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Reason for stomach pain from kefir?

by (405)
Updated September 16, 2014 at 7:35 PM
Created December 25, 2011 at 12:04 AM

After experiencing bouts of pretty intense upper abdominal pain and paying close attention to my diet, it seems that the common factor is kefir! I only tried kefir for the first time a few months ago and it's awesome, but it always seems to give me REALLY bad stomach pain. I've tried 3 different (organic) brands and they all seem to have the same effect. I wasn't regular taking any kind of probiotics before, but yogurt and other fermented foods have never given me any trouble.. Does anyone know a possible reason for this reaction? Has anyone ever experienced this? I'll probably stick to other fermented foods from now on but man... kefir tastes awesome. ):

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2504 · April 06, 2012 at 7:19 PM

As Nance says above, you really have to watch your dosing of kefir at the beginning. Seriously, like have a 1-2 sips, and see how you adjust, then add more a little bit each day. It took a week or two for my tummy to get used to it, for sure.

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17028 · December 25, 2011 at 11:33 AM

Just use a few table spoons of the existing stuff (as long as it's fresh and clean) in the mix for the new one. If you're mixing it in with coconut water, of course, you'll get a cloudier mixture from the dairy, but it should be fine. You can also buy freeze-dried grains off of amazon.com i.e. http://www.amazon.com/Yogourmet-Freeze-Dried-Kefir-Starter/dp/B001EO69O2 Once you make your first batch, the 1st thing to do is to save & refrigerate a couple of ounces in a clean, sterilized jar, this will be the seed of the next batch, etc.

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405 · December 25, 2011 at 12:36 AM

Thank you! I have seen some recipes but I wasn't aware that I could make kefir just using already-prepared kefir (without purchasing kefir grains!). Would you recommend a recipe or method?

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405 · December 25, 2011 at 12:33 AM

I'm not lactose intolerant, but I used to be sensitive to dairy until a few years ago. I haven't ingested much dairy since going paleo so I can't really test that, but it's possible I'm sensitive to it. However, the dosage thing resonates with me.. I definitely wasn't having only a tablespoon! I was drinking about a cup at a time, so that could definitely be an issue. I'll try taking less!

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11 Answers

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37177 · December 25, 2011 at 12:13 AM

The good and bad of kefir (both dairy kefir and water kefir) are:

  • Good: very powerful and can really fix a troubled gut
  • Bad: you need to start with very small doses, such as a tablespoon once or twice per day, and build up gradually over a week or two. Once you can handle a small glass at one time, you should be able to stop worrying about dose size.

If you have a lot of "bad guys" in your gut, kefir is strong enough to crowd out the bad microbes and you may experience a die-off which may or may not explain the symptoms you experienced.

If you tried dairy kefir, is it possible that you are lactose intolerant? I drink water kefir to avoid that problem. I drink 2 bottles per day.

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405 · December 25, 2011 at 12:33 AM

I'm not lactose intolerant, but I used to be sensitive to dairy until a few years ago. I haven't ingested much dairy since going paleo so I can't really test that, but it's possible I'm sensitive to it. However, the dosage thing resonates with me.. I definitely wasn't having only a tablespoon! I was drinking about a cup at a time, so that could definitely be an issue. I'll try taking less!

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0 · February 07, 2013 at 5:04 AM

The Holy Bible including the Holy Koran recommends to abstain from eat fermented food such as leavened bread during certain times of year, and for a certain period of time. Breads of those days were fermented by natural means, such as what we refer to today as sourdough. Whether or not this is divine intervention or the outcome of the ancients with good observation, either way, I take this issue serious enough to follow this recommendation. From personal experience with extensive fasting in my time, the body through the process of fasting, can perform specific functions that benefit the organism as a whole. A somewhat similar process, or a branch off of bodily functions are responsive only where abstaining from fermented foods is involved, I feel. Culture food product although organisms mostly product beneficial compounds, there are possibly certain compounds produced by friendly organisms, that may impair the human organism, where overindulgence, or too regular indulgence is involved.

