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TMHS 386: Is Detoxification A Miracle Or Myth? – With Guest Dr. Alejandro Junger

The word “detox” has become somewhat of a buzzword in the health and wellness space, and a marketing strategy on social media. However, detoxification is a process that your body naturally experiences. If you have a liver, lymphatic system, and skin, your body knows exactly how to eliminate toxins. 

In Ayurvedic medicine, supporting your body’s detoxification system involves both nourishing your body with the nutrients it needs to work at its optimal level, as well as reducing your overall toxic burden. Luckily, you don’t need to spend a boatload of money on special teas and supplements in order to support your body’s natural detoxification process.

In fact, there are a handful of practical, simple strategies you can use to support your digestion and liver, as well as eliminate harmful toxic chemicals from your lifestyle. And there’s no one better to learn this lesson from than today’s guest, Dr. Alejandro Junger. 

In this episode you’ll discover:

  • The experience that inspired Dr. Junger to shift from traditional to functional medicine.
  • How Dr. Junger became interested in meditation.
  • The basic mechanisms of the Ayurvedic Dosha system.
  • How the concept of detoxification has been corrupted in our society.
  • The three different Dosha types. 
  • How chemicals in our modern lifestyle can cause diseases. 
  • What lipophilic means. 
  • How to support your liver’s natural detoxification process. 
  • Why giving your digestive system a break can help your body detoxify.
  • How to ease the overall workload of your digestive system.
  • Why intermittent fasting is natural for your body’s processes. 
  • Two different strategies for allowing your digestive system to rest. 
  • How eating more variety improves your intestinal flora. 
  • The role that nutrients play in the detoxification process. 
  • What you need to know about allergy testing.
  • The power of an individualized elimination diet.   


Items mentioned in this episode include:

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Shawn Stevenson : Welcome to The Model Health Show. This is fitness and nutrition expert Shawn Stevenson and I am so grateful for you tuning in with me today.

I'm really pumped about this episode, we're going to be talking about some subject matters in nutrition that I haven't talked about very often on the show, and it's something that I actually implemented in my own practice as a nutritionist and working alongside physicians for many years.

And I wasn't taught this system of thinking in a traditional school, in a traditional university that I went to, and I found that it had incredible value and it was looking outside of conventional medicine and looking at some of these really, in many ways, ancient systems of medicine where they were talking about Chinese medicine or Ayurvedic system and different systems coming out of Africa and South America.

And there's so many valuable traditions in medicine that have been around for literally thousands of years that people, even today, are seeing incredible results from that are often overlooked in our system today.

Now, our system today is phenomenal, we've got the very best emergency medicine system, lifesaving. But when it comes to chronic illnesses, we're really still struggling, a big transition is taking place now, we're moving towards functional medicine and integrative medicine right now, for sure, we're seeing more of that.

And, for me, my perspective in working in this field for about 18 years now, is knowing that everything has its place, everything has value. There isn't a medicine or a treatment that's off the table. But initially, for so many things, we don't need to jump right to that, we need to look at the lifestyle factors that have been a contributor to the illness in the first place. One of the very best treatment is removing the cause of the illness, removing the cause of the symptoms.

Well for many of us, we're not aware of the things that are happening in our environment, or the things that we're proactively doing to our bodies that are causing the symptoms to show up, we just think that things happen and that we need a drug to treat it. And that's pathology, that's a very pharmacological mindset to medicine, right. I have this symptom, let me use this drug.

Now, in some instances, again, that can be absolutely lifesaving, but just like any of the things that we're exposed to today that are abnormal, that are newly invented, our bodies have a difficult time processing these newly invented medications. So what does that do, it affects our blood, it affects our hormones, it affects our liver function.

Our liver is the main organ responsible for drug metabolism, right, and it is just creating a more and more of a burden where our side effects are really direct effects that create more side effects that we then need more medication for, right?

We get to this loop and this is what I saw growing up, my grandmother having a whole cabinet, right, her medicine cabinet, just all of these pill bottles, light brown, translucent pill bottles, and it's just like— And then she had the Monday through Sunday pill help as well because it gets to be so many.

And seeing my family members fall into those patterns over the years, I knew that that's, of course, where I was at is just what I was exposed to. And so today I'm here to say that there is a better way. And many of you are already well aware of this and we've got on an incredible guest to really help to affirm the different ways of thinking and the different approaches to medicine, that are having incredible impacts on people all over the world today, and I'm just really excited about this.

And just to pivot back a little bit, the Ayurvedic system, again, thousands of years of documented history, one of the top things they've got like Tulsi, they've got Ashwagandha. And one of the top things is something that is utilized in many of their dishes, right, it's a culinary use as well, and that's Turmeric.

And one of the things that's really amazing to see is that a lot of cultures that utilize Turmeric, tend to have reduced rates of certain types of cancers. And this has been found today, now we have some science to kind of affirm like what's going on there, why are we seeing this correlation? Is that Turmeric actually has been found to have anti-angiogenesis properties, right?

So angiogenesis is the creation or formation of blood vessels to feed cells, and including cancer cells, cancers can actually develop their own blood vessels in order to get nutrient supply, so that they can grow. And Turmeric has actually been found to have selective anti-angiogenesis properties, targeting cancer cells and basically eliminating their nutrient supply so they can't grow and they die off, which is pretty amazing.

But also, if we're talking about reduced inflammation, Turmeric is really well-noted for that as, well having anti-inflammatory properties. And also Turmeric has been well-noted to have anti-obesity effects as well, and this is noted in the European Journal of Nutrition.

So wow, Turmeric has a lot of incredible properties and as we'll talk about today, even the color, the color is a really powerful indicator of its antioxidant capacity too. And so this is why, for me, I'm a huge fan of the Organifi Gold, so this is a Turmeric and Reishi-infused, superfood tea. And for so many people, they're utilizing it for improved sleep, they are utilizing it for reduced inflammation and just overall, it's just packed with nutrition.

