Kefir Side Effects + Benefits

By Adriane Marie •  Updated: 07/03/22 •  12 min read
kefir benefits and side effects

What are kefir benefits and side effects every ethical consumer must know? Here are kefir pros and cons and how buying them will impact your health, the environment, animals and laborers. 

Food is something we consume every day and if you’re like me, you do all the research you can to make sure you don’t hurt yourself, the planet, animals or others when shopping. As an ethical consumer myself, I am giving you all the info I’ve found on kefir benefits and side effects.

You are going to learn all about kefir benefits and side effects. This will include kefir benefits for your health and potential risks, kefir water footprint and kefir carbon footprint, kefir sustainability, if kefir is vegan or impacts animals in other ways, and much more. 

After learning if kefir is good or bad for you, the environment, animals and human rights, you will be prepared to make the best choices you can the next time you buy food.

This post is all about kefir benefits and side effects that every ethical consumer should know.

Must-Know Kefir Benefits And Side Effects

Health

Kefir health benefits may include:

Kefir side effects may include:

Additionally, kefir is…

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Environment

Water footprint: low, it takes 1,599 liters of water to produce 1 kilogram of fermented milk and kefir / 192 gallons of water to produce 1 pound of fermented milk and kefir

Carbon footprint: moderate, 2.4 kg CO2e to produce 1 kilogram or 2.2 pounds of fermented beverages, a car driving equivalent of 5.75 miles or 9.25 kilometers

Destruction: high, kefir production is relatively destructive, land usage for pasture, grain and forage, solid waste (excrement/manure) runoff into soil and freshwater, deforestation for feed crops, animal agriculture leading cause of: species extinction, ocean dead zones, water pollution and habitat destruction, responsible for up to 91% of Amazon destruction

Kefir is…

Animals

Kills: none, no animals are required to be killed in order to produce milk

Harms: mother cows and calves are distressed due to separation within 24 hours after birth, male calves slaughtered for veal, female calves fed artificially, locked in tiny cages, cows genetically modified to grow so obese that many become lame (unable to walk) shocked with electric prods, shackled with chains and dragged, beaten, prods poked up rectums, live last few months in crowded feedlots with hundreds or thousands of others, without pasture, often without shelter, must stand in mud, ice and their own waste, dairy cows eventually slaughtered for beef once milk production has ended

Indirectly kills or harms: male calves, in most cases the dairy industry sells “unwanted” male calves to be slaughtered for veal, as pregnancy must occur for female cows to lactate and produce milk, wildlife and ecosystems, habitat contamination (water and soil pollution), wildlife habitat destruction (deforestation/land clearing), wolves and coyotes killed to prevent predation on livestock

Kefir is…

Laborers

Health and safety: varies, overall, agriculture continues to be one of the most dangerous industries, farmworkers may be subject to dehydration, heat stroke, unprotected exposure to harmful, toxic chemicals and pesticides, unsafe machinery and clean drinking water may not always accessible

Living conditions: varies, laborers are often exploited, they may face tough working conditions including long hours in the sun and heat performing physically exhausting tasks, labor laws and rights may or may not be in place, even if worker protection exists, employer violations may go unreported, refugees and migrant workers are especially vulnerable to abuse and mistreatment, fearing consequences of job loss or deportation

Wages: varies, generally farmworkers earn meager wages, there are many cases of underpaid agricultural workers, wage theft and no overtime payment or benefits

Kefir…

Where does most kefir come from? 📍

The world’s top kefir exporting country is Germany, followed by New Zealand, France, Spain, USA, Ireland, Poland, Netherlands, UK and Luxembourg.

In the United States Wisconsin has the most dairy plants (199 dairy product plants).

Other leading dairy processing states were New York with 123 plants and California with 114 plants. 

Is kefir nutritious? 🥗

Kefir is high in probiotics, protein, calcium and potassium but often contains antibiotics and hormones such as rBGH (recombinant bovine growth hormone) which is a genetically engineered synthetic hormone by Monsanto to increase milk production levels, resulting in cow mastitis infections, ultimately requiring more antibiotics.

kefir is acidic. kefir side effects include not fitting into an alkaline diet.

kefir side effects include being acidic.

