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The pegan diet: what is it and why I wouldn’t recommend it

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Heard about the ‘pegan’ diet? Here’s the science…

A cross between paleo and veganism, the idea is to up the vegetables and fruit, but largely avoid grains, legumes and dairy because of their suggested impact on blood sugar levels.

 

On the plus side…

 

  • Any focus on eating whole, plant foods will always be a positive – more vegetables, more fruits, more fibre.

 

  • Reducing your intake of overly processed foods and added sugar is no bad thing either (although there’s no need to get too fixated on it!).

 

  • The principles aren’t quite so restrictive as paleo (zero grains) or vegan diets alone.

 

BUT…

 

Don’t cut down on whole grains thinking they’re ‘bad’ for you!

 

Whole grains are packed with fibre and are not only good for your gut health – but studies show they’re linked to a reduced risk of several diseases, including type 2 diabetes, heart disease and colon cancer.

 

  • Whole grains are linked with a lower risk of breast cancer and higher whole grain intake has been associated with a reduced risk of heart disease by more than 20%

 

  • Legumes contain prebiotics, which feed your gut bacteria – and we don’t want them to go hangry!

 

  • Unless you have coeliac disease, there’s no evidence for cutting out gluten-containing foods, especially in their wholegrain form. In fact, a ‘typical’ gluten-free diet has been shown to reduce certain gut bacteria that produce health-promoting chemicals (called short-chain fatty acids). If you are coeliac rest assure it’s not all doom and gloom, opt for the non-gluten wholegrains such as buckwheat, quinoa etc. and your gut microbes will be just fine.

 

Unless you’re allergic to peanuts, there’s no need to avoid them – so you don’t need to give up that peanut butter love! I’d recommend going for 100% nuts versions.

 

Cutting out food groups unnecessarily can put you at an increased risk of nutrient deficiencies.

 

The bottom line: yes to eating more plants, no to cutting out food groups! Diversity not restriction.

 

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