The Power of Detoxification and Getting Clean
As I write this, I am finishing the amazing three-week-long “Clean” detox program detailed below. Designed by New York cardiologist and detoxification specialist Dr. Alejandro Junger, this program allowed me to work and exercise regularly, something I cannot do if I am on a liquid-only detox. I followed it to the letter and I can report that it worked wonders. I feel pure and happy and much lighter (I dropped the extra pounds that I had gained during a majorly fun and delicious “relax and enjoy life phase” about a month ago). I also really enjoyed learning about the incredible health benefits of resting your digestive system. This thing is amazing. And don’t forget to ask your doctor if a cleanse is right for you. Some questions and answers with Dr. Junger below.
What is Clean?
Clean is a program for achieving vibrant health and restoring the body’s own natural ability to heal itself. Clean is a detox program you can easily do at home, with freshly made foods and drinks. (A meal replacement shake-supplement version of it is also available in a kit from www.cleanprogram.com.) Under my medical supervision, hundreds of patients over the years have experienced stunning results. Consistently they have reported no complications, and most have found it simple to follow.
I developed the Clean Program to help treat the chronic symptoms many of us face by addressing them at the root level and restoring our bodies to optimum functioning.
When our systems are overtaxed, they begin to break down in a multitude of ways. Allergies, headaches, depression, irritable bowel syndrome, fatigue, weight gain, and insomnia are just a few of the symptoms that can result. The majority of these common ailments are the direct result of toxin build-up in our systems that has accumulated during the course of our daily lives.
In my book, Clean: A Revolutionary Program to Restore the Body’s Natural Ability to Heal Itself, I make this program available to everyone. The three key elements of the Clean Program are to Remove, Restore and Rejuvenate. When you “Remove” the obstacles to health and you “Restore” the nutrients that are lacking, your body will repair and heal itself of many of the frustrating symptoms that we deal with on a daily basis. However, the results of safely and skillfully detoxing go even further. The body “Rejuvenates” itself and you finally discover what it feels like to be healthy.
How did you come up with the Clean Program?
After medical school, I moved to New York to complete my postgraduate training. The drastic change in lifestyle left me 20 pounds overweight, with severe allergies, irritable bowel syndrome and depression, visits to three specialists and taking seven prescription medications. The verdict: “I had a chemical imbalance—my brain was not producing enough serotonin.”
I wanted a different solution. I studied and tried everything that made sense to me. Meditation, Ayurvedic medicine, Chinese medicine, chiropractic care, massage, and hands-on healing improved the symptoms, but something still wasn’t right.
While working in a busy cardiology practice in Palm Springs, I signed up for a two-week juice fast, a detox program based on vegetable juices and colon cleansing, at the local We Care Spa Holistic Health Center. As a result, not only did my symptoms completely disappear, I lost 15 pounds, felt better that I remembered possible, and I was told repeatedly that I looked ten years younger.
My medical experience as a cardiologist with a functional medicine approach made it possible for me to perfect this program, witnessing the effects on patients all over the world over the past seven years. Today, the Clean Program is an integral part of my practices at New York’s Eleven Eleven Wellness Center and the Lenox Hill Heart and Vascular Institute, where I am designing an integrative medicine service.
How did it become a part of your practice?
After seeing my results, my family and friends also wanted to look younger. They’d come visit and while staying with me, I would guide them through the same juice fasting detox program. It worked wonders in the quiet desert setting. Many of them saw symptoms disappear that had not responded to anything before. The word was out. My second bedroom had a waiting list. Soon my patients started to ask for the same program. I couldn’t say no.
In 2003, I moved to L.A. Soon I noticed that the program was not working as well when it was done in the midst of modern life in a noisy, busy city. Most of my patients could not afford time or money to detox in a spa setting. Functional medicine helped me understand the key aspects of detox, which allowed me to start getting better and better results by slightly slowing down the detox process and fully supporting it nutritionally.
“The health problems that respond to the powerful medications and surgeries of modern medicine are only a small fraction of the total number of health problems in our population at any given time.”
Finding ways to improve results kept me hopeful despite the health news, full of reports on the rising epidemic of diseases connected to diet and lifestyle. Fatigue, allergies, digestive disorders, heartburn, depression, insomnia, aches and pains were seen as the expected wear and tear of age. My specialty, heart disease, together with cancer, were, and still are, the leading causes of death in America. Paradoxically, I found that there were higher disease rates in industrialized countries than in developing nations. The more technologically advanced we became, the sicker we got. It didn’t make sense that everybody was sick and on medications.
Modern medicine can save your life by reopening a blocked coronary artery, stopping a heart attack, or reconstructing someone’s bones in the orthopedic surgeon’s modern operating room. Yet the health problems that respond to the powerful medications and surgeries of modern medicine are only a small fraction of the total number of health problems in our population at any given time. The remaining majority, the chronic illnesses, or diseases of modern life, are only silenced by the same approach. Symptom control is the goal and it is still mostly unsuccessful and expensive.
Our medical system is not working. The need was growing, and continues to grow, for a solution other than more chemicals and surgery.
How do toxins accumulate? Where do they come from? How do they affect our health?
There is another “inconvenient truth” still hidden from popular awareness. Global warming is just a symptom. At the root of it is global toxicity, the build-up of chemicals that is threatening all life on earth.
The air we breathe, the water we drink and shower with, the buildings we live and work in, and most of all, the foods we eat, are loaded with chemicals that alone or in combination cause irritation, inflammation, sickness and, ultimately, death.
“The human body comes equipped with a highly effective detox system, a team of organs working together to eliminate the toxic waste of normal metabolism, such as uric acid, lactic acid, carbon dioxide, ammonia and homocysteine. Somehow it can even detoxify most of the modern chemicals. The problem is that when the detox organs get overwhelmed, toxins continue circulating and cause inflammation.”
