Kefir, which is part of the lower branch of probiotics, a functional food type, is a fermented dairy product containing yeast and bacteria. Kefir, which is the most commonly consumed product after yogurt among dairy products; is a buttermilk-like beverage made from cow, sheep, and goat milk, containing high amounts of vitamins B1, B12, and K2, calcium, magnesium, biotin, folic acid, amino acids, enzymes, and probiotics. There are many beneficial microorganisms in the content of kefir, which is made by adding kefir culture or kefir grains to fermented milk. It has an important place in fermented milk products with its probiotic feature. Therefore, it is known that it has many benefits such as cardiovascular health, especially the gastrointestinal system, and strengthening the immune system. Kefir can be consumed alone or with an addition of fruit and can be used instead of milk in cakes and cakes. Before answering the frequently asked question of how to make kefir, it is necessary to understand what kefir is.
What is Kefir?
Consumed for many years in the North Caucasus to cure diseases, kefir has become popular around the world over the years. Today, almost all European countries and the United States also made kefir production, which was produced as packaged in the 80s for the first time in Turkey. Kefir itself resembles a small cauliflower composed of yeast and bacteria, with nearly white, jelly-like spheres. Kefir is a fermented dairy product mostly made by fermenting cow, sheep, and goat milk with kefir culture. It has a creamy consistency, moderately acidic, and slightly sour aroma. Being a good source of phosphorus and biotin, kefir is rich in vitamins B1, B12, and K2, calcium, magnesium, biotin, folic acid, and amino acids. Kefir, which can be consumed by people of all ages, has many positive effects on human health. Kefir, also known as the yogurt of the 21st century, contains all the nutrients contained in milk and has a high nutritional value thanks to the microorganisms that are formed by fermentation with kefir culture. As a result of some studies, it has been observed that kefir is beneficial for human health due to its antibacterial, immunological, antitumoral, and hypocholesterolemic or, in other words, cholesterol-lowering effects. Since it contains bacteria that aid digestion, it can be consumed regularly, especially by people with digestive problems. Kefir, which is much less lactose in comparison to milk, can also be consumed by people with lactose intolerance after consulting a doctor.
What are the benefits of kefir?
The microorganisms contained in the product obtained by fermenting or fermenting milk with kefir culture produce bioactive substances and enzymes. During the fermentation process, microorganisms increase the availability of nutrients by transforming the chemical structure of the raw material. Thus, the resulting product gains a bioprotective effect. This transformation, which improves food safety, also leads to the breakdown of toxic components and provides the production of antioxidants and antimicrobial compounds. Food fortified with bioactive components turns into a healthier food. Studies have proven the positive effect of fermented prebiotic and probiotic dairy products on human health. It is known that kefir, which was used in the treatment of cancer and allergic diseases, especially tuberculosis, in Russia in the past, increases the secretion of stomach and pancreatic organs today. Being rich in essential amino acids tryptophan, calcium, and magnesium minerals, kefir plays an active role in relaxing the nervous system. The benefits of kefir, which is thought to have a relaxing effect on metabolism when consumed daily, have also been shown to have a positive effect on liver and kidney functions. It also plays an important role in the regulation of intestinal flora with its intense microorganisms and probiotic properties. In addition to prebiotics that serves as food for the beneficial bacteria existing in the intestines, probiotics that provide the intestinal flora and diversity of microorganisms are also very useful for the intestines. According to a limited study, it has been found that if kefir is consumed regularly for 6 to 9 months, it improves intestinal disorders by 99%, insomnia problems by 60%, depression by 50%, and high blood pressure by 30%. It is thought that the anticarcinogenic effect is among the benefits of kefir. It is thought that some enzymes that play a role in the formation of cancer cells due to DNA damage and mutation reduce their activities, increase acidity, increase the production of fatty acids and accelerate cell death, known as apoptosis, and prevent cancer formation. Kefir, which has been shown to reduce the risk of breast cancer in some limited studies, has also been found to be effective on high cholesterol metabolism in an animal experiment. It was also seen in the same study that HDL level, which is defined as high-density lipoprotein, was not affected by kefir consumption. According to another limited study, it has been observed that kefir regulates blood sugar and prevents food allergies. Kefir, which causes suppression of IgE and IgG1 response, is thought to have a positive effect on allergic diseases such as asthma and atopic dermatitis as well as food allergies. As a result of such studies, it has been revealed that problems such as blood pressure, digestive system, and lactose intolerance are reduced with regular kefir consumption. In addition to limited studies showing that it has a positive effect on the immune system, it has also been found that it has an antibacterial effect against some pathogen bacteria. Containing all the nutrients in milk, kefir also contains amino acids and fatty acids that are essential for the body. When 1 cup of kefir is consumed per day, daily calcium and phosphorus 20% of the needs, 19% of the vitamin B2, 14% of the vitamin B12, and 5% of the magnesium need can be met. Other benefits of kefir, in light of the many limited studies that have been done, are listed below:
- It helps prevent muscle contractions.
- It prevents arteriosclerosis.
- It is effective in relieving chronic fatigue.
- It prevents anemia.
- It has positive effects on the skin, nails, eye, and dental health.
- Supports the treatment of urinary tract inflammation.
- It is helpful in weight control.
- Increases body resistance.
- It speeds up the healing process.
While some of known the benefits of kefir have been demonstrated by limited studies, others have been proven only in studies on laboratory animals. As with any food item, excessive consumption of kefir can be harmful. Therefore, a specialist should be consulted before consuming kefir for the treatment of diseases. A physician should be consulted before consumption during pregnancy and lactation.
How is kefir made?
Kefir is a fermented dairy product that can be made at home or purchased from markets. Homemade kefir must be kept in a glass container and in the refrigerator. Metal spoons should not be used in the production of kefir, which can be stored in the refrigerator for a maximum of 2 days. The most important feature that distinguishes kefir from other fermented products, which contains a small amount of carbon dioxide and alcohol due to its ferment, is the simultaneous fermentation of lactic acid and alcohol. Industrially, kefir begins by homogenizing the collected raw milk. It is cooled after pasteurization at approximately 95 degrees. After inoculation using 2% to 8% yeast, it is left to fermentation for approximately 18 to 24 hours. After packaging, it is aged for one day at 3 to 10 degrees and then stored at 4 degrees. It is sent to the markets by a cold chain. Like yogurt, kefir is a fermented dairy product with probiotic content. Although it is known that it regulates the intestinal flora when consumed regularly, its effects on diseases are not yet proven. Therefore, the physician should be consulted for the treatment of the related health problem and information should be obtained from the physician about the appropriateness of kefir consumption with the treatment arranged by the physician.