The Pegan Diet: 21 Practical Principles for Reclaiming Your Health in a Nutritionally Confusing World

The Pegan Diet: 21 Practical Principles for Reclaiming Your Health in a Nutritionally Confusing World

by Mark Hyman

The Pegan diet is a combination of two popular diets - Paleo and Vegan diet. This book gives us scientifically-based information on how to make the best out of a Paleo and Vegan diet and thus form a healthy diet that supports our overall health.

Summary Notes

Why Pegan Diet?

“Perhaps the real focus should be on shifting people from an obesogenic, disease-causing, nutrient-depleted diet to one rich in whole foods and protective foods that promote weight loss, health, and well-being. That, my friends, is the goal of the Pegan Diet.”

Most people are unaware of the connection between what they eat and how they feel or between food and diseases that people are prone to. Food consists of complex substances that communicate with our bodies in real-time. We program our biological software to work or break down as we eat. That is why we should be aware of everything we put into our bodies.

The Paleo and Vegan diets emphasize plant-rich whole foods, a diet low in grain and sugar, processed foods, additives, hormones, antibiotics, and GMOs, except for a tiny minority of extreme low-fat vegan supporters, a diet high in healthy fats. They both avoid dairy and all other dietary approaches—vegetarian, keto, time-restricted eating, lectin-free diets, Mediterranean, low-carb, low-fat, gluten-free, and more—adherence to a whole foods approach, and exclude hazardous ultra-processed foods while including beneficial items. 

The simplest rule of the Pegan diet is to eat healthy, whole, not processed food and make sure our plate is colorful - full of various antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, prebiotics, probiotics, proteins, and slow carbs. We should fill 75% of our plate with non-starchy vegetables because whole food carbs are rich in vitamins, minerals, fiber, and phytochemicals that balance our blood sugar. In contrast, refined carbs are low in nutritional value and increase our blood sugar.

Actions to take

Food Is Medicine

“I’m going to give you an overview of each of the seven systems in functional medicine and how you can use food as medicine, or as I like to say, your pharmacy.”

The science of establishing health (functional medicine) focuses on the core cause of the disease, and food nearly always has a part in both the cause and the remedy. 

We do not divide the body into separate organs in functional medicine; instead, we examine the functioning of seven different systems: the microbiome system, the immune and anti-inflammatory system, the energy system, the detoxification system, the circulatory system, the communication system (hormones and neurotransmitters), and the cell membrane and musculoskeletal system.

Almost all 155,000 illnesses classified in the ICD10 disease categorization system result from imbalances in these seven interrelated systems. That is why it is necessary to treat our organism and health as one extensive system connected by seven smaller systems and take care of it through healthy food.

Actions to take

Know Why You Eat What You Eat

“Your lifespan is how long you live. Your health span is how many years you live a healthy, vibrant life. You want your health span to equal your lifespan.”

The four goals of a conscious diet are to eat to regenerate our body, maintain the health of our gut, live a long life, and improve our mood.

Eating for regeneration

Industrial Agriculture's food kills at least 11 million people yearly and contributes to the obesity epidemic. We should eat like regetarians which means developing a regenerative system capable of regenerating both the land and our health. To do that, we should buy organic, local food, stop wasting food, stop using plastic and eat whole food.

Eating for gut health

Every illness starts in the gut. The microbiome, it turns out, is the most crucial regulator of our general health. The poor functioning of our gut is caused by a processed diet heavy in sugar and carbohydrates, as well as dietary additives. Plants, on the other hand, include prebiotic fibers and polyphenols that benefit our gut health.

Eating for longevity

Insulin resistance is the leading cause of aging and different diseases. It occurs when we consume starches and sweets in any form since our pancreas produces a large amount of insulin. That is why the way to longevity is to take care of blood sugar and insulin. Insulin resistance is closely related to muscle loss, and proteins make our body functional and young. Regular fasting for 12 hours and a nutritious diet can reduce insulin resistance and inflammation, enhance antioxidants, revitalize mitochondria,  increase cognitive function, develop muscle, and so on.

Eating for a better mood

Diet and brain health are linked. According to research, switching from processed meals to healthy foods positively transforms children with aggressive behavior. Depression, anxiety, ADHD, autism, dementia, behavior disorders, aggression, and plain old brain fog are all connected to nutrition and frequently to the influence of our diet on our gut microbiota. Processed, sugary, and starchy foods are not good for our brain and mental health. We should eat whole foods such as fruits, vegetables, olive oil, nuts and seeds, legumes, and some grass-fed meat. Blood sugar imbalances can cause depression, anxiety, forgetfulness, and disorganization.