And it also tastes really, really amazing. And so this is a low-temperature process to actually retain the nutrients, and right now they've got a special addition, it's that time of the year, they've got the pumpkin spice, they've got the pumpkin spice, all right.

You don't got to go with the Crackbucks pumpkin spice latte, get you a pumpkin spice Organifi Gold superfood tea, have a little, with a little warm almond milk. come on. Welcome to the holidays, all right. I love this so much, and my kids love it as well. And also I add Gold to my smoothie sometimes as well and again, it tastes amazing, loaded with nutrition.

And right now you get 20 percent off at Organifi, so head over to, that's, you get 20 percent off the Organifi Gold, The Chocolate Gold, Pumpkin Spice. Alright, limited time, get your hand onto the Pumpkin Spice.

And also their incredible Green Juice formula as well, so pop over there, check them out, I love them so much and I use Organifi products on a daily basis, so for 20 percent off, now let's get to the Apple podcast review of the week.

iTunes Podcast: Another 5-star review titled, "A real school of learning" by NeilO. "I've been listening to Shawn's podcast for a few years and the more I listen to, the more I want to learn. Due to the extensive list of A-listed guests featured on this podcast I have been able to discover a great source of what I consider might help teachers.

Some of my favorites are The Food Babe, Dr. Mark Hyman, Dr.Mercola, and Dr. Daniel Amen. I have learned more listening to this podcast than I ever did in college. Thank you, Shawn, for your hard work and commitment to your calling. You are changing the world one podcast at a time."

Shawn Stevenson: That is so powerful, it's so awesome, thank you so much for that review over on Apple Podcasts, I appreciate it so very much. And listen, if you've yet to leave a review, please pop over to Apple Podcasts and leave a review for the show or if you're watching on YouTube or whatever podcast platform you're listening on, please leave a comment and let me know what you thought about this episode and the show overall, it means so much. And on that note, let's get to our special guest and topic of the day.

Our guest today is Dr. Alejandro Junger and he is the bestselling author of the international bestselling book "Clean". He's a Los Angeles based cardiologist, he graduated from medical school initially in South America where he was born, and he completed his postgraduate training in internal medicine at NYU Downtown Hospital and a fellowship in cardiovascular diseases at Lenox Hill Hospital before studying Eastern medicine in India.

And he's an expert on adrenal fatigue, on gut health, and on detoxification. And this episode is super thought-provoking and an awesome conversation with doctor Alejandro Junger. So let's jump into it right now.

First question, like really, what got you interested in health and wellness, and medicine, especially coming from a pretty small country? I would imagine that there wasn't a lot of exposure to the kind of ideas that you happen upon?

Dr. Alejandro Junger: Ever since I have any memory I wanted to be a doctor. I don't know why. My friends, when they ask them, "What do you want to do when you grow up," You know, soccer player or firemen, or an astronaut, and me— a doctor. But we don't understand the big picture of why things happen and this was a big thing for me the moment that I started asking why. That's when everything started shifting.

Shawn Stevenson: And so the "why" is more like what's actually underlying these diseases that you were treating and dealing with?

Dr. Alejandro Junger: Exactly, exactly. Because in medical school you get really good at putting names, making a diagnosis and follow it with a treatment plan. But you know, we don't really focus on the root cause of the problem, which is where the "why" comes, right? And that was what really got me looking at medicine in a completely different way.

Shawn Stevenson: In your book, you share this story and I want you to if you can expand on it here, but you shared something that I'm very passionate about and I've been implementing this in projects and things that I'm working on right now.

But you brought up the fact of, and this is how a shift happened for you, but it's the very debilitating and often crippling really, environmental conditions that medical students are exposed to, right? You're kind of wearing it as a badge of honor that you're sleep-deprived, that you're hyper stressed, that you're eating fast food and just trying to get by.

And you're just getting run through the mud and whoever makes it out alive you get to be a doctor, right? And you going through that process and you were just, you are devoted, dedicated to what you're doing, but you got hit hard personally with some health issues. So I'm imagining that that was kind of a catalyst for you to start asking these different questions?

Dr. Alejandro Junger: That was the catalyst for me to start asking questions. Because where I was born in Uruguay, life was very healthy by default. We didn't have supermarkets, we didn't have processed stuff. My dad and I would go to the local farmers market, we actually even knew which farmer grew their produce with love and those are the ones that we would buy from.

And then my mom would spend the day cooking, right. And then suddenly, I'm in New York, and I go to a supermarket and I buy a box and I put in the microwave oven, and I get a meal that looks like what took my mom all day long to prepare. So that ended up with being what got me really sick.

And I ended up with 3 diagnoses and 7 prescription medications. I looked at the script and I said, "This doesn't make sense to me." And I had these 2 A-ha moments. The first one was that I'm not going to live with these pills for the rest of my life in order to function. But then again, this is what I was doing for my patients. So I had to break take off and learn a different way.

Shawn Stevenson: Yeah because you were there working in cardiology at the time, right?

Dr. Alejandro Junger: Yes.

Shawn Stevenson: And so I would imagine, you mentioned this in the book too, you were broken into pieces, you even mentioned it here, you were broken into body parts. And so you get these different diagnoses. So what was the stuff that you were dealing with as a result of?

Dr. Alejandro Junger: So I started by having difficulty digesting and itching, and sneezing in the mornings. And I also started noticing that I didn't feel good, I wasn't happy. My life was perfect because I was at the top of my game and I had even offers to work with the top doctors after I left the training hospital. So I should have been the best and happiest, right?

But I didn't want to live anymore, I was depressed. So I ended up taking time off, 2 days off, actually. And going to a psychiatrist, an allergist, and a gastroenterologist. And after a bunch of tests, I was told I had irritable bowel syndrome, depression, and severe allergies.

Shawn Stevenson: Wow, so you get those diagnoses and again, those are attached to medications to treat those symptoms?

Dr. Alejandro Junger: 7 prescription medications.

Shawn Stevenson: Wow, that's crazy, all for in 2 days?

