Milk Kefir and its Effect on Irritable Bowel

Irritable bowel syndrome or inflammatory bowel disease is a serious and recurrent digestive functional disorder characterized by stomach pain, abdominal distension, changes in the evacuatory pattern and even the presentation of gastroenteritis as a previous antecedent to the aforementioned symptoms.

This disease has a great impact on the quality of life of people due to all the symptoms that this condition entails and that alters the comfort in the health of those who suffer from this situation.

Before starting to describe whether milk kefir helps improve this disease or not, it is important that users understand what are the different factors that develop this internal disorder.

Among the factors that produce irritable bowel we have: alterations in intestinal motility, that is, the movements of the intestine that it performs to achieve the expulsion of feces until the end of the colon, persistent inflammation of the intestine and hypersensitivity of this organ in possible responses to external factors that may be dairy products,  spicy and fatty.  [1]

While we know that probiotics provide health benefits, it is necessary to mention that not all probiotics are recommended for certain diseases, and for this reason we will break down the effects that kefir can have with irritable bowel.

Could milk kefir cure irritable bowel?

Milk kefir is a product rich in probiotics, and although it provides health benefits, it can not cure irritable bowel since the  main cause of irritable bowel is the alteration of bowel movements, they usually become slow and that is why it causes changes in evacuatory patterns that can be diarrhea such as constipation or both,  And milk kefir has no effect on bowel movements.  

This food could alleviate some symptoms that produce the disease such as diarrhea and intestinal inflammation due to certain microbial strains containing kefir grains that help modulate the intestinal flora and the immune system. [2]

Recent studies of bacterial genomics determined that patients suffering from this condition have a bacterial alteration or overgrowth. Although the issue is still under debate, some in vivo studies were able to demonstrate the existence of the alteration of the intestinal flora.  [3]

This evidence supports the use of probiotics in the treatment of irritable bowel, but as a supportive treatment. [1]

Another important aspect to mention is that there are no proven studies in humans on the beneficial effect of probiotics in food, only positive results have been obtained in studies with mice affected by the disease.

What are the milk kefir probiotics that could relieve IBS symptoms?

The most common probiotic microorganisms to help fight diarrhea, intestinal inflammation, and acute gastroenteritis are:

  1. Lactobacillus.
  2. Bifidobacteria.
  3. Saccharomyces.
  4. Streptococcus.

These same microorganisms are what are found in kefir grains as well as regulating the intestinal microbiota, stimulating the immune system and even as an anti-inflammatory method.

Importantly, this still needs to be studied in individuals, as for now this anti-inflammatory activity has been proven only in animal studies. [5]

And in such a case that this anti-inflammatory effect was verifiable in humans, it is important to mention that not all bacterial strains have this same effect, certain probiotic strains such as Bifidobacterium, lactobacilli and Streptococcus salivarus act in the irritable bowel through the modification of the  balance of inflammatory cytokines produced by the alteration of the intestinal microbiota.  [4]

Especially there are studies in animal models where the presence of Lactobacillus Kefiri, is attributed the greatest anti-inflammatory property and has had a modulating effect on the intestinal flora in these experiments in mice.

There are even studies where the presence of pathogenic bacteria such as invasive Escherichia Coli have been observed in humans, and certain microbial strains such as Lactobacillus specifically have an antimicrobial effect against this bacterium. [1]

Can you take milk kefir if you suffer from irritable bowel?

As for the diet, dairy products are usually seen as an external factor in the symptoms of irritable bowel, it is even common to find people intolerant to this type of food.

In practical terms, the consumption of milk kefir is compatible with irritable bowel without even causing secondary problems, moreover, complementing with the information of the segments above, it can be useful for the control of symptoms.

Now, many people complain that dairy products exacerbate the symptoms of irritable bowel, so if this is your case, although we have just told you that there would be no problem, it may be good to consider alternative fermented foods.

That is why it is important that users know how their body reacts to each food they eat, as a kind of careful history of foods to identify which may contribute to symptoms, if among these are dairy products should be eliminated within the diet to consume.

For example, in my case, refined carbohydrates cause me to sneeze, but I can consume them without any problems. The important thing is that I was able to identify this consequence that makes me consume this type of carbohydrate much less frequently.

One recommendation is that if you want to ingest kefir to help relieve certain symptoms or raise your immune system do it with a small dose of about 100ml, and increase little over time, so that your body gets used to this food.

Or you can replace milk kefir with other probiotics such as water-based kefir or kombucha tea in small doses, which as you may have noticed, on this website kombucha is on a pedestal.

Can milk kefir make irritable bowel worse?

As explained in the previous question, it can worsen the digestive symptoms of the disease in people who have a bad relationship with dairy products, especially in those who are allergic to this type of products.

On the other hand, if you suffer from lactose intolerance, you can probably withstand the consumption of kefir quite well, since lactose is the necessary fuel for fermentation to produce lactic acid, and we will talk about this in depth on another occasion.

Now if you are one of the few people who does not make you any unfavorable reaction this type of product, you could drink this drink quietly.

In clinical trials, it has been seen how Bifidobacterium have improved symptoms such as abdominal pain, or sensations such as bloating, incomplete evacuation, or simply abdominal distension. This trial was conducted on 362 women with irritable bowel syndrome, so kefir is closer to improving than worsening IBS symptoms. [6]

If you still have doubts, the recommendation is that you consume another type of fermented that is not related to milk, for example, sauerkraut, water kefir, rejuvelac and a lot more that contain probiotics of the Lactobacillus strain.

Can milk kefir be consumed as monotherapy for irritable bowel?

Probiotics are generally included as an alternative treatment or therapy due to their various benefits to the body, milk kefir is no exception.

Since milk kefir has no effect on curing this condition and according to several scientific publications there is the possibility of appeasing certain symptoms in relation to this disease, it can be used as a complementary therapy.

Now, as a precaution it should not be used as monotherapy, rather used as support with a diet indicated especially for this condition by a health professional in nutrition and the inclusion of physical exercises to help bowel movements in order to improve your quality of life in the subject of health.

There is very little data proving that the use of probiotics as a single treatment is useful in this condition, and its use in people are controversial, for the same reason its usefulness in combination with pharmacological treatment is suggested.  [5]

In summary, if you want to consume milk kefir, I recommend that you do it in a very conscious way that is to improve certain symptoms that have been described above together with a healthy diet and specific for the condition, complemented with physical exercises such as healthy habits and medications that correspond to the disease said by a health professional.

Following all these steps described as therapy, there is a high potential to improve the quality of life in relation to this disease.

What is the recommended dose to consume milk kefir if I suffer from irritable bowel?

There is no scientific information about a specific amount in terms of the dose to ingest of this product, there is very little information on the Internet regarding this topic. While it is known that health systems worldwide recommend the consumption of probiotics at adequate dosages to obtain the health benefits, they do not mention the exact amount.

However, there are studies that are oriented on the effects of kefir in humans and recommend a dose of 180 ml to 400 ml daily for up to 12 weeks, there are other publications on the internet which advise consumption starting with a minimum dose. I would especially recommend consuming between those amounts and increasing according to the tolerance of the person without exceeding 300 ml daily.

It should be noted that we are in a somewhat delicate issue because gastritis is not the same as the consumption of dairy products does not cause the activation of symptoms unlike irritable bowel where there is a high potential to activate the symptoms of the disease by consuming milk-based kefir with more reason sand must take care of the amount to consume of this product.

With this aside, we end this article, and we continue to invite you to know.