Kefir versus Pills
While there are several places to buy probiotic supplements, it is important to have some background information in order to make an educated purchase. When you see a brand advertising that they have 20 or 40 billion CFUs (Colony Forming Units), it may seem that this is a lot of probiotics, and it did to me initially as well… but it really isn’t. The human body has on average approximately100 trillion bacteria in the gut. 20-40 billion probiotics is 1/5000th to 1/2500th the amount of the bacteria in your gut and this isn’t even taking into account the fact that unless you take a probiotic that can survive your stomach acid, much will be destroyed before ever reaching your gut.
On the other hand, kefir has about 10 billion CFU/ml depending on how long the fermentation process has gone. This means that taking one serving (175ml) of kefir would give you approximately 1.75 trillion probiotics! Furthermore, many of the probiotic supplement you take are dormant, while kefir is alive and active. As far as costs are concerned, you get much more value via Kefir grains in addition to the advantageous CFU count. To give you a little more perspective, if one serving of a probiotic supplement has 40 billion CFUs, you would need about 44 pills just to get the same amount as one serving of kefir! On top of this, you’d still be only getting a limited range of probiotic strains from the pills in comparison to kefir. In my opinion, it is pretty obvious that you are better off supplementing with fermented foods or drinks versus taking probiotics in pill form. It’ll save you money as well as making you a far superior probiotic powerhouse.
Kefir versus Yogurt
When most people think of probiotics, the first thing that comes to mind is yogurt. Yes, yogurt has its benefits, but kefir is a far superior probiotic source. Even though both are cultured products, they actually contain different types of probiotics. Furthermore, yogurt does not have any beneficial yeasts. The beneficial bacteria found in yogurt only stays for a short period of time, passing through your body rather quickly. Because of this it’s ability to aptly colonize the intestinal tract is limited. Ideally you want a probiotic that stays in the gut longer and multiplies, continually keeping the colon clean of toxins and pathogens. Moreover, yogurt only has 2-4 strains of bacteria, where as water and milk kefir can have well over 30 different strains of beneficial bacteria and yeast. Homemade cultured yogurt has around on average, 3 billion cfu/ml. Kefir has about 3-4 times more.
A problem with commercial brands of yogurt and kefir is that they are usually loaded with unnecessary amounts of sugar, which greatly reduces the ultimate benefits, and may even add to existing problems that you may have. In addition to this, commercial brands generally have fewer strains of beneficial microbes; commercial yogurts have from 0-10 strains of beneficial microbes versus homemade yogurt, which usually has about 10 different strains. Commercial brands of kefir usually have around 10 strains, versus homemade, which can have well over 3 times more strains.
In summary, if you are stuck between choosing kefir, yogurt, or probiotic pills, without a doubt opt for the kefir: it has a wider variety of beneficial bacteria and yeasts and contains highly bioavailable nutrients. Also, there are both milk and water kefirs incase some people are wary about lactose and casein content. And the number one reason you should go for kefir: it freaking tastes good!
Once you get some kefir grains, you theoretically shouldn’t have to ever buy kefir or kefir grains again. When taken care of they multiply constantly, on their own. This means that you get one of the best sources of probiotics and in the long-run is exceedingly inexpensive! Kefir is definitely my go-to probiotic of choice. If you want an in-depth look at the benefits of kefir click here. The more benefits I discovered while researching this amazing beverage, the more I fell in love with it. I hope you enjoy being keferized as much as I have! Add your discoveries and experiences with Kefir in the comments below.