About Kefir Grains and Kefir; their history, use, extended use, and health benefits
AbstractThe gut microbiota maintains a complex mutual interaction with different organs of the host. Whereas in normal conditions this natural community of trillions of microorganisms greatly contributes to the human health, gut dysbiosis is related with onset or worsening of diverse chronic systemic diseases. Thus, the reestablishment of gut microbiota homeostasis with consumption of prebiotics and probiotics may be a relevant strategy to prevent or attenuate several cardiovascular and metabolic complications. Among these functional foods, the synbiotic kefir, which is a fermented milk composed of a mixture of bacteria and yeasts, is currently the most used and has attracted the attention of health care professionals. The present review is focused on reports describing the feasibility of kefir consumption to provide benefits in cardiometabolic diseases, including hypertension, vascular endothelial dysfunction, dyslipidemia and insulin resistance. Interestingly, recent studies show that mechanisms of actions of kefir in cardiometabolic diseases include recruitment of endothelial progenitor cells, improvement of the balance vagal/sympathetic nervous system, diminution of excessive generation of reactive oxygen species, angiotensin converting enzyme inhibition, anti-inflammatory cytokines profile and alteration of the intestinal microbiota. These findings provide a better understanding about the mechanisms of the beneficial actions of kefir and motivate further investigations to determine whether the use of this synbiotic could also be translated into clinical improvements in cardiometabolic diseases.