Dr. Alejandro Junger: In 2 days. Well no, it took a little longer because I had some tests done, but the consultations were over 2 days. And then over the next week where the results came back and what I call the sentence was given to me.

Shawn Stevenson: Yeah, you know. And the same thing in my conventional education, and I can see this with the upperclassmen, we're just really taught pathology and the treatment of symptoms, if this is wrong you advise this medication or there's some lifestyle stuff, but it's very minute.

And you going through this experience, this thrust you into a different way of thinking and also you changed your environment completely. Now, this is where the story for me was just like, "I can't believe that you took a step like that." So can you talk about what you did next?

Dr. Alejandro Junger: So I was finishing, when I was given the sentence, I was finishing my cardiology fellowship and I had really good offers for the top practices in New York, where I could make tons of money and be very prestigious. But through a series of experiences that I had at that time while I was already looking for different solutions for my problems, I had come across the concept of meditation.

And I was looking for a meditation teacher. And I ended up finding one and through that experience, I ended up in a monastery in India, volunteering my work as a doctor there in exchange to learning how to meditate and you know, learn to be at peace.

Shawn Stevenson: That's a good exchange.

Dr. Alejandro Junger: Yeah, it is a good exchange.

Shawn Stevenson: And it was here that you were presented with some different ways of thinking because they also had physicians there. I believe one of them you talk about in the book, traditionally trained MD as well, and also people, they are trained in Ayurvedic medicine.

Dr. Alejandro Junger: So this ashram that I went to, this monastery, it was a large one, and at any given time there were about 2000 people from all over the world staying in the ashram. And we also had a bus turned hospital we used to go to the poorest neighborhoods in the planet.

And we saw up to 300, 400 people a day. And I was the doctor, I was running the clinic in the ashram, and there were Ayurvedic I reading medicine doctors, Chinese medicine doctors, chiropractors, naturopaths.

And we would run the clinic in a very unusual way at the time, which was a patient came in, we would sit them at a round table and we would all talk to him. And at the end, everybody would give his opinion or her opinion of how to approach the treatment. So depending on how much conviction each practitioner had, we would decide to either do that or a combination of things, right?

Shawn Stevenson: I've never— that is incredible like that's a democracy of individual health.

Dr. Alejandro Junger: And that's how health care should be if we had the resources. And in a way we have the resources, it's a simpler life, it's a life of community. I think that's probably what happens in villages or what used to happen in villages where people go together with the healers and then they discuss.

Shawn Stevenson: Yeah, but today, obviously, you know, it's just really entrained in us that there's one way.

Dr. Alejandro Junger: Today you have to go to one office in Santa Monica, another one in Beverly Hills, to see different specialists. They never talk to each other.

Shawn Stevenson: Yeah, that's another thing. Wow, and we're also just symbolically and kind of practically separated into parts, right? And it's, now they understand that we are one whole unit.

Dr. Alejandro Junger: The mind, the body, the spirit, as if these things were disconnected and had their own independent functioning and not affect each other.

Shawn Stevenson: You know, hearing your story and then seeing, obviously, you being exposed to the other perspectives and opinions and treatments I know you've seen a lot of things that you weren't expecting, as far as the treatments were concerned. So can we talk a little bit about that?

I know one of the things that, and we talked about this before the show, and I haven't talked about this much, but I saw a lot of success in my practice to the degree that our success rate for type 2 diabetes, we might see 70 to 80 percent of folks like being able to get off metformin, regulate their blood sugar.

But one of the things I was implementing it wasn't the whole thing, but I took it into consideration was Ayurvedic medicine and this system of the doshas right, your body's constitution, your tendencies, right? So can you talk about that?

Dr. Alejandro Junger: So it wasn't until years later where I started getting really interested in Ayurvedic medicine. And the reason why it was always kind of like a strangers thing to me that was interesting but I was intimidated, you know, because I'm a regular physician, do I have to go to Ayurvedic medicine school to understand these things?

But at one point, I met the founders of the very amazing company in India called "Organic India" who plant and prepare and sell the most powerful Ayurvedic herbs on the planet, all organic, biodynamic. And through getting interesting in their story of how they started this company and they started this company to save the farmers.

Anyways, it's a longer story, but they told me that the man that was behind the formulations and the teaching to the farmers of how to plant and how to water and how to collect the herbs and how to prepare them to maintain their prana, their life energy which is what gives them the therapeutic power was still alive and was in India and was seeing patients every day.

So I traveled there and I sat down with him for weeks in a row and it was an amazing experience, he was in his eighties and he woke up at 2:00 in the morning, by the time he woke— 2 o'clock in the afternoon, by the time he woke up there was 5 blocks around his house of people waiting to see him.

And then he would get patient with his family there, another patient with their family there, so he would see 6 patients at the same time but each one had their family sometimes with them. And he would treat them mostly between indications for their dosha and with Ayurvedic herbs.

And he basically taught me how to apply the dosha system and the Ayurvedic herbs to my area of interest which is detoxification or biotransformation which is a new name that the institute for functional medicine is talking about. Because detox is kind of a prostituted word, it's kind of misused easily and superficially handled, right?

So that is my really strong area of expertise and of interest, right. And he taught me how to enhance the detoxification processes in the body using the dosha system and Ayurvedic herbs. The dosha system basically is, Ayurvedic medicine has been around for thousands of years and the way that one should think about Ayurvedic medicine is as if nature somehow whispered in an enlightened beings ear how things are meant to be. Imagine the designer and manufacturer of the machine, the body, comes up with a manual and gives it to some people, the seers, the cities in India.

So they, for hundreds, thousands of years they translated or transmitted this verbally from master to student. And then eventually, they were written down in Sanskrit, in the Ayurvedic texts. And basically, it's the manual of the human body but given by nature itself.

And nature itself constructs the world out of the different elements, right, which are to be thought not as atomic components, but as energetic components, water, air, ether, earth and fire. And these different elements form everything, form our body, form our food and our environment. And depending on what influences these different elements have in your constitution is how you're going to respond to your environment and your foods.

