Milk fermentation is one of the oldest methods of food preservation, and the most common fermented milk products are yogurts, acidophiles, kefir, sour milk, and sour cream. Our ancestors discovered the method of food fermentation by accident, but accidents showed to be useful as fermented foods can be preserved for a long period of time, without losing their nutritive value.
The healthiest and used products of milk fermentation
YOGURT – satisfies the hunger and raises our immunity
If we wish to turn our milk into yogurt we need good bacteria. Most frequently used in yogurt production are bacteria from the genera lactobacilli and bifidobacteria.
They are better known as probiotics and they are the ones responsible for the benefits of this dairy drink.
While enjoying the refreshing taste of yogurt we do much more for ourselves than just filling the stomach – we take bioactive substances, especially probiotics, which experts classify as drugs because they protect us from pathogenic microorganisms and strengthen our immune system.
Yogurt is an excellent source of calcium, necessary for growth, development, and bone preservation at any age, so it plays an important role in the prevention of osteoporosis, which affects every third woman and every eighth man.
Non-dairy fans and persons that cannot digest milk sugar lactose can easily enjoy yogurt! It is an excellent source of high-value protein and a good source of B vitamins and minerals like magnesium and phosphorus. Most people eat yogurt because they like its taste, but numerous studies show that it is not just delicious food. A study conducted by Tufts University shows that yogurt has a beneficial effect on several digestive problems, including lactose intolerance, constipation, diarrhea, malignant and inflammatory bowel diseases, Helicobacter pylori infection, and allergies.
People who are being treated with antibiotics are often advised to supplement their diet with yogurts. While taking antibiotics, many suffer from diarrhea caused by disruption of the intestinal microflora. Non-selectively destroying harmful bacteria, antibiotics also destroy good ones that are an integral part of the intestinal microflora and are necessary for good intestinal health.
Scientists have proven that regular consumption of yogurt during antibiotic therapy reduces the occurrence of diarrhea by 50%.
It is also proven to have a protective and curative effect on arthritis. If you have problems with bad breath, caries, and gum diseases yogurt can be a good solution for you. Japanese study reveals that six weeks of yogurt consumption impressively suppress bad breath and prevents tooth and gum disease. Yogurt can be said to be ancient food with ingredients of the 21st century. In recent decades, the functional activity of many of its ingredients has been proven, so due to the many good effects on our health, today yogurt is considered to be a functional food.
So-called probiotic yogurts are of special value since they contain strains of bacteria with probiotic action. Such clinically investigated strains of probiotics are often added to various dairy products and a health claim is made on them. In addition to the prominent health claim, it is also useful to know the number of bacteria contained in a milliliter of dairy product and this number should not be less than 10 on 8.
ACIDOPHILUS – good for stomach and bowels
Acidophilus is made by fermentation of skimmed or whole cow’s milk with Lactobacillus Acidophilus bacteria. Fermentation lasts 18 to 24 hours and takes place in warm conditions. The final product, acidophilic milk, has a sharp taste and thicker structure than normal milk. Also available on the market is sweet acidophilus milk, which is also produced by adding lactobacilli to cow’s milk. It has no incubation period, so this milk does not have such quality or acidity as fermented products, but due to the presence of probiotic bacteria it has a beneficial effect and is good for persons that don’t like sour milk.
Lactobacilli are probiotic or good bacteria that, when ingested, can have various health benefits. The American Dietetic Association emphasizes that the consumption of probiotics helps maintain the health of the digestive system and strengthens the immune system. Lactobacillus bacteria produce lactic acid, which prevents stomach infections and protects the intestines from the invasion of harmful bacteria that can disrupt their normal function and thus seriously endanger our health.
These bacteria also secrete vitamin K, necessary for normal blood clotting, and help create A vitamins and B vitamin group (especially folic acid), as well as create the lactase enzyme, which helps digest lactose. Acidophilus is therefore an excellent choice for people who are lactose intolerant. Like with yogurt, doctors strongly recommended intake of this fermented dairy drink to people who take antibiotics frequently.
Thanks to a large number of probiotic bacteria, acidophilus stimulates the renewal of the intestinal microflora, so it is equally successful in preventing diarrhea and constipation! Therefore, it is indispensable in the treatment of traveler’s diarrhea and children’s diarrhea caused by rotavirus. Some studies indicate that it can benefit people who suffer from allergies and asthma and those who need to lower blood cholesterol. New research suggests that acidophilus helps treat vaginal bacterial inflammation and, combined with standard therapy, in treating urological infections, pneumonia, migraine, and osteomyelitis.
