health benefits of kefir, probiotics, recover from an infection

One of the most useful-and widely used-medications for type 2 diabetes, metformin, is known to cause digestive distress for some of the people who take it. One reader found, however, that drinking the fermented milk beverage kefir could help alleviate the symptoms.

Metformin and Diarrhea:

Q. I have type 2 diabetes for which I take metformin. Unfortunately, this medicine gives me severe diarrhea. At times I have been afraid to leave the house. My doctor just shrugs and says diarrhea is a side effect of metformin.

I have discovered that drinking kefir in the evening helps control the diarrhea. I don’t like the tart taste, but the drink has helped me a lot. It took about three weeks before it took effect and I got control of my bowels.

A. Diarrhea can be a symptom of a serious metformin side effect, lactic acidosis. Ask your doctor to check for this complication.

Why Might Kefir Help?

Kefir is fermented milk. This provides probiotic bacteria that may help stabilize your intestinal flora and help control diarrhea (Rosa et al, Nutrition Research Reviews, June 2017). Kefir appears to provide a range of health benefits (Bourrie, Willing & Cotter, Frontiers in Microbiology, May 4, 2016).

People with diabetes may also find that kefir can help lower blood sugar and HbA1c (a measure of blood sugar over time) (Tonucci et al, Clinical Nutrition, Feb. 2017). Even though the taste doesn’t please you, you’re smart to stick with plain kefir. Many of the flavored kefir products are sweetened, which might not be good for blood sugar control.

Taking Care of Your Diabetes:

We discuss the pros and cons of metformin along with many other strategies for blood sugar control in our Guide to Managing Diabetes.

Everyone with diabetes needs to be monitoring blood sugar as well as managing any symptoms. While natural approaches can be beneficial, they should not be used as a substitute for appropriate medical care.

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  1. Abigail

    Some people find Extended Release forms of Metformin less likely to cause various kinds of digestive distress.

  2. Stanley C. P

    One of the old nasids is ‘APC’. In the Navy they gave it for everything. As a dentist, I frequently prescribed it . It’s effective for most dental pain. If not I prescribed it with small dose of codeine. I find that Excedrin really works for my back pain. A little different from APC but good. I don’t suggest using the codeine but Excedrin does work. Long range use, use with discretion.

    • Nikki
      Fenton, Missouri

      My Hubby had the same problem. His former doctor said the same thing…nothing could be done. We got fed up with her lack of interest in our health and changed doctors. My Hubby told her about the diarrhea issues and asked if anything could be done. She told him that there was an extended release Metformin and prescribed it right away. Within three days the issue was gone!!! Not only did she take care of the Metformin issue, but due to her exceptional care, he is now off three other meds and is no longer being overmedicated!!!

  3. Susan S

    When my husband increased his Metfromin dose, he suffered from diarrhea for about eight months. He didn’t get rid of it until he stopped eating all dairy, fermented dairy included.

    • bob

      Susan, interesting – The Extended Release Metformin took care of most of the Diarrhea issues, but I do occasionally have flare ups. My doctor chalked it up to Metformin side effects (non-ER Metformin was a REAL bummer for me, I only lasted 4 months before getting to the ER version) As we are big dairy lovers, I am interested in the dairy (for me, milk and cheese) connection. I will have to check for correlation by dropping my dairy intake. Thanks!

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