Your Frequently Asked Questions about Kefir - Answered!
Q. What is kefir?
A. Kefir is a type of sour fermented milk, similar to plain yogurt or lassi, that originated in Eastern Europe. It is more runny than yogurt and has a tart creamy flavour, and contains many beneficial yeasts and good probiotic bacteria.
Q. What is kefir made from?
A. Kefir is traditionally made with dairy milk such as cow's milk, goat's milk, and sheep milk. The milk is fermented using “starter” kefir grains (like how sourdough bread has a “starter”). This starter is a symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeasts, also known as a SCOBY.
Recently kefir can also be made with non-dairy alternatives such as coconut milk, soya milk or nut milk. However, because the grains and bacteria have evolved to live in dairy milk, non-dairy alternatives will have lesser strains of probiotics.
Q. What is difference between kefir and yogurt?
A. Yogurt has about 1-4 strains of bacteria, while kefir contains over 35 beneficial bacteria and yeasts, making it much higher in probiotic content and much more powerful.
Contains good bacteria that will colonize the intestinal tract and remain in the body.
Helps eliminate and strengthen the body against pathogens and parasites.
Nutrients, minerals and vitamins are much easier to digest and absorb compared to milk and yogurt.
Helps IBS and autoimmune allergies like eczema.
Bacteria help to keep the digestive system clean but will pass through immediately.
Does not have antibacterial properties.
Nutrients are harder to absorb.
Does not treat IBS and eczema.
Q. Can I take kefir if I'm lactose intolerant?
A. Yes! Because of the way kefir is fermented, it is nearly lactose-free and most people who are lactose intolerant can drink kefir. In fact, the bacteria in kefir create enzymes that help digest lactose, and many of our customers report that after drinking kefir regularly, they can tolerate normal milk (such as in coffee or ice cream) much better.
Q. I'm allergic to milk. Can I take kefir?
A. If you have a milk allergy, also known as casein allergy, anything containing milk proteins will cause hives, itching or rashes. Milk kefir made from animal milk will trigger an allergic reaction. Even non-dairy kefir such as coconut milk kefir or nut kefir may cause a reaction if they are fermented with dairy-grown kefir grains. Please avoid milk kefir and take only 100% dairy-free kefir, water kefir, or kombucha.
Q. Do you have 100% dairy-free milk kefir?
A. Our milk kefirs are made from dairy and our coconut milk kefir contains traces of dairy as we use grains grown in cow's milk. For cases where you need 100% dairy-free kefir because of casein allergy or vegan lifestyle, we recommend to take water kefir or kombucha.
Q. I'm new. How much kefir should I take?
A. For beginners we recommend to start slow - 4 tablespoons or 60ml, before slowly increasing to half cup (120ml) daily. This is because some people experience gas, bloating or loose bowels when they first take kefir. This is known as "healing crisis" where the good bacteria kill off the bad bacteria which release toxins. Drink plenty of water to flush out the toxins and the body should adjust within a few days.
Q. When should I take kefir?
A. You can take it anytime during the day, on full or empty stomach. Some people like to take it in the morning as part of breakfast. If you take it at night, you will find that it helps to calm sleep. Note: for those with gastric or acid reflux, it is better to take it after lining your stomach, as the cold temperature and sourness of the kefir may cause discomfort.
Q. How much kefir should I take a day? What is the maximum amount of kefir?
A. For normal consumption (no specific health issues), you can get the benefits of kefir from half a cup (120ml) a day to one cup (240ml) a day. If you are cleansing, fighting Candida, or trying to treat acne or eczema, you can take 320ml per day for 2 weeks, then reduce as the symptoms improve. There is no maximum daily amount as kefir is not harmful, but we don't recommend to exceed 1L a day as too much kefir may cause loose bowels and gas.
Q. Can children take kefir? How much should they take?
A. If your child is above 1 year and can eat Greek yogurt, he/she will also be able to take kefir, starting with 1 teaspoon and not exceeding 100ml per day. For children 2-4 years, start with 1 tablespoon or Chinese soup spoon, up to one cup per day. Older children can take more but in general one cup of kefir daily is sufficient for the benefits.
Q. Is kefir suitable for pregnant or breastfeeding mothers?
A. Yes. In Eastern Europe and Russia, pregnant and breast-feeding mothers are in fact recommended to drink kefir as it is full of easily absorbed nutrients essential for babies - protein, calcium, magnesium, potassium, and Vitamins A, B and K. The probiotics strengthen the mother's immune system and these benefits will be passed on to the baby.
Q. Is kefir safe for diabetics?
A. Yes, plain or non-sugar kefir is an excellent food for diabetics as there is very little lactose left and hence it will not spike blood sugar.
Q. Does kefir contain alcohol?
A. Kefir contains a negligible amount of alcohol from the beneficial yeasts (less than 0.5%), which is considered non-alcoholic by the FDA as it is metabolized as soon as you consume it.
Q. How many probiotics are in kefir? How many CFU?
A. Kefir contains over 35 strains of bacteria and yeasts, but because it is a live and natural fermentation the strains and concentrations of probiotics differ from bottle to bottle. However, the key bacteria are Lactobacillus, Lactococcus, Leuconostoc, Streptococcus, and Saccharomyces and Kluyveromyces yeast.
According to this research article, lactobacilli and lactococci are present at levels of 10 billion cfu, yeasts for 10 million cfu, and acetic acid bacteria for 100 million cfu per 100ml respectively.
Q. What milk do you use?
A. For our normal milk kefir, we use pasteurized fresh cow's milk from Australia. For our goat's milk, we use lightly pasteurized fresh milk from Singapore's Hay Dairies. All our milk is free from antibiotics and hormones.
Q. How long does kefir keep?
A. Kefir contains live bacteria and must be kept refrigerated. Left outside, it will overferment and curdle within a day. In the fridge at around 5C, it keeps up to 3 weeks, getting more sour and runny as time goes by due to the live bacteria continuing to ferment (but very slowly). If the fridge is very cold, the kefir can still be consumed after the Best Before Date, although the number of bacteria will be much lesser.
Kefir can also be frozen and stored for up to 2 months, but the number of live bacteria will be significantly reduced, plus the texture will become icy and separated when melted. If you freeze kefir, we recommend that you use it for smoothies or for cooking.
Q. Do you sell kefir grains?
A. No, we sell only ready to drink kefir and kefir products like kefir yogurt parfaits, kefir soft serve and kefir-baked scones. If you are looking for kefir grains in Singapore, you may wish to try this Facebook group called Kefir Grains Blessing SG where people share their extra grains.
Q. I heard milk kefir is good for dogs / cats. How much should I feed them?
A. Yes, kefir is great for dogs' digestion and helps improve their bowels movements and skin, including itchy rashes. Start with 1 teaspoon for small dogs up to 5kg, and you can go up to 2 tablespoons. For bigger dogs please scale proportionally by weight.
For cats, you have to start very slowly because many cats have dairy sensitivity. Please give half teaspoon first for 3 days. Loose bowels at the beginning is normal, but if the cat vomits or has bad diarrhea, please stop the kefir immediately and provide water. If your cat seems to be all right, then you can give up to 1 teaspoon daily.