Dr Hyman wants you to be Pegan. Here’s why.

Sometimes I invite a guest blogger to write for my blog, and once in a while I interview someone for a post. But one thing I’ve never done is reblog. I do share  – all over social media. I share like crazy. I love to celebrate any individual’s wisdom, creativity, and commitment to health ~ and to support conscious community wherever possible. I’ve just never picked up an entire article and shared it here on my blog. 

Until now. Here’s why: When people ask me how I eat, Vegan, Vegetarian, Paleo, what? My answer has long been, “Ayurvedically.” By that I mean, responding to our changing needs according to age, season, circumstance, on a case by case basis. Overall, though, my focus is: no sugar, no processed, high protein, high fiber, healthy fats, whole food, plant based. 

Along comes Dr. Hyman with a name for it – and in turn an entire community of people who also eat this way. Overnight, I went from being a loner to a belonger and I want to share that affirmation, and science, with you.  

Why I am a Pegan – or Paleo-Vegan – and Why You Should Be Too!
by Dr. Mark Hyman

As a doctor, it is my job to figure out the best way to keep my patients healthy. We now know that food is medicine, perhaps the most powerful drug on the planet with the power to cause or cure most disease.  If food is more than just calories, if food is information that controls every aspect of our biology and health, then I better know what to advise people to prevent, treat and even reverse chronic disease.

So the fundamental question of our time, given that the cost of chronic disease caused mostly by what we eat will cost our global economy $47 trillion over the next 20 years and cause over 50 million preventable deaths a year is this:

What should I eat to feel good, lose weight and get and stay healthy?

On the one hand, Lebron James is eating Paleo and the number one tennis player in the world cut out gluten and dairy and went from not winning at all to winning everything in just one year.  But on the other hand, Rick Rockhold completed five Iron Man marathons in seven days on a vegan diet.

The Problem with Nutrition Research

Looking at the research it is easy to get confused. Vegan diet studies show they help with weight loss, reverse diabetes and lower cholesterol.  Paleo diets seem to do the same thing. So should you be shunning animal foods and eating only beans, grains and veggies or should you eat meat and fat without guilt and give up all grains and beans?

Essentially, each camp adheres to their diet with near religious fervor. And each can point to studies validating their point of view.  We call this cherry picking.  After reading dozens of studies on vegan and paleo diets, even I could get confused. But I don’t because I read BETWEEN the lines not just the headlines. I read the methods and analyze the actual data to learn what the studies actually demonstrate.

The problem with nutrition research is that most of it relies on large studies of populations and their dietary patterns obtained mostly through dietary questionnaires or 24-hour dietary recall.  The first study linking saturated fats to heart disease by Ancel Keys1 (and on which 50 years of dietary policy to eat low fat was based) looked at about 30 men from Crete and their previous day’s diet and linked that to the fact they had fewer heart attacks than people from countries that ate more saturated fat. Skimpy evidence at best!  In fact, most of the “evidence” that fat in general and saturated fat in particular is bad for us is being rigorously challenged by better and more specific research.

These type of studies are further complicated because it is very hard to tease out the factors that matter. For example, when Asians move from Asia to the US, they eat more meat and have more heart disease and cancer, but they also consume far more sugar.  So it is the meat or is it the sugar?  Hard to know.   These types of population studies also cannot prove cause and effect, only show correlation. Yet, the media and consumers take it as gospel. We thought dietary cholesterol was bad3 and were told to avoid egg yolks4 at all costs. Turns out they are good for you and have no impact on cholesterol.

Many experimental studies on vegan or paleo diets, which should give more direct evidence of cause and effect often have only small numbers of people in the study, making it hard to draw firm conclusions.  Even worse is that the diets they use for comparison (the control group) are not ideal alternative diets. Comparing a vegan diet of chips and Coke, bagels and pasta to a paleo diet of healthy veggies and grass fed meat won’t be very helpful, nor would comparing a paleo diet of feedlot meat, bologna and no fresh veggies to a whole foods, low glycemic vegan diet.

