Fermented-Fortified Camel Milk Products: Therapeutic over Nutrition


Fermentation is one of the oldest and most economical methods of producing and preserving food. Fermentation is carried out to enhance flavour, aroma, shelf-life, texture, nutritional value and other pleasant and appealing properties of foods. The flavour and taste of acid-fermented products are believed to be produced mainly by organic acids together with free amino acids and carbonyl compounds such as acetaldehyde and diacetyl. Fermented products are produced world-wide using various manufacturing techniques, raw materials and microorganisms. Fermented milk products are widely consumed for their benefits and refreshing effects.

The use of milk with particular nutritional properties such as camel milk, in combination with bacterial strains having probiotic properties and producing physiologically active metabolites, represents one of the technology options for manufacturing dairy functional products. Camel milk and its products are a good nutritional source for human diet in several parts of the world as they contain all essential nutrients.

Nutritional composition and shelf life of camel milk over bovine milk
The nutritional composition of camel’s milk varied worldwide. The moisture, fat, protein, lactose, and ash contents range from 85 to 90%, 2 to 4.5%, 2.5 to 4%, 4 to 6%, and 0.7 to 1.5%, respectively. Camel’s milk contains a maximum amount of vitamin C equivalent to five times that of bovine milk. The percentage of casein 70% of the protein in camel’s milk compared to 80% casein of protein in cow’s milk. It contains excellent amounts of iron and comparatively less calcium than bovine milk. The fat in camel’s milk is also lower than bovine milk, with comparatively smaller globule that can be easily absorbed and digested. Camel’s milk contains a very high percentage of water which is not found in any other type of milk. The camel’s milk retains its quality for 12 days at 2 °C while bovine milk retains its properties for no more than two days at the same temperature. It has been reported that camel’s milk is stable at room temperature for 8-10h due to the presence of lactoferrin, lysozyme and immunoglobulin in higher concentration than bovine milk. The pH of camel’s milk is neutral, but it quickly becomes acidic if left for a long time. Its taste varies from sweetness to salty.

Therapeutic properties of camel milk
It contains an adequate amount of antibacterial and antifungal substances, such as arginine, lysine, phenyl, anamin, albumin, globulin, puritans, calcium, and antioxidants. Camel’s milk reduces blood sugar, therefore a successful treatment for diabetes. It is helpful in curing autism in children, enhances the immunity and fights the microbes as it contains many organic compounds and proteins. In addition, it is useful to cure hepatitis, addresses the food allergy. The scientific literature describes the biofunctionalities of camel milk and its protein hydrolysates, such as antioxidants, antidiabetic, anticancer, angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitory, antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, hepatoprotective, antiradical, antiallergic, and anti-autistic effects. Potential health benefits include inhibition of hypertension-conversing enzymes, antimicrobial and antioxidant characteristics, and antidiabetic activities.

Natural fermented camel products
Natural fermented products are developed by the process of spontaneous fermentation of milk with better nutritional profile. Naturally fermented dairy foods offer exceptional nutritional and therapeutic attributes to human health. There are a number of diversified naturally fermented camel milk products all across the world known by different name and processed in unique ways.

Suusa: A whitish color, low viscosity, smoky and astringent flavor containing naturally fermented raw camel milk product popular among Kenya’s pastoralists. Borana and Somali communities in North and Eastern Kenya produce suusa by allowing camel milk to be coagulated slowly by inherent microorganisms in plastic containers for 1 to 3 days. The inherent microorganisms isolated from suusa include gram positive rods (Lactobacillus and Bacillus) and gram positive cocci including Streptococcus, Sicrococcus and Staphylococcus.

Kefir: Kefir is another very popular traditional fermented camel milk product from Turkey, Middle East. Kefir is prepared by inoculating milk with a symbiotic matrix of bacteria and yeast and can be produced using any type of milk. Non-pathogenic bacteria especially Lactobacillus sp. and yeasts are the most common microorganisms present in kefir.

Shubat:  Shubat is another homemade camel milk product among Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan, produced through fed-batch or semi-continuous methods. After inoculating fresh camel milk with warm water (1:1) and 1/3 to 1/5th of previously soured milk, incubation is then done at 23–30 °C. To obtain the typical taste, the milk is left to coagulate for 8 h at the same temperature, although the initial coagulations starts from 3–4 h. To improve shubat, starter cultures such as Lactobacillus casei and lactose-fermenting yeasts can be introduced.

Gariss: A fermented product from Sudan, on which consumers can sustain living for several months as the sole source of various nutrients. Gariss from camel’s milk is made by a semi-continuous fermentation process subjected to continuous shaking by the jerky walk inherent to camels. Whenever part of the product is withdrawn for consumption, a portion of fresh camel’s milk is added to make up volume and this continues for months.

