If the Doctors Can’t Agree, What Hope Have You Got?

Paleo? Vegan? Pegan? 

There is so much controversy around what type of diet we should eat that it’s easy to want to just throw up your hands and say “All too hard”.

Even the Doctors can’t agree.  But then again, why would they? Depending upon your research sources, doctors typically spend between 8 and 20 hours learning about nutrition during their entire 6 or so years of studying medicine. Not much really. But when you consider the fact that doctors learn how to make people well when they are sick – typically they study disease and illness over preventative courses of treatment – then I guess it’s not so surprising. Who would have thought eating better would improve or cure many of today’s chronic illnesses and disease?

The challenge these days is that many people, especially my generation and my parent’s generation, are raised to believe that doctors are gods. Doctors are seen as all seeing all knowing beings that know absolutely everything there is to know about being healthy.  What a heavy load they carry, it’s understandable that they’re not experts in absolutely everything related to health.
So when a doctor says “Just exercise more . Energy In vs Energy Out.” then who are we to argue?

But argue we must!

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not against western medical doctors. I love doctors. They fix things.
If you’re having a heart attack, stroke, you’re bleeding, you’ve broken a bone or something else, then absolutely positively get yourself to a doctor …. and quickly. But, doctors fix things. They fix things that are broken; their focus is on disease and illness, and stopping the pain.

But what about trying to alleviate or prevent the problem before your body starts to break down or rebel against years of less than healthy food and lifestyle choices?

But I digress, back to the initial proposition, “What if the doctors, even the ones that have studied nutrition, that know without a doubt that food is actually the medicine, still can’t agree on the best way to be eat for a healthy, happy and vibrant life?”

So let’s take a look at some of the latest diet plans out there:

Paleo – also known as the caveman diet, Paleo focuses on foods that were hunted and gathered by ancestors including meat (preferably grass-fed), fish, eggs, nuts, fruit, non-starchy vegetables and good fats and excluding dairy or cereal products and processed food.

Vegetarian – a diet based on not eating meat, fish, or poultry.

Vegan – in addition to being vegetarian, vegan allows grains, fruit, vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds but avoids any animal product. Vegans do not use other animal products and by-products such as eggs, dairy products, honey, leather, fur, silk, wool, cosmetics, and soaps derived from animal products.

Pegan (Paleo + Vegan) – The term ‘Pegan’, coined by Dr Mark Hyman of the Cleveland Medical Centre in the US, cherry picks the best foods from each group, claiming Pegan ‘makes the most sense for our health and the health of our planet. Pegan is considered the best of both worlds – offering a plant rich diet that includes protein, good fats and grains, and avoids dairy, gluten and sugar.

A few days ago I came across this little snippet from Mind Body Green. A short snippet of an
interview with 3 Highly Accomplished Functional Medicine Doctors who know how important diet is in creating better health, debating the best way to eat for optimal health.

This 90 second snippet of Dr Mark Hyman comparing the Vegan and Paleo diets provides some imperative principles for eating right regardless of whether you choose to follow the Paleo, Vegan, Pegan or some other eating plan.

Now if you don’t have the time to watch a 90 second video, here are the main points I felt compelled to share with you and the things that all 3 doctors and many other functional medicine and holistic practitioners adhere to:

  • If you eat crap, you’re going to feel like crap. No processed foods – no processed grains, no sugar, no food additives, no hormones. If it’s not real food you shouldn’t be eating it.
  • We should be eating lots of plant foods – lots of fruits and vegetables, lots of nuts and seeds
  • The grey areas are around animal proteins-  yes or no, if yes, what types?
  • The real issue is… what’s right for you?
  • The key is to understand that everyone is different. Saturated fat causes obesity and inflammation in some people but not in others. Eating lots of grains will cause inflammation in some people but not in others

The key is finding out what works for you and to do that, you need to learn to listen to your body, listen and notice how it feels after you’ve eaten certain types of foods. And, shameless plug here, we can help you with that.

Still with me? Good. That means you’re interested in watching the video.
But first, here’s a quick terminology lesson. During the interview, Dr Mark Hyman talks about Microbiome.
Here’s a quick explanation of the term:
A collection of microbes or microorganisms that inhabit an environment, creating a sort of “mini-ecosystem”. Our human microbiome is made up of communities of common pathogenic bacteria (along with fungi and viruses) that live together in our body. These communities exist in unique, complementary blends, and inhabit everything from our skin and genitals, to our mouths and eyes, and of course our intestines. The clusters of bacteria from different regions of the body are variously known as microbiota, including, for example, your skin microbiota, oral microbiota and gut microbiota, also known as “gut flora”.

Here’s the link:


Now if you like what you hear, you’d like to know more, or discover how Dr Mark Hyman came up with the term Pegan and what it means to be Pegan, here’s the link to watch the entire 30 minute interview.


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