In Clean Gut, Alejandro Junger’s follow-up to his immensely popular and revelatory book Clean, he looks at the primary importance of gut health.
The basic premise – gut dysfunction is the primary precursor to inflammation and inflammation leads to chronic disease. In this book he reveals how our overall health is connected to a singular area of the body – our gut, and how the root of almost all chronic diseases also starts in the gut.
He explains that “diseases” that are now being diagnosed in epidemic proportions – such as heart disease, cancer, autoimmune disease, insomnia, depression, asthma, diabetes and arthritis – can all be traced back to an injured and irritated gut. Even many minor aliments – such as tiredness, aches and pains, allergies, mood swings, lack of libido, bad breath, body odor, eczema and constipation – may also be directly related to gut dysfunction. In addition, a damaged gut will lead to premature aging.
In his first book Clean, we learnt how the toxic chemicals we are exposed to and the toxic conditions we create in our lives, are responsible for many of our health problems. In Clean Gut, he shares a powerful new program in preemptively attacking and eliminating disease at the root. The most common toxins come in our food, and the gut bears the brunt of these toxins. Even toxins that are absorbed though the skin and lungs will eventually end up causing havoc in the gut.
Interestingly, he points out that even if you have followed Clean or another program that focuses on detoxification and have already eliminated the majority of your exposure to toxic chemicals, your gut may still be in need of further repair. Organic, chemical-free food can also negatively affect your gut’s health if eaten in the wrong combinations, frequency or quantity, certain foods – such as sugar, caffeine and diary – that you may have not yet identified could be toxic triggers, which initiate a cascade of reactions that erode your health from the roots up.
When Junger talks about the ‘gut’, he refers not just to the body’s digestive tube. He means the living organisms inside the gut, the intestinal flora and the immune and nervous systems within and around the walls of the intestines. Together, these different organs and tissues make up the gut, one of the most complex and important instruments in your body. Your health and well-being depend on all these parts working in concert, at their highest levels, in more ways than we can imagine.
Based on the four Rs of functional medicine – Remove, Replace, Reinoculate and Repair – the Clean Gut program is divided into two distinct phases. The first phase is a 21 day diet, which focuses on eating digestible and low-sugar foods while removing the kinds of foods 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 phase is a seven day introduction process, the purpose of which is to identify foods that do you the most harm. These toxic triggers, as he calls them, must be identified to fully restore and maintain gut health.
It’s simple – if you learn about how your gut works and understand how to repair and keep it clean, you will achieve vibrant, long-lasting health. And isn’t that what we’re all after?
Adapted from ‘Clean Gut’ by Dr. Alejandro Junger, M.D.