Fortified fermented camels’ milk
Cereals alone or mixed with other ingredients are used for the production of traditional fermented beverages as well as for the development of new foods with enhanced healthy properties using probiotic strain for fermentation process. The good growth of lactic acid bacteria in cereals suggests that the incorporation of a human derived probiotic strain in a cereal substrate under controlled conditions would produce a fermented food with defined and consistent characteristics, and possibly health promoting properties combining the probiotic and prebiotic concept. 

Fermented camel milk fortified with Prosopis cineraria
Rabadi is a very popular fermented drink in Haryana and Rajasthan state of India, it is prepared with pearl millet flour and country buttermilk by placing it in the sunlight for 3–4 h and finally boiled with addition of salt and spices to taste. Recently, researchers at Sikar, Rajasthan developed a novel rabadi by substituting pearl millet flour with soyabean flour and powder of ripe fruit pods of ‘Khejri’ (Prosopis cineraria) and fermented camel milk instead of country buttermilk. Novel rabadi with camel milk had significantly higher protein and stach degetibility and antioxidants.  The camel milk rabadi were also recorded with higher score than the commercial buffalo milk based rabadi which was grainy with sandy mouth feel but there was a better smoothness with camel milk as compared to buffalo milk.
Fermented camel milk fortified with cereals
Barley, oats, rice and wheat flour were added to camel milk and was mixed with two commercial freeze-dried bacterial starters of lactobacillus delbrueckii ssp. bulgaricus and streptococcus thermophilus as yoghurt starter and AB- sweet (containing of Lactobacillus acidophilus and bifidobacteria) with potential probiotic properties starters to develop a novel cereal based camel fermented milk with enhanced nutritional and therapeutic values. Though all four variants of fermented camel milk were acceptable in terms of sensory characteristics however, the rice based fermented camel milk scored maximum.

Fermented camel milk fortified with special wheat fiber
In another study, the wheat dietary fiber NUTRIOSA FB 06 was added to develop a fermented camel milk product with improved shelf life. It was observed that addition of NUTRIOSA FB 06 has not reduced the quality of organoleptic characteristics and, in turn, gives the product functionality. In addition, it was found that during the storage of the product with dietary fiber in the formula, a slower increase in titratable acidity occurs, so it can be assumed that the use of dietary fiber contributes to its storage stability.
Fermented camel milk fortified with red quinoa powder
Red quinoa seed and camel fermented milk can also be used as an effective food supplement for preventing overweight and obesity by lowering weight gain, adipocyte size, and serum levels of glucose and lipids. The fortification of camel milk with red quinoa seed powder improved the chemical, antioxidant, rheological, and sensory properties of fermented camel milk, and these improvements were proportional to the fortification up to 3%, which added nutritive and healthy benefits to the resultant fermented camel milk. Consumption of fermented camel milk containing 3% red quinoa seed flour in the hypercholesterolemic rat group caused a significant decrease in the levels of blood glucose and liver disease indicators such as malondialdehyde (MDA), low density lipo-protein (LDL; bad cholesterol), total cholesterol (TC), tri-glycerides (TG), aspartate transaminase (AST), alanine transaminase (ALT), alkaline phosphatase (ALP), creatinine, and urea and increased  high density lipo-protein (HDL; good cholesterol), total protein, and albumin in comparison to hypercholesterolemic rats.

Fermented camel milk fortified with plant sterols
Fermented camel milk fortified with plant sterols was developed at Food Science and Human Nutrition Department, Qassim University, Saudi Arabia and studied for its impact on lipid profile and atherogenic index in rats fed high fat and cholesterol diets. This was the first study to indicate the synergestic effect of fermented camel milk fortified with plant sterol that could reduce atherogenesis and cardiovascular diseases activity via inhibition of the status of small dense low density lipoprotein and oxidative stress. The main mechanism that allows phytosterols to cause a reduction in cholesterol is their inhibitory action to intestinal cholesterol absorption, as both plant sterols and cholesterol compete for absorption in the intestine and secondly plant sterol also causes a marked decrease in plasma levels of endothelin-1 and could improve endothelial function, apart from reducing plasma levels of total and bed cholesterol. Fermented camel milk additionally raises the level GSH-Px (an enzyme to reduce oxidative stress) in the blood, probably as a result of the milk’s magnesium content.

As a concluded remarks and home take message camel milk is far better than bovine milk if it is compared in terms of nutritional, therapeutic and shelf life aspects. Its nutritional and therapeutic benefits further multiplies when it is fermented and fortified with functional ingredients.