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Kefir may be the answer to acid reflux

Updated on September 7, 2009

Kefir may be the answer to acid reflux





In the ancient ways of the people in the Caucasus Mountains lies a possible answer to your digestive problems. My youthful days of collegiate debauchery have wreaked havoc on my digestive system. For years the sight of huevos rancheros or a glass of bourbon on the rocks has sent my esophagus screaming. I all but gave up two of my passions: liquor and spicy food. Until one day a Russian cabaret dancer client of mine told me about the benefits of Kefir.

Kefir is a yogurt type drink made from bacteria and yeasts fermented in milk. After doing a little research I came to find that some bacteria found in kefir (Lactobacillus Caucasus, Leuconostoc, Acetobacter) aid digestion in the stomach. I came to understand that when we have a steady diet of acidic food: coffee, red meat, liquor, fried food, etc. That our stomach becomes overly acidic and the excess acid shoots up into our esophagus and begins to wear away at the lining, causing what we describe as heart burn. What we need to do is balance our diets with basic (or alkaline) foods in order to reduce the excess of stomach acid by consuming foods with high basic content like watermelon, beans, yogurt, oatmeal and the food with the highest basic content, Kefir. The key for mitigating the negative effects of acid is balancing our diet of acidic food with consumption of food with a more alkaline content. It helps me to think of acidic food as negative and basic food having a positive effect.

As a result, I have cut out my morning coffee (if I had to pick between eliminating either coffee of booze, it is as easy choice). Coffee is highly acidic and consumption of coffee in the morning starts one off with an overly acidic stomach or what we can consider as starting out in the negative. So I usually begin my day with a bowl of oatmeal and a kefir shake (see Kefir shake recipe below). I usually have a fairly regular lunch and dinner and have Kefir and yogurt on hand for snacks.

Most importantly, I take kefir at night before I hit the sheets, because having the basic kefir in your stomach will counteract the acid in your stomach so the acid doesn't lurch up into your esophagus as you sleep. Kefir can be purchased in the dairy or health food sections of any good supermarket. Lifeway makes delicious kefir in an array of flavors (wild berry is my favorite). So if you have faith like I did and bring Kefir into your life, you are well on your way to a healthy and a full life. So pass the salsa and pull out the blender, let's have a fiesta for digestive wellness.



How to make a Kefir shake


4oz Low fat plain kefir

7 ice cubes

1 banana

6 fresh or frozen strawberries

1 teaspoon raw honey (optional you can add more or less to taste)


Place contents in blender and blend until smooth, usually about thirty seconds.


Please understand that this is not a rigid recipe and like any good cook play with it until you get desired results. Sometimes I like to add whey protein and flax seed oil to the shake to add nutritional value.


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    • profile image

      Esther 13 months ago

      Just because a food tests acid by itself is not indicative of what happens within the blood. For example: Lemons are VERY acid when tested in isolation, but when tested with the blood, they are alkaline


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      Curtis 23 months ago

      As I understand it, stomach acid is between pH 1 and 4, so anything with a pH higher than 4 will not make the stomach more acidic.

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      brian 3 years ago

      anyone having trouble with reflux please check out a condition called SIBO and look into the paleo diet. The author is oversimplying this condition by looking at simply in terms of acid/alkaline. Carbohydrate and sugar are the real causes of reflux/gerd, not coffee!

      kefir is definitely a winner though, but because of its effect on gut flora.

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      Loren 3 years ago

      Lemon is very acidic and when you drink it, it helps alkaline your body. Just to add to Raghu comments, and many other.

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      Raghu 3 years ago

      Scott and Chris

      I am not sure if anyone has addressed your doubts but please follow the below link to understand how foods are actually characterized as alkaline or acidic

      So although kefir, kombucha and some other fermented foods have an acidic PH by itself, when they are digested they leave an alkaline residue in the body and that's what constitutes an acidic or alkaline food.

      hope this helps.