In Tibet, I believe, where kefir grains are referred to as Tibetan mushrooms, a suggestion exists that explains to take 2 cups of milk kefir daily for 20 days, and then abstain for 10 days. This cycle is repeated on a continuous basis [Note that kefir grains and Tibetan mushrooms are the same mother-culture as explained in FAQ 34].

http://users.chariot.net.au/~dna/kefir-faq.html

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10 · December 12, 2012 at 3:25 AM

I'm frustrated myself at this stage - I'm 12 months on milk kefir and it gives me terrible pain. I tried everything from 1 table spoon to more than half a litre a day. Pain certainly goes away when I stop it, but then gradually comes back when I start kefir again. I don't really want to stop drinking kefir - I love it. But what concerns me is that people say it's up to a month to get used to it - no way, I'm a year on it now!

Just frustrated, really.

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0 · September 13, 2014 at 2:38 PM

me too very strog pain all over my abdomen and stomach. and i ve tried both water and mlk...;-(

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0 · July 25, 2014 at 12:15 PM

Homemade kefir also hurts my stomach. I was told I had a dairy allergy, so figured that was the cause. In desperation to keep drinking the kefir, I used soy milk and I still got the stomach ache a bit later after I drank it. I was officially dx'd with SIBO and have heard that people with SIBO are compounding their bacterial overgrowth if they consume more probiotics, so I can only assume that is my problem.

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0 · October 26, 2013 at 2:14 AM

have not tried that but ate red cabbage that I fermented and boy had such a lower gut pain and cramping for a night and half of next day. Has anyone else had that

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0 · February 02, 2013 at 7:48 PM

I've had a similar problem. I started making my own from grains in milk. I was on it for a few months consuming a cup or more daily in a vegetable/fruit smoothie, then I started getting stomach pain/pressure on my left side. I've had suspected ulcers years ago and though they were returning, though the pain was different. I stopped the kefir and went on dgl, mastic, and oil of oregano for two weeks thinking maybe it was H. pylori problems. Everything cleared up and I figured I'd give the kefir another shot after about a month of no problems. So I restarted my grains and after a few batches started drinking it again. The same pain/pressure returned, so I'm off again. I'm thinking maybe the culture changed flora proportions over time and perhaps has more yeast or something that is causing the problems. I'll give it one more shot but may have to stop with Kefir all together. Interestingly, store bought doesn't cause the problem for me, only kefir that I make from my grains.

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0 · January 10, 2013 at 3:30 PM

Have you tried Kefir from goats milk?

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0 · April 06, 2012 at 9:14 AM

I am also getting pains in my stomach after taking' water' kefir.

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2504 · April 06, 2012 at 7:19 PM

As Nance says above, you really have to watch your dosing of kefir at the beginning. Seriously, like have a 1-2 sips, and see how you adjust, then add more a little bit each day. It took a week or two for my tummy to get used to it, for sure.

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17028 · December 25, 2011 at 12:14 AM

Either you've got problems with one of the proteins in the kefir, sugars if any are in there (ie. flavored ones, like peach), or the bacteria in the kefir are waging war with the bacteria in your gut.

Try to make coconut water kefir using a small amount of plain, unsweetened, kefir from the commercial stuff as a seed. If you have no reaction, then it's the proteins you've got a problem with.

Mind you, you could make your own kefir, it's pretty easy.

96440612cf0fcf366bf5ad8f776fca84
17028 · December 25, 2011 at 11:33 AM

Just use a few table spoons of the existing stuff (as long as it's fresh and clean) in the mix for the new one. If you're mixing it in with coconut water, of course, you'll get a cloudier mixture from the dairy, but it should be fine. You can also buy freeze-dried grains off of amazon.com i.e. http://www.amazon.com/Yogourmet-Freeze-Dried-Kefir-Starter/dp/B001EO69O2 Once you make your first batch, the 1st thing to do is to save & refrigerate a couple of ounces in a clean, sterilized jar, this will be the seed of the next batch, etc.

6d06945c5244687be2f6a9ca731b9cc6
405 · December 25, 2011 at 12:36 AM

Thank you! I have seen some recipes but I wasn't aware that I could make kefir just using already-prepared kefir (without purchasing kefir grains!). Would you recommend a recipe or method?

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