12

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How does kefir get past stomach acid?

Answered on September 19, 2017
Created January 08, 2012 at 12:48 AM

I've been making my own kefir for several weeks now. Tasty stuff, but I'm wondering...do all those probiotic bacteria really survive the environment of the stomach to then populate the large and small intestines? I've read that probiotic supplements come in capsules that are designed to delay release until after the journey through the stomach, and if that's necessary for them to work, how can "unprotected" real food probiotics make it that far?

Ed7403e397077dd1acdbf25c7f6e56ce

(3452)

on March 01, 2013
at 02:03 PM

I've been led to believe that acidic foods have a paradoxical effect on GI pH. Apparently, the addition of acidic foods gives the stomach a reason to not produce as much acid. Whereas a primarily alkaline food will cause the stomach to produce more acid in order to keep the balance.

A7768b6c6be7f5d6acc76e5efa66464c

on January 15, 2012
at 03:10 AM

Another reason why the germiphobia/obsessive hand sanitizer/anti-bacterial soap business is madness!

A7768b6c6be7f5d6acc76e5efa66464c

on January 15, 2012
at 03:09 AM

This actually sounds kind of plausible to me. All the times I made paneer (the Indian cheese used in curries), I never thought of this action on dairy in the stomach. It makes me wonder what happens to dairy in all the people who are on acid blockers (like PPIs), who have high-pH stomachs.

96bf58d8c6bd492dc5b8ae46203fe247

(37227)

on January 15, 2012
at 02:47 AM

Here's a great video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p-t9C7PoBRc and I have info--see my profile if desired.

96bf58d8c6bd492dc5b8ae46203fe247

(37227)

on January 15, 2012
at 02:46 AM

@Sue H: here's a great video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p-t9C7PoBRc and I have a write-up on my blog (see my profile if desired.)

662a4ea915eb7c758bdd797d77ead7b6

(656)

on January 15, 2012
at 12:45 AM

How do you make water Kefir?

Fb67dc30cead043d1d13ea503a3044dc

(3280)

on January 08, 2012
at 02:23 AM

Woo hoo! Here's to no regrets!

96bf58d8c6bd492dc5b8ae46203fe247

(37227)

on January 08, 2012
at 02:22 AM

I should mention, since I bragged about eating ice cream, that I managed to lose a little weight over Christmas. So, as Stabby said, "I HAVE NO REGRETS!"

96bf58d8c6bd492dc5b8ae46203fe247

(37227)

on January 08, 2012
at 02:16 AM

All right, TeaElf! Another member in the club!

Fb67dc30cead043d1d13ea503a3044dc

(3280)

on January 08, 2012
at 02:14 AM

Hey Nance -- I took your advice on starting slow with the kefir this time. MUCH better, thank you! I'm enjoying it now. :)

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17 Answers

10
96bf58d8c6bd492dc5b8ae46203fe247

(37227)

on January 08, 2012
at 02:05 AM

I've done a ton of reading. I don't disagree with anything said above but I will add a little:

  • I've read that the types of probiotics found in good quality yogurt are helpful but do not normally colonize the gut; if you stop eating yogurt, the benefits gradually fade.
  • Both types of kefir, dairy and water, have MANY more types of probiotics than yogurt. There is some evidence that kefir can change the gene expression of gut flora in positive ways and there is some evidence that some of the kefir probiotics can colonize the gut.
  • I read of a research study in which scientists were amazed that kefir made in unsanitary conditions by pastoral peoples didn't contain any "dangerous" bugs. They actually injected a batch of kefir with pathogens and 3 days later (I think that was the interval) the bad bugs were gone, apparently killed.

Now my anecdotal experience. As Anonymous Chump said, when I started drinking water kefir I was very careful and drank only a tablespoon full for the first few days. Even so, I definitely felt changes going on in my gut. I now drink a small amount of first-brew and 1 or 2 bottles of carbonated water kefir every day.

