My Week of Drinking Milk Kefir… Decided against It…. Here Is Why!

My Week of Drinking Milk Kefir… Decided against It…. Here Is Why!

Well, I was totally convinced that milk kefir was a cool way of getting the super probiotics into my diet. I could easily find it, make it and add it on top of my quinoa porridge in the morning. Easy! I managed to figure out how to make it too, which I was very proud ofΒ – I had my own little science experiments running in my kitchen. (Just bought some milk kefir from a health shop and let it sit on the windowsill for a day, then added some milk to it and let it sit for a further couple of days.)

So, here I was drinking my milk kefir every morning and even adding some of it to a cocoa drink or smoothy on occasion. I really thought it would help my digestion. The first couple of days… it really did. Things were going well. I had nice, regular movements and they were well…. firm.

Then…. the signals started to appear. The first obvious one was that I started to get that phlegmyΒ feeling in my throat again. I hadn’t experienced this for years! I read more about it and read that mucous can actually be a good thing for the gut as it gives it nice warm spaces to build colonies of good bacteria. So, I thought – oh well, I shall live with this for a little while until the bacteria settle in nicely.

Over a few days, my skin started to get bad too. I was getting pimples and break-outs again… what was going on?

I wasn’t prepared to give up my milk kefir just yet, so I decided to do some more research about what might be going on.

What I discovered was quite interesting….

I kinda knew that the medium of using milk might be the problem all along. I was doubting whether I should use milk as my medium for carrying the probiotics, to begin with. See, there is a reason why milk is not great for our diets.

It contains a protein which is hard for our bodies to digest, called casein. Casein is a protein, which once it enters our stomachs, becomes a big lump of sticky mass. Now, this is totally normal and athletes quite like using casein powder as it releases protein in a slow fashion. The thing with me – and possibly you too – is that my system just wasn’t ready for this casein protein. I was struggling to digest it!

The second problem was that milk, as a medium, dehydrates the body. I was drinking anywhere from a 1/4 cup to 1/2 cup of kefir milk each day. I was eating my regular diet but it didn’t seem to help. I drank heaps more water than usual and ate heaps more raw carrots too… but it didn’t seem to help. I hate being constipated! It is the worst feeling for me!

I discovered that milk is rich in calcium and phosphorous but that it is low in magnesium. The problem is, our bodies need magnesium to assimilate the calciumΒ and phosphorous. So, it draws the magnesium from stores in the body. This may have depleted my magnesium stores – which makes one constipated.

So, it has been 2 days of no kefir milk – James is enjoying it now and I am now experimenting with coconut kefir. It might be a better medium for me!

I know that often we are more concerned about getting the good bacteria into our bodies with fermentation but I still think the medium that we choose should be the right one. There are so many different mediums to choose from, we might as well choose the ones that give our bodies more good stuff!

I am keen to experiment with all the different kefirs out there! There is even one they make in Russia using beetroot!

I know some of you swear by milk kefir. What was your experience? Does the body get stronger and then able to digest the milk kefir? Did you use other fermented foods to go with it?

Big hugs,

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Share your thoughts...

  1. Neither I or anyone else can prove what caused my son or my diarhea a couple of hours after consuming about 60ml shop bought kefir that I myself had been ‘on’ for 3 months. Up until that yesterdays upset I had been fine. One fact that I firmly believe in is that buying food is an unknown as regards what bacteria is enclosed in it.

    I usually bought my kefir from an Asda store without a problem and noticed that it was active even in the fridge. This different store bought kefir was active and I found it interesting in one of the posts that a second ferment changes some of the indigestible ingredients in kefir to tolerable ingredients……..
    I had an uncle, then 87 who told us when we were kids- always
    eat conservatorily and with moderation and always get up from the table feeling a bit hungry! He looked 20 years younger than he was & he never ate kefir!
    There are so many fads these days and so much bull s— that it seems patently obvious that one must evaluate all the ‘evidence’ if indeed it is evidence and listen to our bodies & if we get the sh–ts stop doing what caused that condition.
    Butter was bad now it’s good so I wonder if that is why my old uncle ate it in moderation and it did him no harm whatsoever?
    I would have thought that drinking that small bottle of milk and that small bottle of orange juice given to us free after the war did us good. None of us had any adverse symptoms and most of us are still fit at 76……. I might die next week.