Also, eating a low fat versus a high fat vegan diet has very different health benefits5. The Eco-Atkins or high fat, high protein, low carb, low glycemic vegan diet performs better for weight loss and cholesterol lowering than a low fat vegan diet that avoids nuts, seeds and avocados.

RD Laing said that “scientists can’t see the way they see, with their way of seeing.”

Why You Should be a Pegan! 

So what’s an eater to do?

I vote for being a Pegan or Paleo-Vegan, which is what I have chosen for myself and recommend for most of my patients. Keep in mind that most of us need to personalize the approach depending on our health conditions, preferences and needs.

What is a Pegan?  Well since I just made it up, I guess it’s up to me to define.

Let’s focus first on what is in common between paleo and vegan (healthy vegan), because there is more that intelligent eating has in common than there are differences. They both focus on real, whole, fresh food that is sustainably raised.

Here are the characteristics of a healthy diet everyone agrees on:

  1. Very low glycemic load – low in sugar, flour and refined carbohydrates of all kinds.
  2. High in vegetables and fruits. The deeper the colors, the more variety, the better. This provides a high phytonutrient content protective against most diseases. (Although the paleo camp recommends lower glycemic fruit such as berries.)
  3. Low in pesticides, antibiotics and hormones and probably no or low GMO foods.
  4. No chemicals, additives, preservatives, dyes, MSG, artificial sweeteners and other “Franken Chemicals” that you would never have in your pantry.
  5. Higher in good quality fats – omega 3 fats for all. And most camps advise good quality fats from olive oil, nuts, seeds and avocados. Although some, such as Drs. Esselstyn and Ornish still advise very low fat diets for heart disease reversal.
  6. Adequate protein for appetite control and muscle synthesis, especially in the elderly.
  7. Ideally organic, local and fresh foods should be the majority of your diet.
  8. If animal products are consumed they should be sustainably raised or grass fed.
  9. If you are eating fish you should choose low mercury6 and low toxin containing fish such as sardines, herring and anchovies or other small fish and avoid tuna, swordfish and Chilean sea bass because of the high mercury load.

Now comes the areas of more controversy

Read the entirety of his article here.

~

The thing I love the most about Ayurveda is that it respects individual differences, which is why I always want to hear from you. What do you find is the best way of eating for your optimal health and enjoyment? What nourishes you?

~

Thanks to Shannon Jones for the photo of radishes from our Ayurveda Cooking Class 2014

Refreshing Red & Green Salad

Short, frequent travels have kept me on the road and on the go, but also deliciously on point, all the more present to life, nature, family, friends, love, beauty, creativity, art, and grateful for all those things that really, truly matter.

Big Luscious Union!

Just one of those many joys I am grateful for this season is Katariina, her husband Larry, their exuberant family, exotic life, inspiring friends and Big, Luscious Wedding in the Texas Hill Country over Memorial Day.

Exchanging Vows

Katariina is an inspiring artist with a winsome zest for color and a quirky take on life. Her aesthetic is celebratory, human, welcoming, almost chaotically full, yet balanced and heart-warming, above all. She helps you see the world in a way that makes you  love it all the more.

Beautiful Bridesmaids

Over the past year, I have enjoyed Katariina’s Gypsy Love Cafe, and felt like her Blog utterly leapt to life in her Big Texas Wedding with all its whimsy, eclectic beauty and bohemian joy.

Wild West Gentlemen Groomsmen

The Wedding was held at the Vista West Ranch in Dripping Springs, with the ceremony outdoors in a circle of Oaks. The reception was in the Barn, “rustic chic” and full of charm. Katariina spent the day decorating it with help from her friends, and a truckload of furniture, paintings, curtains, vases and knick-knacks brought from their home in Houston!