One year ago, I could not eat ice cream or yogurt; even trace amounts of yogurt upset my stomach in a fairly violent way. This Christmas, I ate a pint of ice cream on several different days with no symptoms; I now eat 1/2 a cup of home-made lively yogurt every day with no symptoms.

I can only conclude that some of those bugs are making it through my stomach! Actually, I can't speak for dairy kefir but water kefir is a watery liquid and if you drink it on an empty stomach it doesn't spend much time there and acid/bile levels should be at their lowest.

96bf58d8c6bd492dc5b8ae46203fe247

(37227)

on January 08, 2012
at 02:22 AM

I should mention, since I bragged about eating ice cream, that I managed to lose a little weight over Christmas. So, as Stabby said, "I HAVE NO REGRETS!"

Fb67dc30cead043d1d13ea503a3044dc

(3280)

on January 08, 2012
at 02:23 AM

Woo hoo! Here's to no regrets!

Fb67dc30cead043d1d13ea503a3044dc

(3280)

on January 08, 2012
at 02:14 AM

Hey Nance -- I took your advice on starting slow with the kefir this time. MUCH better, thank you! I'm enjoying it now. :)

96bf58d8c6bd492dc5b8ae46203fe247

(37227)

on January 08, 2012
at 02:16 AM

All right, TeaElf! Another member in the club!

96bf58d8c6bd492dc5b8ae46203fe247

(37227)

on January 15, 2012
at 02:46 AM

@Sue H: here's a great video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p-t9C7PoBRc and I have a write-up on my blog (see my profile if desired.)

662a4ea915eb7c758bdd797d77ead7b6

(656)

on January 15, 2012
at 12:45 AM

How do you make water Kefir?

96bf58d8c6bd492dc5b8ae46203fe247

(37227)

on January 15, 2012
at 02:47 AM

Here's a great video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p-t9C7PoBRc and I have info--see my profile if desired.

6
Fb67dc30cead043d1d13ea503a3044dc

(3280)

on January 08, 2012
at 01:36 AM

This is what I've learned from word-of-mouth: Plenty of them die, but some of them make it. They're hearty little bugs, and they also reproduce very fast (as all bacteria do). So even if only a few make it, they can quickly populate your gut from the luckiest/toughest survivors.

Commercial strains of probiotics aren't as tough; they're living in processed foods and/or have been heavily processed themselves, and so are weak by the time you bring them home and eat them. That's why probiotic supplements need help in the form of encapsulation. I've also read that commercial yogurts and kefirs often cannot deliver on the promised probiotics because the bugs just cannot survive.

I don't have actual research links. But I know that kefir is doing something in there -- when I drink too much at once, I sure know it. Some pretty epic bacterial battles occur when I send in a ton of troops!

Edit to provide an interesting quote from Wikipedia:

"Both kefir and yogurt improve lactose digestion simply because some of the bacterial cells give up their lives in the intestinal tract, release their enzymes and digest the lactose. It's a one-shot deal. However, kefir has additional microorganisms that may be able to colonize the intestines and benefit health further by protecting the intestine against disease-causing bacteria." -ScienceDaily. 2003-05-30.

...so they are making it to your intestinal tract, but most of them die there; however, kefir has so many types of bacteria that some types just might take up residence and keep helping you out.

5
6120c989fd5b69f42a0834b69b87955b

(24553)

on January 15, 2012
at 12:35 AM

Fun fact: Babies are born with sterile guts, and slowly build up their gut flora via their digestive tracts by interacting with their world, be it going through the birth canal, nursing, licking and sticking random objects in their mouths, etc.

So, through the mouth is the normal route by which we alter and supplement the critters in our gut. Like others have said, I think it is a numbers game, and if you have that kefir on a regular basis, a certain amount will make it through the stomach acid gauntlet and start to colonize.

