Kefir Helps to Support Healthy Skin - Dermatologist’s Kefir Probiotic Recommendations

kefir helps to support healthy skin

Kefir helps to support healthy skin because it's packed with good probiotic microbes. Home brewed kefir contains a broad range of these good guys. They live for many years and will ferment for you forever if you take good care of your colony. I am a dermatologist and have been brewing my own kefir for years. I'm a huge kefir fan!

Kefir helps support skin and overall health, and I think home brewed kefir is the best.

kefir health benefits Dr. Bailey

I like all forms of kefir but I think the self-perpetuating home brewed colonies are the best. We now know that you need beneficial probiotic bacteria and yeast to for optimal health. This applies to your body's largest organ, which is your skin. Have healthy and naturally beautiful skin with a healthy diet that includes high quality probiotic rich foods like kefir!

Your skin is the biggest organ in your body, but did you know that the surface area of your intestines would cover a tennis court?!

It's true!!  When all the little folds are stretched out flat, your intestines are huge.  And, every bit of your intestinal surface is covered in important probiotic bacteria and yeast that keep you healthy.

Curating and supporting your healthy intestinal microbiome on this huge surface area is important to your over health.

Your body depends on its huge intestinal surface to get good things in (like nutrients) while keeping bad things out (like mercury). The beneficial germs that live in your gut play a key role here and that’s why probiotics are essential for the health and beauty of your skin.

As unsavory as it is to think about beneficial germs living in your intestines, the little guys are a really big deal. 

You have about 5 pounds of intestinal microorganisms in your gut, 

and you really want them to be the good guys not the bad guys.

The 'germs' in your intestines do critical work to support your overall health and your skin health:

  • They make important vitamins (B vitamins, biotin, vitamin K to name a few).,
  • They produce germ killing substances that keep you from getting infections.
  • They are also your ‘hazmat’ team removing food born toxins such as mercury.

Modern life has reduced the diversity of our little intestinal probiotic microbes like never before.

We start acquiring our microbe population immediately after birth from the things we eat and drink.  Up until modern times a lot of these probiotic microbes came from the bacteria and yeast cultures used to preserve food by a process called fermentation.

With the advent of modern food science, we now rely on preservatives, refrigeration, pasteurizing, and canning (sterilizing food with high heat).   Our diet no longer contains a constant supply of beneficial probiotics. Add to that the use of lifesaving antibiotics, which wipe out what probiotic population we do have, and you can see that for our intestines, it’s a brave new world.

As a dermatologist I always recommend foods with probiotics, especially after antibiotics, but frankly we all need them daily to maintain an optimal intestinal microbiome population. 

kefir helps to support healthy skin dermatologist Dr. Cynthia BaileyI think that our deficient intestinal microbial environment may play a role in many health conditions, including skin diseases like psoriasis, rosacea, eczema and acne.  In my opinion, the best probiotic to replace our lost intestinal microbes is home brewed kefir made from live kefir grains (kefir grains is the name for kefir colonies).  I think kefir and skin health are a logical connection! These are the same microbes that our ancestors used to ferment their food.  Human bodies live symbiotically with these microbes, meaning that both we and the germs benefit from the arrangement. For years I've recommended that probiotic rich foods be consumed daily for optimal health and optimal skin health. Dermatologist and Skin Wellness Expert Dr. Cynthia Bailey

kefir at bedtime for gut healthBrewed kefir from kefir grains contain more of the beneficial microbes than other probiotic sources like yogurt and probiotic capsules. When home brewed as I describe in my next post, the organisms are alive and ready to repopulate your intestines immediately.  Kefir brewing is easy and inexpensive. Kefir milk tastes like buttermilk and if you don’t like the flavor, you can add fruit or honey and make a smoothie.  It’s best drunk at night before bed.  Ideally, this should become a ritual that you continue throughout your lifetime. I drink at least a 2-ounce glass of my home brewed goat milk kefir every night before I go to bed. Frankly, I drink it after brushing my teeth and this correlates with my improved gum health. Could it be related? 

Commercially prepared kefir products available in the supermarkets lack the full benefits of home brewed kefir.  I’d rather you use them than no kefir at all, but they’re typically made from commercially prepared starter powder, not the kefir grains (cultures) and so they don’t contain the full range of organisms and health benefits of brewed kefir.  Some commercial producers may use live, perpetuated kefir grain cultures to make their kefir, but without calling the company and asking, you just don’t know.

What are some of the best fermented probiotic rich cultured foods?

There are other probiotic containing cultured foods that are also worth eating from time to time, but none are as easy as kefir.  These include:

  • barrel fermented sauerkraut and pickles (not canned/sterilized),
  • miso soup,
  • kombucha, and
  • cultured cheeses. 

As with all live probiotic foods, you have to remember not to cook them because high heat kills the beneficial organisms making them useless for repopulating your intestinal microbe population.

In my next post, I teach you how to start brewing your own kefir. 

You’ll have all the information you need to start reaping the health benefits of this probiotic powerhouse food. 

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I wrote this article originally in 2009. At that time, there were no scholarly studies on kefir that I could quote. That's changed! Yes, the microbiome is on everyone's radar now. I'm thrilled - and I'm also proud to have been a microbiome health pioneer. See below for some of the many scholarly sources that have examined the health benefits of kefir.



 Peluzio MDCG, Dias MME, Martinez JA, Milagro FI. Kefir and Intestinal Microbiota Modulation: Implications in Human Health. Front Nutr. 2021 Feb 22;8:638740. doi: 10.3389/fnut.2021.638740. PMID: 33693024; PMCID: PMC7938729.

Bellikci-Koyu E, Sarer-Yurekli BP, Akyon Y, Aydin-Kose F, Karagozlu C, Ozgen AG, Brinkmann A, Nitsche A, Ergunay K, Yilmaz E, Buyuktuncer Z. Effects of Regular Kefir Consumption on Gut Microbiota in Patients with Metabolic Syndrome: A Parallel-Group, Randomized, Controlled Study. Nutrients. 2019 Sep 4;11(9):2089. doi: 10.3390/nu11092089. PMID: 31487797; PMCID: PMC6769690.

Mariana Grancieri*, Thaisa Agrizzi Verediano, Maria das Graças Vaz Tostes, and Mirelle Lomar Viana, Milk and Water Kefir Composition and Its Biological Health Effects, DOI: 10.1021/bk-2022-1406.ch002, Publication Date:March 23, 202

Bourrie BC, Willing BP, Cotter PD. The Microbiota and Health Promoting Characteristics of the Fermented Beverage Kefir. Front Microbiol. 2016 May 4;7:647. doi: 10.3389/fmicb.2016.00647. PMID: 27199969; PMCID: PMC4854945.

de Oliveira Leite AM, Miguel MA, Peixoto RS, Rosado AS, Silva JT, Paschoalin VM. Microbiological, technological and therapeutic properties of kefir: a natural probiotic beverage. Braz J Microbiol. 2013 Oct 30;44(2):341-9. doi: 10.1590/S1517-83822013000200001. PMID: 24294220; PMCID: PMC3833126.