      Also if kefir is made with pasteurized milk, it is no more alkaline and you lose the health benefits of kefir made from it

    • Sue Bailey profile image

      Susan Bailey 4 years ago from South Yorkshire, UK

      Interesting! Sometimes you get acid reflux because you have too little stomach acid rather than too much. Kefir, because it is on the acidic side will help this by increasing your stomach acid. If however you have excess stomach acid it will make it worse. A good, simple way to check your stomach acid level is to take 1/4 tsp of baking soda (bicarbonate of soda) in 5 fl oz of water and time up to five minutes the length of time it takes for you to belch. If it's over five minutes your acid levels are low. As an approximate guide; if it's around 3 minutes it's normal and if it's within the first two and a half minutes it's high.

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      Anthony 5 years ago

      Sorry - just read again what I wrote and realised it's a bit incomplete.

      If you have gastric reflux, do make sure you drink plenty of PURE water, not chlorinated. And DON'T drink it, or any other drink, within an hour at least of eating. The best time to get a lot of water on board, when it won't dilute your stomach acid and interfere with digestion, is when you get up in the morning.

      And don't eat too much or too fast.

      And note - even when a patient suffers from low stomach acidity at mealtime, the acid will continue to be secreted by stomach wall glands and the stomach contents will include enough acid, when it is expelled, to burn the oesophagus lining.

      Hope that's clearer.

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      Anthony 5 years ago

      OK here's my 2c worth. I'm a nutrition therapist.

      Generally, (not specifically for gastric reflux, just for general health) what you want to be eating is mostly alkaliSING food. And avoiding to much acid-FORMING foods. Many alkalising foods, such as kephir, are actually acidic. Because a food before you ingest it is acidic, is not a reason to avoid it.

      An acidic but alkalising food/drink, say a hot lemon drink in the morning, will make your stomach contents more ACIDIC. But after it passes through the stomach into the duodenum it prompts secretion of bicarb from the pancreas and in this way has an ALKALISING effect.

      As for gastric reflux, in my experience the problem is caused by NOT ENOUGH acid in the stomach. Inadequate levels of hydrochloric acid in the stomach encourages fermentation of food, which causes the release of gas. The buildup of gas pressure can cause stomach contents to be expelled into the oesophagus. This is the gastric reflux which causes "heart-burn". Hence a common naturopathic treatment for gastric reflux is to give a hydrochloric acid supplement just before eating. This is only for old patients who have lost the ability to produce adequate HCl, or for short term treatment of an acute problem while the oesophagus repairs.

      A better, more sustainable approach is to address the cause of the low stomach HCl. They may need to increase their intake of chloride (note, not chlorine) and might benefit from taking Celtic sea salt daily and increasing their water consumption.

      If they smoke and drink alcohol that's a good place to start. It's pretty hard to fix anything in the body when it's constantly under assault from that sort of attempted suicide.

      Basically (pun intended), your body will fix itself, i.e. God will fix it, as soon as you stop trying to kill it.

    • profile image

      zane 5 years ago

      Gardengrover has a point here, guys.

    • profile image

      Gardengrover 5 years ago

      Some acidic foods are alkaline forming. Such is the case with lemons and kefir. The alkaline food diet is the solution to disease prevention from a past typical western diet. I mix my kefir with oats and berries the night before to allow the microbes to begin digesting it ahead of me. So far so good...

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      John 6 years ago

      Interesting that both kefir (which I just bought for the first time today -- never heard of it before) and apple cider vinegar are acidic, yet said to be good for acid reflux (which I have -- I've also had to cut out that delicious morning coffee). Maybe it's because if you dilute a strong acid, you still have a strong acid; it can still dissolve steel. But if you add a weak acid to a strong acid, you end up with an acid having a pH somewhere between the two, due to competitive dissociation. In other words, strong acid + weak acid = weak acid.

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      Leslie 6 years ago

      It is not true that eating basic foods is good while eating acidic food is bad. It's definitely, definitely not that simple. In fact, you can actually make your acid reflux worse by eating a bunch of basic foods. I know it is counter intuitive, but understand once food goes into our body, a cascade of reactions's not like the food just stays as is. For example, drinking soda, which is very acidic, actually helps with acid reflux.

      I would say you have had positive results from the kefir not due to its ph, but due its probiotic properties...the right kind of bacteria is essential to proper digestion.

