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Dr. Alejandro Junger is a New York times bestselling author of the book clean. He completed his training in New York, downtown hospital with a fellowship in cardiology and he mixes Eastern medicine into the way he treats his patients holistically.
Allan: 01:02 Dr. Junger welcome to 40+ Fitness.
Dr. Junger: 01:05 Thank you for having me.
Allan: 01:06 I really enjoyed your book, the Clean 7 and I thought it was kind of fascinating. You were, you were in the book, you were talking about one of your mentors was actually one of the individuals that was in that plane accident. It got trapped up in the mountains, you know, the way they did the movie alive on. Yeah. I just thought that was kind of fascinating. Dr Roberto. Yes. And so, and he was, he was one of them that came down out of the mountains and actually got him rescued, wasn't he?
Dr. Junger: 01:31 He was one of the two that ventured off into the unknown, completely a mash created with meat of his friends' bodies in rugby socks and walked up and down the mountains for 10 days and arrived in Chile and found a farmer who called the army.
Allan: 01:51 That's just fascinating. Like I said, that would just be someone interesting to be hanging out with and getting to know. And then also being your mentor, you know, just wanting to really inspirationally look up to each day. It's like, I can do anything. I can do anything. You know.
Dr. Junger: 02:06 The life force on this man is compared to nothing I've ever met.
Allan: 02:10 Well, that was just a cool little side to the story, that story that you had in the book, but I liked your stories because it was the real realism of, okay, you're, you're a Western really trained medical doctor and you're getting into functional medicine and then you're seeing examples of [inaudible] medicine and you're with your program now clean seven. You blending those together to give people tools to get healthy.
Dr. Junger: 02:36 Yeah, well, functional medicine and an understanding of why your very good medicine didn't come into much later. You know, I got sick and I started looking for solutions that did not include seven prescription medications for my health issues at the time and, and I went blind just on a search and it was through my search that I stand. I started finding things. One of the pillars of what I found was the concepts and practices of detoxification. And then once I got into it at the beginning, not understanding the biology behind it or the science behind it, but really experiencing the benefits. Then in my obsession to really understand was when I came aware of functional medicine, which really explained detoxification in detail, right? A word that they don't use anymore because it's kind of being misused and it leads to confusion. So the word now is biotransformation, which is what is happening to the toxic molecules. They get bio transformed from toxic into nontoxic and from lipophyllic or or fat-soluble into water soluble so that they can be excreted and eliminated.
Allan: 03:55 Yeah. I think that we're a detox to scare a lot of people because you, you, you get these crazies selling these shakes or these, you know, there's these things you drink and messes with your system.
Dr. Junger: 04:07 Yeah. Even even in the medical world when, you know, when I first heard somebody that told me, you know, they did a detox program, I had only studied as what you send your patients to do when they're alcoholics or drug addicts.
Allan: 04:24 Yeah. So in your Clean 7 there, there are three pillars that you're kind of bringing together to help us improve our health. Can you talk about those three pillars?
Dr. Junger: 04:34 Well, the first pillar is functional medicine, and I use concepts from functional medicine. Basically, the concepts from functional medicine that I use are the elimination diets and the five R's, right? What? In functional medicine, it's called the five bars. So the elimination diet is basically a diet in which you eliminate any foods that are processed, that contain any chemicals or toxic molecules or any non-natural ingredients, right? And he's based on whole foods, primarily vegetables and fruits. But there's other things too. And in my experience, the elimination diet alone is really, really powerful. When in my practice, people come and I, whether I have an idea of what they have at the beginning or I have no idea, will what they have in my first course rotation, while we wait for an blood tests and other tests, I put people on the elimination diet in about 60% of the people when they come back for the test results have experienced immense benefits, if not complete resolution of their problems.
So that alone is really, really powerful. The five R's are the first art is for remove, which means removing everything that hinders physiology. Right? Not only toxic molecules, but, but also bad bacteria or other organisms in the intestines, but company stress, stress, and by situations, right? So the second R stands for re introduce or replace, which is basically talking about reintroducing or replacing the bad things that we eat with nutritious foods, with foods that contain nutrients. Because what happens is the liver and other tissues that do the detoxification processes and reactions need substrates need elements need nutrients in order to attach to the toxic molecules to render them nontoxic. The third R is for re inoculation. As you remove the bad bacteria and other organisms in the gut, you want to reinoculate with good bacteria and organisms. The fourth R is for repair. And this specifically talks about the repair of the intestinal lining, which I called our Achilles heel because mostly all, if not all of chronic diseases of the modern world begin in the gut.
