Become a Member

Get access to more than 30 brands, premium video, exclusive content, events, mapping, and more.

Already have an account? Sign In

Become a Member

Get access to more than 30 brands, premium video, exclusive content, events, mapping, and more.

Already have an account? Sign In

Brands

Gut Health

Kefir Could Be Key to Combating Bad Bacteria

If you’re looking to increase your gut’s good bacteria and minimize the bad, you may want to grab a glass of kefir. This fermented drink offers promising potential against dangerous bacteria strains.

Lock Icon

Become a member to unlock this story and receive other great perks.

Already have an Outside Account? Sign in

Outside+ Logo

All Access
25% off Best Of The Year Sale
$1.43 / week*

  • A $500 value with everything in the Print + Digital Plan plus 25+ benefits including:
  • Member-only content on 17 Outside network publications: Clean Eating, Yoga Journal, Outside & more
  • More than 100 diet-specific meal plans
  • Extended member-only yoga pose library with how-to instruction
  • Today’s Plan training platform with customized training plans
  • Premium access to Outside TV and 1,000+ hours of exclusive shows
  • Annual subscription to Outside magazine
Join Outside+
Vegetarian Times

Print + Digital
50% Off Holiday Sale
$0.50 / week*

  • Annual subscription to a magazine of your choice from the Outside network
  • Access to all member-exclusive content on VegetarianTimes.com
  • Ad-free access to VegetarianTimes.com
Join Vegetarian Times

*Outside memberships are billed annually. Print subscriptions available to U.S. residents only. You may cancel your membership at anytime, but no refunds will be issued for payments already made. Upon cancellation, you will have access to your membership through the end of your paid year. More Details

When it comes to bacteria, fermented foods and drinks rule. They can improve your gut health, balancing out the microbiome and smoothing out your digestion. Rich in beneficial microbes, these foods can combat bloating, boost your immune system and even help your body better absorb nutrients. And, with all of that good-for-your-gut bacteria, fermented products can work to counteract any “bad” bacteria present.  

New research shows that some fermented foods and drinks can be even more beneficial than others. Kefir, a vitamin-rich fermented milk beverage, might be able to combat both gut bacteria and more – including dangerous, disease-causing strains. 

To make sure your good bacteria outweigh the bad, here’s why kefir might be just what you need. 

Kefir can stop bacteria from attacking

Kefir, at first glance, seems just like any other probiotic. It features the same blend of beneficial ingredients – like lactic acid bacteria, acetic bacteria and different yeasts. And it also offers antimicrobial properties, meaning it can eliminate certain kinds of bacteria.

It’s those antimicrobial properties, however, that set kefir apart. 

A recent study examined kefir’s ability to prevent the growth of potentially dangerous strains of bad bacteria. It turns out that kefir is particularly great at facing off against these harmful varieties, preventing them from growing and causing the spread of disease.

It’s all thanks to a particular yeast inside kefir: Kluyveromyces marxianus. That yeast secretes a unique substance called tryptophol acetate, which can disrupt bacterial communication. 

Bacterial communication is what disease-causing bacteria rely on to take hold within a host. The bacteria “talk” to one another, signaling their reproduction and then triggering changes in other bacteria. Through this communication, the bacteria can coordinate their behavior and activity as a huge group. And this allows them to build a stronger defense or attack.

But the tryptophol acetate that comes from kefir can stop this communication, putting a wrench in bacteria communication and halting its spread. It renders certain kinds of bacteria immobile, preventing coordination and limiting how quickly it grows.

Kefir can combat disease-causing bacteria

Researchers found that kefir’s special yeast secretions worked particularly well against certain disease-causing bacteria. The tryptophol acetate had a strong effect on a number of “bad” bacteria strains, including varieties that cause everyday illnesses.

Kefir was able to stop the spread of:

  • The bacteria responsible for causing pneumonia (Pseudomonas aeruginosa)
  • Food poisoning (S. enterica)
  • The bacteria that causes sepsis and other life-threatening bacterial infections (Staphylococcus aureus)
  • Cholera (V. cholerae)

When research participants drank kefir, the tryptophol acetate not only blocked these types of bacteria from communicating and building an attack plan within the body, but also made the bacteria less severe. Kefir took the bacteria from extremely dangerous to mild in potency.

This marked the first time that any probiotic product actually stopped some of the best-known and most common disease-causing bacteria. 

What does it mean for you? Kefir could help reduce your risk of developing the kinds of health problems those bacteria introduce. In addition to balancing out your gut microbiome in general, kefir may be able to prevent any more dangerous bacteria that enters your body from turning into a serious illness.

Kefir may also stop antibiotic-resistant bacteria in its tracks

In addition to its impressive power to stop disease-causing bacteria, kefir may offer an even bigger benefit. Kefir could be the key to getting rid of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

Antibiotic resistance is a huge problem. As bacteria adapt and make antibiotics increasingly less effective at killing off dangerous strains, medical experts struggle to eliminate potentially deadly bacteria and stop infections. However, kefir’s tryptophol acetate – the yeast secretion that works to reduce the potency of disease-causing bacteria – works on antibiotic-resistant bacteria too. 

In fact, kefir works in exactly the same way to stop antibiotic resistance in its tracks. Its tryptophol acetate cuts off bacterial communication, stopping the bacteria from multiplying and organizing. While researchers note that more studies are needed, the initial results showed promise against pathogenic bacteria.

So, in the future, kefir could potentially become a go-to drink that works as an alternative to antibiotics. For now, though, kefir is a great choice if you’re looking to limit your risks of contracting bacteria-borne diseases. Sipping this fermented beverage can help prevent dangerous strains from taking hold in your body. Having a glass of kefir can bring balance and give your gut’s good bacteria a fighting chance against stronger, more dangerous varieties. 

Related: