Frequently Asked Questions

All of Lifeway's products are gluten free and 99% lactose free.

  • What is kefir?

    Kefir is a live and active cultured dairy beverage with a tart and tangy taste and creamy consistency. It originated over 2000 years ago in the Caucasus Mountains and is associated with good health.

  • How long does Lifeway Kefir stay fresh after opening?

    Lifeway Kefir will stay fresh and delicious from the time you open the bottle until the printed expiration date. For maximum probiotic health, we recommend consuming your kefir before the expiration date.

  • What are probiotics?

    Probiotics are live microorganisms that may provide health benefits when consumed in adequate amounts. The benefits of these good bacteria may include supporting immunity and a healthy digestive system.

  • What kinds of bacteria (probiotics) are in Lifeway Kefir?

    All Lifeway Kefir products contain 15 – 20 billion Colony Forming Units (CFU) of live and active kefir cultures per cup. The kefir cultures include:

    • Lactobacillus Lactis
    • Lactobacillus  Rhamnosus
    • Streptococcus Diacetylactis
    • Lactobacillus Plantarum
    • Lactobacillus Casei
    • Saccharomyces Florentinus
    • Leuconostoc Cremoris
    • Bifidobacterium Longum
    • Bifidobacterium Breve
    • Lactobacillus Acidophilus
    • Bifidobacterium Lactis*
    • Lactobacillus Reuteri*

    *Our Frozen Kefir, ProBugs Kefir for Kids, Green Kefir and Farmer Cheese products do not contain Bifidobacterium Lactis or Lactobacillus Reuteri, and contain 7 – 10 billion CFUs.

  • Are Lifeway Kefir products gluten-free?

    All Lifeway Kefir products are naturally gluten-free and are certified gluten-free by the Gluten-Free Certification Organization (GFCO).

  • Do Lifeway Kefir products contain peanuts or tree nuts?

    All  Lifeway Kefir and Helios Kefir drinkable products are produced in facilities that are 100 percent peanut and tree nut free. Our frozen products, including Frozen Kefir, Frozen Kefir Bars and Frozen ProBugs, are packaged at a facility that also packages products that contain peanuts and tree nuts. If you would like more information about our allergen management procedures, please email [email protected]

  • Are Lifeway Kefir products kosher?

    All Lifeway Kefir products are certified kosher by the Chicago Rabbinical Council (CRC). They are not kosher for Passover. For more information about our kosher certifications, please email [email protected].

  • Why should I add probiotics to my diet?

    The bacteria in the digestive system are important to health and are easily thrown out of balance by everyday stress. Factors that can also offset this balance include antibiotics, infections, alcohol consumption, chronic diarrhea and travel.  Consuming highly processed foods or not consuming enough fiber can also negatively impact this balance. Probiotics are an easy way to help combat these factors and may help keep your digestive system regulated.

  • How much Lifeway Kefir should I drink each day?

    It’s entirely up to you, but we recommend consuming one to two 8 ounce servings of kefir each day for maximum probiotic health. Everyone reacts differently to kefir, so play around with your serving and see what works for you. Some people drink a few ounces a day, while others drink 32 ounces or more each day!

  • How do probiotics work?

    Imagine the path that food takes through the digestive system. Food is passed through the mouth, enters the very acidic stomach and goes into the small intestine where the breakdown of bacteria continues. It is in these last two digestive processes that most bacteria is found. Depending on the balance of “good” and “bad” strains, bacteria can stay in the intestines for quite some time, taking up a significant amount of intestinal wall room and growing surpluses of harmful pathogens like Candida (an overgrowing of yeast). Each time you consume probiotics, like kefir, they compete for this space and push the harmful bacteria out.

  • How can I identify a probiotic?

    A probiotic is simply a strain of bacteria that is beneficial for health. For a probiotic food to be effective, the bacteria must be live and active at the point of consumption. Some foods that are labeled as probiotic contain very few live bacteria, whereas a serving of Lifeway Kefir contains 12 live and active probiotic cultures with 15 to 20 billion CFUs.

  • What can I expect when I try Lifeway Kefir?

    Lifeway Kefir is similar to drinkable yogurt in texture and is delightfully tart and tangy. Kefir affects individuals differently, but in general you can look forward to improved digestion, increased immunity and replenished gut flora. Lifeway Kefir may also help regulate bowel movements.

  • What are natural flavors?

    Natural flavors, as the name indicates, are derived from real, natural sources. All natural flavors that Lifeway uses are made from fruit juices, fruit essences, and essential oils. The fruit flavoring is derived from the fruit itself. The sources of naturals flavors exist in nature and are something that can be eaten.

  • Why does kefir taste different from bottle to bottle?

    Lifeway Kefir is a live and active product that varies in taste, texture, viscosity and level of fizz from bottle to bottle and batch to batch. We don’t add any chemical stabilizers or additives to our kefir, which is why there are natural variations.

    If you purchase a bottle of kefir that is more tart, sour or fizzy than you’re used to, this does not mean the kefir is bad; it’s simply a characteristic of the active cultures. Kefir actually produces a variety of antimicrobial and anti-pathogenic compounds that prevents spoilage.

    Finally, the thickness of the kefir can vary depending on temperature and season. During warmer months, the cows that supply our milk consume more water, which can cause our kefir to be thinner. This once again occurs because we strive to keep our kefir as natural as possible. At the same time, lumps may form due to the culturing process and are a natural characteristic of kefir.

  • What are the differences between kefir and yogurt?

    Lifeway Kefir contains 12 live and active probiotic cultures and is fermented for 14-18 hours after pasteurization. This results in more CFU per serving (15-20 billion) compared to most other commercially available cultured dairy products, including yogurt. The probiotic activity is what produces kefir’s signature fizz, which is why we delightfully refer to it as the Champagne of Dairy!

  • Where can I find Lifeway Kefir products?

    Lifeway Kefir is available nationwide in most major supermarkets and health food stores. Check out the store locator on our handy Where to Buy page to see where you can find it near you. If you can’t find it at your local store, ask your grocer to carry it, and we will be sure to supply it!

  • Where does the milk in non-organic kefir come from?

    Lifeway Foods uses milk from small co-op and family farms throughout the Midwest. This milk is free from ALL synthetic hormones and antibiotics, including rBGH (recombinant bovine growth hormone) and rBST (recombinant bovine somatotropin). The farms are committed to taking great care for the cows and treating them humanely.

  • Does Lifeway Kefir contain any alcohol?

    No. We have formulated our kefir to not contain any alcohol and is safe for the whole family! If you’d like more information about our process, please email [email protected].

  • Can I give Lifeway Kefir to my child?

    Yes! Lifeway Kefir is gluten-free and up to 99% lactose-free, so it’s gentle on kids’ tummies. Plus, research shows that drinking kefir may support immunity and digestive systems in young children. Check out our ProBugs and Frozen Kefir products made just for kids!

  • Is Lifeway Kefir pasteurized? Does it contain any harmful bacteria?

    All of the milk used to make Lifeway Kefir is pasteurized before fermentation. Pasteurization before fermentation ensures our kefir cultures are alive and active when consumed. Furthermore, the fermentation process of Lifeway Kefir produces a variety of compounds that have antimicrobial effects. These inhibit and protect against the growth of pathogens.

  • Do the probiotics in Lifeway Frozen Kefir survive when frozen?

    Yes! The probiotic cultures in our frozen kefir are dormant while frozen. When it is consumed, the probiotics resume activity and may provide all the benefits of cultures in refrigerated kefir.

  • Can I freeze my drinkable kefir? Will the probiotics survive?

    Freezing drinkable kefir can be tricky, but it can be done! We don’t recommend putting drinkable kefir in the freezer while in the bottle, as this will cause the liquids and solids to separate. The kefir may lose its creamy consistency once thawed. Instead, we recommend pouring the kefir into an ice cube tray and blending before consuming if you choose to freeze it.

    If your kefir freezes while in the refrigerator, it is still fine to drink! Just be sure to shake the bottle very well (with the lid on securely) before consuming.

  • Where is the expiration date on my Lifeway Kefir?

    The expiration date on a ProBugs Pouch will always be printed on a white sticker on the back of the pouch. For our ProBugs Blasts and BioKefir products, the expiration date is printed on the foil cap.

    The expiration date location on 8oz, 16oz and 32 oz bottles will vary; it will either be stamped on a rounded edge, or stamped on the top of the front panel.

    See the photo below for an example:

    exp_date_2

  • Is kefir safe for pregnant/nursing women?

    Lifeway Kefir is safe and can be beneficial for pregnant and nursing women.

  • Can I cook or bake with kefir? If so, why should I?

    Absolutely! We love using kefir in our kitchen and have an entire section of our website dedicated to what we create! Visit our Recipe page for simple, delicious ideas that are family-friendly.

    Use Lifeway Kefir anywhere you would use buttermilk, sour cream, yogurt or mayonnaise to kick up the taste – and health benefits – of cold dips, dressings, smoothies and sauces. While many of the probiotic bacteria won’t survive being cooked, kefir is a great way to add flavor and texture to warm dishes, and makes baked goods extra fluffy!

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