Tips for Getting Healthy for Summer According to Dr. Alejandro Junger
Carry these straight-forward tips into fall for year-round clean living.
While a health-focused life should be important no matter the season, many kick it into high gear as summer approaches. We asked LA-based cardiologist, Alejandro Junger, MD, founder of the Clean Program and best-selling author of Clean, Clean Gut, and Clean 7, for some of his favorite ways to clean up our systems for the warmer weather. Below, find his tips for everything from foods to avoid to coffee colonics.
BWB: What is your philosophy and approach to clean living?
Dr. Junger: In simple terms, it is a lifestyle that minimizes toxicity and supports the detox mechanisms of the body that include physical, mental, emotional and spiritual.
BWB: People like to “clean it up” before summer. From a food standpoint, what are some things we can weave into our daily routines that will help cleanse our systems?
Dr. Junger: The average person in a modern city has a degree of toxic load. That is, toxins (both endogenous and exogenous) that the body is not able to put through the detox process, and therefore circulate in the bloodstream. They do so until they lodge in tissue—mostly fat tissue—or the body surrounds them with mucus, to buffer their toxicity. There are two main things you can do to “clean it up”:
1) Avoid toxins (meaning, any man-made chemical we add to foods, or food-like products). Eat organic if possible and avoid edible stuff in boxes, bags, tubes, jars or bottles. Eat lots of veggies, fruits and good protein. Avoid gluten, dairy, sugar, coffee and alcohol.
2) Eat less in quantity and less often. Substituting solid meals for liquid meals will decrease the work of digestion allowing for better detox/repair. Intermittent fasting is the best practice for this.
And if you want drastic changes, a three-week detox program can do wonders. The three-week Clean Program I designed is one of the best tools in my medical toolbox.
BWB: Supplements are so bio-individual, but are there any that you think most people should be on? Any brands you rely on?
Dr. Junger: It is true that supplement needs are very individual. But there are supplements that have more chances than others to be the necessary ones when one is taking an educated guess.
Intestinal bacteria seems to suffer these days because of our lifestyle, so probiotics help a lot of people as well.
Most people are magnesium deficient, so many benefit from magnesium supplementation. And the same goes for Vitamin D, Vitamin C and many vitamins and minerals. Intestinal bacteria seems to suffer these days because of our lifestyle, so probiotics help a lot of people as well. Because most people have some degree of abnormal inflammation, certain supplements help a wide number of users as well. Especially something like a turmeric preparation. I have curated the ones that give me the best results for my patients at Clean Program. Some great brands that I use and recommend are Organic India, Metagenics, Thorne, Pure, Ancient Nutrition and Designs for Health.
BWB: As summer is a time for entertaining (hopefully!), what are some of your approved alcohol choices?
Dr. Junger: Alcohol is not approved for any good detox program that I know, and if you really want to ‘clean up’ you should avoid alcohol in general. If you are going to use alcohol, get the ones with the least toxic chemicals, such as sulfite-free, organic wine.
BWB: What lifestyle hacks should we bring into our routines as summer approaches and why?
It helps turn yellow fat into brown fat, a healthier form.
Dr. Junger: There are so many lifestyle practices that are so beneficial. Intermittent fasting becomes easier in the summer as one is not that hungry when it’s warmer. Deliberate cold exposure (i.e. cold plunge) is an amazing practice for so many reasons. It helps turn yellow fat into brown fat, a healthier form. It also reduces inflammation, strengthens the immune system, and the list goes on and on. I have the “ferrari of ice baths” in my house and use it as much as I can — check it at Morozko Forge. Meditation is one of the simplest (though not always the easiest) practices you can have for detoxes in particular, and wellness in general.
BWB: What is your advice when it comes to exercise?
Dr. Junger: If you are doing a detox program, the best thing to do is light exercise. You don’t want to spend your energy all in exercise, which will make the detox process slower. But if you want to just get well and stay well, exercise is essential. Which exercise and to what intensity depends on age, objectives, state of health and many other factors.
BWB: How about sleep and stress?
Dr. Junger: Sleep is almost as important as oxygen. Life is not possible without either. There is so much info out there about it that whatever I can say here will be repeated and incomplete. But what I can tell you is that sleep gets better and deeper when the detox system is strengthened and supported. This is one of the most common feedbacks we get in my medical practice and from our customers at the Clean Program.
BWB: Are there any wellness products that you swear by?
Dr. Junger: There is one wellness product that I tell everyone to get. It’s a home, DIY colonic device. I use it for coffee colonics and they are so helpful in maintaining my detox program benefits. Check it out at Implant O’Rama.
BWB:What resource do you like when it comes to healthy recipes?
Dr. Junger: When I need healthy recipes, I either just improvise and invent, or I call our customer support team at Clean Program. They have been gathering incredible recipes that we constantly post on social media, our blogs and newsletters.
Zoe Schaeffer is a former Condé Nast Beauty Editor who moved to Los Angeles to develop style shows for VH1 and later, fashion trend-forecasting. After opening her own boutique, Presse, she returned to her writing roots by launching a lifestyle blog, Macaroon Original, to share travel, home and wellness obsessions. Today she consults for beauty brands and freelances for sites such as Goop and The Helm. When she’s not pouring over her 1stdibs discoveries, she’s most likely planning a trip. Zoe lives in Los Angeles with her husband, dog, and three daughters, Gemma, Rafi and Cleo. Keep up on her Instagram here!