  2. I had major die-off from kefir the first few times but now I feel great on it. It is helping me heal my gut and I don’t want to be without it! I use organic milk from a dairy in town and always do the 2nd ferment to make it have less lactose. I’m making kombucha too mostly for my hubby.

  3. It was just die-off symptoms. You should have stuck with it. Kefir and yogurt cultures predigest the milk so some of the dangers you list do not really exist.
    I hopoe you avoid shop bought kefir – that is not far off useless. Thank you for writing about it though. It was very interesting reading.

  4. It may have been because you didn’t last through the candida die off period where toxins are being shed. I experienced similar symptoms but also itched everywhere for 2 days. I almost gave up as well but then learned about the die off period. Since then, my blood chemistry improved significantly, I don’t crave sugar anymore feel incredible and my doctor took me off of blood sugar, cholesterol and blood pressure medicines.

  5. Sounds like you were probably having a healing crises and studies have shown that there is no casin in milk kefir compared to regular milk. The same study also shows that milk can raise cancer rates while kefir lowers them. And as another commenter said you do need the milk grains to insure you are making authentic kefir. They will not culture just in previously cultured milk especially store bought.

  6. You do NEED live kefir grains to make authentic milk kefir at home. I am still experimenting with homemade milk kefir…2 years now off and on. I definitely do not have the same noticeable digestive issues that I have with plain milk …likely lactose intolerant and even on raw geurnsey A1 protein (supposedly more easily digested..same protein as goat milk) I still VERY much have these issues. I am still undecided but leaning towards giving up milk kefir for a time..along with ALL dairy to see if I notice a difference. I am definitely gluten sensitive and most people with that sensitivity also react to the milk proteins as they are similar enough that the immune response does not differentiate. I am skeptical, from what I’ve researched that fermentation breaks down the milk proteins as it certainly does not break down the gluten proteins. The microbes feed on lactose..the sugar.

  7. I thought dairy kefir was the greatest thing since sliced bread, wait, that’s not healthy…you get the point. It was going great at first, until the acne just wouldn’t quit. So I started using vanilla almond milk to make mine, and it’s been great. I kinda got burnt out on coconut, so almond milk is a lovely choice. Every morning I make a smoothie with almond kefir (I use milk kefir grains to make it), banana and almond butter. It’s how I’m able to down my raw liver “pills”. I put some smoothie in my mouth, and plop a piece of liver in and swallow it so I don’t have to taste that glorious yet horrid superfood. The energy is fantastic!

  8. While I don’t drink milk kefir due to allergies, I make my own nut kefir. Nut kefir is made from any choice of raw nuts. You add probiotics to it and allow it to sit out 24 hours on the counter like milk kefir. It tastes rich, creamy, and delicious. I love the stuff. My body craves it. It’s a great way to get the probiotics in.

  9. Question: i see lots of people making their own kefir milk. I buy lifeway organic milk. It gets the stamp from the national kefir assoc. why would i make my own? Are there any benefits or disadvantages besides the cost?

    • I think it would be an advantage if you a) normally keep milk on hand and b) drink kefir almost every day, because it is so simple to make and then you always have it on hand without having to buy it.

  10. Hi
    I’ve just started on milk kefir a week ago (using live grains) to put back good bacteria two course of antibiotcs destroyed. I’ve experimented with dairy, coconut and almond milk so far and all of them have left me with unformed stools. This makes me doubt that it is a dairy problem and wonder whether it is actually just a rebalancing/die off reaction. By the way coconut milk was delicious, almond blah

    • Interesting. I have heard that the kefir grains in milk might cause this reaction in some of us. I use a different kefir and make Coconut Water Kefir now but maybe give it a few weeks and see what happens. Die off shouldn’t last that long πŸ™‚

      • Die off is different for everyone. If your body is loaded with bad bacteria and toxins, you will have it worse. What you were explaining in your original post is nothing more than die off and your body shedding the bad bacteria and toxins. Its normal and its actually a good sign. Die off can appear as rashes, itchy skin, pimples, diarrhea, constipation (a sign you have lots of toxins to get rid of), sinus congestion, runny nose, cough, flu-like symptoms- these are all signs of die off. These things tend to scare people away without them realizing it’s just the probiotics doing their job.

