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Health benefits of traditionally fermented milk-Part 2

Health benefits of traditionally fermented milk

Read the first part of this article here

Lowering cholesterol

Presence of high cholesterol in the blood stream of humans has been recognised as a risk factor in the coronary heart diseases.

Extensive studies have shown that consumption of fermented milk products with certain lactic acid bacteria help to lower cholesterol in the blood.

In his Study, Dr. Maina confirmed that Maasai fermented milk has bacteria with cholesterol lowering properties.

These findings further explain why Maasai consume high quantities of meat and milk and yet show little or no signs of cholesterol or cholesterol-associated diseases.

As early as 1974 it was claimed by Mann and Spoerry that consumption of high quantities of fermented milk helped the Maasai community to keep their serum cholesterol levels low.

These findings and observations have led to several possible mechanisms for probiotics-induced lowering of serum cholesterol to be postulated. The first one proposes that, since cholesterol is used in the production of bile acids, enhanced catabolism and excretion of bile acids might reduce serum cholesterol.  Probiotics are known to deconjugate bile acids which are easily excreted. High excretion of bile salts means more cholesterol is used up leading to reduction of cholesterol in the body.

Other mechanisms include: assimilation of cholesterol by probiotics, cholesterol binding to cell walls of probiotics, incorporation of cholesterol into the cellular membranes of probiotics during growth and conversion of cholesterol into coprostanol which is directly excreted in faeces

Anticancer properties

Although commercial probiotic fermented milk are known to have anticancer properties, it was until 2008 that Maina established presence of anticancer properties in the milk fermented by the Maasai.

Under laboratory conditions, he proved beyond doubt that bacteria isolated from Maasai fermented milk have anticancer properties.

Anti-carcinogenic properties of probiotic bacteria are due to inhibition of carcinogens and/or pro-carcinogens, inhibition of bacteria that convert pro-carcinogens to carcinogens, increasing intestinal acidity that alter microbial activity and reduced bile acid solubility.

Other mechanisms of probiotics against cancer include: altering colonic transit time by aiding in removal of fecal mutagens more rapidly as well as stimulating the immune system.

Lactose intolerance

Lactose intolerance affects about 70% of people world-wide.

Lactose intolerance results form an inability to digest lactose, due to the failure of small intestine mucosal cells to produce lactase, an enzyme needed to digest lactose.

This often results from genes, gastrointestinal disease, or decline in the amount of intestinal lactase levels with age.

Lactase deficient people accumulate non-absorbed lactose in the gastrointestinal tract, which draws water and electrolytes into the gut and speeds waste through the intestines, leading to bloating, cramping, and diarrhoea.

Those experiencing lactose intolerance can consume fermented milk without any problems because lactose is already broken down by lactic acid bacteria.  It is also known that some lactic acid bacteria produce the enzyme lactase.

Immune system

There is considerable evidence from animal studies that probiotic bacteria in fermented milk stimulate the immune system of the host. The stimulation is associated with the adherence of the bacteria to the intestinal cells and interacts with the gut-associated lymphoid tissue

Fermented milk is therefore recommended as a good way to boost immune system of children and elderly.

Advantages of traditionally fermented milk over commercially fermented milk

Despite the simple and easy fermentation process, traditionally fermented milk offers several advantages over commercial counterparts.

Probiotic lactic acid bacteria are supposed be susceptible to antibiotics commonly used by patients. Regrettably, lactic acid bacteria found in commercial probiotic yoghurts are known to be resistant to two or more antibiotics.

Fortunately, Maina found out that the lactic acid bacteria isolated from Maasai fermented milk are less resistant to antibiotics.

The Maasai rarely use antibiotics to treat their livestock. This may explain the minimal resistant of probiotic bacteria found in Kule naoto to antibiotics. This unique characteristic indicates lower chances of transferable resistance bacterial genes from the traditional Maasai fermented milk.

Traditionally fermented milk is free from preservatives, sugar and colourings except the black specs of charcoal from the wood used to treat the fermenting gourd.

Last but not least, it is cheap and very easy to prepare.

Don’t forget to read part 3 of this series in the next article. To receive these articles and a free e-book in your email subscribe for free on the right.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • norah May 30, 2011, 9:00 pm

    Arimi I cant say more…I see in the office we stopped taking milk in tea coz of lactose intolerance we will try this one now, and the acquired resistance to antibiotics in commercial fermented milks it could not have been better put.
    We give Dr.Maina and Dr.Arimi a standing ovation..we are proud of you guys.

    • Joshua Arimi May 30, 2011, 11:31 pm

      You are very much welcome Norah. I actually stumbled upon these findings of Dr. Maina and thought boy…….they cannot go unnoticed. These are kind of findings we rarely find in Kenyan scholastic articles. Congrats to Dr.Julius Maina Mathara. Watch for the article in Nation newspapers, it might pop up in the next few weeks.

  • Jim Sizemore November 16, 2011, 7:24 pm

    When I was a young boy, grandma would skim the cream off the milk from our cow and place it in our crock churn, where it would set for a few days(as more was collected). When there was enough to churn, and it had soured just a bit(thru fermentation) we would begin the churning. The best tasting butter(and buttermilk) would come from that churn! We were doing exactly what the Maasai do with their milk and I never realized it until now….Today, all we can buy is “cultured buttermilk”. No wonder there is so much sickness today!!

  • Carlo Lagunas February 7, 2012, 7:58 am

    Awesome article.Much thanks again. Want more.

  • Edwin Githinji March 28, 2012, 2:41 pm

    Hello Arimi,

    Good work.Is there any difference between Mala and Yogurt mainly in-terms of health benefits. And exactly what is it?

  • Giovanna Brownfield April 16, 2012, 10:53 am

    I am so grateful for your blog article.Much thanks again. Will read on…

  • Jackson Sang August 9, 2014, 5:51 pm

    Dr Maina is doing great work by researching on fermented milk. Many tribes in Kenya use fermented milk including my own and i would like to know more on the milk