The Master of Detox

Gwyneth Paltrow is a follower, and his 21 day Clean Program has been promoted by celebrities as well as everyday people as a safe way to detox, attain mental clarity and drop a few pounds. Dr Alejandro Junger explains his philosophy, what makes our bodies toxic, and reveals how to improve our health through the power of cleansing.

Exclusive Interview: Vana Antonopoulou

Dr Junger, are detoxes good for you or are they just a beauty fad?
The practice of cleansing for improved health has been around for thousands of years. From the 5,000 year old Indian Ayurvedic and Chinese medicinal systems to Native American and South American purification rituals, cleansing has been with us for a long time.
In the United States, cleansing has really come of age in the last 15 years because of our increased awareness of the toxins around us. Since World War II, over 80,000 new chemicals have been created. The more we learn about the damaging effects of toxins on the human body, the more we’ll look to cleansing programs that will aid our overloaded detox organs.
Today cleansing is not a fad, but one of the most powerful health tools available.

What is the Clean Program and how can it help improve one’s health and wellbeing?
The 21-day Clean Program is the result of years of research in my medical practice. After mastering the principles of cleansing and detoxification based on Functional Medicine, I designed this program for my patients to achieve vibrant health. The Clean Program has since become the most powerful tool in my medical toolbox and has helped hundreds of thousands of people around the world.
The effect is transformative. Typical benefits include improved skin, sleep, digestion, energy, and mental clarity with a reduction in bloating, constipation, headaches, and joint pain. In addition, it helps set you up for clean eating habits and healthy lifestyle changes.
The Clean Program provides the nutrients, especially protein, and calories to detoxify while living a busy lifestyle. The Clean Program is not a juice cleanse, Master Cleanse, or a calorie restriction program. It works by removing items that may be causing issues (processed foods, toxic products), adding in clean nutrient dense food and shakes, and using supportive supplements.

Who should do the cleanse? Would you discourage certain people from doing it and why?
Today, we are exposed to more toxic chemicals than ever before. Toxins are in the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the food we eat. They’re inside our cosmetics and body care products, in our paints and carpets, even our mattresses and clothing. One toxic chemical alone may not be a problem, but when the cocktail of thousands of toxic substances enters our body, it can, almost silently, begin to wreak havoc on our health. This cocktail of toxins has the power to cause dysfunction, damage, disease, and premature aging.

Toxic buildup in our bodies can cause skin issues, digestive problems, fatigue, brain fog, constipation and more. Almost every symptom we experience today can be connected back to the ability of our body to detoxify. We are all dealing with the effects of this increase in toxic load to different degrees. Commonplace complaints such as headaches, bowel irregularities, allergies, weight problems, depression, anxiety, and pain are largely caused by failing detox systems. Looking older, feeling more tired, and losing the radiant luster of health are also directly related to this overburdened and toxic state. Yet much of these health challenges can be improved, sometimes even completely cleared when we pay attention to cleansing and detoxification.

Nearly everyone who lives a modern life, eats a modern diet, and inhabits the modern world is a candidate for a balanced and appropriate cleanse. Of course, there are some people who are not a good fit to do the Clean Program, but they can just follow the Clean Diet. You should avoid detoxing if: you are pregnant or nursing, are under the age of 18, have active cancer, have liver disease, hepatitis, have Type 1 diabetes, are on medication for bipolar disorder, have adrenal fatigue.

What are the cornerstones of the Clean Program, and how does it translate into an everyday diet?
The Clean Program gets you back to eating whole, unprocessed foods. After you finish the 21 days, you will be more likely to continue eating these types of foods or at least be aware of them. Also, you’ll be able to incorporate the tools of the Clean Program (e.g. the use of shakes, the 12 hour window, supportive supplements) into your daily life.

Are there any special foods (or superfoods for that matter) or products one could incorporate into their everyday diet, that would help keep them healthy all year long?
No. This is mostly marketing hype. The full range of whole unprocessed foods are available to be incorporated into our life. Each whole food has its own benefits and drawbacks. Here are a few things to keep in mind:
1. Eat as wide variety of colors as possible, especially the blue-purple family (berries, purple potatoes, etc.)
2. Pay attention to how you feel when you consume gluten and dairy. While these are whole foods, they often create problems for many of my patients.
3. Some supplements are useful today. Include a probiotic, multivitamin, Vitamin D3 into your diet.

What is the best season to do a detox?
The best time to do a program is when you are not traveling and are relatively settled for the 21 days. Spring, summer, and fall tend to be easier than winter because of the warmer weather. In the end, any time you will actually do it, is the best time.

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