If you go to the dairy section of any grocery store, you’re likely to see rows and rows of yogurt—Greek, plain, flavored, snack-size, and more—lined up like stout little soldiers waiting to be put into someone’s cart. They come in greens, blues, reds, and more, in any flavor you can think of. But what on earth is yogurt anyway? And should we be eating more of it?
If you’re wondering how yogurt-makers get their yogurt to be, well, a lot gooier than milk, they do it through fermentation. The discovery of yogurt was likely an accident because people in Central Asia in about 6000 BC would milk their cows and then carry around the milk—all warm and fresh—in sacs made of animal stomachs. The milk would go sour, and yogurt was born! Thankfully, yogurt today doesn’t go through a few rounds of incubation in an animal stomach before making it store shelves; it probably wouldn’t be as popular.
When people talk about how great yogurt is, they most often cite the calcium content (it’s made from milk, after all) and the trendy term “probiotics.” Probiotics, in a nutshell, are the little bacteria in your intestines that help you out when you digest food and fight off the baddies. They’re shown to reduce inflammation and improve immune function, so supplementing with them is a great idea. These bacteria can be found in yogurt, so it’s a great addition to the diet, right? But many who follow a Paleo lifestyle don’t tolerate dairy. Now what?
What do the Paleo gurus say?
Nell Stephenson says: “Personally, the resulting effects of eating dairy (congestion and bloating) render it not something I want to include. In the event that a situation arises when I feel I need to eat some probiotics, such as a few years ago after I finished a course of antibiotics for a case of swimmer’s ear, I prefer a top of the line capsule not sourced from dairy or soy.
If you are someone who makes the choice to include some dairy in the form of yogurt in your diet, at the very least, be sure to use a brand that is really just yogurt. All too often, we see yogurts that are really nothing more than a usual concoction of low-fat or fat-free milk, gelatin, artificial sugars and flavors and no probiotics!”
Joel Runyon says: “Is yogurt Paleo? The short answer—no. Generally speaking, yogurt is not considered Paleo. The main reason that yogurt is not paleo is that it is a form of dairy. Almost all dairy is off limits for the following reasons: Dairy consumption has been linked to the development of many diseases in humans, including some very serious and chronic such as diabetes, cancer, and heart disease, [and] the quality of dairy that is widely available today is usually very poor. It is filled with added sugar and comes from sick cows that have been mistreated and given hormones and antibiotics.”
So is yogurt Paleo?
It’s best to avoid yogurt because although it’s got some probiotics in it (sometimes…), they’re not nearly enough to justify the consumption of inflammatory dairy, especially when you risk exposing yourself to the antibiotics and other toxins in the milk the yogurt was made from.