The Clean detox program is a health book that may change your view of food and your sense of well-being. Clean guides you to a better understanding of your own body and how to achieve increased energy levels. In the pure water evoking book you will find plenty of advice and scientifically sound practical tips to suceed. Who else than the medical director of the legendary WE care Holistic Health Center in Palm Springs could guide you to a better health?
Since the program to remove, restore and rejuvenate your body was created by a cardiologist Dr. Alejandro Junger and Jill Pettijohn, a nurse, raw chef and “cleansing expert” specialising in nutrition, you are in safe hands. Unlike most diet, fasting or detox programes as they are nowadays fashionably titled, a nutritionally balanced program where individual conditions such as suffering from a spent (adrenal fatigue) are considered can be taken and tried seriously.
The advantage of Clean is that Dr Junger brings a scientifically proven knowledge to the table, uprooting myths while highlighting by research supported factors one should consider.
Still, I wondered whether the “sudden increase of energy” a couple of days after the detox has started is indeed the body’s return to its own balancing funcioning as the author claims or just the sensation of the contrast from the mental misery of deprivation? I had to go through this experiment aproved by a cardiologist. The ultimate reward was that I learned a lot about my body’s functioning. Dr. Junger encouraged my resolve: “When given a chance, even the most fatigued body wants to find its way back to balance.” I took upon that chance and radically changed my lifestyle, motivated that it would last only three weeks. Sure, by the last week I had a long lits of restaurants I want to dine at!
Clean: a holistic approach to health and well-being
First, for a holistic sense of wellbeing, we must detox not just the body, but the mind needs to clean up for a better functioning. I craved sweets and creamy textures. In Ayurveda, the pitta types like myself tend to seek foods of sweet and rich nature. Now, I had to find something else than gelato, dairy and my favourite chocolate (be it the dark superfood). During the clean, thick creamy soups and smoothies became my treats. Perhaps surprisingly, I loved them! Not all from the small recipe section at the back of the book (the main shortcoming of the book) suited my palate, but these were my favourites in terms of taste:
Green smoothie; Blueberry, carob, and almnond milk smoothie; Brazil nut milk; Apple, kale, sunflower sprout and radish juice; Carrot and ginger soup; Warm and easy butternut squash soup; Hummus with a twist; Steamed bass with fennel, parsley and capers; Halibut baked in parchment with olives and thyme; Tri-salad platter of hummus, tabbouleh (quinoa), and marinated kale; Lentil salad; Sesame brown rice bowl; Thai vegetable salad wraps with almond sauce; Roasted cilantro chicken breast with avocado, mango and papaya relish.
The recipes are the weakest part of the book. Although not a cookbook in the title itself, one gets bored of the variations of yet another buttrenut squash soup. Overall, more soup recipes rather than smoothies that one naturally prefers in the morning, should be included in the book. Being publishind in the US, perhaps encourages too many meat and fish recipes, while the author recommends not including them daily into your diet. Many used ingredients such as coconut water, pineapple and mango are imported from faraway countries if you are based in Europe or the US.
Clean detox program: beyond juicing
Juice cleanses became such a mainstream of our millennial culture in the big cities after they swoop in a vitamin-enriched tsunami the Hollywood with it. The industry stars tend to set diet trends and so they do now on their liquid fasts with yoga & meditation sessions supporting their holistic endeavor. Dr. Junger has also attracted a celebrity following such as the health-obsessive Gwynneth Paltrow.
Juices are not for everyone. I can have a juice instead of a meal only when rushing to a meeting or pressed by deadlines. Although it fills my belly, the water in the juice precisely, drinking it does not sattify my brain and the fiber is missing.
As with food, one juice can suit a person while it upsets others stomach. Sadly, such reality is not considered by the self-proclaimed healers selling their pricey juices. Moreover, one must beware of safety, since bacteria can easily thrive in the raw, unpasteurized food and produce. Leaving your juice in a car on a hot day while popping out for a meeting can make you more sick than rejuvenated!
The fundamental rules of the 21 day clean program are:
- a minimum of three weeks commitment in three stages: 1: Elimination diet; 2: Start of cleanse after about 10 days; 3: Profound cleanse without a “retox” when a sudden change back to the toxic foods can cause more harm (include enough antimicrobial ingredients – brocolli, garlic, and olive oil; and fiber into your diet to improve the peristaltic movement and to eliminate better)
- a 12-hour overnight fast
- hydrate well with filtered water, but don’t count herbal infusions into your hydration!
