IMAG3283A University of Florida microbiology class has been studying the beneficial probiotics in kefir and coming to some shocking results. 

The professor of the class is described as an avid kefir drinker. 

The class has been testing kefir from Glades Ridge Goat Dairy, says owner of the dairy Greg Yurish. Further findings are still under investigation seeking out individual strains, however, preliminary results show 10 billion CFU (colony forming units) per ml.

That is not a misprint, 10 billion colony forming units per milliliter is equal to 10 billion CFU per 0.03381 ounces. Since there are roughly 5 milliliters in one measured teaspoon that makes 50 billion colony forming units per teaspoon, 150 billion colony forming units per tablespoon. 

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Glades Ridge Goat Dairy produces the milk and the kefir as well as cheese. The professor of the microbiology class is a regular cheese customer and an avid kefir drinker.

Currently the strains of bacteria and the yeasts that are present are still being studied.

Yurish says, “I plan on putting this information in a pamphlet to give to customers or potential customers at the farmers markets where we sell it. (The findings are) very interesting!”

IMAG3275 Different factors affect brewing probiotics such as yeasts in the air and other fermenting products in the vicinity such as kombucha or water kefir. Geographic location also affects the outcome of each brewed probiotic.

Many factors can change the probiotic findings in products like milk kefir. The grass the goat eats and where she is in her milking cycle are only two factors that affect the nutritional outcome.

A review article “Factors affecting goat milk production and quality,” in Small Ruminant Research,  from researchers A.L. GoetschS.S. Zeng and T.A. Gipson says differences in goat milk production include grazing and browsing vs feed, confinement, plants available for consumption, forage impacting tissue mobilization, low body condition at kidding and the number of milking sessions per day all affect the quality and nutrition of goat’s milk.
They go on to say, “As lactation advances after freshening, fat and protein levels decrease with increasing milk yield, and when production declines in mid- to late lactation, fat and protein concentrations increase.” (Volume 101, Issues 1–3, November 2011, Pages 55–63). “The effect of milking frequency is greater in early and mid-lactation when yield is higher than in late lactation, along with a shorter period of peak production with one vs. two daily milkings. Effects of elevated levels of dietary fatty acids on specific long-chain fatty acids in milk and milk products vary with the fatty acid profile of fat sources IMAG3286used.”
Many people use yogurt in their daily regimen for the probiotic benefits to their microbiome. Yogurt and kefir are considered cousins, related in their beneficial strains. Kefir is known as the champagne of milk due to its bubbly effervescence and higher nutritional quality. 

The Huffington Post says, “Kefir is made by fermenting milk with 10 to 20 different types of bacteria and yeasts, where yogurt is usually just fermented with a handful of types; this leads to a higher probiotic count in the final product. Each 175 gram serving of kefir provides about 20 per cent of the daily RDA for calcium”

Kefir is rich in the amino acid tryptophan, which is known for its relaxing impact on the body.
Advance Biomedical Research reported a research study  testing the affect of kefir where they evaluated the effects on anxiety, depression and cognitive impairment.
The study sought a solution to the negative impact of nicotine withdrawal along with the mental as well as physical impairment. Nicotine is known to stimulate serotonin and dopamine levels which are reward circuits in the brain. When this is removed, IMAG3287downregulation of the dopamine and serotonin levels negatively impact the brain.
In the study 48 adult male rats were purposefully administered nicotine salts to test the impact of kefir on the brain while going through nicotine withdrawal. Maze tests as well as a forced swim test were used to test anxiety levels, cognitive response, memory and duration of physical ability.
Remarkably, “There was a significant difference in their memory retention on the 6th day of training.”
They concluded, “Kefir may be used as a diet to prevent depression, anxiety and cognitive impairment and an available natural therapy for patients suffering from nicotine-induced anxiety and depression.”

The Huffington Post says, “Kefir is made by fermenting milk with 10 to 20 different types of bacteria and yeasts.”

Tryptophan is only one of the positive aspects.

The Journal of American Dietetic Association reported a study done at Ohio State University showing kefir may be a viable tool in overcoming lactose intolerance. Their study showed kefir improves lactose digestion as well as lactose tolerance specifically in the 15 tested adults with lactose maldigestion.

It is important to be working with a knowledgeable practitioner when attempting probiotic foods when intolerances are present.

IMAG3269Science Direct says, kefir contains the enzyme that digests lactose. They add, “Kefir is a good source of calcium, potassium and protein. But kefir also contains a wider array of microorganisms than yogurt does.”

