Generally speaking, to be “Paleo” means to practice the exclusion of several groups of foods, that are seen as major contributors to ill health and disease. The strict autoimmune Paleo protocol (which is even more strict than normal Paleo) calls for the elimination of all grains, legumes, and dairy, but does that mean that all of these foods are bad for everyone? Of course not. In fact, Chris Kresser believes that kefir, a fermented milk product may be a very worth-while addition to your existing Paleo diet Template.
In an article from March 2nd 2012, entitled “Kefir: The not-quite-Paleo Superfood”, Chis writes:
“One of the key components of a strict Paleo diet is the complete elimination of dairy products. Unfortunately, this may lead to many dairy-tolerant individuals missing out on some of the most nutritious and beneficial foods on the planet. One dairy product that not only offers a wide range of vitamins and minerals, but also provides a variety of probiotic organisms and powerful healing qualities, is kefir (pronounced /kəˈfɪər/ kə-FEER).”
“What is Kefir?
Kefir is a fermented milk product that originated centuries ago in the Caucasus mountains, and is now enjoyed by many different cultures worldwide, particularly in Europe and Asia. It can be made from the milk of any ruminant animal, such as a cow, goat, or sheep. It is slightly sour and carbonated due to the fermentation activity of the symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast that make up the “grains” used to culture the milk (not actual grains, but a grain-like matrix of proteins, lipids, and sugars that feed the microbes). The various types of beneficial microbiota contained in kefir make it one of the most potent probiotic foods available.
Besides containing highly beneficial bacteria and yeasts, kefir is a rich source of many different vitamins, minerals and essential amino acids that promote healing and repair, as well as general health maintenance. (2) Kefir contains high levels of thiamin, B12, calcium, folates and Vitamin K2. It is a good source of biotin, a B vitamin that HELPS the body assimilate other B vitamins. The complete proteins in kefir are already partially digested, and are therefore more easily utilized by the body. Like many other dairy products, kefir is a great source of minerals like calcium and magnesium, as well as phosphorus, which helps the body utilize carbohydrates, fats and proteins for cell growth, maintenance and energy.”
“Kefir has positive effects on gut and bone health
It is a potent probiotic, consisting of both bacterial and yeast
species of beneficial flora, and may help protect against gastrointestinal diseases. It has also been demonstrated to improve lactose digestion in adults with lactose intolerance. (4) In addition to providing the gut with healthy symbiotic microflora, many studies have also demonstrated the anti-fungal and antibacterial properties of kefir. (5) Certain bacteria strains from the kefir culture have been shown to help in treating colitis by regulating the inflammatory response of the intestinal cells. (6)”
“Kefir modulates the immune system
Certain compounds in kefir may play a role in regulating immune function, allergic response, and inflammation. One study found that kefiran, a sugar byproduct of the kefir culture, may reduce allergic inflammation by suppressing mast cell degranulation and cytokine production. (10) Another study found that certain bacteria in the kefir culture inhibited IgE production, helping to moderate the body’s allergic response. (11)”
“Kefir is a great source of vitamins, minerals, probiotics, and a variety of other unique compounds that can greatly contribute to your overall health and wellbeing. I highly recommend including this nutritious superfood in your diet, even if it doesn’t fall under strict “Paleo” guidelines!”
For more details, read the whole article, here.
To Kefir or not to Kefir?
I think it’s important to remember that when we are talking about excluding food items from our diet, we shouldn’t harp on the idea that just because a food possibly wasn’t eaten by Paleolithic people, we also shouldn’t’ eat it now. It’s not really about that, is it? We do what do in the interest of health, and sometimes, we have to judge for ourselves if something is compatible with us as individuals. For the most part, if a food item is fundamentally a “Whole food” with minimal processing, surely we would be better-off including it in our diets (if it creates no visible problems for us), than excluding it because it isn’t “Paleo”.
Personally, I really like dairy, and it poses no problems for me, possibly due to my European descent. But, at the end of the day….the choice is yours.
Are you adding kefir to your Paleo diet? Have you noticed any benefits? Please share your comments below. And if you found this article useful, please share this on Facebook and Twitter. Thank you!
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Barry Cripps is a Paleo-based, Certified Nutrition and Wellness Consultant, who operates out of Bowling Green, Kentucky.
For more information please visit: www.undergroundnutritionist.com