And one of the first things that happens in the gut, apart from the disruption of the, of the biome and leading to dysbiosis. The second thing that happens or concomitantly is the breaking of the intestinal lining. The intestinal lining should be made of cells that are stuck together in what is described as tight junctions, making it impermeable. Oh, for, for anything that is not actively and specifically chosen by the cells to be absorbed and thrown into the circulation. When that integrity, when that continuity of, of the barrier is disrupted, leads to what a lot of people now know as leaky gut or hyperpermeability. And the fifth R is for relaxation because apart from the toxic molecules that we are exposed through the air, we breathe the water, we drink and shower with the medications we use, the cosmetics, we use, the cleaning products that we use in our homes, but mostly through the foods that we eat.
The biggest factor together with those toxic molecules in our modern world is stress. So relaxation is really an important factor as well for restoring your body's ability to heal itself. Okay. And then beyond that functional medicine piece, you then get into the second. Yeah. The second pillar of, you know, the clean seven program are concepts and practices that come from Ayurvedic medicine. And even though I'm not an Ayurvedic medicine expert, I've learned from one of the legends of Ayurvedic medicine who really boil it down to me, made it really simple and taught me how to enhance the detox processes through certain Ayurvedic principles, right? One of them is the dosha system and the other one is the use of Ayurvedic herbs. And this is specifically as it relates to detoxification. So by using the dosha system, you further individualize the approach and you tailor the approach to the different doses, right?
And now Ayurvedic medicine, there's basically three doses or body constitutions. And this refers to the way that your body works energetically. And it's based on the distinction of the influence of the different elements which make everything fire, earth, wind, water and eat right. And each one of us has all the elements within us, but there's one or two that are predominant and the predominant element is the one that is most prone to go out of balance. So by determining your dosha or your predominant element, you will know what foods, what activities and what other things in your life are influenced most by the element that is your predominant element. And that will most likely throw your predominant element out of balance. For example, if you are of fire predominant constitution, anything that is of predominant fire country station will be adding fire to fire and throw your fire.
So for example, fiery foods will be the ones that you would need to limit yourself or eliminate at least during the times where when your dosha is out of balance. So by using this system of doses, this doctor dr Narendra Singh from, from India, who was worldwide known, taught me that the detoxification processes will be enhanced, right? The dosha system is applied to many other things of which I am only peripherally aware, right? But since I was really focusing on enhancing the detox processes in people and supporting the detox organs and systems, he said, if you use the dosha system, you will enhance the results, you will improve the results. The other thing that comes from Ayurvedic medicine is the use of Ayurvedic herbs, which not only provide people with a world of nutrients, antioxidants, and fiber, but also affect the body energetically through their product and prioritize the, the live energy within them.
That really helps to shift things around and mostly what I use in clean seven are what are called adaptogenic herbs, which really improve your balance physiological balance. For example, if you are adrenally exhausted, they will help recharge and that will help the adrenals work better, but if you are hyperactive in a way your adrenals are, are hyperactive, they will bring them down so they help your body adapt to whatever situation your body is in at the time. Right?
The third pillar of the Clean 7 program is intermittent fasting and this is something that now has become part of the mass consciousness. Everybody's trying some kind of intermittent fasting. But to boil it down to the basics for thousands and thousands, maybe hundreds of thousands, maybe millions of years, depending on who you talk to. Our way of life was much like the animals that are now living in the wild according to the way that nature designed them to live.
And living in the places where nature designed them to live and eating in the way that nature designed them. To me, and if you look at animals in the wild, what is life about? It's about looking for food feasting when food is found and then taking a rest and then starting to look for food again until they find one. And until they find one, they will have imposed episodes of fasting. So in that way, our genes evolved for thousands of years, let's say. And the time, if you draw a line in evolution, the time in which we had food 24 seven available to us is a dot. A microscopic. Dot in the timeline. So the concept that I'm trying to make people aware is that our genes have not had the evolutionary time to adapt to eating all the time. So the body and the and your genes treat food as and the whole thing around food as it was thousands of years ago, which means when food is found that your genes say, okay, this is what life depends on.
Let's slow everything else down so that we can utilize as much of what we are eating as possible and store as much as we can because we don't know where the next meal is coming from. This is how it used to be. Our genes right now cannot know that in two hours or in two minutes you're going to be eating again. So the moment you put something in your system, the moment your digestive system detects food, your whole functioning mode will shift into utilizing that time and the energy in your body will be directed mostly towards digestion, absorption, assimilation and storage, stealing energy from other systems. For example, everybody knows that after a huge meal you fall asleep or you've, you know, you become lethargic. And this is the prime example of what I'm talking about. Why? Because as long as there's food in your intestines, as long as your intestines are digesting, that is given priority and the energy is stolen from thinking, from moving, from detoxifying, right?