KEFIR – for good health and vitality
For more than 100 years, kefir has been known as a beverage that ensures good health and vitality. It is produced by milk and alcoholic fermentation, more precisely by placing kefir grains in cow’s, sheep’s, or goat’s milk. These grains are a living, growing mass formed by a symbiosis of polysaccharides, fungi (usually Saccharomyces delbrueckii, Saccharomyces cerevisiae), and bacteria (from the genus Lactobacillus).
The fermentation process takes about 24 hours during which the milk turns into a sparkling beverage with a pungent taste. Kefir resembles a milkshake, it is thicker than milk but not so thick as yogurt. It is rich in vitamins B2, B12, K, D, and minerals especially magnesium, calcium, and phosphorus. It is also rich in amino acids, especially Tryptophan, known for its calming effect. Thanks to the huge content of bacteria and fungi it supports the health of the digestive system and speeds up digestion, and due to the higher dose of enzymes (and the lack of lactose), kefir is easily digestible and is especially recommended for people who are lactose intolerant.
In combination with standard therapy, kefir promotes the treatment of infections caused by Helicobacter pylori bacteria. It also prevents the growth of other bad bacteria and stimulates bowel movement (peristalsis), which is why it is used in the treatment of constipation. Kefir has been proven to prevent tumor growth and it has a good effect on the gallbladder and liver function, as well as a normal heart rhythm and cell oxygen supply.
As a product of double fermentation (alcoholic and milk), kefir contains alcohol and carbon dioxide, so it acts as a kind of stimulant of the respiratory and nervous systems. There are various traditional beliefs in the beneficial effects of kefir on health. According to them, kefir helps with various digestive disorders, including colitis, reflux, food intolerance, allergies, and even HIV.
Moreover, it is believed that kefir is the elixir of youth when it takes part in proper daily nutrition. Some even consider kefir superior to yogurt because it contains more microorganisms, and because the “normal” flora of kefir contains stronger types of microorganisms that successfully fight pathogenic diseases.
SOUR MILK – ideal beverage for hot days
This milk drink is formed when different strains of Lactococcus spp. and/or Leuconostoc spp. bacteria and other lactic acid bacteria are added to milk. It contains live bacteria cultures and various nutrients with several beneficial effects on health. A large number of people, especially those who are lactose intolerant, drink sour milk as an alternative to regular milk. Sour milk is the easiest to digest because it does not contain lactose and contains lactic acid.
This fermented beverage is rich in calcium, phosphorus, potassium, zinc, magnesium, and vitamins A B1 B2 B6 B12, and folic acid. It is proven to preserve the health of the digestive system and strengthen immunity. Sour milk is well known for its detoxifying effect, which can be seen on the skin, so by consuming this drink regularly, it becomes healthier, more beautiful, and radiant. In the past, women added sour milk to the bath to ensure the desired whiteness, purity, and optimal moisture of the skin. It effectively lowers body temperature, so in the hot summer months, sour milk is an ideal drink for cooling the body.
Like other fermented dairy products, sour milk has been shown to lower cholesterol and regulate blood pressure.
SOUR CREAM ADVANTAGES
Sour cream somewhat differs from the mentioned dairy products because it can be produced with or without the addition of lactic acid bacteria, and is much richer in fat (it contains at least 10% milkfat in the dry matter). Despite the name, it has a rather mild taste and is rich in water and fat-soluble vitamins (vitamin C, B vitamins, and vitamins D, E, K, A), minerals (calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, sodium), and trace elements (zinc and selenium).
It is an excellent source of high-value proteins and fats, and due to its good combination of vitamins and minerals, it is known as an ideal ally in maintaining bone health. It is especially recommended for children, who need an increased intake of calcium and vitamin D for proper growth and development, and long-term bone protection.
Although it contains a lot of calories, sour cream can be found on the menús of many people who want to lose weight. It quickly causes a feeling of satiety and ensures that this feeling lasts for several hours. It is a perfect addition to various fillings and sauces. Many chefs have built their popularity on dishes enriched with sour cream.
Try it yourself, what can you lose?!
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