Drinking Fermented Milk May Help Cancer Survivors

The consumption of fermented foods has long believed to have so many health benefits. A new study is now giving fresh reason why you should eat them daily. According to the study, consuming fermented milk and food items can be beneficial for the health of cancer survivors.

Regular exercise plays an important role in improving cardiorespiratory fitness, muscular strength, and feelings of fatigue in cancer survivors during and after treatment. However, many people with cancer experience digestive upset due to treatment and may be wary of incorporating dairy products into their diet to help support their recovery.

Fermented milk products, also known as cultured dairy products, are fermented with lactic acid bacteria. After going through the fermentation process, the shelf-life of the milk and milk products increases, their taste enhances and the digestibility of milk improves. There is evidence that fermented milk products, such as Kefir and yogurts, offer various health-related benefits. Eating fermented foods and drinking fermented drinks will introduce beneficial bacteria into the digestive system and help to improve bowel health, aid digestion, boost immunity and even slow or reverse some diseases.

Adding more to the long list of fermented food-induced benefits, the latest research by the University of Northern Colorado suggests Kefir can confer post-exercise benefits for cancer survivors.

Doing regular exercise is crucial for cancer survivors during and after the treatment in order to improve their cardiorespiratory fitness and feelings of fatigue as well as give a boost to their muscular strength. However, many cancer patients often experience digestive issues due to cancer medication and try to refrain from dairy products to help support their recovery.

A rich source of protein, health-promoting bacteria, and carbohydrates, Kefir can be a dairy-based nutritious drink for cancer survivors, according to the research.

For the research, lead investigator Laura K. Stewart from the University of Northern Colorado and colleagues used a kefir beverage that met the American College of Sports Medicine guidelines for recommended nutrition after endurance and resistance exercise. Developed and manufactured at the Louisiana State University Creamery, the beverage was made by inoculating and fermenting milk with kefir grains. Subsequently mixed with whole fruit, natural sweeteners, and other natural ingredients, this beverage was then given to 52 cancer survivors following an exercise session.

The research team explored the participating cancer survivors’ attitudes about consumption of the kefir recovery beverage using a nine-point scale, and their acceptance using a three-category just-about-right scale. They used a five-point scale, ranging from 1 = not at all to 5 = extremely, to indicate their intent to purchase the drink.

The findings showed that the cancer survivors expressed a high intent to purchase the kefir beverage both before and after they learned about the health benefits of the beverage, but the overall liking for the beverage significantly raised after the health benefits were explained.

“Kefir may be a great way for cancer survivors to enjoy a post-exercise dairy drink in the future,” commented lead investigator Laura K. Stewart from the University of Northern Colorado. “The beverage received high scores overall and, except for an improvement in overall liking, we observed no significant differences in physical and psychological feelings before and after participants learned that it contained kefir and had potential health benefits.”

The research appears in the Journal of Dairy Science.