So as we live these days, we are mostly digesting all the time. We don't finish digesting one meal and we introduced another one. So there is not a time where we're not digesting. So the physiologic machinery is always turned into the feasting mode and he's never led be in the fasting mode. And it's like in a way, living with the sun is shining all the time without, without going into the dark and having the opportunity to sleep. And this is instead of having a ying and yang in your lives, only having yet it's non-sustainable. And this is one of the reasons that humanity is sick. This concept of breakfast, lunch and dinner and snacks in the middle is something that's new and it's mostly driven these days by economic interests. So we need to rethink the way we live up to the basic things that we take for granted, like breakfast, lunch, and dinner. And this is why intermittent fasting is part of the clean seven program because it really makes your genes happy and accelerates everything that we're trying to do by detoxifying or doing a detox program or a biotransformation program. And it also enhances not only the detox processes, but the healing and repairing processes as well. Yeah, I mean, because if you go into a fast, you're going to get some autophagy, which is where your body's going to actually start
Allan: 17:50 Getting rid of some bad cells and re-purposing them, and then also you're going to increase your human growth hormone. So it's, it's actually scientifically proven that the fasting process is a healing, restoring process.
Dr. Junger: 18:04 Yeah. Now, now you are going kind of deep into the subject, but the thing is, the thing is you're jumping the gun because when you talk about apoptosis or the process by which your body starts eating itself, starting with the disease cells, I don't think it happens within 24 hours of being in the fasting mode. I think it takes, and this is just my opinion and from what I've been observing, because there's no studies that categorically determine this, right? But I think it takes a few more days of being really in a fasting state in order for that to start happening. So this, I don't think this is part of why intermittent fasting is beneficial because people, when they intermittently fast, they fast forward 16 hours, 18 hours, 20 hours, 24 hours. But nobody goes further than that.
Allan: 18:56 Yeah, the only reason I think that it's some of that is naturally occurring is I'll watch bodybuilders that'll use intermittent fasting and they're not losing body mass. You know, they're still gaining body mass at a time when they're not intaking as much protein as they normally would. And I know there's going to be some amino acids circulating in your bloodstream, but for them to continue to put on muscle while doing intermittent fasting tells me that there's something going on where the body's reusing body cells at some level and the body is still able to be strong, get strong and gain muscle. So I know, I think some of that stuff is, is starting to happen. But maybe like you said, yeah, it's a third day or the fourth, you know, second or fourth day, somewhere in there where their body really starts to kick in with some of those.
Dr. Junger: 19:41 Listen, and you may be right or I really don't know because nobody has really determined this through serious studies, but let's stay tuned and find out what he does.
Allan: 19:53 Right? So, so our three pillars here are functional medicine that looks at the body holistically and does some elimination diets such that we can get the bad stuff out and give our body what it needs to restore and heal. We're basing it on [inaudible] principles of the doses so that we're eliminating the right foods for our own personal being and we're including some of the herbs that will support then our systems and processes in help get us into balance. And then the final bit is we're introducing intermittent fasting as a means of giving our body the time to have the processes and the restoration occurs. So
Dr. Junger: 20:31 That's right. And don't forget on the first one also the five RS.
Allan: 20:35 Yes. So now you take all of that and you put it into a program and the program includes some shakes. You've got recipes in the book. Could you kind of walk us through the process of what the
Dr. Junger: 20:48 Seven days are going to look like here? Yes. So, so what we're trying to do is to decrease the workload of the digestive system. And for that we replace many meals with liquid meals because they're easier to digest. They're kind of like fuel injection. They don't need too much work, they don't need too much prophecy. The nutrients just shoot directly into your bloodstream without the need of a lot of digestion. Right. And that is why we replace solid meals with liquid meals. Then the solid meals that are allowed during the program are to be chosen with a combination of the elimination diet, which is the same for everybody. And the dosha system, which is individual, right? So, so there's a list of foods that you cannot eat during the elimination diet. For example, dairy, sugar, alcohol, coffee and, and gluten. And if you are of fire constitution, we will also eliminate the fiery foods, right?