A7768b6c6be7f5d6acc76e5efa66464c

on January 15, 2012
at 03:10 AM

Another reason why the germiphobia/obsessive hand sanitizer/anti-bacterial soap business is madness!

4
9dd4d453f7ebd7fd2a82814d08fc8f17

on January 14, 2012
at 11:19 PM

this is my own theory

ever added an acidic liquid to milk? the milk curdles. in fact, my mom once told me when milk gets to the stomach, it turns into pieces of semi-solid jellies, as she had seen me vomiting up the stuff as that (i vomited alot as a kid). and as i recall, i once added lemon juice to milk and it become a little jell-like. so here's my theory: fermented milk goes into stomach, meets stomach acid, curdles and forms semi-solid pockets of jellies which contain the probiotics, and due to the fact that the stomach only churns the pockets never get damages and the probiotics never get released until somewhere in the intestine with other digestive juices added to the mix. what do u guys think of this theory?

A7768b6c6be7f5d6acc76e5efa66464c

on January 15, 2012
at 03:09 AM

This actually sounds kind of plausible to me. All the times I made paneer (the Indian cheese used in curries), I never thought of this action on dairy in the stomach. It makes me wonder what happens to dairy in all the people who are on acid blockers (like PPIs), who have high-pH stomachs.

2
F5b1324e09f64fc849c4b1ce97abfce1

on January 30, 2013
at 10:34 PM

Has anyone ever heard of h. Pylori? It's the bacteria that causes most stomach ulcers. It's a relatively recent discovery that the stomach is not actually a sterile environment. There are bacteria that can live and even thrive in the stomach. I wouldn't be surprised if more bacteria than we thought are able to pass through alive.

2
Da3d4a6835c0f5256b2ef829b3ba3393

on January 08, 2012
at 01:44 AM

"These bacteria are not highly acid-and bile-resistant, with only 15% surviving the passage through the stomach and about 1% reaching the large intestine, 70 where they fail to colonize"

link text

link text

"The term probiotic refers to live microorganisms that reside in the gastrointestinal tract and have beneficial effects on the host (De Simone et al. 1991; Lee and Salminen 1995). More than four hundred species of bacteria are estimated to survive in the gastrointestinal tract and these endogenous bacteria comprise the intestinal microflora. Even more species may be present but not culturable by the traditional plate count methods. After passage through the stomach and the small intestine, some probiotics survive and become established transiently in the large bowel. In order to survive in and colonize the gastrointestinal tract, probiotic bacteria need to express high tolerance to acid and bile and to have the ability to adhere to intestinal surfaces (Lee and Salminen 1995; Kirjavainen et al. 1998; Fujiwara et al. 2001)."

1
363d0a0277a8b61ada3a24ab3ad85d5a

(4642)

on January 08, 2012
at 02:15 AM

Dr. Mercola's site states that most of the probiotics make it through and do not need encapsulation if they come from a good food source or a good pharma source.

77cbb9b4afcfc1747346347e6f35eb0c

on January 21, 2015
at 06:20 AM

21 jan 2015- Just starting w/kefir water, age 76, but very healthy and on no meds, no aches or pains, but constipation has creeped in. Haven't done any type of system cleanse yet, but will move in that direction.

Reading the 15 comments here has been most helpful. I will be searching Dr. Mercola to find any update on what you have shared. There are research info on the web and I will be reading those too.  Thanks to all who have posted.

0
Ac08eb860a0ffe20b5e39888929e1a82

on September 19, 2017
at 10:32 AM

All you need to do to make Kefir is add a little bit of acid to a little bit of raw milk. Check it out bro, kefir is made from acid. You think a little bit of you stomach acid is going to kill it? Lol. It thrives on that shit. Science is nonsense, stop reading so much and stop thinking so much.... common sense dude. The good news is you no longer have to worry

0
E5b8b14b74c02f74c73908bc6ed1cb59

on July 09, 2017
at 01:15 AM

Milk kefir: imagine being in fasting and taking 3 glasses of kefir whey. I think it will reach intestine very quickly...
And i read that kefir comes from goat's stomach flora...

