I have been eating kefir and yogurt here and there since starting paleo style living a few years ago. Although many beginning paleo protocols suggest total elimination of dairy products, there is much evidence out there that properly fermented whole milk products and well aged cheeses are very good for our health (even those with lactose intolerance) due to their probiotic and specific vitamin content (vitamin B and K). (1, 2). Please note, that there are plenty more references out there than what I have listed. So, adding these type of products back into your diet after an initial elimination period may be helpful.
When I started eating kefir I got a whole array of questions about what it is. Specifically, what is the difference between kefir and yogurt, as well as the familiar “how do you pronounce that”? So first off, here is how it’s pronounced:
To tell you the truth, I did not really have a sufficient answer to what the difference between yogurt and kefir was, so this post has been on my “to do” list for a while now.
Kefir Vs. Yogurt: What’s the Difference?
Kefir and yogurt are both fermented milk products with probiotic content. However; they are fermented using different starting cultures. Yogurt is fermented via the use of only a few strains of bacteria, while kefir is fermented using upwards of 20 different strains (http://www.theglobeandmail.com/life/health-and-fitness/ask-a-health-expert/whats-the-difference-between-yogurt-and-kefir/article7904569/). Basically what this leads to is not only a much larger amount of probiotic content in kefir, but also a much broader spectrum of bacteria. Basically kefir contains a greater variety and amount of probiotics than yogurt. Given the fact that the human digestive system contains billions of bacteria across a wide diversity of different bacteria strains (3), I would think that a probiotic food containing large amounts of, and wider spectrum of, gut bacteria would be better? Just my thoughts though.
What about the taste you ask? Well, I would say they have different but similar tastes. They both have a tangy (fermented) flavor; however, kefir isn’t quite as thick, and it also has a slightly carbonated taste due to the type of fermentation required to produce it. It still tastes fantastic with fresh or frozen berries though. Personally, I treat kefir exactly the way I would yogurt. I can’t say that I have a taste preference between the 2 of them, they are both great. Also, it is clear that both products have beneficial impacts on our health (1, 2), likely due to their gut protecting bacteria content and specific vitamin content that might be lacking in some people’s regular diets.
Kefir Vs. Yogurt: Conclusion
At the end of the day it seems that both high quality, full fat, preferably grass-fed, yogurt and kefir are beneficial for our health and are a great option for a real food source of probiotics and vitamins. This is apparently even the case for those who are lactose sensitive/intolerant (1, 2). As always though, give it a shot for yourself and see how you feel with it added to your diet.
The Barefoot Golfer