So understanding that, understanding the different influences of the different elements for a body makes you understand how the different environmental influences will make you change, right. So for example, everybody has in them all the elements but there are 3 different doshas, which is 3 different ways in which the elements combine, in which one of them is predominant.

So it's Vata, Pitta, Kapha, and example, Pitta is the predominance of the fire element. So if somebody has a constitution in which the fire element is predominant, the fire may go out of balance with fiery things, with foods in which the fire element is predominant, like spicy foods and mangoes. So avoiding those foods especially when the fire is out of balance, we'll keep things in balance.

Shawn Stevenson: It's fascinating. Going from that, and for me, I'm always looking at— this is what I really enjoy about your work is that you're a very analytical person which is pretty apparent and still looking for the logic, like, "How does this all actually work?"

And so for me, I was, when I heard these doshas, I was like, "This sounds familiar," I learned about these body types in school you know, there's like ectomorphs and mesomorphs. But then we tend to like, we hear somebody say, "I'm big-boned," and we're just like, "That's not a thing," but it kind of is, you know.

Dr. Alejandro Junger: It is, totally. But the thing is, with this you have to take your mind a little bit further because it's kind of like an energetic thing. And you know, we're only now tapping into the energetic aspects of medicine, right. I mean not now, but now we're paying more attention to it and it's developing and we're beginning to understand it better. So this is the way to really think about it, right?

Shawn Stevenson: Yeah, yeah but I mean it only makes sense to treat energy with energy, we're made, I mean, we're 99 percent you know, energy stuff that you can't even see or touch which is crazy.

Dr. Alejandro Junger: A 100 percent.

Shawn Stevenson: Yeah, right, exactly. Particle wave, but it's all energy, it's really fascinating that we're again, we're trying to use physical means to treat something that's energetic.

Dr. Alejandro Junger: And the thing is this, to me, it will sound a little bit of magic thinking. But you cannot argue with the results, and when you start using these concepts and apply them in the way they should be applied, they work. So there's no arguing with that.

Shawn Stevenson: I wanted to take a step back because I don't want to glance over this, and this is a big part of what you do. But I think it was mirrored for you there when you went to India, the importance and like you mentioned, this has been around for thousands of years but the strategy and importance of detoxification and I want to talk about what that actually means, because like you said, it's kind of been bastardized a little bit in the media and also, Instagram influencers, you know, skinny tea and detox tea.
But there is, this is a real things, this is what you're, it's a process your body does and there's certain things that you can do to inhibit the process, certain things you can do to encourage it. So can you talk about what it actually means?

Dr. Alejandro Junger: So detoxification is not something that we invented or we are doing now in the modern world. Detoxification is something that happens in the body all the time and if it stops happening you die. There's some detox processes that you die in a minute if they stop, for example, breathing, right?

When you breathe out you are breathing out CO2, which comes from your blood, from carbonic acid which in turn comes from the cell, waste product of the cells' metabolism, CO2, right and in the breaking of glucose. So that is a very important detox process that cannot stop at any point. And we are acid forming machines, life is an acid forming process, uric acid, lactic acid, you know, carbonic acid, we are consuming energetic sources and we're producing acid.

So we've got to get rid of it, right. So detoxification is something that's happening all the time. Now why is it relevant and important these days? Not that he's only these days, for thousands of years detoxification has been considered very important. Ayurvedic medicine is based on the understanding and the being able to affect detoxification.

And there's names for that, Panchakarma is something that we are now becoming kind of aware of in the west which is a system of treatments for detoxification. Detoxification has been around forever, it is more relevant these days because the air we breathe, the water we shower and drink, the medications we use, the cosmetics we apply, the cleaning utensils we clean everything, the cleaning products are clean everything in our homes with, even our toothpastes, are loaded, but mostly the foods that we eat are loaded with chemicals that alone or in combination at some point end up causing disruption and end up causing or affecting different diseases, right?

And let's just think about it before they even go into your blood. Now, when you get a bird's eye view of a supermarket you see that 90 percent of the products that people are consuming these days as food are not really food, are food-like products and they have a shelf life.

And to have a shelf-life they have to have some kind of chemical that prevents bacteria and fungus from growing, otherwise it'll spoil faster, right? So what are we putting in there, preservatives and conservatives which is another name for antibiotics.

If they are preventing bacteria from growing, the moment you put it in your intestines, what are they going to do with the bacteria that are in your intestines that now we understand are so important for health? It will destroy them. And bacteria in your intestines are responsible for 40 to 50 percent of the detoxification anyway, so it like really increases the problem.

Anyways, after that they go into your blood, 90 percent of these toxins that we're exposed to are lypophilic, meaning they're only dissolving fat, so once they go in the blood and they are irritants, and they are oxidants in there, and block he hormone receptors or they stimulate certain hormone receptors, I mean they can do all kinds of havoc even though they're FDA approved and they're fine for people, for manufacturers to put them in their food that doesn't mean anything.

And once they're in your blood the look for fatty tissue in order to get dissolved in it, right. And where is their fatty tissue? In your brain, in your breasts, in your prostate, in your thyroid, in your liver. So basically all the organs that we are now having cancers in, right?

And then the body in order to buffer the irritation starts retaining and generating fat, so the obesity epidemic in the world, and nobody's talking about this, has an underlying commonality which is the toxic planet that we live in. I call it another inconvenient truth.

Global warming is the fever of this animal the planet, this is an animal that we live in, it's a living organism, the rivers are the arteries, and the forests are the lungs and the internet is its developing nervous system and you and I are to this animal what 2 red blood cells are to you, you just circulating in within the animal, right? And this animal has a fever and a big part of this fever is the toxicity of our planet.

So we are toxic blind. I mean I can go in this like forever. The magic thing is that your liver has the ability, even though your liver was designed thousands of years ago, if not hundreds of thousands of years ago, your liver has the knowledge and the ability to detoxify molecules that have been invented yesterday. But in order to do that it needs certain substrate, certain materials to use and these come from nutrients.

