Probably the biggest question asked from people starting out is - how much kefir should I drink each day?
The short answer is to drink as much as it feels right for your body. Easier said then done though right?
As adults, most of us are raised to ignore body cues. The things we crave are usually sugary or fatty things. To make things even more confusing, what about the effects of detoxing? We are told that feeling discomfort is good and needed in order to feel better. Does that apply to kefir?
Or if you are simply looking for a magic starting number then around 1 cup per day (or a little more for water kefir) is a rough average, but more on that later on.
Kefir is a natural food, highly nutritious and soothing
Many people think of kefir as medicine and want to know what the correct dosage is for optimal health. I've heard back from many people over the years telling me how much kefir has helped them, so even though it has healing properties, its still a food. A natural food with no manufactured ingredients, extra sugar, fake sugars or MSG's that can trick your body. Your body is quite capable of knowing how much is right for you if you listen.
If you like bananas, you know what its like to crave one, but usually no more than one. That 2nd banana just feels too much. Kefir is like that.
You are on the right track if you crave kefir like you would a cup full of yogurt or your favorite natural fruit.
If you look at the jar of kefir and cringe like its some horrible medicine that you have to endure, then something is not right. Either the kefir is not balanced right or you are drinking too much for your body.
For some people, it may come as a shock but kefir should always be pleasant even to people not used to drinking kefir. If it's not pleasant, then its not optimally balanced or its over-fermented. I've seen very picky young kids drink a well-balanced kefir for the first time and they love it. That's how it should be when done right. Some people want to over ferment in order to squeeze as much health benefits out of it. I believe it should be enjoyable and pleasant first and that will ultimately give you the greatest health benefit overall.
Warning signs that you may be drinking too much
Most people generally do not have any negative symptoms when drinking kefir. But it is fairly common to have minor symptoms when starting out, especially if you have a sensitive digestion. I was in that category when starting out.
The most common symptom of drinking kefir is bloating, gas or some kind of stomach discomfort that's temporary. Kefir typically has a peristalsis effect that causes digestive movement. However, sometimes, especially if you drink too much, the acids can slow down digestive movement. The result can be more bloating or gas starting out until you body adapts. It should be minor discomfort. If its significant, stop or cut way back until you feel better and then slowly increase from there if it feels right to you.
If you get a significant reaction from drinking kefir, you may be reacting to the yeasts, lactose, probiotics or acids within the kefir.
Yeast gets a bad name sometimes, but it can be as much a probiotic as the bacteria. Kefir is not just yeast, its a healthy balance between the bacteria and yeast. For some people that balance helps people with yeast issues as we have heard back from people. However, everyone is different and some people have trouble tolerating even small amounts of yeast. We've known people with yeast issues that report back that kefir helps them, but everyone is different.
Kefir does have lactose, but its usually less than yogurt. If you can handle yogurt okay, you should be fine with kefir.
Sometimes the probiotics itself is causing issues. If you have significant gut lining issues or a bad case of leaky gut, then the bacteria and yeast might get through the lining. At that point, it doesn't matter to the body the it's considered good bacteria, the body will still react to any bacteria or yeast that gets through the lining. It's usually more than just bloating or stomach discomfort, its more of a feeling of unwell, sick or inflamed.
If you know or highly suspect leaky gut, then we recommend healing the gut at least to some degree before drinking too much kefir.
Some people with SIBO may have issues as well as there is already an overgrowth of bacteria and adding more can cause more issues.
What about detoxing or herxheimer reactions?
Detoxing or 'herxheimer' is when the body is basically cleaning house or healing and getting rid of all sorts of bad bacteria, yeast, fungi, etc. The process can be overwhelming and cause symptoms that make you feel sick. Kefir has many detoxifying properties, but overall it should be a rather gentle process and temporary. Usually much gentler than kombucha. It has more soothing nourishing type qualities.
Some people may feel a little flushed or feverish starting out and that's usually okay, but if it's too intense, you may be reacting to something and its best to take a step back and indulge more slowly.
How much on average do most people drink per day?
At some point I'm going to put up a poll and get an official average number, but it seems like the unofficial range is about 1/2 cup to 2 cups per day. This comes from the customer feedback, forum discussion and our own personal observations. The magic number for milk kefir seems to be about 1 cup or a little more. I have heard back from a couple people who drink up to around 4 cups per day, which seems like quite a lot for milk kefir. We don't know of anyone who drinks more than that.
What about water kefir and ginger beer?
Water kefir and ginger beer plant tend to be more mild (especially water kefir), so drinking a larger quantity is more common. The range seems to be about 1-4 cups with 1-2 cups being the most common. It's also more common to drink up to 4 cups, but probably not much more than that.
What about kombucha?
Homemade kombucha can be quite potent, especially due to the very low pH. Consuming that much acid content can be difficult for some. The FDA says only 4 ounces per day is safe. Due to its acidity and detoxifying properties, drinking less is recommended. Probably around 1/2 cup (or a little more if you are used to it) each day.
Store bought kombucha is a bit different. It's a weaker version of the homemade kind, so consuming more of it should not be an issue.
The amount of kefir you should drink ultimately depends on the individual. Kefir is a natural nutritious food, so it's okay to trust yourself to know how much to drink. Just like eating one banana usually sounds great, but that 2nd banana usually does not for most people. Kefir is like that, you will crave it in small quantities, typically around 1 cup per day. The average is around 1/2 cup to 2 cups per day. Water kefir is more mild, so people tend to drink a little more each day.
Kefir is soothing nutritious food and not primarily a detox food. So if you have significant symptoms, it may be something you are sensitive to. It's recommended to cut way back and then slowly increase only if it feels good to you.
How much kefir do you drink each day?