kefir, a cousin of yogurt? Kefir (pronounced “kuh-FEER”) is a dairy beverage made by adding kefir “grains”, which are pellets of yeast bacteria, to milk and heating it to produce a drink. Kefir is like a “drinkable yogurt” with a similar taste, but with a much higher probiotic content! In fact, kefir contains 10 to 20 different probiotic strains whereas yogurt has only a few.

Today, we will learn more about kefir and do a general comparison between yogurt and kefir. To begin, it is important to note that probiotics are the “good bacteria” that when consumed in the right amounts may lead to health benefits. However, probiotic research is still in it’s infancy and there appears to be dose and strain specific criteria reap specific benefits. Stay tuned as the research continues to evolve!


Health benefits associated with probiotics include:

  • Improves symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome, crohn’s disease and colitis.
  • Improves diarrhea associated with antibiotic use
  • Supports healthy immune functioning
  • Improves lactose digestion
  • Potentially plays a role in weight management
  • Positively impacts mental health




DYK: the health benefits associated with probiotics improves symptoms of IBS, crohn's disease and… Click To Tweet


Kefir vs. Yogurt

Kefir Yogurt
Fermented Milk product Yes Yes
Consistency Thinner, sold as a beverage Thicker, more like pudding
Protein (per ½ cup) 5 grams 6 grams
Taste Tart & slightly sour, effervescent Tart & slightly sour,
Flavours Available Variety Variety
Probiotics 3X probiotic content of yogurt . Estimated 40 billion probiotic organisms per half cup Probiotic yogurts contain roughly one billion per serving. Content varies depending on type of yogurt


Where Can I Buy Kefir?

Kefir is readily available in grocery stores and in health food stores.




How can I use Kefir?

With a consistency slightly thinner than yogurt, there are many ways to eat/ drink kefir:

  • Drink it! Plain.
  • Add it to a smoothie
  • Enjoy with cereal instead of milk
  • Combine with nuts, granola or high fibre cereal to make a parfait
  • Add chia seeds and keep in fridge overnight to thicken to pudding
  • Use as a substitute for yogurt or buttermilk in baking


Bottom Line:

Next time you are in the dairy aisle, take a second look at kefir, a fermented milk product that contains more probiotics than yogurt. Probiotic research continues to evolve to become more specific on amounts we need to consume, types of strains and the health benefits. When buying kefir or yogurt, check the nutrition label for the sugar amounts. Find out how to interpret the sugar on food labels here.


Check out guest blogger Nicole Osinga as she gives tips on how to expertly navigate the yogurt aisle.

  • Janice D

    I was unfamiliar with kefir before reading this article. I went to the grocery store to buy some and did notice the difference with 5g of sugar vs. 20 grams of sugar for the strawberry flavour! I appreciate the information and I like the tartness. It reminds me of Greek yogurt but as a drink. YUM!!

  • Lauren Bauman

    I drank strawberry flavoured kefir for a few months to heal ulcers in my lower intestine, and it seemed to work over time. It also acted as a coating whenever I had pain. The flavoured kefir was definitely higher in sugar, but I only drank a few ounces at a time, and I preferred it over the tart, plain kefir.

  • Susan

    I was not familiar with kefir before reading your article. Is it labeled with certain brand names or is kefir just found on the ingredient list?

  • Andrea D’Ambrosio, RD

    Thank you Janice, Lauren & Susan for reading and commenting! The flavours do come down to preference and you can also add your own sugar or fruits as well if you prefer a little sweetness instead of tartness of plain. Susan, you will see that kefir is a product and there are different companies that produce kefir – Liberte is a company that has a line of kefir products for example. Enjoy your probiotics!

  • Melanie

    Very interesting. I’ve never noticed Kefir before in the dairy aisle. I will look for it next time I’m at the grocery store. Thanks for sharing this!

  • Nancy

    Kefir is also excellent for reducing nausea in the post surgical patient or nausea caused by pain medications.
    We recommend it daily. We have also seen longer term diarrhea associated IBS improve within just a few days of use.
    Agree that longer term use is the best.