Actions to take


To maintain good health, we must detoxify and cleanse our bodies. The Pegan diet recommends a ten-day detox, and there is a list of approved items.  This detox is based on consuming combinations of foods and practices essential for detoxing and resetting your body.

To cleanse and reset our bodies, we should drink filtered water and teas, consume nuts, seeds, a variety of non-starchy foods, grass-fed beef, green beans, organic berries, and so on.

It's essential to eat with the same time interval pauses between meals, such as 12 hours fasting. This activates the body's repair and healing mechanisms, such as reducing inflammation and oxidative stress, fat loss, increased muscle mass, mitochondrial regeneration (which is critical for our cells), improved cognitive function, and improved autophagy (how your cells clean waste), and disease prevention.

We should not forget to sleep simultaneously every day since this is also very important for our health and wellness, longevity, healing, and detoxification.

Actions to take

Eat Like a Pegan

“The Pegan Diet is an un-diet—a simple set of principles blending science and common sense into guidelines promoting health, weight loss, and longevity that can easily be adapted to any philosophical or cultural preferences.”

To follow the Pegan diet, we should avoid conventional chicken and poultry (these are pumped with antibiotics and prone to contain diseases such as Salmonella and E. coli.), dairy products (these can cause many conditions such as eczema, allergies, hormone disorders, cancer, autoimmune diseases), refined sugar, and other bed substitutes for sugar, alcohol, juices from supermarkets, and industrial packaged refined, processed foods.

So, the list of food we should specifically avoid is:

  • Conventional chicken and poultry, commercial meat and fish
  • Diary products
  • Refined white sugar, sugar alcohol, high-fructose corn syrup, brown sugar, harmful artificial sweeteners
  • Alcohol and coffee
  • If you react badly to coffee, say you have insomnia, humor, tachycardia, etc. One glass of wine or a cup of coffee a couple of times a week is fine.
  • Juices from the supermarket.
  • Instead, make your smoothies without added sugar (you can always use bananas, dates, and honey for sweetening.
  • Industrial packaged and processed foods contain a list of a bunch of ingredients you don't know what they mean.

We should eat primarily organic whole plant-based foods, legumes, beans, non-starchy foods, nuts, seeds, whole grains, grass-fed meat and pasture-raised chicken, low-mercury fish (mercury can be toxic for our gut and thyroid ), healthy fats, and plant milk (or sheep's, goat's milk, yogurt, and cheese). We should also replace refined sugar with healthier sugar such as dates, honey, maple syrup, etc.

Actions to take

Cook Like a Pegan

“Cooking is a lost skill but the most important one for health and longevity (unless you have a personal chef!).”

It is not only important what we eat and when we eat, but also how we prepare that food. Here are some tips for easier, healthier, and better cooking.

  • Get healthy and essential foods to make healthy meals faster. Don’t forget a lot of spices.
  • Properly use oil (check the burning temperature).
  • Get good knives, pots and pans, mixers, peelers, wooden spoons, and more.
  • Educate yourself on the proper preparation of vegetables. You can saute, roast, or steam it.
  • Don't undercook or overcook protein (Bacteria thrive in raw chicken and pork. Toxic chemicals are produced during high-temperature cooking, which can harm your health.) So, get a cooking thermometer.
  • Have fun.

Actions to take

Make Healthy Eating Your Regular Habit

“The first step in creating optimal health is to know your “why.” Why do you want to be healthy? My why is simple. I want to be full of energy, focus, and strength to live fully every day and do whatever I want without restriction. I want to dance all night, climb a mountain, learn a new language, and play sports. I want to keep my brain sharp.”

It is easy to become motivated to change your diet, but it is difficult to maintain motivation. There are three steps to help us maintain the habit of a healthy eating diet:

  1. Find a strong reason why we want to eat healthily and be healthy. We can only achieve big goals if we have a clear vision and reason for doing something. For example, the reason may be to lose weight, recover, avoid illness, feel good, etc.

  2. Rely on the support of family, friends, or someone else who also starts the exact change as us. When people encourage and support us, we can get much more motivation than when we do something alone.

  3. Take small steps and create small goals toward significant change. Big and sudden changes can be burdensome and make us give up.

Actions to take

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