The Barn

In the photo above you can see the room on the top floor where they put me ~ a simple, delightful, little “room with a view” ~ a warm, safe, up near the night’s star-studded sky, isn’t it a wonderful world kind of view.

Reception

I fell in love with this Hill Country, where heat is thick, cicadas are loud, green valleys roll on and on, merging into blue hills, merging into purple sky, easing into sunset. It is a place of steady beauty, where stars quietly fill a night sky ~ quiet but throbbing with memory and light so strong, there is no need to shout.

Surrounded by Ancient Oaks

It is as if everything there has existed since before memory, ageless time carving each living thing into its truest potency, everything more fully defined, knowing itself and its purpose, even in silence undeniable presence. If it is color, it is vibrant. If it is a bug, it’s big. If it is an Oak, it is more elegant, deep, dappled than any. If it is night, stars are everywhere glowing like street-lamps, dripping honey and gold.

Katariina & Dianne

But Texas is Texas where meat and potatoes are the fare, and even with the enchantment of Hill Country, this body doesn’t run on red meat, and potatoes aren’t enough vegetable to keep the channels running free and clear.

Spring Salad with Fennel Frond

So, after three days of potato salad, I came home and fixed me up a salad. A “Refreshing Salad” that has enough of the sweet taste to be grounding and restoring after travel and flights, and enough bitter, astringent tastes to clean out a weekend of very off-routine fun.

Home-grown Red Lettuce and Oregano

This was late May, so it was an ideal late Spring Salad with its fiery radishes, strong bitters like radicchio and arugula, the cleansing lift of grapefruit, and light, digestible protein from the beans and peas. Even though it is now summer, it remains a great meal for the season, as raw foods are always cooling, and greens are like air-conditioning to an over-heated system.

Snap Peas, Fava Beans, Red Lettuce and Beets

It was designed to counter and balance all that Texas culture. Yet it has a beefy beauty all its own, packed with juicy life potency, every color and shape unique, each living thing intelligent and purposeful. What joy to return home to a meal of such living vibrancy ~ edible intelligence that, in the way that Texas Hill Country feels, has existed since time immemorial.

With Arugula & Sprouted Sunflower Seeds

Don’t let its complexity fool you. It is a delightful and easy salad to make! I buy the fava beans and beets from Melissa’s, so that is already prepared. It is wonderfully delicious with a simple lemon juice and EVOO dressing, or with an Avocado Dressing which I’ll be posting next.

The Avocado Dressing adds a creamy, sweet finish

I used red lettuce from our garden, but when collecting items from the market, I choose baby greens, which is what I wrote in the recipe below. I also prefer Sprouted Sunflower Seeds, not the whole green sprout but the seeds, soaked and just barely shooting a sprout. Please let me know what you think of it, and what you like to add to fit your tastes and needs.

Click for Print Version

Memories of East Texas are sweet. Thank you, Katariina and Larry. Wishing you a Big, Beefy, Luscious, Loving, Ageless, Infinite, Vibrant, Joyful, Bodacious Adventure together!

Setting Up
Decorating the Barn
Decorating the Altar
Awaiting the Circle of Friends
Finn

Hope you all enjoy the salad and have an awesome Summer!

Namaste ~ 

Spring Clean | Cilantro Detox Pesto

Imagine sunflowers floating on rafts on a pond. Then imagine that there are many ponds ~ sunflower rafts as far as your eye can see.

Then imagine these sunflowers are growing on rafts in ponds that surround the Chernobyl nuclear site in the Ukraine. Odd? Beautiful? Gesture of Peace?

If you attended my Spring Ayurveda Nutrition & Cooking Class, you’ll know about Mother Nature’s remarkable ability to cleanse, purify, renew and restore her own earth body ~ and our human bodies, too. My last post, “21 Day Challenge,” was dedicated to those gifts of the Earth that emerge in Springtime to naturally and very efficiently help us detoxify body and mind.

