Yogurt and Probiotics

I get a lot of inquires about dairy as it relates to the Paleo diet.

As there is a growing contingency of sites, blogs and books that do incorporate dairy into their skew on Paleo, it’s easy to see why it would be difficult to decipher whether or not it is, or is not Paleo.

There is a simple answer:  it is not.

Now, this does not mean that there aren’t people who don’t experience negative side effects when they eat dairy, nor does it mean that certain types of dairy have some good things going for them, like the probiotics we’d find in yogurt, for example.

Fact:  yogurt is not Paleo.

Fact:  some yogurts contain high levels of probiotics.

Fact:  if someone is mostly Paleo and opts to add yogurt, it’s everyones own prerogative, but that still doesn’t make this food Paleo.

It’s nothing to do with being too strict or rigid, dairy is just not Paleo.

Recently, a reader wrote in to say they wanted to challenge me; and a challenge is something I always welcome.  Not so much because I’m the argumentative type and I’m trying to convince someone I am right and they’re wrong, rather, because it can be an opportunity for learning, for both myself as well as whomever asked the question.

Here is what the reader had to say:

What about White Mountain Probiotic Bulgarian Yogurt? It has the highest concentration of cultures (90 billion/serving) of any yogurt on the market. According to White Mountain’s website, the extremely high level of (good) bacteria in their product means that almost all the lactose is consumed (eaten by the bacteria)…so is this yogurt even still dairy, since lactose tends to be the offending agent? Probiotic supplementation and digestive support is so important I can’t imagine eliminating White Mountain from my diet, but I’ll listen to your counter argument, if you can make a persuasive case.”

Even if a particular dairy product has less lactose than another, it’s still not Paleo.   Lactose can certainly be the component in milk that many have an issue with, but others have issues with casein.  Aside from that, the net acidic load placed on the body from dairy is another reason to think twice about donning that milk mustache.    An acidic pH in the body increases risk of osteopenia, illness and  inflammation.

Dr. Loren Cordain’s decades of research studies and papers are an excellent resource for anyone who’d like to get more into the science behind the ‘why’.

So, to the reader, I say the same thing I would say to anyone who asks about adding non Paleo food to their mostly Paleo regime: it’s your choice!  

If you feel good while eating your yogurt and don’t experience the outwardly obvious ramifications such as congestion, bloating, acne and so on, it would be easy to see why eliminating it would not make sense.   Just like when clients tell me that they don’t feel ill when they have an occasional piece of bread, if we don’t have immediate or even prolonged visceral responses to eating a certain food, it’s far more difficult to remove it than if we do.

However, that alone doesn’t mean there isn’t damage going on, on the inside.

Bottom line- each of us can find our own ways to Paleo, by testing, testing and testing again and ultimately it’s up to each of us to decide which, if any, foods are worth adding back in.