“Clean eating begins with the simple idea of eating whole foods as the primary foods in my diet. Whole foods are found in nature and made of one ingredient.” – Dr. Alejandro Junger
Most people don’t equate the holiday season with the start of a new health regime, but after my trip to Dubai, followed by an over-indulgent Thanksgiving, I was ready to hit the reset button!
I felt jet lagged and sluggish. I was also suffering from seasonal allergies, seasonal mood disorder and arthritis.
My Mom suggested I read Alejandro Junger’s books CLEAN and CLEAN GUT – she had just finished his 21-day CLEAN program and was looking and feeling great. I was immediately relieved to learn that my ailments could be healed by changing my eating habits. “How the gut functions has both a direct and indirect effect on every single cell in the human body.”
Dr. Junger is a cardiologist who suffered from allergies, IBS, depression and weight gain. He met with several doctors who prescribed numerous pills, but he didn’t feel better until he discovered functional medicine. Dr. Junger explains, “instead of treating the symptoms as they arise, we can pre-emptively attack disease before it takes root in the gut.”
CLEAN is an easy program for people with busy careers, children and/or picky eaters. Simply use the 4 R’s: Remove, Replace, Reinoculate, Repair.
STEP 1 – REMOVE
Remove the 5 major toxic triggers from your diet: Sugar, Alcohol, Gluten, Caffeine and Dairy
I used to wake up and drink 2 – 3 cups of coffee. Now, I start my day with a glass of room temperature, filtered water with lemon juice. Then, I make a power shake or juice kale, cucumber, lemon, ginger, celery and apple for sweetness. For lunch, I’ll have a bowl of homemade soup or a delicious salad.
Throughout the day, I drink a lot of green tea, water and kombucha. For snacks, I’ll grab a handful of raw almonds or cashews. I love cooking recipes from the CLEAN EATS cookbook. Chef Frank Giglio created 200 amazing dishes that I’ve been testing out on my husband at dinnertime. Tonight, I’m making Chicken Paillard with squash and spinach. Rather than eating on the couch, in front of the TV, we are turning off electronics, sitting at the kitchen table and focusing on our food and conversation. This is a radical step for multi-tasking entrepreneurs!
After dinner, I’ll put on my compression sox and make a pot of peppermint tea. The peppermint aids digestion, while my sox increase circulation and decrease muscle soreness.
STEP 2 – REPLACE
Replace the good. Add back the essential ingredients for proper digestion and absorption.
The Clean Gut program replaces invaluable nutrients in the body. These include magnesium and other minerals, vitamins, good proteins, good fats, fiber and complex carbs. The recipes and supplements are designed to flood the body with all the nutrients the body needs to function at its peak, most notably digestive enzymes, which aid in the process of gut repair.
While it can be expensive to buy organic and stock up on loads of supplements, I view this as an investment into my long-term health. I also exercise and meditate daily to create a balanced mind, body and spirit.
STEP 3 – REINOCULATE
It’s critical to restore beneficial bacteria to reestablish a healthy balance of good bacteria.
Removing the “bad” organisms from the gut is only half the battle. We also have to replant and feed the gut’s intestinal flora, the body’s good bacteria. This is done with probiotics and prebiotics. Flooding our guts with good bacteria helps our bodies fight off infections and disease.
STEP 4 – REPAIR
It’s essential to provide the nutrients necessary to help the gut repair itself.
The cells that form the intestinal wall are most in need of architectural repair. Their division and growth – and the tightening of their junctions with the neighboring cells to patch up a leaky gut and hyper permeability – require certain conditions and essential nutrients.
FOOD FOR THOUGHT:
What is Leaky Gut Syndrome? Leaky gut is a term used in functional medicine that describes the breaking apart of tight junctions in the intestinal lining.
What causes leaky gut? Toxic overload, poor diet and chronic stress along with the number one cause, GLUTEN.
Signs you may have a leaky gut: Allergies, asthma, autoimmune disease, type 1 diabetes, gastro intestinal issues, arthritis, mood issues (depression, anxiety, ADD or ADHD), skin problems and hormonal imbalance.
The medical community views leaky gut as a medical mystery. “From an MD’s standpoint, it’s a very gray area,” says gastroenterologist Donald Kirby, MD – Director of the Center for Human Nutrition at the Cleveland Clinic. “Physicians don’t know enough about the gut, which is our biggest immune system organ.”
If you suspect you might be suffering from it, try the 21-day CLEAN program and/or speak with a functional medicine doctor: www.functionalmedicine.org.