- Liquid meals, twice per day to ease your digestive system and to allow the body to use its own energy to flush toxins out of your system is Doctor Junger’s holy grail
- don’t skip meals
- no snacking after dinner
- snack on tart fruits and nuts between the meals
- no canned food (toxic aluminium in packaging leaks particularly from acidic foods)
- no stimulants like caffeine (even in tea), cocoa and any form of sugar (even the ‘good’ ones should be minimised)
- avoid exposure to environmental chemicals (air, clothes, cosmetics, house, processed foods and packaging, …)
- include saunas, dry body brushing, cold and hot shower, massage and other perspiration and circulation boosters such as colonic irrigation
Supplements to support elimination organs like liver and kidneys are optional. Moving daily on fresh air, breathing correctly and taking coated probiotics to support the intestinal flora are considered more important than magic pills.
Junger’s own health problems (digestive and depression) disappeared after a cleanse like this and that is why he decided to share his experience with his patients.
The science behind Dr. Junger’s Clean program draws from various sources. For example he quotes the findings in the field of Nutrigenomics, that are encouraging. By changing our metabolism you can optimize your genetic expression [turn some genes off] as the environment in the cells [blood] is improved. Through the cleanse these changes occur:
- blood acidity is reduced (food)
- lowered inflamation (food)
- blood pressure is stabilised (food and emotions)
- stress is diminished (through mindful practices, avoidance of sugar and irritating toxins, and inclusion of nervous system supporting magnesium)
- enhanced clearing of toxic homocysteine and of the uric acid (can cause a gout)
Creating a balanced plate means that the meal has an alkaline-acidic equilibrium, is anti-inflamatory and low in toxins.
Increasingly, most cardiologists and diabetologists in the US quote the importance of the anti-inflamatory diet in prevention of the majority of cardiovascular diseases. Dr. Andrew Weil is another public figure known to the US TV audiences, through his books and consulting for a chain of healthier restaurants in the US.
To achieve such a clean plate, the author lists a long number of “no foods” that you should avoid without exception in the preparatory elimination diet. Some surprises popped in the forbidden fruit checklist:
- banana (acid and mucus forming)
- grapefruit (known as a blood cleanser and blood sugar lowering fruit for diabetics, unfortunatelly most citruses are sources of allergies as are strawberries)
- honey (but it strangely appeared in some recipes in the book such as the dressing on page 275)
- maple syrup
- nightshade vegetables such as aubergine, tomato, sweet pepper
- whole-grains such as barley, kamut, rye, spelt,
- pistachios and peanuts (both are susceptible to mould as are macadamia nutts)
- Soybean products – stimulate the hormonal system (miso from chickpeas or millet instead)
- Sweet potato (on the contrary Dr. Andrew Weil in his anti-inflamatory cookbook uses it aplenty)
Gluten is by now known irritant, canned and highly processed foods are off the game, stimulants like caffeine and sugar should be avoided, and anything containing dairy is scratched off, while organic ingredients are encouraged. Perhaps unexpected allowed foods are: brown rice syrup, chicken, duck, lamb, turkey and wild game.
Clean markets to be “The revolutionary program to restore the body’s natural ability to heal itself“. This cover statement in a true American “bestseller” category is slightly exagerated. Only time and your own will show if lasting health becomes your entourage for life. The author is well-aware of human failure and the importance of creating the right environment supporting one’s resolve though. Junger highlights that attention is our reality, while our thoughts are “body’s perceived reality” and if we remember to use the energy that is drained by the negative thoughts instead to meditate and focus in a relaxing state on reality, we start to create the world we want to exist in.
The only question that remains unresolved in the book is, since our body “naturally” strives for health and equilibrium, why are we inclined to choose unhealthy foods and lifestyle? Perhaps it is not our genetics, but our consumerist society that glamourized alcohol, sugar, and the artificial pro-inflamatory ingredients. If my guess id correct, than it seems that this is about to change as healthy eating is now trendy more than ever. Even in the bleached flour meccas – France and Italy, more ancient whole grains, organic and vegetarian plates are introduced. France, historically a meat-obsessed nation recently even introduced compulsory warnings in the unhealthy food marketing ads. I can see a clean future!