Kefir the key ingredient for a dairy-based sports drink that cancer survivors can stomach

By Gary Scattergood

- Last updated on GMT

The kefir beverage met the American College of Sports Medicine guidelines for recommended nutrition. ©iStock
The kefir beverage met the American College of Sports Medicine guidelines for recommended nutrition. ©iStock

Related tags Cancer

Kefir could be a beneficial dairy-based sports nutrition ingredient for cancer survivors who may be wary of trying products containing milk due to concerns about stomach upsets.

Researchers wrote in the Journal of Dairy Science​ that regular exercise plays an important role in improving cardiorespiratory fitness, muscular strength, and feelings of fatigue in cancer survivors during and after treatment.

However, many people with cancer experience digestive upset due to treatment and may be wary of incorporating dairy products into their diet to help support their recovery.

Therefore, investigators explored cancer survivors' attitudes about consumption and acceptance of a recovery beverage made with a fermented milk from kefir grains, whole fruit, natural sweeteners, and other natural ingredients.

Resistance exercise

The beverage, which met the American College of Sports Medicine guidelines for recommended nutrition after endurance and resistance exercise, was developed and manufactured at the Louisiana State University Creamery.

Fifty-two participants evaluated the acceptability and smoothness of the beverage samples, and indicated their intent to purchase the drink.

Following the initial test, the health benefits of kefir were explained and participants sampled the product a second time, answering the same questions related to overall liking, feeling, and intent to purchase.

Participants showed a high intent to purchase both before and after they learned about the health benefits, but the beverage scored significantly higher for overall liking after the health benefits were explained.

Immune function

The study reported: “The results of this study suggest that kefir may be acceptable to physically active cancer survivors after exercise. This is important information, because providing access to kefir may allow cancer survivors to enjoy the benefits of milk without stomach upset. This beverage also offers promise as a practical means of enhancing gut and immune function in this population.”

Lead investigator Laura K. Stewart , associate professor at the University of Northern Colorado, School of Sport and Exercise Science, added: "Kefir may be a great way for cancer survivors to enjoy a post-exercise dairy drink in the future, The beverage received high scores overall and, except for an improvement in overall liking, we observed no significant differences in physical and psychological feelings before and after participants learned that it contained kefir and had potential health benefits."

Source: Journal of Dairy Science

"Short communication: Sensory analysis of a kefir product designed for active cancer survivors."

Authors: Laura K. Stewart, et al.

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