Is kefir alkaline or acidic?

Kefir is acidic. Dairy, including yogurt, is an acidic food group.

When you eat food, it breaks down to an ash residue that can be neutral, acidic or alkaline. Minerals such as potassium, calcium, magnesium, sodium, zinc, silver, copper and iron produce an alkaline ash; whereas sulfur, phosphorus, chlorine and iodine, which are in meat, coffee, dairy and alcohol, leave an acid ash.

Going alkaline easier than ever with this: Acidic and Alkaline Foods List

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kefir is gluten free.

gluten free foods and what to eat on a gluten free diet

Is kefir gluten free?

Yes, kefir is gluten free. Kefir does not contain gluten.

While celiac disease may not be as rampant as many marketing trends lead us to believe, you may have a gluten sensitivity…

Celiac and gluten sensitivity symptoms are similar and may include:

There are hundreds of potential symptoms, many of which are also symptoms of other conditions.

Going gluten-free easier than ever with this: Gluten and Gluten Free Foods List

kefir is a common food allergen: milk. kefir side effects include being dangerous for some.

kefir side effects include being dangerous for some.

Is kefir a common food allergen?

Yes, kefir is a common food allergen: milk. Many people experience allergic reactions to kefir.

A group of the eight major allergenic foods, AKA the Big-8, include:

Severe food allergies can be life threatening. Following ingestion of a food allergen, a person with food allergies can experience a severe, life-threatening allergic reaction called anaphylaxis. 

Persons may still be allergic to and have serious reactions to foods other than the eight foods identified by the law.

Be aware of common dietary restrictions and food allergens with this: The Big 8 Most Common Food Allergens List

kefir is a fermented food. kefir benefits include fermentation.

fermented foods are excellent for gut health and good bacteria

Is kefir a fermented food? Yes, kefir is fermented.

Foods that are fermented use an old process that can extend shelf life, provide healthy probiotics and add nutritional value. One notable nutrient that can be acquired is vitamin B12 -especially desirable for vegans and vegetarians, as it typically cannot be found in plant foods.

Fermented foods help the body digest food, fight off bad bacteria, make certain vitamins, maintain a healthy balance, and restore gut health after taking antibiotics. 

When too many bad gut microbes exist it can create an imbalance between beneficial and harmful gut bacteria, which leads to health problems. In some cases intestinal walls can weaken and their contents may leak into the bloodstream, commonly referred to as leaky gut syndrome. Fermented foods are known to strengthen intestinal walls. 

For optimal gut health and overall wellbeing fermented foods are a great daily addition to your diet. Common fermented foods include: kefir, tempeh, natto, kombucha, miso, kimchi, sauerkraut and yogurt.

Check out this Fermented Foods List to see them all.

Here’s an amazing cookbook filled with delicious fermented recipes: Fermented Vegetables: Creative Recipes for Fermenting 64 Vegetables & Herbs in Krauts, Kimchis, Brined Pickles, Chutneys, Relishes & Pastes by Christopher Shockey and Kirsten K. Shockey

kefir has a low water footprint.

water footprints of food and products

Does kefir have a high or low water footprint?

Kefir has a relatively low water footprint compared to other foods.

What is the water footprint of kefir?

It takes 1,599 liters of water to produce 1 kilogram of fermented milk and kefir / 192 gallons of water to produce 1 pound of fermented milk and kefir.

Did you know that water is a finite, non-renewable resource?

How much water does it take to produce an apple? A serving of rice? A steak dinner?

We need to be aware of “water footprints”. That is, the amount of fresh water utilized in the production or supply of goods we consume. As it turns out it takes significantly more water to yield foods that come from animals than foods that come from plants. Imagine how much water a cow needs to consume to generate a piece of beef. Not only how much water a single cow drinks, rather all the water that went into producing the crops that the cow ate.

Find out how much water your food consumes with this: Water Footprints of Foods and Ingredients List

kefir has a moderate carbon footprint.

carbon footprints of food and food emissions

Does kefir have a high or low carbon footprint?

