Kefir, which is a healthy beverage containing live probiotics, has garnered traction on being a natural laxative, so today we’re going to be discussing how true this statement is. Does Kefir help you poop?
To start off the basic components you should have for having good bowel movement, are usually good fibre intake, plenty of water and regular exercise.
That said, let’s see how kefir ties in with these components.
Here are some studies that have been done on kefir, studying its effects on the GI tract.
Studies on the effect of Kefir on Bowel Movement
Does Kefir help you poop?: FIRST STUDY
Research has found that probiotics slow down ‘gut transit time’ by 12.4 hours, which increases the number of weekly bowel movements by 1.3, as well as soften stools making them easier to pass along the GI tract. In simple terms, probiotics helped alleviate the severity of constipation.
This was particularly true for Bifidobacterium infantis, a friendly bacterium usually found in lactic acid. It is produced naturally in kefir.
Does Kefir help you poop?: SECOND STUDY
A study from Turkey gave 20 patients (10 with constipation and 10 with normal bowel movement) kefir twice daily for 4 weeks. 50% of the participants with constipation reported having normal stool after the 4-week trial. Overall, kefir helped increase stool frequency and consistency and the participants also rated a higher satisfaction. (Yemoos)
Interestingly, the 10 participants that had normal bowel movement, stated that there was no change in their stool consistency. So even though kefir may alleviate constipation, it did not cause people who have normal bowel movements to get diarrhoea or softer stools. This shows more of a balancing of the gut rather than purely a laxative effect.
So maybe kefir does help you poop.
Does Kefir help you poop?: THIRD STUDY
Another small study researched giving kefir to disabled people.
Because of their lack of ability to move, constipation is more common among the disabled. Out of the 11 people given kefir, 4 of them showed significant improvement in bowel movements. Two of the 4 showed huge improvement almost immediately after drinking kefir.
Does Kefir help you poop?: FOURTH STUDY
A study on keferin (the slimy stuff on the grains), shows that it too helps alleviate constipation.
It was a study on mice. After ingesting keferin, they showed improvements in constipation due to greater faecal moisture.
Does Kefir help you poop?
While kefir doesn’t contain fibre in itself, it does contain probiotics, which are the healthy bacteria that live naturally within your gastrointestinal tract. (Happy Gut Pro)
Having enough good bacteria in the GI tract helps break down stool into more manageable sizes.
So does kefir help you poop? Kinda, it doesn’t directly cure the constipation, it does help the gut better do its job.
Did you know, that we have over 100 trillion bacterium living in us at any given time. These bacteria release essential enzymes that aid digestion and breakdown of our food.
If our body’s bacteria population suffers, our health will suffer as well.
It may lead to constipation, irritable bowel syndrome, weakened immune system, the list goes on.
Can eating Kefir Grains help with Constipation?
Currently there are no studies confirming this. However, there’s been plenty of anecdotal evidence. I would say that there’s no harm trying 🙂
Does Kefir Cause Constipation?
Most often, kefir relieves constipation and does not cause it.
But of course there are exceptions. The gut microbiome is extremely complex after all, and things that work on some people might have the opposing effect on others.
There are claims that milk kefir that underwent 12 hours of fermentation has a mild laxative effect whereas milk kefir that undergoes 36 to 48 hours of fermentation may cause constipation. But this study cannot be confirmed.
However, there is some sense in this.
According to research, a little bit of acid might help peristalsis (digestive movement), but too much acid may not and may even contribute to constipation.
So perhaps that’s why 36 to 48 hour ferments may cause constipation because longer ferments certainly have more acids, yet not necessarily more probiotics.
Can you drink TOO MUCH Kefir?
The best amount of kefir to consume per day is roughly 250ml.
Too much kefir may cause constipation that is most likely due to consuming large amounts of acids, or consuming large amounts of protein without fibre (in the case of drinking milk kefir) which is also seen when people drink too much milk.
Why We Should Include Probiotics into our Diet
Our current food selection
To have a variety of gut bacteria, which implies great gut health, our diet needs to be very diverse.
Unfortunately, our modern diet is full of sugar and simple carbs, which is exactly what promotes bad bacteria over the good bacteria.
Over time, our bodies become accustomed to this diet and this slowly kills off our body’s healthy bacteria population. Chronic constipation is one of many symptoms.
Once you reach this stage it can be hard to introduce healthy bacteria. Your best option is to eat more vegetables and fruit and deliberately add probiotic-rich foods to your meals.
Many of us are chronically dehydrated.
Liquids are essential in preventing our stool from becoming too hard to pass easily through our digestive tract.
A lack of fluids will cause your large intestine to soak up water from your food waste making it difficult to pass the stool.
Water kefir helps both on the dehydration front, as well as providing the probiotic enzymes that help break down stool as it passes through your GI tract.
Taking antibiotics over a long period of time can have an adverse effect on our gut bacteria population. They kill both the good and the bad bacteria.
So try to avoid taking them, but if you have to, combat their effects by consuming fermented foods at the same time.
Can Kefir Give You Diarrhea?
You might actually get a bad bout of stomach ache or diarrhoea if you’ve never taken kefir before. Don’t be alarmed. It’s rather normal, and here’s why this happens.
When you drink kefir, it introduces over 40 billion strains of live probiotics to your digestive tract.
This flushes out bad bacteria and repopulates your gut with good bacteria. Hence the loose stool.
Once your gut is repopulated with good bacteria, the diarrhoea stabilizes and you will begin going more regularly.
You will also begin to experience less bloating, clearer skin, better immunity, more energy and a better well-being overall.
If you are new to kefir, you’d want to ease into it over a few days, especially if you rarely consume fermented foods, and your gut health is questionable.
Try drinking 80ml of milk or water kefir a day until your stomach issues subside. Then proceed to taking more and more until you can drink about 250ml per day with no side effects. That would be the recommended amount of kefir to take.
Well, that’s about it on poop.
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