So like spicy foods and mango and there's very specific foods that will trigger your fire, right? And so you add both of the lists of foods to avoid and you follow that during your solid meals and also doing a liquid by the way. And then what we do is in my first book clean, which is a 21 day program, every day is the same. There's a shake for breakfast, lunch from a set list of foods and a shake for dinner. And there's supplements in between and it's the same and there is 12 hours between dinner one day and breakfast the following day, right? And every day is the same. And the 12 hour window between dinner and breakfast is because 12 hours is the minimum time in which you allow the body to at least go into a little bit of a more intense detox, right? Because eight hours is what is what it takes to digest a meal and then you give it four more hours for the body to really do the detox mode.
Now in this, in the Clean 7 program, the first day is shake lunch, shake. The second day is also shake lunch shake. But the second shake you do two hours before the first day so that they, instead of a 12 hour window between the second day is dinner shake and the third day's shake breakfast. Instead of 12 hours, there's 14 hours on the third day you do again shake for breakfast, a smaller lunch, and then the shake for dinner. You even do two hours earlier than the second day. So it's four hours earlier than the than the day. So that you, instead of having 14 hours between that dinner and the first and the, and the next shake in the morning on day four there is 60 now and then on day four do you do your breakfast shake. Then you do a small lunch and then you have nothing until the next day's lunch. So no dinner and no breakfast the next day. So you do a 24 hour fast now because you're sleeping part of the time it seem less is going to be less hard to do. Right. But there's still 24 hours and then and then you break your break your 24 hour fast with a shake. Then you have a dinner that night, a solid dinner, and then slowly you go back to what it looks like the first day.
Allan: 24:38 Okay. And so this one will kind of blend them into a day for 24 hour fast. You're incorporating these shakes which you have lots of recipes in the book for. You have recipes for their lunch meals and dinner meals, so it's all, it's all pretty much wrapped up there. I guess the one question is like you said, your clean program that you had before was 21 days. Most of the elimination diets that I see out there are anywhere from, like I said, 21 days to eight weeks. Is seven days really sufficient for someone to to get the results that thereafter with something like this?
Dr. Junger: 25:12 That's a great question because in my first book I talk about the need of 21 days to really cause a significant change in habits. Not only lifestyle habits but also physiologic habits. Right? And the 21 day program is life transforming. But the problem that I've seen since I wrote that book, and it's been 10 years, is that most people do not commit to a 21 day program. So, so even though I gave this incredible tool to the world to really transform their health, only a very small percentage of the people that would could benefit from it are actually doing. So I needed to find something that was shorter but wasn't just the first, the seven first day of that program, I needed something more intense so that in seven days you can really get a taste and in the hope that people after that won't want to jump back exactly what they were doing before. Right. So you're right, it is not enough. Seven days is not enough for a therapeutic plan. You using the elimination diet in order to reverse certain chronic diseases or improves it, but it's better than nothing. And together with everything else, it's a, it's pretty remark.
Allan: 26:39 Yeah, it does give them some pretty awesome tools to know how their body and the foods that are giving them trouble because as they try to reimplement some of those foods, they're going to pretty much pretty quickly understand if they can do gluten or not. If they can do dairy products or not, that'll come back pretty quickly to [inaudible].
Dr. Junger: 26:57 Yeah. There was a very famous guru in India who I personally met who used to say, you know, used to give people jewelry and other shiny objects, you know, and materialize those things out of thin air, right? So people would ask him, you know, you are, you're a guru of spirituality. Why do you, why do we give the shiny objects to be? Isn't that BS? And he will say, I give people what they want in the hope that one day they will want what I really have to give them. Right? And this is how I think about the seven day program. You know, people want something fast and easy and then they want to get results, right? So I give them that in the hope that then they would take it seriously. And they will take it to you know, to heart and really do the work that it takes to transform one's life, which you cannot, cannot do in seven days. And then just go back to what you were doing before.
Allan: 27:55 Well I agree. This is a, this is a very well prepared and set up program with the recipes. Everything in there for you and a lot of other stuff. There's a lot of tools in there. So I do hope folks will check this out and at least commit to the seven days. Cause I do think that it, I think it will do a lot for a lot of people. I define wellness as being the healthiest fittest and happiest you can be. What are three strategies or tactics to get and stay? Well,
Dr. Junger: 28:20 Well, I'm going to go away from your definition of of wellness, right? Because you know, because the truth is there's 7 billion people in the planet and not everybody can get to the fittest. They can be right. There's many different reasons why people are not able to be fit. Right. For example, myself, I had an accident four years ago that completely destroyed my knees and caused the problem in one of my hard vowels. And, and I, you know, I was, you know, I had a six pack before that and I used to be in tiptop shape and now I can't. So I had to learn how to live without being fit. Right. And then still be happy. So, yeah. And, and, and in a way, you said it before because you say the fittest, they can be right. Yes. No, that's not the fit. Not the fittest in the planet.