And our foods are devoid from nutrients. So I mean, the whole thing is a mess and even energetically, you know, think of this, you're a nutritionist, you know that somebody eating a big meal especially if it's a fatty carbo loaded meal will get tired and they will go to sleep. The reason why is because digestion takes a lot of energy to be completed, right?

So the energy stolen from different parts of your organism, from thinking, from moving, that put you to sleep, right and also from detoxification. So we are digesting all day long, breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks in between. This is not how nature designed it to be.

Shawn Stevenson: That's, this is so good, in our culture, coming from fitness as well, and I spent— man, was it, I'm just ballpark in here maybe 13 years working in gym, you know strength and conditioning coach and when I initially went to certification programs that kind of thing, even in school, we're taught to eat multiple meals throughout the day, like 6 to 7 meals a day.

The thing that I want to state is that people might have good experience with these things as far as the results that they're seeking. But it's getting back to a place of— so I'm not negating that, that that can't work for some people to try and to do a bodybuilding show or whatever the case might be, your results speak for themselves.

Dr. Alejandro Junger: I used to be into bodybuilding too.

Shawn Stevenson: What?

Dr. Alejandro Junger: Yeah. So understand where you're coming from.

Shawn Stevenson: He just showed me a picture of him looking like— so first of all, his voice is matching the picture even more of the hunk on the magazine cover right there with that picture.

Dr. Alejandro Junger: Well yeah, listen, once I got sick in New York which is part of the story I told you, before I went to India, I said to myself, "I have to do something about this." So I went to a gym and I saw a personal trainer with a 6 pack and I said to him, "You need to tell me what to do to go from this," and I showed him my belly, "To what you have."

And so he introduced me to Dan Duchaine and the Body Opus diet, I don't know if you're familiar with it? This is the guy, Dan Duchaine was a scientist that used to train Arnold Schwarzenegger and all the guys at Gold's gym.

Shawn Stevenson: California.

Dr. Alejandro Junger: And yeah, and he was the one that discovered that type one diabetics that went into decompensation and went into to ketoacidosis were the leanest people in the world. So then he started trying to recreate their physiology to get his body builders leaner, right.
And this is where keto is born. Because this concept was stolen by Atkins and then they were copied by the South Beach diet. But the whole keto world comes from this guy Dan Duchaine, I recommend you to read the "Underground Body Opus Diet," which is fascinating and it's what this guy brought up. So you know, people are so fanatic of ketosis now, I say be careful because in the short term, it may be amazing but we really don't know in the long term what it will show.

Shawn Stevenson: That's exactly what I wanted to get to, is in the long term, we can lean on our ancestors, we're getting, you're talking about systems that have thousands of years of documented history and use. And knowing that the human body was really designed like you mentioned eating a meal that is just a ton of dietary fats and a ton of dietary carbohydrates, maybe high protein as well.
And you get what we call, from where I am from, get the itis you get the itis so you get really sleepy, probably take a food nap, go into a food coma. Number one, your body is like let me stop this full from eating for a little bit, so he get shift gears for energy, energy is required for digestion a lot.

Dr. Alejandro Junger: I'm sorry to interrupt you, but this is so fascinating to me that I want to show— I think that the body is not saying let's stop this fool from eating for a while. What the body is doing is because food was what life was dependent on before we had food 365, 24, you know in fridges and boxes and stuff. So what are animals in the wild doing?

They are looking for food and while they look for food they are fasting. Then they find it, they feast and then they fast again until they find the next meal. Now during that feasting time, throughout thousands and thousands of years, the body developed a way of maximizing its chances for survival by let's stop everything else, let's dedicate all the energy to digestion.

The body even developed a whole nervous system around intestines and digestion which is bigger than the nervous system in your brain and in your skull, right, and so it kind of puts everything else in secondary place, takes the energy out of it, so that you can digest to the little bit as piece and then absorb it and then store whatever is not going to be used.

Because you the body never knew when the next meal will come, you didn't know that 2 hours from now you're going to be having a snack and then 3 hours from now you're having another big meal, right.

But it's still every meal is taken as the survival thing that who knows when it is going to happen again. So stop everything, let's do this, right? And this is why digestion is such a consuming thing for the body.

Shawn Stevenson: Yeah, I love this so much. You know, I don't think that a lot of us even realize because we think in terms dietarily speaking, which is crazy, we think in terms of calories, that's what our model of energy management is in our bodies and it's very, it's so isolated that it's missing such a broader thing.

But I don't think a lot of us, even if we're just talking about calories, I don't think we realize just how much caloric energy is used to digest the food that you just ate. Right. And so, but that's a whole another conversation. I want to get to something that you talked about, so you took us through in your book, you take people through a day, and you just did a brief version of that as well.

I think that the big reason that we need to have this conversation about detoxification, but in an elevated fashion backed by science is what we're exposed to today. So from the moment we get up from our off gassing mattress with flame retardants we step into the carpet which probably is the same thing. Or if yo got you know finished wood, it's got some kind of treatment that you're absorbing as well.

Dr. Alejandro Junger: And don't forget your pajamas that you washed with laundry detergent that is sipping into your skin during the night together with the off gassing—

Shawn Stevenson: And the mind disruptors in there.

Dr. Alejandro Junger: And you go to your bathroom and you splash your face to wash it with water which city supplied, full of stuff like viagra, antibiotics, anti depressants and all kinds of other medications, right.

Then you brush your teeth and your toothpaste is foaming, and the reason it's foaming is because of the same reason that your laundry detergent is foaming, because there's a foaming chemicals there, I forgot the name now, but it's a very specific, which is linked to thyroid problems, cancers and infertility.

Then you put deodorant with aluminum and then and then you put your cosmetics if you're a woman, more men also do it right. And then you go for breakfast, right and you have the bacon and eggs and everything is loaded with chemicals. And then you go to your work with another tsunami of toxic chemicals that attack you. I mean it's non stop.

