Dr. Junger Explains How to Lose Weight and Increase Energy with a “Clean Gut”
A damaged gut is often at the root of health symptoms and ailments, and a new book, Clean Gut, outlines a program to preemptively attack disease before it affects the body. Author Dr. Alejandro Junger has many devotees, including actresses Gwyneth Paltrow and Debra Messing.
LadyLUX was so impressed with the concept that we talked to Dr. Junger to find out more details about his newest book and how you can gain from his knowledge. (Of course, the side benefit of looking as fit and healthy as Gwyneth Paltrow doesn’t hurt a bit.) Clean Gut is a sequel of sorts to Clean, which is Junger’s best-selling book that originated the idea of gut health.
LadyLUX: Please explain the premise of this landmark concept of gut health.
Dr. Junger: In Clean Gut, I share a powerful new program, a critical tool in preemptively attacking and eliminating disease at the root. We do not have to wait until we are sick to get healthy. By focusing on gut health, you can eliminate disease at the root, and protect your health for the long term. Clean Gut will help your body repair your gut. The program is divided into two distinct phases. The first phase is a 21-day diet, which focuses on eating easily digestible and low sugar foods while removing the kinds of food that lead to gut dysfunction. It also includes necessary supplements that will address the different aspects of gut repair that your body needs outside help with. The second — and crucial — phase is a 7-day reintroduction process, the purpose of which is to identify the foods that do you the most harm. These toxic triggers, as I call them, must be identified to fully restore and maintain gut health. Combined, this is a comprehensive program that can be easily integrated into your daily life and has the potential to heal and restore the area in your body that is most taxed by your everyday life: your gut.
LL: What, exactly, is the “gut”?
DJ: Within the medical community, the word “gut” is a loosely defined term. It’s more often used as just another way to talk about our intestines. When I use the word gut, however, I refer to a lot more than just the body’s digestive tube. I mean the living organisms inside the gut, the intestinal flora, and the immune and nervous systems within and around the walls of the intestines. I am actually referring to a system rather than one isolated organ. The reason I include the different parts of the gut under one name is because their functions are so intricately related and of such vital importance that thinking about them together will help you make better choices and decisions for your health.
The gut has four main parts:
- the digestive tube (the tract running from mouth to anus)
- the gut-associated lymphatic tissue
- the intestinal flora
- the gut’s nervous system
LL: Inflammation is getting more attention, but it's still a relatively new concept. Could you explain the role of inflammation in the body?
DJ: The immune system responds to most threats via inflammation. But it is important to differentiate between local inflammation (a response to a cut or cold/flu) and systemic inflammation, which contributes to chronic disease. Inflammation is the name for a set of basic responses that establish the inner conditions for the immune-system cells to work more effectively.
In the midst of local inflammation, the temperature in the area rises, because immune-system cells function better in slightly higher temperatures. On a larger scale, this is why the body generates fevers during an increased demand for immune-system activity, such as during infections. Local inflammation helps the immune system prepare for and wage battle against foreign invaders. It also establishes an inner weather system for the repair of the affected area, patching up of injured structures, forming scars, and eventually returning the damaged tissue to its original, pre-injury state. Localized inflammation is a perfect survival response, not the common underlying precursor condition now linked to most chronic diseases.
The real problem arises when inflammation becomes systemic. Systemic means “all around your system” - affecting your entire body. Systemic inflammation can linger undetected for years and lead to such chronic diseases as heart disease, cancer, diabetes, or any number of autoimmune diseases. Once inflammation becomes systemic, it often wreaks havoc. In functional medicine, inflammation is often compared to a wildfire, relentlessly destroying everything in its path. Just as local inflammation heats up a troubled area, systemic inflammation literally burns you from the inside out.
Although systemic inflammation affects different parts of the body, it almost always originates in the gut. What this means is that most of the symptoms and diseases that manifest in different parts of the body — from the heart to the joints — are really just complex consequences, or elaborate disguises, of one common problem: gut dysfunction.
LL: Why is the gut the root of most chronic diseases?
DJ: The gut performs essential functions in the body. The different organs of the gut, while working interdependently, remain in constant communication with each other through nerves
and hormones. How the gut functions has both a direct and indirect effect on every single cell in the human body, from the cells in your bone marrow deep inside your bones to the hair and skin on the surface. Often dysfunctions in the gut cause symptoms in the unlikeliest parts of the body, like a rash on the skin. Just as the secret to a lush garden starts in the plant's roots, the body’s health begins in the gut, its own internal roots. The gut is the center of health, illness, and dysfunction.
Without an optimally functioning gut, we simply don’t have a chance of achieving true long-lasting health. When we repair the gut and eliminate the root of disease, however, major and minor symptoms disappear, and we discover what it means to be truly healthy.
LL: What are the benefits of a clean gut?
DJ: The benefits of a clean gut vary from person to person, but some of the results I’ve seen include:
- improved digestion
- relief from chronic issues like IBS
- improved seasonal allergies
- clear skin
- relief from joint and back pain
- overcoming sugar cravings
- improved energy levels and mental clarity
LL: Who are some of your celebrity devotees in addition to Gwyneth Paltrow?
DJ: Some of our other “Clean” celebrity enthusiasts include Demi Moore, Dr. Oz, Meghan Markle, Stacy Keibler, Donna Karan, Mariska Hargitay, Debra Messing and Martha Stewart.
LL: Why is the state of human health in such crisis?
DJ: We are living in a toxic world. Due to this, it is unquestionable that the state of human health is in crisis. We are sick and getting sicker. Everyone seems to be suffering from something, getting tests done, taking over-the-counter and prescription medications. Chronic diseases are on the rise. Too many people are diagnosed with a growing number of diseases.
There are toxins in the foods we eat, the air we breathe, the water we drink and bathe in, the personal products we use on our skin, the cleaning products we use in our homes. There are toxins in the furniture we sit and sleep on, the containers we use to store and serve food, in our carpets, on the walls, we are literally surrounded by a toxic world.
The gut, the body’s delicate, highly complex, and accurate instrument, is perfectly designed to live under natural conditions. The conditions we have created for ourselves, however, with the constant onslaught of toxins, have started to break down the gut’s intestinal flora and intestinal wall. As a result, the intestinal flora and intestinal wall are the first victims of our unnatural lives. Their deterioration is the beginning of disease for millions of people around the world.
To purchase Dr. Junger's books, visit Amazon.com