Health benefits of traditionally fermented milk
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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
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 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.
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.
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