Shawn Stevenson: Right. And just painting this picture, and like you said, it's kind of, the planet has a fever right now, but this is the good news because I can sound a little bit daunting, it can sound a little dark, it can sound like DC dark, all right. Shout out to the Joker. But what we want to do is understand that our body is very resilient and capable, we just have to help create the conditions. And so that's what we're going to talk about right after this quick break. So sit tight, we'll be right back.

Today we're in the midst of a new revolution with our understanding of food. We used to just be focused on this macronutrient paradigm, proteins, fats, carbohydrates. Carbohydrates and proteins got a pretty good name, but fats were drug through the mud. Why is that?
Because it's called fat! All right, the name implies something different than the other two, because when we hear the word fat we think about fat on our bodies. Fat in food and fat in our bodies are two totally different things. And it's like thinking, "If I eat blueberries I'm going to turn blue," when you think that eating fat is going to turn you fat, it just doesn't work like that.

And any of those 3 macronutrients can actually put fat on your body if you eat too much or the wrong types. Healthy fats which I'm proposing that we start to call lipids or even energy are incredibly important for every single function in your body, your cells, every single cell in your body, we have upwards of 100 trillion cells that make you up, require fats to just maintain the integrity of your cell membranes.
We're talking about the thing that holds your cells together and enables your cells to communicate, it's very important. Also your brain, your brain is mostly fat and water, this is why fats are so important when you're deficient in fats, especially the right kinds of fats, you can see some big issues.

So in order to address that, some of my favorite things today are MCT oils, and specifically if we look at emulsified MCT oils that actually taste amazing, and these are medium-chain triglyceride oils that are extracted from things like coconut, palm, and these medium-chain triglycerides have a thermogenic effect on the body which means they are able to positively alter your metabolism.

That's number one, a thermogenic effect from MCT oils positively altering your metabolism. Number 2, MCTs are more easily absorbed by your cells, so unlike conventional food of any type that has to go through a pretty arduous process of digestion, turning that foodstuff into your stuff, MCTs are able to go directly to your cells and provide almost instant energy.

And number 3, MCT oils are very protective of your microbiome, there's so much research today about the importance of having a healthy microbiome and the integrity of our gut. MCT oils are one of those things that help to support that because they are especially effective at combating viruses, parasites, bacteria, there's so much good news that is able to be found in these MCT oils, but you want to get the good stuff.

And for me, that's why I go to That's to get the emulsified MCT oils which are like a coffee creamer. These are great to add to your coffees and teas, smoothies and things like that to get in a little bit of extra flavor plus all the benefits of MCT oils.

They're easy to stir so you don't have to throw everything into a blender just to get a nice coffee drink, but also they taste good and they make the process of being healthy fun and enjoyable. So head over check them out, they got vanilla, coconut, cinnamon swirl and strawberry, it's one of my favorites.

So go to for 10 percent off your entire purchase, not just for the MCT oil but all of the health and human performance supplements that Onnit carries and all of their fitness equipment, gear and so much other cool stuff. Alright, head over there, check them out,, now back to the show.

Shawn Stevenson: Alright, we're back and we're talking with Dr. Alejandro Junger and he's just dropping some serious knowledge on us about the conditions that we're exposed to right now. And again, it could sound a little bit daunting and concerning and it should be.
Dr. Alejandro Junger: It is not really so daunting, it's a reality. When you look around, everybody's sick, everybody's either having some kind of symptom and that eventually turns into some kind of disease, everybody's on medications, nobody is sleeping well, even if somebody's not diagnosed, they are maybe not sleeping well, their sex drive may be low. We are in a problem.

Shawn Stevenson: It's like epidemic.

Dr. Alejandro Junger: It is an epidemic. And we need to work on two fronts, one of them is reducing the toxicity, but since that is going a little slow or slower than I would like, because I have kids and you too, and we want to leave them a cleaner world, making it happen now, we also need to work on this other aspect. And the good news, so that we don't sound that daunting, is that there's a lot that we can do, from reducing the toxicity in your home and your life to creating the conditions for your body to do the work that it already knows how to do, that it's wanting to do, that it's doing but not as effectively as it could.

Shawn Stevenson: Yeah, and this is what I want to talk about specifically. I want to talk about what we can do proactively for our bodies. Because we can, and if we have time we'll come back and, of course, I've done some shows on this about the toxic exposure in our environment, personal care products and I'll put a link to it for you guys in the show notes for the episode that we did on personal care products. But what can we do for our bodies?

Earlier you mentioned the liver, right and how important this organ is and you said that your liver, even though it's been something that's evolved over the, you know, millennia, it can still have the capacity to break down and detoxify things that are just invented. How do we support our liver function for example?

Dr. Alejandro Junger: So I want to give your listeners really practical stuff because I can go crazy on the science and I can start talking about phase 1 detoxification and phase 2 detoxification and the cytochrome P450 enzyme, glucuronidation, methylation, sulfation, blah, blah, blah right?

But the listener who's really trying to learn something needs practical advice right? And there's a few things that are really practical, one of them is this, energetically you shouldn't be on digestion mode all the time. So you would need to give digest in a rest.

Now how do you do that? Either you do intermittent fasting or at least you replace certain meals during the day with liquid meals, like shakes and smoothies, or you find out what foods hinder your system, right? And this you can do by going on an elimination diet for 2 weeks and then reintroducing certain foods, like for example, if you just go off dairy, sugar, alcohol coffee and gluten for 2 weeks, that for most people gives them a huge advantage, right because digestion is eased up.

So easing the workload of the digestive system is really important right. The second thing is really taking care of your intestinal flora which is doing 50 percent of the detoxification work for you anyways. So how do you do that? By not eating the foods that could kill them, trying to avoid antibiotics when they are not necessary, trying to not eat processed foods that contain preservatives and conservatives and other chemicals, so eat whole foods as they come from nature, right.