    • It is common to have a recovery reaction when we drink kefir the first time. Some people will get it with second or third round. It is a detox process where our body adjusted and rebalanced. A client of mine reported to have several loose stools but didn’t feel like having a diarrhoea and it settled down. There were no cramps or bloatiness. That’s how you know it’s working. So continue and don’t give up and you will notice a shift in your energy level. Some described as feeling light, more energy, alert, happy or calm, better sleep….just to name a few. Over time some reported weight loss!

  11. I’m not sure if you did the milk fermentation correctly.

    The proper way to do this is to use RAW milk and by using Kefir Grains. Put the kefir grains in raw milk in glass jar, give it a little stir and leave it in DARK place away from sunlight (not windowsill!) at 20-28 degree C.

    If you still can’t tolerate Cow milk, try using Goat milk.

    It sounds like you get allergic reaction when you drink the Kefir. It is very possible that your digestion is compromised, and may have Candida overgrowth. To fix this, try doing Dr. Natasha Mcbride’s GAPS diet. That will fix your gut very quickly.

  12. Oh Hi… I just had to butt in here… If you leave your Kefir to ferment long enough, the bacteria actually break the casein down until it’s not casein anymore, just your component aminos… maybe you didn’t leave it long enough. Did you do a second ferment?

    Milk acidifies, but kefir alkalizes… kefir is no longer milk. Kefir contains vitamin K2 which works in tandem with Vit d to direct the calcium to your bones and teeth, instead of lodging in places it doesn’t belong. I had a problem with free circulating calcium, (one calf muscle started to ossify), until I started milk kefir. Now I have no problems, and the ossification reversed. It actually drags the magnesium from your tissues into your bones to do it’s thing. You have to make sure your diet is magnesium rich, which I’m sure you already do.

    It sounds to me like you didn’t have real kefir grains, and just used bought kefir as a starter like yogurt. You can’t do that for kefir, as those commercial products are not real kefir, with kefiran and all, just a mix of cultures. Those will not break down the milk enough to create a different product, which is what real kefir is.

    I hope you are still going ok with the water or coconut kefir, but I think you would actually benefit from milk kefir, if you got the grains, and had a second ferment. I had a nasty herxheimer reaction for a week on and off, and have been brilliantly healthy ever since. Regular dairy always left me with miles of mucus on the lungs, sinus infections and eczema, etc etc. Not so my milk kefir!

    • That is an interesting point Gloria and no, I didn’t second ferment. I am a little hesitant to try again but might be a good idea πŸ™‚
      Thanks for sharing your insights!

    • Hi Gals and all! I agree sounds like a classic herxheimer. I took the plunge, got grains on the net and made my own Kefir with whole milk. First week I took it I felt gradually sicker for two two-three days with phlegm tiredness etc. and then had a midweek reversal of symptoms. Stayed the course and Bingo was a feeling great within a week! I honestly believe it was a Herx for me. I am sleeping slightly better, have more energy and more glorious results. I am now one year in drinking it nearly every day and can say it has been amazing! My Kefir grains have multiplied and when I have too many I eat them. I also give 2 TBS. of kefir to my dog mixed with her dry dog food every other day. She nearly refuses to eat dry dog food without kefir. Her coat is glorious and better. I had ringworm on my hand when I started Kefir. While I consumed Kefir internally I also applied the the Kefir to my ringworm externally. In that same first week it started to disappear and within two weeks it was gone. It had persisted for months with little help from prescription cream. Humans and animals thrive on fermented foods and slowly die and become ill on processed foods. Another interesting thing: when I pour milk into my large Kefir straining bowl then give it a quick rinse it leaves that typical milk film begging for soap to finish the job. After making kefir having the Kefir liquid film remaining in the bowl their really is no film. One rinse with cold water YES cold water and the bowl is squeaky clean! This stuff is truly transformed by these grains into a healthy digestible nutritious powerhouse that the majority of us can consume. Yes it is a little tie consuming bet the store brands of this and 3 times the cost do not offer the same benefit. Cheers, and health to all.

