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Can you have kefir while pregnant?

by Sarah Spence


Pregnancy, probiotics and kefir: what’s the deal?

Being pregnant and bringing a baby into the world can be a time of great joy. But let’s be real, it’s not all unicorns and rainbows. Morning sickness, constipation, heartburn, increased susceptibility to colds and flu and a whole bunch of other not-so-nice symptoms can all come with being pregnant.

And let’s not even mention the dietary restrictions! Take out your morning coffee, sushi lunch and a glass of red with dinner, and your options start to look a little limited. Plus the guidelines can be hella confusing.

Lucky, it’s not ALL doom and gloom. Experts at least agree that you can help to manage symptoms and keep feeling healthy with smart pregnancy wellness strategies like:

  • daily exercise
  • prenatal vitamins
  • pelvic health check-ups
  • eating well (within the guidelines!).

So how do probiotic drinks, like kefir, fit into a healthy, balanced pregnancy lifestyle? Can you have kefir when pregnant? And how can it help?

 


What is kefir?

Before we jump in, let’s cover the basics. What exactly is kefir?

Kefir is a fermented drink that’s chock-full of probiotics and brimming with health benefits. It can be made using milk, non-dairy milk alternatives or water.

Milk kefir is a white, creamy drink that’s a little bit fizzy with a strong sweet-but-sour flavour. Think of it as being like a drinkable yoghurt.

Milk kefir is traditionally made with:

  • cow (or goat!) milk
  • kefir starter culture (milk kefir grains)

Water kefir (like Nexba Kefir) is a light, bubbly drink with a slightly sweet-yet-tart flavour that’s more subtle than milk kefir. Think of it more like apple cider. It’s traditionally made with:

  • water
  • kefir starter culture (water kefir grains)
  • added sugars and flavours – for example, fig juice, lemons, fruit juice or molasses

We’re big fans of water kefir because apart from its amazing health benefits (see below), water kefir’s claim to fame is being completely dairy-free. That means it’s perfect if you’re vegan, or dairy- or lactose-intolerant, or you’re just looking to cut back on animal products.

 

So, is water kefir safe when you’re pregnant or breastfeeding?

YES! As long as you find one that’s 100% natural but not raw (it needs to be pasteurised). Also make sure it’s free from anything doctors generally recommend avoiding during pregnancy and breastfeeding, like caffeine or alcohol.

On top of that, the water kefir you choose ideally shouldn’t contain any:

  • sugar
  • animal products
  • artificial sweeteners, flavours or colourings

Just a quick note: always ask your doctor about the most up-to-date dietary guidelines and what’s right for you if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding. Homemade kefir can sometimes be a little risky because the fermentation process can result in trace levels of alcohol (unlike Nexba, which is 100% alcohol-free) – so that’s one to watch out for.

 

What are the health benefits of kefir during pregnancy?

Our bodies contain huge numbers of bacteria, both good and bad. (Fun fact: there are actually slightly more bacteria living in our bodies than there are human cells!) The good bacteria, also known as probiotics, help us to digest the food we eat and create important vitamins.

And, as we said above, kefir is jam-packed with probiotics. So, because of these amazing good bacteria, kefir has been linked to a bunch of health benefits.

Some of these benefits can be super helpful in managing pregnancy symptoms like constipation, heartburn, UTIs and susceptibility to colds. That’s because probiotics have been shown to be useful in:

Some studies have shown that probiotics may also have benefits for women with gestational diabetes. That’s because the probiotics may help with glucose metabolism. In other words, they may help pregnant women efficiently turn the sugar they eat into energy while keeping their blood glucose at a happy level.

There’s also a possibility that probiotics could play a role in preventing:

  • preterm delivery
  • infections in mothers after they’ve given birth
  • functional digestive issues like constipation and irritable bowel syndrome in babies
  • eczema and allergies during infancy

The jury’s still out on whether kefir is actually proven to have these benefits during pregnancy. But for the meantime, these studies do point to some promising early results.

 

What to look for when buying kefir

Not all probiotics are created equal. Some can be a little, well… delicate. And not all of them deal well with being exposed to changes in temperature, acidity or humidity.

That’s why you’ll sometimes find probiotic supplements in the fridge at your chemist. It’s also why you can’t always be sure of getting full health benefits from just anything that claims to have probiotics in it. Depending on the strain of bacteria a product provides, the probiotics in it may not make it through your digestive system to get to your gut alive.

It’s something we got the boffins at Nexba to focus on when developing our kefir.

Nexba Kefir contains 500 million live smart, robust probiotic bacteria called Bacillus coagulans. These little guys are encased in a hard, protein-like shell that helps them to survive the harsh conditions of your stomach. That means they’ll make it all the way to your gut intact.

BAM!

**This article is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your doctor, midwife or other qualified health provider before making a decision.




Sarah Spence
Sarah Spence

Author




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