Water kefir: no proteins, if your stomach is empty, water kefir will go down very quickly...

And babies receive their probiotics from breastfeeding, contact with mother's body...
(and pinworms from kisses...! a lot of us have them but don't know...)
Their skin and intestine are immediately colonized by vaginal flora, mom's skin and breast milk...

Brestfed baby has 90-99% bifidobacterium.
Baby fed with artificial milk has: E.Coli, Clostridium difficile, Bacteroides fragilis, bifidum 68%.

If the access to our guts was impregnable, we wouldn't have any guts flora...
but there are some right probiotics which can colonize our body...

0
73fdc283a82817893f83a6538a616eaa

on June 08, 2013
at 05:03 PM

Simple man science experiment.

Take a kefir grain and drop it in something acidic and then time it to see how long it takes to dissolve. Maybe this will give you some insight into whether it can make it through your stomach.

0
E0baf6715a4d41b7cc60bf859ad30dee

on May 22, 2013
at 06:58 PM

I make my own milk and water kefir x2yrs. I wonder how drastically mine would differ from the strains found in the tibetan kefir study. I would assume the makeup of yeasts would be vastly differing. Anyone have any thoughts on that?

0
E0baf6715a4d41b7cc60bf859ad30dee

on May 22, 2013
at 06:56 PM

If kefir doesnt get by the stomach acid to some extent then why does my gut start responding so favorably to its ingestion? Im convinced regular consumption is key.

0
Ebeca8c7525fc648a1ddf342b3356a74

on April 05, 2013
at 10:59 PM

Karen,

It could potentially be a die off reaction of other bacteria or yeast. This is actually fairly common.

0
4552b5de897b5a5e97e571a2c391e29c

on March 09, 2013
at 04:38 PM

I have a question. I just read that Kombucha can kill and has killed people. They get lactic acidosis or liver failure and get seriously sick and some have died. Is that true? I am very worried because my son has recently started taking Kombucha and got very sick. The doctors don't know what it is....a stomach ulcer, acid reflux but my son says it's not hearburn.....that the pain is under his ribs and in his chest...since he stopped taking the kombucha, the pain has subsided. He has had blood tests and we are waiting for the results.

0
Af6db99dea8a03368bcfdc1f6be01808

on March 01, 2013
at 05:54 AM

I have read that both water kefir and kombucha are very acidic. My question is: do they have an acid producing effect on the system? I have found this website extremely helpful in case some people have not seen it: www.yemoos.com

Ed7403e397077dd1acdbf25c7f6e56ce

(3452)

on March 01, 2013
at 02:03 PM

I've been led to believe that acidic foods have a paradoxical effect on GI pH. Apparently, the addition of acidic foods gives the stomach a reason to not produce as much acid. Whereas a primarily alkaline food will cause the stomach to produce more acid in order to keep the balance.

0
F5b1324e09f64fc849c4b1ce97abfce1

on January 30, 2013
at 10:39 PM

Has anyone ever heard of h. Pylori? It's the bacteria that causes most stomach ulcers. It's a relatively recent discovery that the stomach is not actually a sterile environment. There are bacteria that can live and even thrive in the stomach. I wouldn't be surprised if more bacteria than we thought are able to pass through alive.

0
80f1d03212da7a3447946f93561c372b

on January 11, 2013
at 03:23 AM

I heard its a myth probiotics not making it through gut. new studies show that probiotic count is passed down from the mother to the child. Mother with low probiotic count = baby with low probiotic count and mother with high probiotic count= baby with high probiotic count. Not sure if its cell memory. But there is a link with kefir and dna and changing dna and also NKC ( natural killer cells ). Also certain species have difficult time through the gut but not all of them. google in vitro selection of probiotics.

probiotics are "killed" by chlorine chemicals processed foods etc..