Steven Hertzler, a study co-author and an assistant professor of medical dietetics at Ohio State University says kefir has many health claims including, “Enhancement of the immune system and improved digestive health, particularly with regard to lactose digestion.”

Breath hydrogen levels were reduced after drinking kefir. Hydrogen in the breath represents gas in the digestive track from pathogenic bacteria.  

 Mikrobiyoloji Bulteni, a microbiology bulletin says, “Bioactive peptides activate innate immunity by stimulating macrophages, increasing phagocytosis, augmenting NO and cytokine production and boosting the lumen levels of IgG and IgA+ B-lymphocytes.: They performed a study showing, “The serum cytokine profiles of healthy volunteers after kefir consumption to evaluate helper T (TH) cell polarization and to bring out the effects on native and allergic immune responses.”

They found, “Results indicated that kefir use increased polarization of the immune response towards TH1 type and decreased TH2 IMAG3274type response and accordingly allergic response. The decrease in IL-8 level due to kefir use, might control the inflammatory response by suppressing neutrophil chemotaxis and activation.”

These are several reasons why kefir is an integral part of GAPS healing.

Making kefir at home will always yield a higher probiotic count than buying kefir on the store shelf. This is because kefir can be made from the best raw milk available and brewed for the full 24 hours or longer yielding more beneficial bacteria as well as the desired lactose content. Kefir grains eat the lactose in the milk meaning the longer you brew kefir the less lactose. Generally 24-27 hours is sufficient to remove most all lactose for brewing yogurt or kefir depending on your milk to grains ratio, temperature and if  you shake your brewing jar or not -kefir grains only brew what they are touching. 

Obtain kefir grains from a friend or purchase them. Kefir grains come from the Caucasus but propagate every time they are brewed so once you get started you’ll be passing them out to your friends, too. Grains like these or these are perfect.

The pictures in this thread show you the instructions: pour your grains into a jar, cover with milk, allow them to brew with the lid on directly on the counter top or in a cabinet for your desired time (usually 1 tablespoon grains will brew 1 cup milk in 24 hours, the more diluted the longer it takes), be sure to shake your grains IMAG3272during the process to relocate the grains establishing a more thorough brew. Strain your grains through a plastic, glass or stainless steel strainer and drink the strained kefir. This can be used for smoothies, ice cream, cooking or anything else  you desire as a substitute for milk. 

Temperature change including freezing grains will effect the productivity. Some kefir specialists say freezing your grains is fine if you need to put them in long term storage others say dehydrating them is appropriate. If you leave for vacation or do not drink your kefir as quickly as it is making storing your kefir in cold storage, like the refrigerator will slow the brewing process.

The vessel you brew your grains in will actually produce a better product and yield more grains if you do not wash it between brews. Most people wash their vessel when it begins to sour at the lid.

The grains I use were ordered from the Causasus in 2008. I paid $20 for what looked like 7 grains of sand in a white powder. Since then well over 100 people have started kefir from these grains after they propagated. When they arrived the instructions said do not: let the grains come in contact with direct sunlight, come in contact with chlorine, be heated, be frozen, be set in direct sunlight or come in contact with metal.

We have brewed kefir nearly every day for 8 years now and I have only lost my grains once – my son drank the bottle that was brewing, grains and all. This is where giving your grains to a friend is beneficial because they can always give them back to you. Extra grains can also be fed to farm animals. Pouring them down your drain is not recommended.

IMAG3288To read more about kefir click here. To make kefir taffy for camping trips click here. 

*If you learned something from this post share it so others can do the same. To support the efforts of this blog shop the affiliate links above like this one. You pay the same shopping through Amazon while the author receives a small referral fee from Amazon. This offsets the costs of this site.

*Nourishing Plot is written by Becky Plotner, ND, traditional naturopath, GAPS who sees clients in Rossville, Georgia. She works as a Certified GAPS Practitioner who sees clients in her office, Skype and phone. Since her son was delivered from the effects of autism (Asperger’s syndrome), ADHD, bipolar disorder/manic depression, hypoglycemia and dyslexia through food she continued her education specializing in Leaky Gut and parasitology through Duke University, finishing with distinction. This is not a news article published by a paper trying to make money. This blog is put out by a mom who sees first hand the effects of nourishing food vs food-ish items. No company pays her for writing these blogs, she considers this a form of missionary work. It is her desire to scream it from the rooftops so that others don’t suffer from the damaging effect of today’s “food”.