Preservatives, conservatives, additives for color, smell, taste and texture, pesticides, insecticides, fertilizers, herbicides, fungicides, hormones, antibiotics, wax, chlorine, mercury, lead, arsenic, fluoride, polyhydrocarbons, DDT, PCB’s, phthalates, PBA, saturated fats, trans fats, MSG, detergent and thousands of new chemicals are released every year, with thousands more awaiting FDA approval.
The human body comes equipped with a highly effective detox system, a team of organs working together to eliminate the toxic waste of normal metabolism, such as uric acid, lactic acid, carbon dioxide, ammonia and homocysteine. Somehow it can even detoxify most of the modern chemicals. The problem is that when the detox organs get overwhelmed, toxins continue circulating and cause inflammation. As a defense, the body generates mucus to coat toxins and trap them in the tissues where they remain when digestion is kept working day in, day out. If they persist over time, toxin and mucus accumulation can cause increased acidity, malfunction and eventually the collapse of all systems, one by one.
Global toxicity is enough to overflow the body’s detox capacity. Modern habits worsen the problem by keeping the detox process slow. All the different organs of the body need energy to function. Energy distribution has to be prioritized when many systems are being used at the same time or there won’t be enough. The body still gives priority to digestion over detox. For centuries, food was hard to come by. Only recently in evolution do we have food available and eat it 24/7, but our genes still act as if each feeding is the last meal and slow down everything else to concentrate on food. With digestion a full-time job, detox has to wait its turn while toxins keep coming in.
Modern medicine is detox-blind. Even though this information could save your life, there are no medical specialists dedicated to detect and treat the effects of global toxicity.
How does the Clean Program help to remove these toxins? Is it different from the many other programs out there?
The human body is made of trillions of molecules, constantly reacting to each other in the chemistry of life. All these molecules go exactly where they need to go. An invisible intelligence is always there, trying to direct molecules in the right direction. There are two basic reasons why things go wrong at this level:
Obstacles that interfere with the molecules that are moving (toxins)
The absence of one or more types of molecules (nutrients) needed for a chemical reaction on which normal function depends (nutrient depletions).
When you remove the obstacles and you provide whatever is lacking, this invisible force reorders the molecules, restores function, and symptoms disappear.
That is exactly how the Clean Program works to restore the body’s natural ability to heal itself. The truth is that the “ability” to heal is never lost, and thus it doesn’t need to be restored. What gets restored are the conditions under which that ability is manifested.
The Clean Program helps by…
Reducing digestive work so detox can occur in full mode. The Clean Program eases digestion by providing two liquid meals a day and a solid one in between, eliminating allergenic and mucus-forming food, which frees up even more energy.
Protecting you from the damage of recirculating toxins. When digestion slows down, the detox signal goes off and the trapped toxins are released back into circulation. Suddenly you are more “toxic” than before starting.
Delivering all the specific liver detox nutrients that protect you from phase 1-phase 2 imbalances, another situation that may make you feel more toxic when detoxing.
Promoting gut repair. The gut is more complex than we imagine. Within it lives 80% of your immune system tissues. It also houses a nervous system that is physically larger than the one inside your skull and manufactures 90% of the serotonin in your body. The Clean Program is unique in addressing this issue. The combination of nutrients in the Clean Program is strategically designed to create the optimal conditions for gut repair, an issue missing from most popular detox programs.
What are some practical tips for a touch of Clean in our daily lives?
Remove, Restore, Rejuvenate. These are the three pillars of the Clean Program. The best, most effective way of getting Clean is to follow the program. But if you are not able to follow the full program, here are some tips that you can do at home and are organized in a highly effective way to restore your control of your health and avoid becoming a number in American statistics.
Here are some practical tips to help you get started:
1. REMOVE toxins
- Avoid processed foods.
- Buy organic when possible.
- Buy eco-friendly cleaning products.
- Remove one or more of the foods that cause food allergies, sensitivitie, and are mucus-forming, such as dairy, bread, pasta, sugar, white rice, and red meat.
- Remove the bad bacteria in your gut with plant and herbal antibacterials and use garlic, lemon, olive oil, oregano oil, thyme and cayenne pepper—all powerful natural antimicrobials.
2. RESTORE what is lacking
- Consume nutrient-rich foods (vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, legumes).
- Use supplements to boost availability of your specific depletions (the B vitamins are commonly depleted).
- Soak up some sun. Fifteen minutes of sun exposure a day will allow you to sustain better levels of vitamin D for bone strength and protection from cancer and depression.
3. REJUVENATE your life
- Get yearly tests for vitamin D, free T3, iodine reserves, heavy metal toxicity, CRP, thyroglobulin antibodies, magnesium and zinc—all of which are frequently absent from physical exams today.
- Make time for “detox-enhancing” habits such as sauna, massage, hot and cold baths, and skin brushing. All of these improve circulation and increase perspiration, which help fuel your body’s natural cleansing system.
- Most importantly, rest your mind. Meditate, even if for only five minutes a day.
For more information
- Visit www.cleanrevolution.tv for educational videos.
- Visit www.cleanprogram.com for the supplement-meal replacement kit, formulated with all natural nutrients of the highest quality. This is perfect for busy people with no time to prepare the recipes in the book, masterfully designed by Jill Pettijohn, live food chef, nurse and detox specialist.
- Visit www.my.cleanprogram.com, an interactive web community where hundreds of people around the country and the world are doing the Clean Program together. You will be able to share your experience and tips and inspire others to get “Clean.”
I have just traversed the globe doing promotion for Ironman 2, getting asked the same question repeatedly: how did I get in shape for the movie? Well, I am not going to lie, the process was an arduous one.