      Joe

  13. Hi.
    My baby of two had terrible personality swings. We discovered she is unable to eat gluten. She was not digesting much food and passing 5,6,7 unformed stools a day.
    She would react to gluten food within a few hours.
    We put her on keffir wich she loved for about three months. Over the three months of no gluten and keffir when she felt like it, she now is digesting food and only has one two or three formed stool. She even had a large amount of wheat over christmas that she was able to tolerate . After a week her symptoms reappeared but got better shortly after giving her keffir in milk again. It has also treated a family member who has suffered bad breath.

  14. Hi,
    I’ve been drinking Kefir for about two months now. Kefir grains cultivated in full fat cows milk. I have always had a problem digesting cows milk but find it not too bad since drinking kefir. It’s also helped me digest meat better and I don’t get such terrible lower bowel pains anymore. However, for the past week I find my throat feeling rough and I get terrible heart burn after drinking it. Has anyone experienced this?
    I think I should also try the coconut kefir as this might sort the problem out.

    • Hi Diane,
      Yes, the milk still gets in there at the endo of it all πŸ™‚ I love my coconut kefir and wouldn’t swop it for anything else now. It is easy to drink and super easy to maintain πŸ™‚

  15. Kefir grown in anything but animal milk eventually kills the grains. IF you have enough grains to let them die slowly in non-dairy milk, then you have no problem.

    • Yes indeed. Milk Kefir grains differ from Water Kefir grains. Get the latter and you may meet with success in colonizing. I have had the best luck with juices and water kefir grains. It is sooo much harder keeping the water/juice Kefir grains happy unlike Milk Kefir which is far less fussy.

      Cheers,

      Joe

  16. If you buy kefir that is ready to drink from the store, you are not buying kefir grains that actually make kefir. If you look at the kefir sites online, you cannot use the finished kefir as a starter. You have to buy or get grains from a friend (craigslist or freecycle) and put THAT in milk. I use organic milk, so no hormones added. anne

  17. Cows are kept pregnant all the time in order to produce as much milk as possible, which means you get all the birth hormones – probably not a good thing for endo. Nature has provided dairy to help baby animals grow. Dairy = growth. Promoting tissue growth is a good thing for infants (breast milk is best) – promoting tissue growth is not a good thing for endometriosis (or cancer).

    • A very good point, regarding the growth-promoting properties of milk!

      With regards to the hormones, aren’t pregnancy hormones actually beneficial for endo? I mean, I’m not sure if the pregnancy hormones in cows are the same as in humans, but I don’t think we should write off something for containing hormones until we are sure that those particular hormones are not beneficial for us. It could be that they actually benefit us, so long as they are naturally occurring and not artificial.

      Just a thought… would love to hear your thoughts, Georgina and/or Melissa πŸ™‚

      P.S. Had no reaction after drinking raw milk yesterday, so I definitely don’t think I have a problem digesting it (unlike pasteurised milk). But still, there could be other reasons to avoid dairy, as mentioned in the other comments. I will continue with my experiment and let you know my findings!

      • Hi Mali,
        My understanding is that cows milk contains growth hormones, which is not something I want for my endo – growth. I can appreciate it would be beneficial if we are trying to grow a large cow but not sure those hormones should be for humans based on that.
        It might also be the quantity that we drink. I know many cultures in africa that do have real milk as part of their diet but it is a rarerity and a special event, rather than a daily thing.

  18. I used to drink Milk Kefir regularly and I seemed to tolerate it well. I think sometimes people react badly due to a die-off reaction (all the good bacteria and good yeasts start killing the bad guys, but they release their toxins into the body when they die). That’s why most protocols recommend introducing any kind of probiotic slowly, starting with a small amount and then gradually building up. When I started with Kefir, I began with a tbsp per day, and gradually worked my way up to 1-2 cups per day. Unfortunately my Kefir culture died and I’m now struggling to find a new one!

    With regards to casein, I think that whether you use raw or pasteurised milk definitely makes a difference. Pasteurised milk is heated in such a fast and unnatural way that it damages the casein proteins and makes them much harder to digest. The casein in raw milk is undamaged and should cause far less (if any) problems.

