The paleo diet is designed to replicate the diet eaten by hunter-gatherers during the Paleolithic era over 2 million years ago.
The reason for this is that the human body has not changed much anatomically since then, so our bodies do not rely on the unprocessed foods and artificial flavors that we’ve grown to eat. If you can’t hunt or gather the food, then you can’t eat it.
As the dietary requirements for paleo are so strict, it can often be hard to know what types of food you can and cannot eat. Yogurt, for example, can be a tasty sweet snack for those on a weight loss diet if they want to treat themselves. But does that mean it’s allowed in the paleo diet?
If you’re starting your paleo diet journey, or perhaps you’ve committed to the diet and you’re craving a load of dairy, here is everything you need to know about whether yogurt is paleo or not!
So, is yogurt paleo?
The short answer to this question is: no, yogurt is not paleo.
The long answer for this question is that yogurt is a dairy item, and dairy is not part of the paleo diet. This is because modern agriculture has led us to believe that humans require dairy for our diets, but this isn’t the case.
It’s not natural for humans to consume dairy products unless it is from another human, usually a mother. Therefore, any form of dairy (cheese, milk, yogurt, etc.) is not paleo-friendly.
It’s no secret that a large portion of humans have some sort of intolerance for dairy, with some being completely intolerant to it.
This further proves the fact that humans aren’t designed to consume animal-produced dairy products, as it can lead to stomach problems such as bloating, nausea, irritation, and more.
As around 65%-70% of people cannot tolerate dairy (mainly from cows), yogurt cannot be eaten in the paleo diet due to the irritation and inflammation caused. Paleo is about detoxing the body and preventing the irritation of the body, after all.
The main point of the paleo diet is to eat raw, unprocessed foods. Yogurt goes through a variety of processes to create its texture and flavor, which means that even the blandest of Greek yogurts still aren’t raw.
Think of it like this – if you can’t find yogurt on a tree in the Paleolithic era, then you can’t eat it in the paleo diet.
What foods can be eaten in the paleo diet?
There are several requirements that foods must meet to be paleo-friendly. These include foods that are:
- High in protein
- High in fiber
- High in vitamins and minerals
- High in potassium
- Low in sodium
- Low in sugar
- Low in carbs
Nobody is saying that yogurt is completely unhealthy. Yogurt has been consumed by humans for hundreds of years (not as far back as the Paleolithic times, though) for its range of health benefits.
First and foremost, yogurt is high in calcium. In fact, one cup of yogurt is said to have 49% of your daily calcium intake, which is essential for healthy bones and teeth. Yogurt is also filled with vitamin B, B12, potassium, phosphorus, and magnesium.
However, it doesn’t matter how beneficial yogurt is nutritionally. All the wonderful nutrients that yogurt contains can be found easily in a variety of fruits and vegetables that are suitable for the paleo diet, rendering yogurt useless in the diet.
Yogurt’s biggest downfall is the processes it goes through, particularly the amount of sugar involved. Sugar is a big no-no in the paleo diet, especially for those who commit to the diet for weight reasons.
Not only is the added sugar unhealthy (though tasty), but it’s highly unethical, as it comes from cows who have been mistreated with antibiotics and hormones to create a sweeter milk.
But, what about unsweetened yogurt?
There are two groups of paleo eaters in this debate. The first group will say that, for all the above reasons, yogurt is not a paleo-friendly food. The second group would argue that full-fat, raw, unprocessed and unsweetened yogurt can be considered paleo.
Thing is, yogurt isn’t unhealthy to consume. Sure, you can consume all the nutrients found in yogurt in paleo-approved vegetables and fruit, but you could still receive these nutrients from raw and unprocessed yogurts.
The second group of paleo eaters could also argue that yogurt produced from sheep and goats is better for the body than from cows, as this could contribute towards solving lactose intolerance. This is because lactose intolerance is usually caused by the intolerance to the sugars in cow’s milk (lactose).
However, the plot thickens when it comes to considering what the animals have eaten. Say people in the Paleolithic era actually discovered how to make natural yogurt from their cows, sheep, and goats (which is most likely impossible as livestock was not domesticated then).
These animals were almost definitely fed off a completely natural diet, such as grass. Not all cows, sheep, and goats are fed from grass nowadays. Unfortunately, there is almost no way of knowing which yogurts are produced from cows that have eaten a certain type of diet.
As we know that some cows can have their milk altered to be “naturally” sweeter due to hormones and antibiotics, not only is it unethical, but it is not paleo-friendly to buy or consume these products.
So, there you have it. Sorry to burst your bubble, but yogurt is not a paleo-friendly food. If you’re still having trouble understanding why this is, let’s take it back to what the paleo diet is all about. If you’re trying to replicate the diet consumed by hunter-gatherers 2 million years ago, then any processed modern foods are useless to our bodies.
Yogurt didn’t exist back then, and even if cavemen figured out how to make yogurt, it certainly wasn’t processed in the way it is now.
To put it simply, no, yogurt is not paleo. However, you can still receive all the nutritional benefits of yogurt in other paleo-friendly foods!