A Functional Food: Kefir
Kefir, which has an important place among the fermented milk products and is consumed traditionally in our country, is a functional drink with many probiotic microorganisms. Kefir is traditionally produced from kefir grains, which have a specific and complex composition that bacteria and yeasts live together symbiotically. The microbial and nutritional composition of kefir varies according to the type and amount of grains used, type and composition of milk used, culture medium, fermentation period, fermentation temperature and storage conditions. Lactobacillus, Lactococcus, Leuconostoc and acetic acid bacteria are the most common bacteria; Saccharomyces, Kluyveromyces and Candida species are mostly found yeast in kefir. Studies conducted in recent years indicate that kefir and/or bacteria isolated from kefir have various health benefits. Studies have shown that kefir has anticarcinogenic, antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory and antihypertensive activities and may also help regulation of the digestive system, management of body weight, control of hyperlipidemia and glycemic response. In this review, properties of kefir and kefir grains, kefir production, kefir’s nutritional and microbial composition and health benefits were discussed.