Kefir has a relatively moderate carbon footprint compared to other foods and beverages.

What is the carbon footprint of kefir?

It takes around 2.4 kg CO2e to produce 1 kilogram or 2.2 pounds of fermented beverages, a car driving equivalent of 5.75 miles or 9.25 kilometers.

Food not only has a water footprint but also a carbon footprint, known as CO2e, which stands for carbon dioxide equivalent. Since carbon measurements are a bit more difficult to comprehend, it is common to equate CO2e to the distance which a car drives in miles or kilometers.

When calculating carbon emissions, some factors may include…

But that’s not all!

It’s best to keep the following in mind when grocery shopping:

Find out how much carbon your food emits with this: Carbon Footprints of Foods and Ingredients List

kefir is unsustainable. kefir side effects include being environmentally destructive.

sustainable shopping, for eco friendly brands and products good for the environment

Overall, is kefir eco friendly? Is kefir sustainable?

Kefir production is relatively unsustainable.

A 2018 Oxford University study – which is the most comprehensive analysis to date of the damage farming does to the planet – found that ‘avoiding meat and dairy is the single biggest way to reduce your impact on Earth’ as animal farming provides just 18% of calories but takes up 83% of our farmland.

Consuming animal products and byproducts is not environmentally friendly and is one of the worst things for the Earth. Not only is meat production wasteful, it causes enormous amounts of pollution. The industry is one of the biggest causes of climate change.

A 2010 United Nations report said that a global shift towards a vegan diet is vital to save the world the worst impacts of climate change.

kefir is not vegan. kefir side effects include harming animals in the production process.

kefir side effects include not being vegan

Is kefir vegan?

No, kefir is not vegan. Kefir is dairy, the byproduct of a cow, sheep or goat, therefore making it an animal-derived food. A mother cow, mother sheep or mother goat’s milk must be used in order to produce kefir. 

Animals of factory farms and the livestock industry are suffering. They live in horrific conditions that often include confinement, physical abuse and unnatural environments…so much so that they need to receive antibiotics to keep from getting ill or spreading disease. They’re also injected with growth hormones to become fatter faster and live short lives, being slaughtered as soon as they finish growing and are killed prematurely, well before their natural lifespan.

Because we cannot see for ourselves how these animals live and what they endure does not mean it isn’t happening. The meat, poultry and dairy industries do everything they can to distance us from knowing how our food comes to be in order to keep us in the dark about what we support each time we buy animal derived products and byproducts.

Go vegan for animals!

It’s the best way to help animals and it’s not as difficult as you may think. Speak for animals with your actions, for they cannot speak at all.

Going vegan is easier than ever, at a glance with this: Vegan and Non-Vegan Foods List

kefir has labor issues and human rights concerns.

labor rights, human rights and workers rights issues

Is kefir a product with laborer concerns?

At this time there are human rights concerns with dairy production.

It’s important to stay aware of human rights concerns and worker exploitation that may come with specific brands.

Did you know the single largest employer in the world is agriculture? The labor involved behind each and every product cannot go unrecognized. 

Some known problems include workplace health and safety, child labor, gender inequality, inadequate pay, wage theft and exploitation. Workers can even experience harassment, humiliation and violence and unfair employers often fail to provide laborers with access to shade, drinking water, restrooms and breaks. Consequently, laborers can face nausea, dizziness, heat exhaustion, dehydration and heat stroke -the leading cause of farmworker death! 

Such mistreatment is like modern day slavery. Workers are often afraid to report issues because they fear it will result in losing their jobs or deportation. 

Fair trade organizations fight to ensure better social, environmental and economic standards. 

We can improve people’s lives with foods we eat every day simply by buying products that are certified fair trade. 

This post was all about kefir benefits and side effects.

Sources:

The Microbiota and Health Promoting Characteristics … – NCBI

kefir – FoodData Central – USDA

Adriane Marie

Self-proclaimed Grocery Guru, Material Maven and all around Conscious Consumer Connoisseur. I organize ethical info for us to comprehensively see how purchases impact people, animals and the planet. I hope you find HEALabel helpful and use it for personal and global improvement and empowerment.

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