“GAPS™ and Gut and Psychology Syndrome™ are the trademark and copyright of Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride. The right of Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride to be identified as the author of this work has been asserted by her in accordance with the Copyright, Patent and Designs Act 1988.”  





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41 Responses to Surprising Probiotic Count Of Kefir Revealed

  1. Lori says:

    I make my own kefir, when I have too many grains, I just put them in my smoothie, I like adding, heavy cream and/or dry milk powder, to make it thicker, and my grains keep expanding.

  2. Lars says:

    Where is the source for the study på University of Florida? Pretty bad style to include “shocking results” and “billions of active colonies” and then not provide a source to those statements

    • Becky Plotner says:

      Thank you Lars for taking the time to tell me I have pretty bad style.
      This information was sourced from the dairy owner, as the post says. I am still waiting for a reply from the professor with the continued findings. They were not done with the study.

      • Marcia says:

        I was sooo excited to see your post! Love hearing about my native Florida research, even in the stages before publication. It gives me hope… Thank you Becky for posting even these officially “undocumented” results… yes cited is better, but SOONER is better than cited sometimes because it gives us hope and hope is related to grace and those two can move mountains and mountains need moving these days… and yes, I have a petri dish background myself from UF/IFAS.

    • Monika Oli says:

      It’s fresh off the lab bench and has not been published – more data to follow!

  3. Lissa-Ann says:

    I’ve been making kefir for a long time as well. When it’s brewing, I cover the jar with a paper towel and then use the ring part of the lid to secure it. After 24 hours, I remove the paper towel and replace with a plastic lid, shake and put in the fridge. I use strained kefir to make smoothies. Right now, I’m just using organic milk from the store but the kefir grains seem to be flourishing. Questions–should I not use a paper towel during brewing? Should I use a real lid instead? Am I destroying the probiotics in the blender when I’m making a smoothie? Thanks so much!

    • Becky Plotner says:

      You’re fine but kefir is a brew that responds optimally with a sealed lid vs the ability to breathe. Using the blender to destroy probiotic status is something that hasn’t been studied to my knowledge. I asked this same question to Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride, intestinal rebuilding expert, and she said no it’s nothing to worry about, enjoy it however you like it.

  4. Christine says:

    I thought using a stainless steel strainer was a no no..

  5. Steve says:

    Hi, I am considering brewing my owm, but without cow’s milk. My body seems to tolerate goat milk, and I was also going to try coconut water. Any advice on how to strain the grains?

    • Becky Plotner says:

      Same way as shown in the post.

      • peggy ammons says:

        Would you recommend Water or milk keifir for kids with autism? Do you prefer one over the other.

        • Becky Plotner says:

          Depends on the child and their pathogenic strains.

          • Ale says:

            Hi, You said kefir is a brew that responds optimally with a sealed lid vs the ability to breathe.

            But if its fermenting and a lid is placed on it it could shatter the glass in the gas process. I was told never seal it as its fermenting with the grains inside only seal after the second fermentation when the grains arent inside. Is there any merit to this?

          • Becky Plotner says:

            Milk kefir is an anaerobic fermentation, without oxygen – lid. I have fermented over 400 gallons of kefir, never had any glass shatter.

  6. I never knew to “shake’ my kefir during the “brewing” process. Also, I had learned that it was important to wash the jar each time I empty it before putting my grains back in because we’re dealing with bacteria. Is this not true?

    • Jason- kefir dude says:

      Ive used mine for 5 years now – very rarely do i wash the jar. The kefir tells you pretty clearly if it is happy or not. Im never sick. In workplaces with 80+ people Im always the one who never has a sick day nor catches a cold. I recon let the kefir be, dont wash it unless something goes smelly and floating bacteria blobs (from a long time away, in the fridge 2 weeks plus with no lid).
      ive frozen Kefir grains 8 month plus and it revived!

  7. gypsypalace says:

    This was an extremely informative article. Thank you for taking the time to share this. I have been making water kefir for a few years, but started with milk kefir and made it until something happened and the grains weren’t working anymore. I have heard mixed answers regarding whether or not milk kefir grains and water kefir grains are the same organism. Above, you suggested to Steve that he use coconut water the same way as milk. I wasn’t aware that they were interchangeable–I thought each type of grain needed different types of sugars. I would be so pleased to find out that I can in fact get my water kefir grains to grow on milk, because this article really made me miss the dairy one.

