An Introduction to Kumis: Origins, Health, and Nutritional Benefits

Photo by: Bigstockphoto
Photo by: Bigstockphoto

Kumis is a type of fermented dairy product made from mare’s milk. This product originated in Russia and is similar to kefir. Kumis is produced from a liquid starter culture. Because horse milk contains more sugar than goat or cow’s milk, kumis has a higher alcohol content than kefir.

During the 19th century, kumis was used to treat various diseases throughout south-eastern Russia. According to health experts, kumis can cure anything from tuberculosis to anemia. However, more research is needed to determine the medicinal benefits of this dairy product.

How is Kumis Taken?

Although kumis is a dairy product, it’s categorized as an alcoholic beverage. Technically, kumis is similar to wine because it’s fermented from sugars as opposed to starches. But in Russia, this drink is comparable to beer.

As far as taste goes, kumis has a slightly sour flavor with a mild alcoholic bite. The taste will differ according to the producer. This drink is traditionally served chilled or iced on a saucer-like cup called piyala.

Health and Nutritional Value of Kumis

Loaded with Essential Nutrients

Kumis is high in vitamin B12, calcium, magnesium, folate, and antioxidants. It’s also teeming with beneficial bacteria that aid in digestion. However, because this dairy product does not have a standardized nutritional content, the values of these nutrients will vary depending on the region it’s produced.

Aids in Digestion

Probiotics are microbes that keep the digestive tract healthy. All types of fermented foods contain probiotics, including kumis. Apart from eliminating the proliferation of bad bacteria in the gut, probiotics protect from all types of digestive disorders. Drinking kumis also prevents everyday stomach discomforts. The friendly microorganisms in kumis also restore the delicate balance of the gut flora.

Protects from Cancer

Regular consumption of fermented drinks cuts the risk of cancer development. Several studies found that probiotics kill cancer cells and shrink malignant tumors in lab animals. According to the Journal of Dairy Science, mice fed with fermented dairy products recovered from breast cancer growth. Researchers found that probiotics helped keep the lab animals’ immune cells healthy, allowing the mice to fight off cancer cells.

Detoxifies the Body

Kumis is a powerful detoxifier too. The lactic acid in kumis neutralizes the effects of “mutagens.” Mutagens are agents that distort the body’s DNA. These agents are found in the environment, making it hard to avoid exposure. Lactic acid protects the body from all types of fungi, virus, and bacteria. In turn, this nutrient cleanses the body, eliminating toxins safety as waste.

Strengthens the Immune System

Just like vitamin C, Lactobacillus probiotics protect from common colds and flu. Researchers at University College Cork found that probiotics work just as effectively in eliminating infections and inflammations as store-bought antibiotics. The research involved testing three animal models with similar genetic attributes to human beings. Researchers found that in all animal diseases observed, probiotics significantly protected the animals from infection.

Keeps the Bones and Teeth Strong

Kumis is loaded with calcium. This essential nutrient keeps the bones dense and strong! The same thing goes for the teeth. Apart from keeping the bones healthy, calcium in kumis also regulates various body processes. Without it, the body is unable to complete critical functions.


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