The ‘pegan’ diet combines the two extremes – vegan and paleo.
Fad diets are creating a buzz in the world of health and nutrition. While most of you would be aware about the popular ones like ketogenic diet and vegan diet, the pegan diet has gradually started to garner attention among health enthusiasts. The pegan diet (Paleo-Vegan) was first introduced in January 2015 by Dr. Mary Hyman, MD, a functional medicine proponent, also known for publishing the combination of two extreme diets – ‘paleo diet‘ (caveman diet- rich in meat and fish) and ‘vegan diet‘ (focusing on avoiding animal products). The ‘pegan’ diet combines the two extremes with emphasis on fruits and vegetables, wherein 75% of the diet comprises healthy fats like nuts (except peanuts), coconut, avocado, small quantity of fish (low in Mercury) and meat or animal products (grass-fed and sustainably raised) in small quantity.
(Also Read: Is The Paleo Diet Really As Good As It Claims To Be?)
What Is Pegan Diet?
This diet excludes dairy, grains, gluten, vegetable oils, and beans, which are to be eliminated or restricted to small portions. This particular diet advocates fresh, locally available, organic and sustainably raised and grown food; all forms of sugar are to be used sparingly. The diet primarily consists of characteristics that should be part of a healthy diet regime. This diet insists on increasing the portion of fresh fruits and vegetables, healthy fats with omega-3 fats and adequate proteins to help make positive health changes. It also emphasizes on ‘Low Glycemic Load’ foods.
With respect to organic foods, there is lack of evidence that proves organic food is superior to locally grown fruits and vegetables. Also, the question of availability and affordability of organic food is often emphasized upon. The pegan diet, if followed, should not be considered for children, especially during growth years, where they need adequate nutrients like calcium and vitamin D. Restaurants may not be labeling pegan dishes in India, but it may be left to the individual to choose accordingly.
What It Lacks?
The areas of concern are exclusion of dairy, whole grains and limiting beans, which have positive health benefits. Whole grains are high in fibre, with nutrients that help reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases, improve glycemic control and have additional benefits like reducing cancer risk and other health complications. Gluten restriction doesn’t have added benefit except for patients diagnosed with gluten sensitive enteropathy or celiac disease or legitimate food intolerance. Legumes or beans are not just high in fibre, but they are also low in fat and are affordable high protein sources. Other than this, they are super-foods for those with diabetes, providing weight management benefit. Dairy products are rich in first class protein and calcium. Also, curd or buttermilk are probiotics, which are essential for good gut health.
Before making any major changes in your diet, do consult a certified nutritionist and practice moderation as excess of anything can turn out to be harmful for overall health.
Minal Shah is a Senior Nutrition Therapist at Fortis Hospital Mulund
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