Probiotics are food for good bacteria.

"For example, one expert claims that stomach acid kills 99.9 percent of lactobacillus and bifidobacteria, which are probiotics in yogurt. Another says these probiotics are among the few that do survive the stomach. Then a UCSF study finds probiotics that don't even need to be alive to have an effect, since they have an immunostimulative role (like dead viruses used for a vaccine)."

unique healing on youtube has good sound info she doesnt really push product and has healed herself of incurable diseases with probiotics etc. she just says massive probiotics for 3 years and bentonite clay to mitigate until healed.. has an herbal product thats cheaper than buying probiotic. I tried it its good, I just cant do all the herbs and well kefirs cheap baby. I dont agree with her that there are not enough probiotics in kefir and it would take 10 years to heal the gut on kefir alone .. but until I get labs done on my kefir I will take probiotics ( good cheap source custom probiotics dot com )

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PpPeAa74yNs

what I am interested in is getting a lab culture done on my kefir, not the grains. When its done I will post it.

I am adding a study here as it supports cfu count in kefir and well one never knows if this study will " disappear" J Food Sci. 2012 Aug;77(8):M425-33. doi: 10.1111/j.1750-3841.2012.02805.x. Investigation on culturable microflora in Tibetan kefir grains from different areas of China. Gao J, Gu F, Abdella NH, Ruan H, He G. Source

College of Biosystems Engineering and Food Science, Zhejiang University, Hangzhou, China. Abstract

Four samples of Tibetan kefir grains (TK-ZJUJ 01-04) from Tibet and surrounding areas were investigated via phenotypic and genotypic methods to compare and analyze the diversity of culturable microflora among different origins. As a result, 4 genera of microorganisms from TK-ZJUJ01: Bacillus subtilis (2.9 × 10(7) cfu/mL), Lactococcus lactis (8.2 × 10(7) cfu/mL), Kluyveromyces marxianus (3.0 × 10(6) cfu/mL), Saccharomyces cerevisiae (9.0 × 10(6) cfu/mL); 4 genera from TK-ZJUJ02: Lactobacillus kefiri (1.0 × 10(8) cfu/mL), Pichia kudriavzevii (5.0 × 10(6) cfu/mL), K. marxianus (1.9 × 10(7) cfu/mL), Kazachstania unispora (6.2 × 10(7) cfu/mL); 6 genera from TK-ZJUJ03: Leuconostoc lactis (4.6 × 10(7) cfu/mL), L. lactis (3.0 × 10(7) cfu/mL), Lactobacillus plantarum (3.0 × 10(7) cfu/mL), K. unispora (3.0 × 10(6) cfu/mL), K. marxianus (2.0 × 10(6) cfu/mL), (1.7 × 10(7) cfu/mL); and 4 genera from TK-ZJUJ04: L. plantarum (1.8 × 10(7) cfu/mL), Acetobacter fabarum (5.0 × 10(6) cfu/mL), K. unispora (6.2 × 10(7) cfu/mL), Pichia guilliermondii (6.2 × 10(7) cfu/mL) were identified. Yeasts like P. kudriavzevii and P. guilliermondii isolated in this study were the first time reported in Tibetan kefir grains. For TK-ZJUJ 01-03, lactic acid bacteria were the major microorganisms, which accounted for more than 50% of all the microbial population, while for TK-ZJUJ04, the largest microbial group was yeasts which accounted for more than 50%. In a word, study of diversity and composition of microflora provided us theoretical foundation for further investigation and application of Tibetan kefir grains. PRACTICAL APPLICATION: This is the basic research in order to develop and industrialize a new kind of yogurt starter which is naturally formed microbiota with both lactic acid yeast...

google this; " COMPARATIVE STUDY OF KEFIR LACTICMICROFLORA " , there is a cfu graph provided for lab culture done on romanian kefir grains

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