June 10, 2015

Why this Health Expert recommends a Paleo-Vegan Diet.

google images for reuse: http://iamdez.com/2013/05/paleodairy-vs-vegan-foods-venn-diagram/

Editor’s Note: This website is not designed to, and should not be construed to, provide medical advice, professional diagnosis, opinion or treatment to you or any other individual, and is not intended as a substitute for medical or professional care and treatment. For serious.


Finding Common Ground Between Paleo and Vegan

Food is medicine, and as a doctor I tell people about the most nutrient dense foods to prevent, treat and even reverse chronic disease. At the same time, what to eat can become complicated, confusing and contentious.

Studies show vegan diets help with weight loss, reverse diabetes and lower cholesterol. So do Paleo diets. The conversation can quickly become heated, with each camp dogmatically adhering to their diet and cherry-picking studies validating their point of view. After reading dozens of studies on vegan and Paleo diets, even I can become confused.

After researching nutrition for 30 years and analyzing thousands of scientific papers and treating tens of thousands of patients with food, I’ve reached a compromise.

I vote for becoming a Pegan or Paleo-Vegan, which combines the strengths of both diets and focuses on real, whole, fresh, sustainably raised food.

We’re Not so Different After All

Paleo and vegan camps might appear to agree on little, but both diets share some common foundations. Both are:

1. Very low in glycemic load. Low in sugar, flour and refined carbohydrates.
2. High in vegetables and fruits. When we eat a variety of fruits and vegetables—especially those dark in color—we consume a higher amount of phytonutrients, protecting us against most diseases.
3. Low in pesticides, antibiotics and hormones and low or no GMO foods.
4. No chemicals, additives, preservatives, dyes, MSG, artificial sweeteners and other “Franken Chemicals.”
5. Higher in good quality fats from olive oil, nuts, seeds and avocados.
6. Adequate protein for appetite control and muscle synthesis.
7. Organic, local, fresh foods form the basis of our diet.
8. If we consume animal products, they should be sustainably raised or grass fed.
9. If we eat fish, we choose low-mercury and low toxin-containing fish such as sardines, herring and anchovies or other small fish. Avoid high-mercury load fish like tuna.
10. Avoid dairy. While some can tolerate it, for most it contributes to obesity, diabetes, heart disease and cancer, and may increase (not decrease) the risk of osteoporosis.

Acknowledging our Disagreements

Here’s where Paleo and vegan diets don’t align:

1. Grains. For millions of Americans gluten creates inflammation, autoimmunity, digestive disorders and even obesity. We started consuming grains recently in our evolutionary history and they can be part of a healthy diet, but not in unlimited amounts.
2. Beans. Beans are a great source of fiber, protein and minerals, but they create digestive problems for some. If we are diabetic, excessive amounts of beans can trigger spikes in blood sugar. Up to one cup a day should be fine for most people. Some Paleo folks are concerned that beans contain lectins, which create inflammation, and phytates, which impair mineral absorption.
3. All meat is not created equally. Eating sustainably raised, clean meat, poultry and lamb can be a part of a healthy diet. But eating meat also puts pressure on the planet, including more water use, more climate change and more energy inputs. Eat meat as a side dish or condiment, and only consume grass-fed and sustainably raised.
4. Eggs. Eggs have been exonerated and don’t have any impact on cholesterol and are not associated with increased risk of heart disease. They provide a great low-cost source of vital nutrients and protein.
5. Fish. Choose small, omega-3 fat-rich fish such as sardines or wild salmon to minimize mercury. If we are vegan, we need omega-3 fats, and not just alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) found in plants. We need pre-formed docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), which is what most of our brain is made from. Look for an algae-derived DHA supplement. Everyone needs Vitamin D3. For vegans, vitamin B12 is also critical.

Finding that Middle Ground

We don’t need to agree on everything, but I hope I’ve shown that Paleo and vegan camps have some commonalities.

Finding the strengths of both diets and becoming a Pegan means we focus less on how much we eat and more on the quality of what we eat.

This is what a Pegan diet looks like:

1. Eat a low-glycemic load. We avoid sugary, processed foods with a high glycemic load and focus instead on protein, fat and healthy carbohydrates.
2. Eat the right fats. Rather than nutrient-poor vegetable oil and other damaged fats, we focus on omega-3 fats, nuts, coconut, avocados, and yes, even saturated fat from grass-fed or sustainably raised animals.
3. Eat mostly plants. Plants should form 75 percent of our diet and our plate.
4. Focus on nuts and seeds. Rich in protein, minerals, and good fats, nuts and seeds lower the risk of heart disease and diabetes.
5. Avoid dairy. Dairy is great for growing calves into cows, but not for humans. Try organic goat or sheep products, but only as a treat.
6. Avoid gluten. Most is from Franken Wheat, so look for heirloom wheat (Einkorn). If we are not gluten sensitive, consider gluten an occasional treat.
7. Eat gluten-free whole grains sparingly. They still raise blood sugar and can trigger autoimmunity.
8. Eat beans sparingly. Lentils are best. Stay away from big starchy beans.
9. Eat meat or animal products as a condiment, not a main course.
10. Think of sugar as an occasional treat. Use it sparingly or not at all.