    • Becky Plotner says:

      Water kefir grains and milk kefir grains are different. This does not mean they are not interchangeable. For years I was very successful at killing water kefir grains but milk kefir grains abounded – so I used my milk kefir grains to make soda just like I would water kefir. It was successful indeed. Still it was a totally different product.

  8. Roma Roux says:

    Just want to check with you, is my finished kefir supposed to have effervescent bubbles as a sign of a good ferment? lately my kefir keeps splitting into ‘curds and whey after like 8 hours’. I monitor the temp and it’s generally 23-25 inside (I live on the coast in south africa and weather is quite tropical). thank you

    • Becky Plotner says:

      Yes! This is one of the reasons kefir is known as The Champagne of Milk. If it separates to curds and whey just shake it up to combine and strain. This is normal, just a sign of the fermentation stage. It’s telling you this product is good!

    • I’m also in SA (in Pretoria) and the same was happening to me I suspect because of a few things…. Kitchen was too warm, too much light in the kitchen, too much grains (my tablespoon measure was too heaped) per cup of milk. I thought my kitchen was cool enough but I think it was too hot at certain times when I wasn’t there to monitor it. I reduced my grains to a levelish tablespoon per cup of milk and constantly remove grains to keep it at that level. Then I moved my container (I use a wide mouth measuring jug) into one of the rooms that’s cooler and darker. I also cover it with a single layer of netting. My kefir hasn’t split once since making those changes and I get some of that bubbling action too which I didn’t get before!

  9. Renee Moore says:

    Just curious as I do not have a milk producing animal, is this only for raw (unpasteurized ) goats milk? I have of late been enjoying store bought pasteurized kefir, presumably from cows milk.

    • Becky Plotner says:

      These numbers are not from store bought milk, correct. If you can not source a farmer with fresh milk Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride recommends using organic milk from the store shelf and not touching any other as it is pasteurized and therefore dead. Store bought kefir has not been allowed to complete the fermentation process. It is then pasteurized for transportation, if it were not it would continue fermenting and explode. Pasteurization kills the probiotic factors.

    • carmenrosales says:

      Are you sure it is pasteurized kefir you are buying? If so the kefir is no longer considered probiotics because all the probiotics have been killed by the heat. I live in the Philippines and I use powdered whole milk to make my milk kefir for almost 1 1/2 years now. I cannot find any fresh unpasteurized milk in the supermarket. And my kefir grains are doing great and have shared them with.

  10. Susan says:

    I loved this article, thank you! I’m one of those people that have the package of kefir grains in a box on my counter afraid to use it for the first time. Reading through the article and the comments helped a lot. I think I’m ready to do this! Had a question though – so once I get the consistency I am looking for I can then mix it in a blender with say, raspberries or some other fruit?

    Oh and that brings another question – so the first time I’ll use this powder I bought at WF and the the curd that is made from it is what I use to make the next “batch”?

    Thanks in advance from a newbie!!

    • Becky Plotner says:

      Yes to the smoothie. I honestly have no idea. I’m a fan of using grains instead of starter powders. If it is a powder of young baby grains strain the kefir in a very fine strainer, very fine mesh, then rebrew and you will begin to see the baby grains (which look like sand particles) grow into full sized grains where you can switch to a larger strainer.

  11. […] more studies available confirming the quality and quantity of nutrients in fermented foods.  Nourishing Plot cites other sources in their article that confirm scientific research into the quality and […]

  12. […] more studies available confirming the quality and quantity of nutrients in fermented foods.  Nourishing Plot cites other sources in their article that confirm scientific research into the quality and […]

  13. […] it to other known probiotic-rich foods: 48 million-950 million CFU/ml in yogurt,  a reported 10 billion CFU/ml found in milk kefir and 48.2 billion CFU found in a serving of a popular probiotic supplement. Daily recommended […]

  14. Giselle says:

    I started taking kefir a few years back. I buy and prepare my own kefir, too. I used to have an ulcer but since I started taking kefir, my health improved. Since then, I never started taking kefir.

  15. Fantastic article and references!! Thank you.
    We love kefir at our home.

    Could you possibly share a reference for the 10 billion to 1mL quote… this is great to share with hesitant people seeking more ‘statistical’ evidence.

  16. Emma says:

    This is amazing! Does water kefir produce similar bacteria counts?

  17. […] A single milliliter of kefir can have up to 10 billion cfu. […]

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