Right, exactly. Yeah. But when people hear the fit is you can be, they, you know, they, they, it's like it makes them anxious in a way, right? Because they imagine themselves being in perfect shape and a lot of people will never achieve that. So I defined wellness mostly as the state that one lives in. Right. And this is something that you feel [inaudible], you know, the maximum expression of wellness to be to for me is to be fully present. Right? And this is what, this is what I understand as enlightenment and this is really what I'm looking for and we, you know, even though I'm not a spiritual teacher, this is what I tried to make people aware of that regardless of your level of fitness, if you are in a present state of mind, okay, I mean you, you would experience peace and this is the best level of wellness that one can have because I've seen gurus that are completely at peace and they're not necessarily the healthiest, right?
Then sometimes they have a lot of health issues including severe ones, but their life is full and their wellness in my eyes is full because they're completely at peace. Now having said that, most people in the planet are not going to achieve the state of full, full presence continuously. Right? So then you do need to have your body functioning well because when it is not functioning well, it is hard to cook, to achieve a complete presence also. Right? So I think that we should strive for a combination of things and having your body functioning the best level possible. Right? And I believe strongly believe that we live in such a toxic world these days, that learning how to enhance your own already existing detoxification processes is something that is going to benefit the word greatly until we are able to make the word less toxic. Right?
Allan: 31:40 Well, I don't want it, that's going to happen anytime soon.
Dr. Junger: 31:43 I listen, I have three kids. I can't lose hope that things will continue that will at least start or continue to improve.
Allan: 31:52 Well, awareness is there. I think that's the core of that. We know that these chemicals are not good for us. And so where we can within our own control systems, we can start eliminating them. And if we're, if we're purchasing products and stop purchasing other products, that's a cool signal to the people that make this stuff. So not make the toxic stuff anymore. So
Dr. Junger: 32:13 Yeah. And it's like, let's remember, it's not only about toxic chemicals, right? It's about toxic relationship, toxic governments, toxic work spaces, toxic situations, right?
Allan: 32:23 Yeah. I go through Facebook now and I snooze anyone that posts anything political. So I don't see them for 30 days. And my Facebook feed is a lot nicer these days.
All right, well if someone wanted to learn more about you, learn more about the book Clean 7 where would you like for me to send them?
Dr. Junger: 32:42 So the, the book is on Amazon and every other online store. They can also go to our website, clean program.com/clean seven and learn. Because what happens is in the book I describe for people to do the program without the need to buy any products exempt except Ayurvedic herbs that, you know, you're not going to go and pick up from the fields if you want to use those. So people can, you know, follow the recipes and get everything they need. But you know, website, we do provide a kit in which we provide the shakes already prepared. You only have to blend them with water or almond milk or whatever and, and drink them up and they contain all the nutrients needed in there. You know, they're designed to really enhance the aspects of the program that needs to be enhanced and provide every nutrient that that is needed. And so people that don't have the time or the interest or the commitment to go to the supermarket in front of the recipes and then then they can just do it in a very user friendly way.
Allan: 33:56 Cool. You can go to 40plusfitnesspodcast.com/412 and I'll be sure to have those links there for you. Dr. Junger, thank you so much for being a part of 40+ Fitness.
Dr. Junger: 34:07 You're very welcome. It's been my pleasure and I'm, I'm going to come visit you in Panama.
Allan: 34:13 I've got a spare bedroom for you. So I'm looking forward to that.
Thank you for being a part of 40+ Fitness Podcast. I'm really glad you're here and that you stuck it out with me. I hope you learned something wonderful from Dr. Junger.
We are going to be doing challenges at the podcast a little bit differently than we have in the past. I don't know if you know we do challenges, but we've done a lot of 28-day challenges with a lot of great results. I really enjoy them, but we're going to change things up a little bit and I'm going to start doing weekly challenges on our Facebook group so you can get a 40plusfitnesspodcast.com/group and there you'll find where we're going to be doing weekly challenges starting December 30th so check it out, 40plusfitnesspodcast.com/group these will be weekly challenges dealing with mindset, with food, with exercise, the whole bit. It's a great opportunity to over the course of 52 weeks in the year 2020 for us to do something exceptional for our health and fitness.
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