And the more the variability on the color of your diet, the more the variability on your intestinal flora. So eat the rainbow. Tan foods will make you sick, eat the rainbow— blue, green, red, yellow right. So that is really important, the more variability of colors in your diet, the more your intestinal flora will thrive.

But it happens to be also that the more variability of color in your diet the more of the nutrients that your liver needs to detoxify will be available. So this is a really important aspect and very easy for people to remember.

Shawn Stevenson: Yeah I love this so much, it is so simple and so practical. And this is something I think we're naturally drawn to as well, is it doesn't look right when you are even, if you eat a salad, for example, there's not a lot of color there, it's just green and maybe some black like it's got some olives in there.

Dr. Alejandro Junger: It's a good start, it's a good start, let's not discourage people from eating their greens and their olives. But the more variability of color the more your intestinal flora will thrive and the more the nutrients that your body needs to detoxify will be available when needed.

Shawn Stevenson: So colors are indicator.

Dr. Alejandro Junger: Very important, we are now beginning to understand all this. And the thing is this, there's so many things that we are beginning to understand.

Shawn Stevenson: Of course.

Dr. Alejandro Junger: And then all these advice comes from it, but some of them is dangerous, right or maybe dangerous. But this ain't dangers. And it will never be eating different colors of fruits and vegetables, will never be proven to be dangerous right.

Shawn Stevenson: Very simple, practical I love that, that's great. So I love the fact number one, for me, one of the first things that I realized early on was that, and I was just like, I don't know I was just reading one day or like doing some research on the internet, I don't remember what exactly I was doing, but it just struck me that, okay these types of antioxidants are in these color foods; these types of antioxidants, these carotenoids are in these type of foods.

And I was just like antioxidants are colors, I just made that connection. But it's also very practical as well that those are associated with different benefits towards our microbiome.

Dr. Alejandro Junger: If you start going color by color and breaking it down to the nutrients, it's like an incredible pharmacy of the most sophisticated nutrients for not only for detoxification, but for many other things, but since detoxification is what we're focusing on, it's unbelievable. Everything is provided for by nature, we just need to take advantage of it.

Shawn Stevenson: So this is a big, that's a broad simple step. So if we could take, so just say we got that piece dialed in, what's another step that we can take?

Dr. Alejandro Junger: Then you go into periodically really enhancing the detox processes by doing a detox program. 10 years ago I published my first book "Clean" in which I described a 21-day detox program that really revolutionized the wellness space in that subject, it's now in 23, or 26 languages and it's a program that has transformed so many thousands of lives around the world right.

So during those 21 days, you really eliminate all the foods that play against detox, you replace 2 meals with a liquid meal and you have lunch from an elimination diet that is strict and extensive. And that is just incredible. And then you can supplement. You can supplement with digestive enzymes, with herb antimicrobials, with probiotics, so you really start turning shifting the balance of the body's activities in the detox and getting rid of the overload of toxins direction. And this is something that is really interesting.

Now if you want to go even further than that, you can start getting all kinds of nutritional tests, whether the blood tests or urine tests that talk about the very specific nutrients that may be lacking for the process of detoxification and other things too.

And if you want to go crazy you can get genetic tests and see what your genetic profile of single nucleotide polymorphism or snips right, which genes did you get from your mom and your dad that code for the enzymes of detoxification and that will give you an idea of of which specific foods and other things like smoke from barbecues some people are not able to deal with the hydrocarbons because they are lacking the methylation gene.

So you can really go crazy, you know. So we started with the really simple advice, which is you are created by nature, see if you can start living more in the way in which nature designed you to, right.

You eat and then you stop eating and take a break from it, and maybe even let your body go into the fasting mode by using intermittent fasting or eating less. This concept of breakfast, lunch and dinner is just a new concept in the timeline of evolution. And I believe this is what's killing us. So start questioning these things. And start looking at the animals in the wild because they don't get sick, they're living according to how nature designed us to eat and to live, and they don't get sick, right?

Shawn Stevenson: This is super fascinating stuff and for me, and I know that you know this as well, but the body is so dynamic and so complex, but there's a simplicity to it as well. And so we have these major detoxification organ, so the liver we talked a little bit about and doing things to support that.

And if we take steps further, we're looking at different tests and things we can get done, I've got to ask you about this, alright, so this came up when you were talking and I remembered and we're working in my practice and people would come into my office very confused about allergy tests.

All right, and I know this is something that you dealt with personally, going in you got issues going on, related to these allergies. So can you talk a little bit about that, is that something that we should really utilize as a practical test or is there something that we're missing?

Dr. Alejandro Junger: In my opinion, this is only my opinion, allergy tests are useful at best and really confusing at worse. The reason why is because with foods not all bad reactions are of the allergic type. The allergic-type reactions are a certain kind of biological reaction in which the body produces immunoglobulins against something that it recognizes as threatening, right.

Food type reactions are of many, many different types, some of them can be mucous forming, acid-forming, some of them can give you sensitivities, some of them can be just associated with the chemicals that they carry, from certain, if you eat apples from certain orchard, that are fumed with a certain—

So the best way to deal with how to learn, what foods are good and not good for you is what I said before, you go on a strict elimination diet for at least 2 weeks, and then you start reintroducing the foods that you miss the most and that, I mean, I've gotten so many people better from any kind of food problems that I write about the elimination diet as one of the most important tools in functional medicine, and it is just amazing.

I always say this, if I get any guy with a nice personality, I put a lab coat and I start putting them in an office and I start sending patients to him. And this guy or a girl, a woman schmoozes the guy, the patient and they talk about and asking some questions, whatever, and at the end, the only thing they do is put them on the elimination diet, judging by the results they would be considered some of the best doctors in town.
Because about 60 percent of the problems that people come to see me with are either incredibly improved or totally resolved by 2, 3, 4 weeks of an elimination diet. And I've seen these across the board, mostly in America because in Europe it's different and there's reasons for that, because there's no GMOs.

