The ABCs of the Longevity Code: Eating the Pegan Way

written by Skye Sherman - Sep 11, 2023

Photo Credit: by Brooke Lark,
Photo Credit: by Brooke Lark,

You may think you’ve heard of every diet out there, but there’s a relatively new one making the rounds and becoming the next big thing. The pegan diet is a concept from famous functional medicine doctor Mark Hyman M.D., who literally wrote the book on the subject: The Pegan Diet: 21 Practical Principles for Reclaiming Your Health in a Nutritionally Confusing World.

Proponents of the pegan diet claim it’s the secret to a long life and that it can do anything from prevent diabetes to protect against cancer. But what makes this diet so powerful and what are the true benefits of eating pegan? Does the pegan diet really work? What can you eat as a pegan?

Read on to learn everything you need to know about the pegan diet, how it works, and the benefits that “going pegan” might do for you.

What is the pegan diet?

As you might be able to guess from the name, the pegan diet is a hybrid between the paleo diet and veganism.

As the Cleveland Clinic puts it: “The paleo diet and a vegan diet don’t have much in common. One focuses on meat, while the other excludes it. But what if you take some qualities from both diets and combine them into one? Enter the pegan (paleo + vegan) diet.”

This type of diet might appeal to those who like the tenets of veganism but want to incorporate animal byproducts and meats into their diet. And it also might appeal to those who already stick to paleo-style eating but want to incorporate more of the ethos of vegans into their daily lives. That flexibility is appealing to all kinds of eaters. And it’s only getting more popular by the day.

As USA Today puts it, “There’s a new trendy diet in town, folks – the pegan diet. The word pegan has seen a 337 percent increase in searches on Pinterest since last year and has seen a steady climb in searches within the last six months. It was born when Dr. Mark Hyman, New York Times best-selling author, coined the term – a mashup of paleo and vegan – in a blog post that detailed his own diet.”

But what exactly is it? How do you eat pegan?

The Cleveland Clinic says the core tenets of eating pegan are:

* 75% of your diet is made up of plants, including fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds.

* 25% of your diet is made up of meats, poultry, eggs and fish (preferably grass-fed, organic or sustainably raised options)

In communities with great access to local farms and farmers, this can be a very natural, sustainable, nourishing, and satisfying way to eat.

On a pegan diet, you will severely limit or eliminate some foods, such as bread and most grains (even barley, oats, and wheat), but you can eat minimal amounts of black rice and quinoa. You’ll also limit or eliminate dairy products (yes, even milk, cheese, yogurt, and ice cream), foods with added sugar, foods with a high glycemic index, and processed foods like crackers, baked goods, and junk food snacks.

Is the pegan diet the secret to a long life?

According to the well known and highly regarded functional medicine specialist Dr. Mark Hyman, who coined the pegan diet, eating this way can lower blood sugar and inflammation in the body, which will help to reduce the risk of developing not only type 2 diabetes but also many types of heart disease.

But that’s not all. The pegan diet is also more environmentally friendly than many diets, due to its focus on plant-based foods, and pegan foods are very rich in nutrients, which helps to eliminate unhealthy, fattening, processed foods.

Due to all of this, some say going pegan is the secret to a long life. You’ll also likely eat more whole, organic, unprocessed foods and up your fruit and vegetable intake, which is always a good idea. It can lower your risk of a variety of diseases and encourage general health and wellness.

USA Today says: “A vegan diet is refraining from eating all animal products or byproducts – no meat, eggs, cheese, yogurt and sometimes gelatin. A paleo diet is a nutritional plan that mimics how people used to eat in the Paleolithic era 2.5 million years ago. So dieters eat unprocessed foods consisting mostly of vegetables, fruits, nuts, grass-fed meats and fish.”

Combining these two very health-conscious diets sounds like a superpower, and that’s the results many people claim to have when they go pegan. Those who rely on weight loss medications like Xenical and diabetes drugs like Rybelsus and Farxiga may be able to see dramatic improvements by making lifestyle changes such as going pegan.

Some even claim that a pegan diet can help prevent cancer due to its focus on eating foods rich in antioxidants and clean sources of nutrition. If you are on cancer medications due to a frightening diagnosis, it may be worth discussing with your doctor to find out whether making lifestyle changes could improve your prognosis and outcomes.

If your diet and nutrition has some room for improvement, going pegan might just be the secret to help you live longer.

Top benefits of the pegan diet

Depending on what you typically eat before you go pegan, switching to a pegan diet might be the key to unlock effects like losing weight, improving digestive issues, upping your energy levels, and improving your health overall.

But what exactly are the benefits of the pegan diet, other than possibly helping you live longer? Let’s hear it from Dr. Mark Hyman himself:

“You can exercise, meditate, sleep, and take all the supplements in the world, but unless you focus on high-quality, nutrient-dense whole foods personalized to your own needs and preferences, you will not achieve health or longevity,” he says.

He continues, “The Pegan Diet is an inclusive, flexible frame that is built on the principles of quality, food as medicine, and personalization. It is designed to be low glycemic (low in starch and sugar), rich in good fats, anti-inflammatory, detoxifying, hormone balancing, energy boosting, and gut healing. It is nutrient dense and rich in longevity phytochemicals, polyphenols, antioxidants, and microbiome-healing fibers. It is designed to regenerate both human and planetary health, which are inseparable.”

As you can see, Dr. Hyman believes the pegan diet to have benefits for both humans and the planet at large. It has a lot of potential benefits, from reducing inflammation to balancing your hormones to helping you feel better overall. And eating right may even improve your mental health because you can truly feel good about what you’re eating and how it affects the world positively. You might think that nothing could be better than the potential of a diet to reduce the risk of chronic disease, lessen inflammation, and promote overall health, but if you’re saving the planet at the same time, it’s really a win-win.



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While the above article is based on thorough research, we do not claim to offer a substitute for medical advice from a qualified healthcare provider. The article was written for information and educational purposes only. We aim to provide helpful information to our readers, but cannot provide a treatment, diagnosis, or consultation of any sort, and we are in no way indicating that any particular drug is safe or appropriate for you and your individual needs. To receive professional medical attention, you must see a doctor.