Last week I finished reading the book Clean Gut by Dr. Alejandro Junger. I can really recommend this fairly small, yet in-depth book to anyone looking for an understandable explanation of the root cause of many Western diseases.
In his book, Junger explains how many modern Western diseases like diabetes, heart disease, autoimmune disorders and even Alzheimer’s and depression, are caused by gut dysfunction. He explains how instead of treating symptoms, it would be more effective if we acted preventively by starting to take better care of our gut in the first place. He then presents his Clean Gut program, or what he calls ‘The Breakthrough Plan for Eliminating the Root Cause of Disease and Revolutionizing Your Health.’
If you are struggling with any kind of chronic disease or discomfort, Dr. Junger's book is a must-read for you. Yep, even your depression may be caused and/or maintained by a dysfunctional gut:
“Before chronic disease, there is inflammation; but before inflammation comes gut dysfunction. Anti-inflammation treatments help, but gut repair corrects the problem right at its source. (…) [T]he root of almost all chronic diseases (…) starts in your gut. (…) Even if you have not been diagnosed with a specific disease, many of the minor ailments you may be suffering from — 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.”
I speak from experience when I say that Dr. Junger is right. Since I started eating a cleaner diet about a year ago, things like headaches, a recurrent bleeding nose, constipation, insomnia, mood swings and depression — stuff I had endured for most of my life — all have significantly improved or even completely gone away. It is only since I quit the 'bad' stuff, that these chronic ailments have started to fade away. Now how stunning is that!
I am happy that I took the leap and did the effort to take my health in my own hands.
Further in Clean Gut, Junger confirms what I have recently learned about skin health. I want to share this important passage with you, cause maybe you are also struggling with some kind of (skin) problem. Dr. Junger compares symptomatic treatment withpainting the brown leaves of a sick tree green:
“A pill for an ill to suppress symptoms is a lot like painting the brown leaves green for a sick tree. (…) Often dysfunctions in the gut cause symptoms in the unlikeliest parts of the body. A rash on the skin, for instance. When you notice a rash, you consult a dermatologist. Because the rash is something you can see and feel, chances are the dermatologist will focus his or her attention there and prescribe a cream to eliminate the rash or the accompanying itchiness. In other words, the dermatologist is simply painting the brown leaves green. This is just one example of how a dysfunction in the gut presents itself as a different symptom somewhere — anywhere — else in the body.”
Further in the book, Dr. Junger elaborates on how depression is often simply caused and maintained by a dysfunctional gut:
“An absorption problem is just one way in which gut dysfunction leads to reduced serotonin production and depression. Another is when the gut’s second brain needs to turn its attention to other priorities. As discussed, the second brain is responsible for many things. During gut dysfunction, the second brain has to dedicate energy and resources to coordinate survival mechanisms, diverting its attention from the production of healthy levels of serotonin. Even with sufficient nutrients available, those nutrients will be utilized for the production of other neurotransmitters, such as dopamine, adrenaline, noradrenaline, and GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid), all of which are needed for the neurons to coordinate the immune system’s attacks and regulate all sorts of compensatory measures. Without the necessary manufacturing of serotonin, the body, mind, and spirit succumb to depression.”
After linking even more diseases to the gut, like heart disease, cancer, allergies, back pain and infertility, Dr. Junger presents in the next chapter the Clean Gut Program, which is full of concrete information and a gives you a step-by-step guide to heal from chronic disease. I didn’t follow it because it involves consuming quite a lot of animal foods, but the information he gives on what to eat and what to avoid can be a helpful guideline.
In the final chapter of his book, Dr. Junger included some recipes to make if you want to engage in his Clean Gut Program. If you feel inspired and want to start taking action, I won’t leave you without a recipe of mine that is great for your gut!
If there's only one thing you want to change about your diet, do this: start juicing.
I've started drinking one green juice a day and it has made a huge positive impact on my health. My skin feels softer, is more hydrated and more flexible. I look healthier. And I feel more hydrated on the inside, too. My mouth isn’t dry anymore, headaches have gone away and I have better digestion. Sounds good?
SUPER HYDRATING GREEN JUICE
A juicer (you could also use a blender + fine sieve or mesh)
- 1 cucumber
- 3 celery stalks
- Wash cucumber and celery stalks and cut in half (makes it easier to put into the juicer).
- Feel alive.
If you are like me, you’ll probably need to get used to the taste of raw vegetable juice. If you really have a problem with the taste, try adding some lemon or lime juice or a slice of green apple.
When I drank my first juice, I didn’t think I could finish the whole pint. Today, I crave my daily green juice. It gives me a lot of energy. I also found that it is best to drink in the morning, about half an hour before breakfast.
Want to read more about natural health and the power of plants? Check out my list of Top 10 Plant Foods To Strengthen Your Skin.