So food reactions are different in Europe and even people that have certain problems with food here, the same foods don't give them the same problems when they go to Europe. But I've seen this in many other countries.

Shawn Stevenson: Yeah. And in the book, so you're going to direct people on how to go about the elimination diet?

Dr. Alejandro Junger: Everything is described in this book, it's the reintroduction phase, everything that's not in the book is in the website, so you complement it, you know, we give all this information for free.

And in my Instagram and our social media. And anybody can call my team and we don't turn down anybody, we give advice to everybody that has a problem because that's what we're here for, we're really here to help people feel better.

Shawn Stevenson: Awesome. I loved this conversation so much, and this is really inspiring. And in the book, just a shot out for everybody is we also take you through more information on the dosha system and if that was of interest to you, but again it's very practical application of these things.

Dr. Alejandro Junger: So basically to break it down, it's a 7 day detox program based on principles from functional medicine, Ayurvedic medicine, an intermittent fasting so I go through all these things, what they mean, what principles are that that I use, why and how I discovered them, and then the description of the 7 day program day by day of what you have to do in which I mix all these things and the results are just really mind-blowing.

Shawn Stevenson: Awesome, awesome. Can you let everybody know where they can pick up the book? When this comes out, it just came out.
Dr. Alejandro Junger: The book is on online stores and bookstores all over the United States, it came out yesterday.

Shawn Stevenson: Yes, awesome, awesome. This has been so fun, and I've got one final question for you. What is the model that you were here to create for other people, with the way that you live your life personally? What's the example that you're here to set for others with how you live your life?

Dr. Alejandro Junger: Well, I always say this— I am not the best and perfect example, right, because I am human, I have my weaknesses, I have my hard moments in which I fall and I go to dark places right. And it is because I had those moments that I kind of discovered all these things. These are the things I discovered to help myself, they just happen to have a lot of people as well.

So if you see me around town and I'm eating something that I recommend you not to eat in the book don't condemn me today, it happens right? But the example that I'm proud of giving is that I treat people with kindness and I am here to help.

Shawn Stevenson: Yeah, you absolutely are. And thank you for helping all of us today, sharing your wisdom, your experience and thanks for putting this awesome book together.

Dr. Alejandro Junger: Thank you for having me here, I really enjoyed it.

Shawn Stevenson: Awesome. Everybody, thank you so much for tuning into the show today, I hope that you got a lot of value out of this. I really had a great time. And just going back to one of the most important points that he mentioned here in this episode is something super simple but it's something that I think we need to put our attention on if we haven't done so already.

And it's simply to start to live our life more in accordance with nature. And now this is, it can be a big undertaking because just look where we are, you know, we're in a studio, we're in a kind of a concrete version of a jungle now today for many of us. And then the natural order of things we can sort of close ourselves off from and forget about.

And what I want to encourage you to do is just like you talked about, like take a look at the example around us, because animals living in nature you don't have a zebra run it up just like you know, "I just can't run away today my high blood pressure is just super bothering me." First of all, zebras don't talk but if they could they wouldn't be saying that you know, like you just don't see the advent of these illnesses when you see life in nature.

But you do see that when we have our domesticated pets, our domesticated animals and they're exposed to the same level of toxicity through the food and the things that we're giving them, and also the environment that they're in as well, disconnected from nature. So give yourself the gift and the treatment of more nature and more natural order.

We can do that through eating more natural food, again, he just said this which is so great, it's not about being perfect, none of us are perfect, but let's make an effort to do better, include more natural foods, more natural environmental exposures, get ourselves out of the constant contamination that we're exposed to in a sense.

If you can, we've talked about this before in the show as well, the municipal water supply, we did a master class on that subject matter; we've got medications coming through our faucet for many municipalities across America, which again, we're not getting straight malaria in the water whatever the case might be, ebola, but at the same time we're consuming metabolic waste from viagra and drugs, chemotherapy medications.

So maybe we can find ourselves, look it up go to, and go to a natural spring in your area, right. So it's just making a shift and getting ourselves a little bit closer to the natural order of things, getting outside, getting some sunlight, getting outside and getting yourself grounded, going to a park in your area every now and then, just do your best, make it an effort because those things are going to help your body to do the thing that already knows how to do, which is to do detoxify itself and to bring you better health.

Alright, so thank you so much for sharing your time with me today, if you got a lot of joy and value out of this episode please make sure to share this out on social media, you can tag me and you can tag Dr. Junger. What is your Instagram?

Dr. Alejandro Junger: Instagram is DrAlejandroJunger, altogether.

Shawn Stevenson: That's too cute for me, too beautiful, we're going to put that in the show notes for you guys as well, so you can tag me and tag him, let us know what you thought about the episode.

And again, make sure to share this out with everybody that you care about because everybody can use a little bit of "Clean 7" in their life. So take care guys, have an amazing day and I'll talk with you soon.

And for more after this show, make sure to head over to, that's where you can find all of the show notes, you can find transcriptions, videos for each episode and if you got a comment you can leave me a comment there as well.

And please make sure to head over to iTunes and leave us a rating to let everybody know that this show is awesome. And I appreciate that so much, and take care I promise to keep giving you more powerful, empowering, great content to help you transform your life. Thanks for tuning in.

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  1. Dear Shawn,
    I listened to your podcast #386 with Alejandro Junger and have found another very important key to health. Thank you so much!!
    I have dieted and cleansed in the past, but always continued to battle sugar – stress eating carbs/sugar is kryptonite. I have been doing Qigong & meditation to help with the stress. After listening to this podcast, I purchased the book, and again began implementing the elimination diet and added the ayurvedic protocols for my dosha. WOW. Even before the cleans and the herbs I have stopped sugar cravings and inflammation has improved in about 5 days. I look forward to getting all of the supplies and beginning the cleanse.
    Thanks again. You always have the most inspirational and well educated speakers. Whether you know it or not, you and I spend a lot of time traveling together. 😉 I appreciate you and the good work that you do.


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