    I’ve started the endo diet now, but am still debating whether or not to include raw milk. I am able to get high-quality, hormone-free raw milk from grass-fed cows. I believe it to be a very healing food, and considering raw milk is usually quite easily digestible (unlike pasteurised), I’m wondering if its inclusion on the endo diet could actually be beneficial in some cases (despite dairy products being generally prohibited). Anyhow, I’m considering experimenting a bit with this. Would love to hear your thoughts, Melissa!

    Hope you’re well!
    Mali

    • Hi Mali,
      It could be worth trying and really recording the reaction you get in the body from drinking it. I am still questioning the whole idea of drinking cows milk – it is ultimately designed for a calf, really….. but then so is honey and bee pollen. You could be our guinea pig – since you have access to the good stuff πŸ™‚ Let me know how you go πŸ™‚

    • Okay, am having a glass now! Will make a note of any reactions and let you know.

      Although I understand the logic behind the “milk is meant for the calf” theory, I’m not sure I go for it. As you pointed out, there are many foods which don’t appear to be intended for humans, but which have been consumed by us for generations with many benefits. From what I understand (having asked a farmer about this topic) cows naturally produce far more milk than their calves could ever consume alone, which makes me think that perhaps we were intended to make use of the excess. Many cultures throughout the world have long regarded milk from various animals as a sacred and health-giving food. I think it’s likely that pasteurisation (and homogenisation) are to blame for all the adverse reactions that so many people are suffering from milk products these days.

      Just a few thoughts πŸ™‚ I will keep you posted on the raw milk experiment!

    • Thank you so much for your comments. I have been drinking kefir for a few months now, I stop and start because I am getting constipated, and I don’t want to accept that it is the kefir causing my problem. Sadly it is the kefir. I use goats milk and I have been able to buy it raw at times, it makes no difference to my poor bowels. I may just have a table spon a day and see what happens with that. May see if I can find another fluid that is not milk.

      • Hi Dianne,
        I would definitely try a different Kefir. Maybe Coconut Kefir. All you need is to buy Coconut Kefir Grains and then add Coconut Water. It is much easier, less work and you won’t have a bad reaction from it πŸ™‚ At least I didn’t πŸ™‚

      • Hi I have been on Kefir for four years. I was terribly constipated in tbe beginning. I quickly realised that I was consuming too much so strarted again after an interval. By intestine has now built up sufficient healthh bacteria and i can happily drink a glass per day with no negative reaction other than never having a craving for sweet things or alcohol. A good thing!

  19. Hi Melissa,
    Milk also increases calcium loss from the bones. Like all animal protein, milk acidifies the body pH which in turn triggers a correction. Calcium is an acid neutralizer and the biggest storage of calcium in the body is in the bones. So the very same calcium that our bones need to stay strong is used to neutralize the acidifying effect of milk. Once calcium is pulled out of the bones, it leaves the body via the urine, so that the surprising net result after this is an actual calcium deficit.
    That’s why countries with the highest consumption of dairy products also have the highest incidence of osteoporosis and bone fracture. So you made the right choice in drinking coconut kefir over milk kefir.

    If you want to know more about how casein affects your health I recommend a book called “The China Study” by Colin Campbell. Ever since I’ve made the changes detailed in this book my endometriosis pain has disappeared and I am certain that I am on the right path to healing.

  20. amount is also key. people make the mistake when drinking milk keffir of drinking too much. i only have say 1.5ins worth in a small glass daily. i believe that is enough to get the probiotic value without having too much dairy. i don’t think as adults we should we drinking lots of milk and i find when i do that it makes me very lethargis. there are other fruit juices/bases you can use – even water! so whichever way works is good. i do think its important to use a decent culture which will not be defined as milk keffir or otherwise – it will be useable in any liquid form. i am not convinced that health shops sell quality keffir as there are storage issues. it needs to be kept alive to be powerful, in my view.

  21. Hi Melissa, did you use pasteurized cow’s milk for your kefir? I wonder though if we could use raw milk to make it and if it will have the same effect. Or maybe we can use goat’s milk and I prefer it raw though.

    • Hi Beth,
      Yeah, I did wonder that one too. I am keen to give it another go with Raw Milk once it is easier to find – they sell it at the Borough Market in London. I have heard you can even make it with Almond Milk. The coconut kefir seems to be agreeing perfectly so far… 2 days into it πŸ™‚

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