Is Kefir Good for Acid Reflux?

Kefir is a cultured milk drink with a thick, creamy consistency, served plain or flavored. Traditionally, it's prepared by combining fresh milk with Kefir culture, which is made up of living yeasts and bacteria. It's these live cultures that provide Kefir with many health benefits, including helping soothe acid reflux and other gastrointestinal symptoms. These beneficial bacteria, known collectively as probiotics, may help counteract acid reflux triggers.

Homemade kefir in a bowl. (Image: miki-tiger/iStock/Getty Images)

Acid Reflux Basics

Acid reflux is a common problem in America, with 25 to 35 percent of Americans experiencing it at least once a month. It can be triggered by diet, stress, smoking, caffeine, alcohol, food sensitivities, and changes in gut bacteria. Many people reach for over-the-counter medications, drugs that are collectively called proton pump inhibitors. But diet and lifestyle changes could also help put a stop to acid reflux.

Reflux Triggers

Sometimes the root cause of acid reflux is as simple as the kinds of foods you eat. Common reflux triggers include fried foods, spicy foods, citrus, tomato-based foods, alcohol and caffeine. In addition, being overweight, not digesting food well, getting too little magnesium, and food sensitivities may trigger reflux. An overgrowth of bad bacteria in the stomach can also help cause acid reflux. Such bacterial imbalances may stem from taking antibiotics or eating a diet high in sugar and processed food.

Kefir's Good Bacteria

Because it is fermented, Kefir is rich in enzymes and probiotics. Kefir cultures are made of lactic acid bacteria and yeasts, both friendly microorganisms that aid the digestive system and help stop the growth of harmful bacteria in the stomach. Kefir generally contains several major strains of probiotics, including Lactobacillus and Streptococcus. These probiotics are similar, but not identical, to those found in yogurt.

Probiotics Against Reflux

Lactobaccillus has been found to be very effective at alleviating problems such as acid reflux, according to Jordan Rubin, author of "The Great Physician's Rx for Heartburn and Acid Reflux." The results of a 2011 study found Lactobaccillus to be a promising treatment for rats with gastroesophageal reflux disease. Because reflux has many different triggers, no one-size solution exists. But Lactobaccillus and other beneficial bacteria in Kefir could prove helpful in thwarting acid reflux symptoms.

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