Podcast # 87 – The Latest Diet To Hit Social Media “Pegan”
Podcast # 87 – The Latest Diet To Hit Social Media “Pegan”
You may have noticed over the last month a surge in foodie Instagram pics and tweets with the hashtag “Pegan”. Move over Paleo and vegan, Pegan has combined the best of the two strict eating styles and is the latest diet craze to gain traction amongst the health conscious community.
I don’t usually focus much attention towards diet trends, nor do I feel the need to label the way in which I like to eat and encourage others to. I prefer to keep it simple – eating whole, real foods and limiting refined or processed produce, but the principles of Pegan have certainly sparked my interest.
So for this podcast I wanted to discuss the newest diet and the possible health benefits of converting to a Pegan. Who knows you might already be one and you just don’t know it!
Where it all began
Fortunately, Pegan is not just a diet craze invented by an Instagram healthy with simply a love for food and great photography skills. The internationally recognised New York physician, Dr. Mark Hyman, has combined the strengths of Paleo and vegan to focus on real, whole, fresh and sustainably raised foods coining it Pegan.
I’m sure you all would have seen Hyman on one the many talk shows, across the online media or perhaps in one of the bestselling publications. He has certainly made a name for himself by looking at healing from chronic disease holistically rather than through conventional medicine. For me, this is music to my ears as we are seeing more Western medical practitioners take into account factors such as lifestyle, exercise, diet and emotional wellbeing when healing patients. This idea of preventive medicine is something we should all be working towards.
Hyman is clear that he believes food is medicine and through in-depth research he has been noticing the regular occurrence of studies which validate the foundations of both the vegan and Paleo diets. Studies focusing on vegan diets have shown positive impact on our health including weight, reversal of diabetes and the lowering of cholesterol and blood sugar levels. The association of health benefits and Paleo diets have also been verified in several studies and seem to have the same positive effects.
Hayman’s question was, which I find extremely valid, is why should be you shunning certain produce such grains in the case of Paleo or animal products in the case of vegan if both eating styles are exhibiting the same positive health benefits? This one of the reasons why, I choose to avoid adhering to a “diet” and prefer to create a lifestyle of eating foods where there is clear evidence they are beneficial to our health.
Combining the two though diets isn’t just about simply merging the two names and creating a buzz. Hayman analysed the actual data from a lot of these studies before combining the best bits. And let me tell you, studies regarding certain foods or diets are often confusing and also not completely accurate. Not so long ago egg yolks where considered to be bad for your cholesterol and saturated fat was linked to heart disease. Now sugar is in the firing line!
So what are the best bits?
When you think Paleo, you think hunter gather, caveman, high meat intake and vegetables. When you talk vegan, you’re instantly thinking no animal products, lots of vegetables, grains, nuts and seeds. Almost polar opposites right? Well they do have some common ground in their foundations.
Both Paleo and Vegan focus on a diet very low in glycaemic load. This mean low in sugar, flour and refined carbs. They both are big on high intake of vegetables and fruits and avoid where possible pesticides, antibiotics, hormones and GMO foods. You won’t see chemicals, additives, preservatives, dyes, MSG or artificial sweeteners in the pantry of either vegan or Paleo diet goers who prefer organic, local, fresh and seasonal whole foods. Good quality fats are encouraged as well as adequate protein, however dairy is shunned from both diets.
So there is definitely cross over from both the Vegan and Paleo diet and in my opinion these are all positive eating habits regardless of whether you adhere to a labelled diet or not.
There both however, have the ability to both be unhealthy diets. Yes, there are unhealthy members of the vegan and Paleo tribe. With the increase in popularity, more vegan pre-packaged products are now available with some suss ingredients. But it really comes down to the combinations of foods the individual chooses to consume. A vegan diet of bagels, pasta and chips provides no nutritional benefit. Neither does a Paleo diet filled with meat with little vegetables.
Differences between the diets
There are some clashes that clearly differentiate the two.
Meat – the obvious distinction between the vegan and Paleo diets is meat. Vegan’s steer clear of all meats for not only health reasons but for many because of its impact on the planet and for animal welfare reasons.
Grains – forbidden in Paleo, grains have been a recent targeted food due to its ability to cause inflammation, autoimmunity, digestive problems and even obesity.
Beans – while a great source of fibre, protein and minerals, beans are not favoured by the Paleo camp due to the concern that they contain lectins and phytates. Lectins can often create inflammation and lead to digestive upsets in some and phytates impair essential mineral absorption.
Eggs – being an animal by-product, vegans don’t consume eggs because they contain animal tissue as well as issues of animal welfare due to the killing of unwanted male chicks.
Fish – again an animal product which is out for vegan’s but in for Paleos. A good thing too as omega-3 fats are essential which isn’t found in plants.
Becoming a Pegan
So how does one go about becoming a Pegan?
Hyman’s idea of going Pegan is not about focusing on portion sizes or what you eat when so much, but putting more focus on what you eat. Taking consideration into the type of food you fuel your body with and where it comes from. It’s pretty simple actually which is why I believe Pegan has some merit.
This kind of eating predominately focuses on eating whole, natural produce. You know, real food! Not the stuff you find in a frozen meal, a jar or in nicely wrapped packaging.
The main foundations of Pegan include:
A focus on glucemic load including more protein and fats
Source: nuts (no peanuts) seeds like flax, chia, pumpkin, coconut, avocados, sardines, olive oil
Eat the good fats
Source: omega 3 fats, nuts, coconut, avocados, grass fed meat
Limit vegetable oils – canola, sunflower, corn
Eat mostly plants
75% of your plate should be low glycemic vegetables and fruits
Focus on nuts and seeds
Eat gluten-free whole grains sparingly
Eat beans sparingly
Consume meat as a condiment
Sugar should be an occasional treat in all its forms
There certainly positives of combining both the vegan and Paleo eating styles. It provides you with an array of high quality, nutritious foods and avoids the foods which are linked to health implications. For me, adopting a diet is really about eating real, whole foods. Avoiding those foods that list all sorts of health claims on the packaging and with ingredients you can’t pronounce let along know what they mean.
If you stick with what you know is good for you in its natural form, than adhering to a healthy diet is pretty simple! Ultimately though, you need to develop a love for real food. If you are feeling deprived or always feel like you are missing out on certain foods, then you are always going to resort back to your unhealthy ways.
The foundations of Pegan aim to benefit your health and there is an array of great produce that falls under the banner. As I mentioned before, you might already be adopting a Pegan lifestyle!
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