Oh, our poor digestive tracts! One of the biggest threats is antibiotics, which kill off both harmful bacteria and beneficial bacteria that are needed to keep our digestive systems running smoothly.

But there are additional threats, too, such as drinking too much alcohol or coffee…long-term use of medications such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and corticosteroids…eating a poor diet…and living with chronic stress.

The result is often bloating, intestinal gas, constipation, diarrhea, irritable bowel syndrome and other conditions.

Great-tasting way to protect your gut: Drinking kefir, which is bursting with a wide variety of beneficial bacteria—it improves digestion and boosts immunity.


Kefir is a thick, creamy, drinkable liquid that is similar to yogurt, but it tastes more tart and has more beneficial bacteria, including a variety of Lactobacillus species and beneficial yeasts. When kefir is consumed, it coats the digestive tract, giving beneficial bacteria a place to settle and colonize. To build up and maintain your levels of beneficial bacteria, consider drinking one cup of kefir daily.

You can make your own “basic milk kefir” for the delicious, health-promoting recipes here…or use plain store-bought kefir.

Basic Milk Kefir

This drink can be consumed on its own, or it can be added to smoothies, dressings and desserts.

1 cup refrigerated organic cow’s milk

1½ teaspoons milk kefir grains*

1 sterilized glass jar,** no lid (about 1¼ cups or larger)

1 sterilized glass jar with lid (about 1¼ cups)

1 small piece of cheesecloth or paper towel

1 rubber band

1 fine-mesh strainer

Pour milk into a glass jar with no lid and add kefir grains. Secure the cheesecloth on top of the jar with a rubber band and store at room temperature for 12 to 24 hours. Depending on the temperature in your home and how sour you like your kefir (the longer it ferments, the more sour it will taste), fermentation can take up to 48 hours. Strain the kefir through the mesh strainer into the second jar, and seal with a lid. It will last in the refrigerator for one week. Transfer remaining kefir grains from the strainer into a new jar to begin a new batch. Yield: 1 cup. For larger batches, double or triple all ingredients (using larger jars).

Antibiotic Repair Kit Smoothie

Drink this delicious smoothie to replenish the beneficial bacteria while (and after) taking antibiotics.

1 cup basic milk (or store-bought) kefir

1 peeled banana

2 Tablespoons rolled oats (any type)

Add all of the ingredients to a blender, and blend on high speed until smooth. Drink immediately. Yield: 1½ cups.

Apple Pie Kefir with Crunchy Granola Topping

This tasty drink is just as comforting and homey as apple pie!

2 Tablespoons rolled oats (any type)

2 Tablespoons unsweetened coconut flakes

2 Tablespoons coarsely chopped, raw, unsalted almonds

1 cup basic milk (or store-bought) kefir

1 apple (preferably organic), cored and coarsely chopped

½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg

¼ teaspoon pure vanilla

1 Tablespoon pure maple syrup (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Place the oats, coconut flakes and almonds on a baking sheet, and bake for 12 minutes or until the coconut just starts to brown a little. Remove from the oven, and allow to cool. Put the kefir, apple, cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla and maple syrup in a blender, and blend until smooth. Pour into a glass, and top with the topping mix. Yield: 1½ cups.

*Kefir grains can be purchased online at CulturesforHealth.com. All fermented and cultured beverages, such as kefir, contain some alcohol, but the percentage is typically only about 0.5%, which is considered “nonalcoholic.” 

**Sterilize glass jars by placing them in boiling water for five minutes, then let cool before using.