A field of blooming sunflowers in the Ukraine

But as talk these days turns to Japan’s nuclear problems and the prevailing westerlies carrying waste on the wind and  radioactivity with the rain, I think even more about this self-regulating, self-restorative, self-renewing intelligence of nature, and specifically about something my brother-in-law, Daniel Goldfarb, a soil restoration expert, told us recently about sunflowers.

In Chernobyl, floating rafts of sunflowers are being used to clean up water contaminated as a result of the 1986 disaster at their Nuclear Plant. Sunflowers remove up to 95% of the radioactivity below ground by pulling contaminants out of the water and up into their root system. This technique, known as phytoremediation, got its roots, so to speak, there in Chernobyl, where the sunflowers outperformed all expectations.

Sunflower Seeds & Soil

So, as an experiment, I sprouted sunflower seeds, tossed them liberally onto our garden, watered, mulched and waited.

In the meantime, we are eating copious amounts of sunflower seeds and sprouts ourselves, because, I wondered, if they remove radioactive toxins from the body of the earth, could they do the same for our human bodies?

I began researching this, looking at the western and the Ayurvedic literature, and along the way came across this recipe for a Sunflower Seed & Cilantro Pesto that harnesses not only sunflower power, but also cilantro for its super scour muscularity in eviscerating heavy metals and toxic waste.

Surprisingly, for something so green, so clean, so good for you ~ this is outrageously delicious.

Cilantro Pesto

In making this “Pesto” myself, I wanted to increase the fire element since greens and nuts can be hard to digest. To that end, I added ginger, asafoetida and a dash of cayenne.

I also wanted to be sure that the organs of elimination were well lubricated so toxins would definitely be removed and not just swished around the body, exchanging places and causing more damage. The original recipe had plenty of flaxseed oil to help with that but, unless you are Vegan, I suggest adding a spoonful of ghee because it both enkindles the digestive fire AND is mighty efficient at loosening toxins and carrying them away.

With Roasted Pumpkin Seeds and Sunflower Sprouts

If you tried it at my house last week, you tried a batch with three times too much flaxseed oil. Ech!  Try making this yourself with the correct proportions, as below. Or, come back over and I will make you a fresh batch. I want everyone to have some. It is Spring’s divine joy in every bite, so healing and so promising!

This is how I make it now ~

PLEASE NOTE: I now add 1 teaspoon chlorella to this recipe, because cilantro can mobilize more toxins then it can carry out of the body, and Chlorella is a potent intestinal toxin-absorbing agent necessary for efficient elimination.

Double Click for Print Version

The original recipe is a more scientifically named Coriander Chelation Pesto, and comes from the sweet souls at Essential Oils for Healing. This is how they describe its benefits ~

Delicious Chelation Pesto Recipe Removes Heavy Metals and Fallout Radiation from your Body

The main ingredient, Cilantro (aka: fresh coriander/Chinese parsley), is probably the most powerful natural chelating agent around. Besides being a renown culinary herb in Asian, Indian, Middle Eastern, and Mexican cuisines, Cilantro has a long 7000 year history as a medicinal herb. Both the fresh greenery & seeds are also resources of powerfully healing essential oils. Cilantro contains chemical compounds that bind to the heavy metals, loosening them from the tissues, blood and organs. Cilantro’s chemical compounds then aid transport of these harmful substances out of the body through channels of elimination.

This recipe combines cilantro with other ingredients that have a synergistic effect. They cleanse the tissues by increasing the urinary excretion of mercury, lead and aluminum. 

This great recipe is not only easy-to-make, but delicious on toast, baked potatoes and pasta.

Two teaspoons of this pesto daily for three weeks is purportedly enough to substantially clear these toxic metals from the body. It is recommended to repeat this cleanse as a preventative measure at least once a year for three weeks.


I like it generously spread on raw Flaxseed Crackers, which you can make at home.  Eat, Taste, Heal has a great recipe, only I find it easier to pick up a box of Savory FlackersLet me know what you think.  

To your Good Health ~ Namaste!