by Svetlana FILCHAKOVA, Cand. Sc. (Tech.), Moscow State University of Applied Biotechnology
Kefir fungi and foodstuffs produced on their basis have high bactericidal effect, maintain normal physiological conditions of people, provide ferments essential for stable work of digestive tract, and act as protective factors of the body.
During the whole history of mankind the food problem has been one of the most important. Having analyzed cultural traditions, religious norms and canons of food hygiene one can understand: man's health depends not only on hereditary characteristics, his physical activity, spiritual harmony, and well-being but also on the quality and quantity of the food he eats. At all times the quantity and structure of products consumed by a person was determined by his social status.
For a long time specialists believed that rational nutrition is a balance of the incoming and consumed energy, satisfaction of body requirements in the necessary quantity of organic and inorganic compounds, observance of a food consumption schedule.
That is why today many researchers discuss at different levels the problems of rational and optimal (healthy) nutrition. State policy principles have been developed in our country assuming that food products must solve preventive and healing tasks as well as satisfy need of people in necessary substances and energy.
Sour-milk products and kefir first of all meet the aforesaid requirements. This is determined by its nutritional qualities and revitalizing action. This product received its name, kefir, from the Turkish word "kef" which means "health".
It is believed that kefir first appeared in the Caucasus. For example, people who lived in the Northern Ossetia centuries ago said that it is a perfect remedy against different ailments and helps prolong life. In Russia healing properties of this product were assessed for the first time in Yalta clinics where in the late 18th century doctors used kefir for treatment of people suffering from different ailments; healing properties of these products matched those of kumiss, the mare's milk.
Kefir is the product of the lactic and alcoholic fermentation. Microorganisms which form part of its natural symbiotic* ferment are the most important in its preparation. There is a hypothesis that they appeared as
* Symbiosis - as a rule, long-term mutually beneficial cohabitation of organisms of different species. - Ed.
a result of a lasting digestion of a goat's milk on pieces of veal or camel stomach in oak barrels. In the course of time on its wall there appeared clusters of biological seeds which grew and turned into kefir fungi. In practice the only and applied method of producing new generations of fungi is growth and reproduction of preceding generations of fungi.
Industrial production of kefir began in our country in 1908. It was supplied to hospitals as a medicine. Recently performed research works showed that it plays an important role in improving immunity and digestive functions, has revitalizing effect in case of heat diseases, disturbed circulation, diabetes, helps to reduce cholesterol level and has anticarcinogen properties.
In the past few years kefir has been used to treat oncological diseases. It improves cellular immunity and stimulates activity of leukocytes. In Japan and China this drink is included into a food ration of people suffering from cancer.
In our country kefir is used to prepare a wide range of products, for example, an acidophilus milk. It is produced at many dairy plants using pure cultures of acidophilous bacterium, lactastreptococci and kefir cultures in equal proportions. Another product, tarag, which comes from Buryatia, is also very popular. It includes bifid bacteria, so called Bulgarian bacillus, and kefir fungi culture. Not so long ago there has appeared bifidok created on the basis of a kefir fungi culture and bifid bacterium.
Specialists from Omsk developed a technology of kefir preparation allowing to enrich this product with soya and whey proteins, bifid bacteria, syrup of briar, beet and carrot juices and berries. As a result we can buy such healing products as Malinka, Polezny, Lesnaya Yagoda, Kislinka, Nezhnost, Bikefir. They have good gustatory characteristics, high biological and feeding value as these products are enriched with vitamins, microelements and other biologically active substances.
In this connection it is worth mentioning a sour-milk drink "Vladimirsky" developed at diary plants. It is enriched with an aromatized syrup of hydrolyzed lactose. The drink also includes fruit-sugar, lactoglucose, beet sugar and fruit extractions (0.2 - 0.3 percent).
Besides, on the basis of sour-milk products scientists created several biological substances. Acipol is one of them. It is a biomass, which was dried by a lyophilization (sublimation) method, consisting of a mixture of live active strains of acidophilic lactic acid bacilli and a polysaccharide of kefir fungi. This product is used to treat dysbacteriosis. It stimulates normalization of microflora and immunity, increases anti-infective resistance of the body, reduces incidence of diseases initiated by acute respiratory and intestinal infections. In general acipol is used for prevention of diseases and as a revitalizing product.
Contemporary approaches to the problem of people's nutrition are dictating the necessity in elaboration of new sour-milk products which would include microorganisms of different groups. First of all, we mean new sorts of ice-cream, which, by the way, has antistress effect. It is not accidental that Hippocrates (460-about 370 B.C.), ancient Greek doctor and reformer of the ancient medicine, recommended to his patients to eat frozen products as they "revive bodies and spirits."
It is well-known that the structure of water molecule changes while freezing, and forms seven crystal modifications. In stress situations structured water contained in the body decomposes and calcium, which is a very important nutrient, washes out. And intercellular substance, decomposed during the critical situation, can be regenerated with melt water while eating icecream. By the way, American scientists investigated that ice-cream reduces blood pressure. That is why specialists recommend to hypertensive patients to eat at least 800 mg of calcium every day which can be received from ice-cream, yoghurt, and other dairy products.
Frozen yoghurt is a very popular sort of ice-cream. In the USA and Europe one can find a great variety of this product which is produced from the natural components. In Russia specialists working at a cold store facility in Kolomna developed their own production method. But this product is still not very popular. Our scientists tried another method: they combined ice-cream and kefir. Starter culture of frozen yoghurt contains up to five different groups of microbes: homo- and heterofermentative lactococci, thermophilic dairy microorganisms, mesophilic sour-milk bacilli, acetic-acid bacteria, yeast. All these microorganisms respond and withstand low temperatures in different ways. In the course of laboratory tests scientists wanted to determine their surviving abilities in ice-cream mixed with kefir. They determined that new product can be preserved for a period of 18 months with its healing and flavor properties.
Research works aimed to study kefir fungi properties and their culture medium in order to expand assortment and create new products with new characteristics are in the progress in our university.
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