By definition paleo is what our ancestors ate and we should be following their example. While we can to the most try and mimic their way of eating since that quality of food is not available now, our diet also needs certain improvisations to meet all dietary requirements.
In the strict paleo sense humans are designed to survive on a diet of grass fed and wild caught game, freshly plucked fruits and vegetables as well as nature’s bounty of nuts and seeds.
Paleo followers abstain from all harvested foods like grains, beans and legumes as well as stay away from dairy. But due to the unavailability of pure foods as were found in Paleolithic times we now need to supplement some of those nutritional requirements.
One of the recommended sources of supplements on the paleo diet is the use of probiotics. Probiotics are live culture bacteria that are beneficial to gut flora. Foods that are most popular sources of probiotics are yogurt, miso, kimchi and sauerkraut. Kefir is a type of fermented dairy which is a recommended supplement for those who tolerate dairy well.
The objection to having dairy on the paleo menu rests on the fact that animals were not milked back in paleo times and milk was not used by our ancestors. Also because a lot of people do not tolerate dairy well, it is argued that our bodies have not been designed to react favorably to dairy.
For those who have expressed a tolerance for dairy products kefir can help maintain a healthy balance in gut flora. When compared to market processed milk or yogurt, kefir seems to exhibit a number of benefits; kefir derived from raw milk is abundant in probiotics as well as other beneficial bacterial components that have not been destroyed by being subjected to the process of pasteurization. In comparison with milk, kefir is more prone to convenient digestion.
If dairy needs to be consumed for nutritional purposes, then the paleo diet makes room for raw dairy products only. It has been observed that raw dairy potentially shows better value than its processed counterpart as much of its original nutrition is preserved. There are higher levels of digestible proteins and enzymes, a higher equation of CLA levels, a greater amount of saturated animal fats and of course a good dose of Vitamin D. However, it is important to remember that all these benefits only apply to raw milk from grass fed animals and not grain fed.
Kefir that is derived from such sources of raw milk also offers these benefits. Its friendly micro organisms boost internal immunity and can be used to restore an internal environment after undergoing antibiotic therapy.
Kefir surpasses yogurt
While both yogurt and kefir contain beneficial bacteria, kefir surpasses yogurt by its ability to colonize the intestinal tract. It is also superior in having more bacterial strains and active yeast than yogurt. Together, these components can combat intestinal parasites and keep the internal environment clean.
When choosing kefir, it is important to opt for the variety that is unsweetened or unflavored. Kefir that is sweetened or flavored will have artificial additives. Likewise, kefir derived from grass fed cows will be superior than the one derived from grain fed animals.
On the 80/20 paleo diet kefir can be consumed in its natural state or included in a variety of paleo inspired recipes. It can be mixed in with berries to create a smoothie. Kefir can also be made from coconut milk and almond milk which are both very acceptable ingredients on the paleo list. Kefir grains can be purchased from health stores and introduced to make your own kefir at home.
Using kefir will be very helpful with resolving many of the digestive troubles associated with consuming gut irritating foods. It assists with bloating and eases the digestive process.
If we take a peek at ancestral eating, it is not hard to see that even those communities were exposed to the use of probiotics, though not the same way as we know them today. Historically, communities have been known to ferment foods for preservation, whereas now our probiotics come from anything that is fermented but not pasteurized. Probiotics are now also available as pills or in powder form.