The No. 1 Liquid You Should Be Adding to Your Smoothies To Boost Their Gut Benefits, According to an RD

Photo: Stocksy/ Suchita Kalele
Making smoothies is basically second nature: Crack open the blender, add a heaping handful of frozen fruit, a scoop of protein powder, top it off with a splash of your favorite plant-based milk…and call it a day. Right?

But wait. Caroline Margolis, RD, says not so fast. According to the nutrition expert, you’re missing the single most important liquid for making smoothies creamy, dreamy, and digestion-friendly. Yep, we’re talking about kefir, which contains double the amount of probiotics than yogurt, kombucha, and most other probiotic beverages on the market. Ahead, we delve into why kefir is the ultimate ingredient for making gut-healthy smoothies.

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Why kefir is so good for you—and your drinks

Nailing the perfect ratio of liquid to solids can make or break a smoothie. But if you take a look at most recipes, they typically call for the usual liquidy suspects: dairy milk, plant-based milk, juice, or good ol’ H2O. But according to Margolis, “Kefir is the number one nutrient-rich ingredient you should be adding to your smoothies." (Mic drop?)

What exactly gives kefir the upper hand, Margolis says, is probiotics. "Kefir is good source of protein, and an excellent source of calcium, vitamin D, and other nutrients. But it’s the probiotics that give it a clear advantage,” Margolis says. “Kefir contains a more diverse set—and at least double the amount of probiotics—than yogurt. This benefits your gut microbiome, digestive health, and immune system.” Indeed, she makes a very valid point.

"Kefir is good source of protein, and an excellent source of calcium, vitamin D, and other nutrients. But it’s the probiotics that give it a clear advantage.”

Lifeway Kefir, a cultured milk drink that’s high in protein, calcium, and vitamin D, is Margolis' go-to brand for blending into smoothies. "What makes this beverage truly great for my gut is its unique blend of kefir cultures that contains 12 live and active cultures, as well as vitamin B12, vitamin K2, calcium, and bioactive peptides," she says. This, in turn, gives the kefir product its anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and antihypertensive properties.

What’s more, Margolis notes that Lifeway Kefir’s unique fermentation process and the blend of kefir cultures also help ensure that the final product is up to 99 percent lactose-free and suitable for most lactose intolerant folks—a win-win.

Can’t or don’t consume dairy altogether? Say no more. Folks looking for an alt-milk alternative will be pleased to learn that Lifeway has a series of probiotic-rich, dairy-free, and organic cultured oat milk products that come in various flavors, including plain, strawberry, mixed berry, blueberry, and peach.

A few quick notes about making kefir-based smoothies

So, now that we know why kefir supersedes any other liquid when making smoothies, it’s time to get cooking blending. But before you press 'Pulse,' there are a few things to note. Due to kefir’s similar composition to yogurt, it can be replaced in a one-to-one ratio (yogurt to kefir). However, kefir is more viscous than water, milk, and alt-milks. As such, it’ll yield a thicker, creamier smoothie, so you may need to adjust your usual recipe to account for this.

Ready to dabble in making kefir-based smoothies? This Barbie-core-inspired Pink Dream Smoothie is calling your name.

@lifewaykefir Any good movies playing this weekend? Before you head to the theater, let’s go party with our Pink Dream Smoothie. It’s a classic. It’s fantastic. #barbenheimer ♬ original sound - Lifeway Kefir

kefir smoothie pink drink
Photo: Lifeway Kefir

Pink dream smoothie recipe

Yields 10 servings

1 cup frozen pineapple
1 cup frozen strawberries
1/2 cup frozen raspberries
1 cup pink lemonade or natural strawberry juice
2 cups Mixed Berry Whole Milk Kefir
1 Tbsp cherry syrup
Toppings: strawberry-flavored whipped cream, pineapple wedges, cherries

1. Add all the ingredients to a blender in the order listed (except for the toppings and the cherry syrup), and blend.

2. Garnish the rim of a glass with cherry syrup, then pour the smoothie in, add a layer of whipped cream, and garnish with the toppings of your choice, like pineapple wedges and cherries. Enjoy!

An RD shares a comprehensive guide to gut health:

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