      I have began drinking kefir at home, too...and got them from the kefir lady mentioned here recently. It tastes entirely different than the kind you are talking about from the store (which I had been drinking Lifeway kefir until I began making my own at home). Real kefir made fresh tastes nothing like yogurt (though it does taste good). It also has more good bacteria in it than the store bought kind. I have loved making my own kefir at's fun! And you can even make cheese and other things...I haven't ventured into that, yet, but I definitely will in the future.

      I'm glad you've experienced its positive benefits...I wouldn't worry so much about the ph of your food except to have variety. Don't eat all acidic food, but don't also eat all basic food, either.

    • profile image

      Chus 6 years ago

      Page, that is exactly my understanding, but I was not totally sure. I know lemons are basic once in your stomach and very acidic on your glass! I am now in need of a more basic balance in my diet and I am a kefir lover not wanting to give it up. It always feels so good in my body that I some how knew it is like lemons.

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      bs 6 years ago

      I believe that it is the fermentation of milk (any kind)makes the Kefir acidc.

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      kanifer 6 years ago

      @ Chris Most heavy carbs and proteins are acidic. However, things are not as simple as acidic = bad, alkaline = good. You do need SOME acidity. You just can't have too much. If you have NO acididy, you can get sick from having too much alkaline!

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      Page 6 years ago

      goat milk kefir far out weighs the benefits of cow milk kefir. kefir like lemons is acidic but becomes alkaline in the body.

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      jon 6 years ago

      Hi All That's good to hear that its good for gerd sufferers..

      But instead of using organic milk why not use organic soya milk instead...


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      Barbara 6 years ago

      Chris, I make my own kefir ONLY with fresh organic RAW milk. I don't have ph strips, but can it be that pasteurized milk is what makes the kefir acidic? Try using organic RAW milk and see if it makes a difference. Pasteurizing kills everything good, so that in itself is bad.

    • profile image

      Chris 6 years ago


      I was told that Kefir was alkaline as well, but just to be sure I took a ph strip and placed it in the Kefir, it came out as you said. Very Acidic. I placed another strip in Fresh organic milk and it tested very alkaline.

      So I am trying to do some research on this. I know acidic is bad and alkaline is good, but Kefir is acidic, so is it that the good bacteria, even though acidic neutralize the bad acidic bacteria.

    • profile image

      Stott 6 years ago

      I'm not disputing the health benefits of Kefir. I make it and consume it daily. I do, however, have to point out that the pH of Kefir is between 4 and 5, placing it firmly on the acidic side of neutral (pH 7). So it's not a basic (alkaline) food.

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      ja sam  7 years ago

      kefir is the best, very good in the mourning

    • Loren Mayshark profile image

      Loren Mayshark 7 years ago

      I'm glad that it's working for you. Thanks for the kind words Vadim.

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      Vadim 7 years ago

      I started drinking Kefir just recently and love it. No more recovery shakes or protein shake. Once I see the whey at the bottom and curds at the top I make a similar shake. Great article. Thanks for posting. I got my kefir grains from the 'kefir lady'. easy to make and super cheap compared to store bought shakes.

    • Loren Mayshark profile image

      Loren Mayshark 8 years ago


    • Inese profile image

      Inese 8 years ago from Rome, Italy

      I grew up drinking Kefir! Maybe this is why my biological age is 15 years less then my chronological :)?

    • Loren Mayshark profile image

      Loren Mayshark 8 years ago

      Thank you Kefir Man, I will look into it!

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      kefir man 8 years ago

      REAL Keifr is amazing and great for digestion and overall immune health. Here's the key : Get Kefir grains from others on the internet not store bought Kefir which is weaker and much less effective. Once you have the grains you can make unlimited kefir every day for the cost of milk..... look up " marilyn kefirlady" on the web... You'll be glad you did !!!

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      jim10 8 years ago from ma

      I have heard about Kefir but never tried it. That is great that it also helps with acid reflux. I never had acid reflux but the healthy bacteria is always good to get more of.

    • keval12 profile image

      keval12 8 years ago


      HOWS YOU