What one strategy would you add to this list to find a compromise between Paleo and vegan? Share your experience below or on my Facebook fan page.



Frassetto LA, et al. Metabolic and physiologic improvements from consuming a paleolithic, hunter-gatherer type diet. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2009 Aug;63(8):947-55. doi: 10.1038/ejcn.2009.4. Epub 2009 Feb 11.

Rong Y, et al. Egg consumption and risk of coronary heart disease and stroke: dose-response meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies. BMJ. 2013 Jan 7;346:e8539. doi: 10.1136/bmj.e8539.

Torre M, et al. Effects of dietary fiber and phytic acid on mineral availability. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 1991;30(1):1-22.

Turner-McGrievy GM, et al. A two-year randomized weight loss trial comparing a vegan diet to a more moderate low-fat diet. Obesity (Silver Spring). 2007 Sep;15(9):2276-81.




Skip the Dieting & Become a Qualitarian.

This Diet has Cured More of my Patients than any other Method I’ve Tried.


Author: Mark Hyman

Editor: Rachel Nussbaum

Photo: Google Images for Reuse 

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Rodrigo Sep 16, 2015 4:23pm

I'm trying to be vegan, but it's really hard. Can you give some tips? Thanks!

micktravis Jun 14, 2015 8:33am

It would be great to see more communication between these two communities – I think the biggest overlap I've found chatting to people from both camps is a concern for and action around food quality/sourcing/sustainability and the integration of functional medicine – sadly in the US diet equals political and cultural identity, but anyone going against the grain, against SAD and educating themselves on nutrition, health and performance gets a thumbs up on me. –

Chris Remus Jun 11, 2015 1:06pm

Thanks for this post. I started eating a pretty strict paleo diet about three years ago, after some friends introduced it to my wife and me. I didn't think I'd stick to it.

Once I started feeling significantly better, especially my stomach, which has been giving me trouble since my earliest childhood memories, there was really no looking back for me. I've always tried to look at it as more of a real food diet that includes sustainably raised, grass fed meats, while excluding grains and sugar, as much as possible. I have found I needed to add some sugar back, mostly in the form of maple syrup, to maintain my training as a cyclist.

Since the beginning of this year, I found myself leaning toward a vegan diet, when sustainable raised, grass-fed meats haven't been readily available, increasing the number of nuts I eat as a substitute. It seemed like a natural progression to me that seems to be working well, yet one that left me feeling a bit confused, since on the surface, it sounds like the diets should be polar opposites or completely orthogonal to each other.

I was happy to come across this article, to provide a framework for what it is I've been practicing over these past few months. Thanks for that!

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Mark Hyman

Mark Hyman, MD, believes that we all deserve a life of vitality—and that we have the potential to create it for ourselves. That’s why he is dedicated to tackling the root causes of chronic disease by harnessing the power of Functional Medicine to transform healthcare. Dr. Hyman and his team work every day to empower people, organizations, and communities to heal their bodies and minds, and improve our social and economic resilience.
Dr. Hyman is a practicing family physician, a nine-time #1 New York Times bestselling author, and an internationally recognized leader, speaker, educator, and advocate in his field. He is the Director of the Cleveland Clinic Center for Functional Medicine. He is also the founder and medical director of The UltraWellness Center, chairman of the board of the Institute for Functional Medicine, a medical editor of The Huffington Post, and has been a regular medical contributor on many television shows including CBS This Morning, the Today Show, CNN, The View, the Katie Couric show and The Dr. Oz Show.
Dr. Hyman works with individuals and organizations, as well as policy makers and influencers. He has testified before both the White House Commission on Complementary and Alternative Medicine and the Senate Working Group on Health Care Reform on Functional Medicine. He has consulted with the Surgeon General on diabetes prevention, and participated in the 2009 White House Forum on Prevention and Wellness. Senator Tom Harkin of Iowa nominated Dr. Hyman for the President’s Advisory Group on Prevention, Health Promotion, and Integrative and Public Health. In addition, Dr. Hyman has worked with President Clinton, presenting at the Clinton Foundation’s Health MattersAchieving Wellness in Every Generation conference and the Clinton Global Initiative, as well as with the World Economic Forum on global health issues.
Dr. Hyman also works with fellow leaders in his field to help people and communities thrive—with Rick Warren, Dr. Mehmet Oz, and Dr. Daniel Amen,he created The Daniel Plan, a faith-based initiative that helped The Saddleback Church congregation collectively lose 250,000 pounds.  He is an advisor and guest co-host on The Dr. Oz Show and is on the board of Dr. Oz’s HealthCorps, which tackles the obesity epidemic by educating American students about nutrition. With Drs. Dean Ornish and Michael Roizen, Dr. Hyman crafted and helped introduce the Take Back Your Health Act of 2009 to the United States Senate to provide for reimbursement of lifestyle treatment of chronic disease. Dr. Hyman plays a substantial role in a major documentary, produced by Laurie David and Katie Couric, called Fed Up (Atlas Films, September 2014)which addresses childhood obesity. Please join him in helping us all take back our health at his website, follow him on Twitter and on Facebook and Instagram.