The Power of Kefir

by Matt Weik

People who use yogurt, but find that it gives them digestive issues might benefit from something like kefir. The benefits of kefir run deeper than the benefits you and I can yield. In fact, researchers are now finding that kefir can be a powerful food to add to a cancer survivor’s diet—especially post workout.

What is kefir?

Kefir is actually fermented milk and is very similar to yogurt—providing many health benefits. It was first created in the north Caucasus Mountains and is extremely popular across Northern and Eastern Europe. Other countries such as Russian have also been utilizing kefir for centuries. Many consider it to be a more powerful and healthier version of yogurt. For starters, kefir is very easily digested and provides the body with protein, vitamins, minerals, and healthy bacteria (probiotics). Using kefir as part of your diet can help build a healthy digestive system, improved immunity, and promote regular bowel movements. Kefir can be found at just about any grocery store.

On average (depending on the brand), 6 ounces of kefir contains:
• 100 calories
• 7g of carbohydrates
• 6g of protein
• 4g of fat

Kefir allows for proper post-workout nutrition for cancer survivors

The benefits of exercise can improve the life of everyone. However, for cancer patients and survivors, the treatments used often times leave them with digestion issues. This can make it extremely hard to consume products with dairy, including things like whey protein that includes lactose. The good news is, those who suffer from lactose intolerances are generally able to tolerate kefir.

Some research is even touting kefir as being able to protect the body against certain forms of cancer. This can be especially important not only for those who already went through treatment, but also for the general public who are looking to be proactive and preventative.

Researchers came up with a beverage that they tested on 52 cancer survivors post-workout to see how their body reacted and if they could manage drinking the beverage containing kefir. The beverage also included things such as fruit, natural sweeteners, and other natural ingredients to aid in post-workout recovery without the use of something such as whey protein. The participants were not initially told what all was in the beverage until after they first tasted the product.

When given the beverage, the cancer survivors were asked to rate the beverage on its appearance, aroma, taste, mouth-feel, overall liking, their physical and psychological feelings, and if they would purchase this beverage if it were made available for purchase. Following the initial tasting, the researchers then explained to the participants the benefits of kefir and asked them to sample the beverage again and answer the same set of questions as before.

The results of the study showed that the kefir-based drink was highly accepted and liked by all participants. They admitted that the beverage is something they would purchase if available. While the overall scores were a little higher in the second round of testing, the scores from the initial were still high and showed an overall liking of the beverage even without knowing what was in it and the health benefits associated with consuming a beverage with kefir.

One researcher mentioned, “Kefir may be a great way for cancer survivors to enjoy a post-exercise dairy drink in the future. The beverage received high scores overall and, except for an improvement in overall liking, we observed no significant differences in physical and psychological feelings before and after participants learned that it contained kefir and had potential health benefits.”

Whether you buy it or make it, you’ll reap the benefits

Most people will prefer to go to the store and purchase premade kefir, but it should be noted that you can make kefir at your home. It will take one or two days until the kefir is ready to consume, but it can be done if you prefer something homemade. There are many different ways and directions on how to make it that can be found online. Find one that sounds good to you and run with it.

Is kefir something you should include in your own personal nutrition plan? Absolutely. With all the benefits associated with kefir, I’d recommend that everyone consider adding it. Most of us aren’t worried about digestive health simply because it isn’t something we can see. However, it’s extremely important and shouldn’t be negated. Add kefir to your diet for a few weeks and see how you feel. The good news is, for those who eat yogurt, but aren’t thrilled with the feeling and/or discomfort they get from it, kefir is a great option to ease any bloating, gas, or digestive discomfort.


1.) Elsevier. “Cancer survivors get a taste for kefir after exercise: Study shows kefir is a good way for cancer survivors to enjoy a fortifying post-exercise dairy drink without stomach upset.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 12 July 2017.

2.) K. O’Brien, C. Boeneke, W. Prinyawiwatkul, J. Lisano, D. Shackelford, K. Reeves, M. Christensen, R. Hayward, K. Carabante Ordonez, L.K. Stewart. “Short communication: Sensory analysis of a kefir product designed for active cancer survivors.” Journal of Dairy Science, 2017; 100 (6): 4349