Webinar notes: Dr. Sara Gottfried with Dr. Alejandro Junger

On Monday I got a message from Lisa Byrne's The Ripple entitled "This is why it's hard for you to ask for help". I can recommend Lisa's newsletter and blog content in and of itself, but of particular note that day was this notice, below her text about the "specific reasons why [and] specific steps we need to take in order to strengthen our "receiving" muscles":

I clicked. I never click, but this time I did.

I'm not going to say it was the best talk I've ever heard, although Dr. Gottfried did a great job with a technical glitch that left her voice clear as a bell but Dr. Junger's far away and crackly, and a guest who tended not to answer direct questions. Considering that English is not Dr. Junger's first language, that made for some hard listening - can ears squint? - and a bit of a relay dynamic. Hormonal balance was never specifically discussed, but how each of these professionals defines "clean living" was. That was interesting.

I'm also curious that Dr. Junger advocates the avoidance of ketosis as unhealthy. Mark Sisson, for one of many, considers it not only safe but appropriate for normal matabolic function. The interview spruiked Dr. Junger's book, which I haven't read, so I have to assume that his program strategy is more nuanced than 'avoid poisons [even if that means holding on to your fat] and replace deficits'. Mind you, as a ground zero for health decisions, it's not bad.

Without significant editing or any further research on the topic, here are my notes taken during the broadcast. Please refer to Dr. Gottfried's site from tomorrow onwards if you are interested in a (presumably sound corrected) podcast of the interview. Otherwise, here's the Coles Notes/sneak preview of CLEAN.

[Edit: you can watch a video of the podcast here.]

Dr. Sara Gottfried interviews Dr. Alejandro Junger about his book “CLEAN Living”
·     Dr Junger developed IBS and depression upon moving from Paraguay to the US for medical training.
·     Toxins from all sources – scents etc – are not water soluble so must be shrouded in fat to protect the body, and the liver from detox overload.
·     Ketosis releases all these toxins into the system; particularly concerning are endocrine disruptors and xenobiotics
o      person who discovered ketosis noticed that T1 diabetics had the most cut physiques – obviously not from a healthy process
·     Protein breaks down into amino acids, which break down into acids (duh) which creates pH imbalance in the body (I’m not sure I hear this correctly, but his point is that an overly-acidic body environment is not healthy. It reminds me to work harder at protein cycling, a la Ron Mignery to get the benefits of protein while tempering its stress on the body.)
·     Extended ketosis promotes accelerated aging. See f.ex. sagging skin etc on bodybuilders at Venice Beach.
·     Ayurveda says that the way you eat/digest (food and life) determines health or disease. Dr. Junger enjoyed a year at an ashram in India but returned to a cardiology practice with 7-minute appointment windows.
·     Dr Junger had a cardiac patient who went from haggard and ill to looking vital and great (and lost 15 Lbs) in 2 weeks at a spa that fed him green juices and probiotics, offered daily massage and colonics and yoga, infrared and sunbathing and meditation… detox, basically. “It looked a bit like voodoo to me, but I’m a believer in results.” Treatment of MS etc – “miracles”
o      Dr Junger did this himself and felt so great after 10 days that he “forgot what depression felt like” yet was still working in a conventional practice during the day – he likens it to being married and having a lover
·     Dr Junger got an emergency call from an ICU patient who mainstream medicine couldn’t help any further, who seemed in imminent danger of death. A late-night bedside visit led to guided visualisation meditation and shutting off all IV medications “cold turkey” – sacrilege! “This was the moment of my divorce. This was the moment that I said ‘this is bullshit! Look what I can do. … [Took the patient for a walk around the hospital.] The next day he was at his home.” That day Dr Junger turned in his beeper and quit his practice just before making partner.
·     “Modern medicines are good for about 10% of the problems. … Usually the acute problems. If I’m having a heart attack … I’m not going to sit at home and meditate” but before and after, sure.
·     His favourite breakfast was once a giant cinnamon raisin bagel with Pepsi – full sugar addiction. Then he got married and his wife got pregnant and if she had ice cream, he had two. Cleansing is one of the “tools” he uses to keep on the rails.
·     Sauna in his garage, runs, buys organic and local food. Setting up a home that is green and non-toxic, with filtered water and air are ways to support body against inevitable (and often very evitable) environmental attacks.
·     “It is more important in today’s world to know what not to eat than to know what to eat” = CLEAN elimination diet. Remove all foods that are toxic in one way or another to the body – preservatives etc, all acidic/acidizing foods (during cleansing), tomatoes are nightshades and may reduce leptin sensitivity, strawberries, peanuts … anything that makes “digestion [or] detoxification more difficult”
o      Dr. Gottfried lists sugar, gluten, dairy, food additives, alcohol and caffeine as the major “what not to eat” things. Dr. Junger did not give a concise list.
·     Be present. The visualisation technique of “seeing your feet from the inside” forces a person to be present, because your feet are always present. This slows your breathing and moves you out of ‘fight or flight’ to ‘rest and digest’
·     Remove the obstacles to health, then add back what’s missing: magnesium, iron, omega 3s etc, but what we’re lacking most is the sun.


  1. Hi Lauren, There is so much to learn isn't there?
    I've found I can spend most of the day flicking from one site to another - trying to make sense of it all. Everyone has a theory.
    I have gotten myself confused, so have gone back to the basics - and I'm trying not to be too hard on myself.
    I've been unwell for years (turns out it was ceilac disease) and I figure it'll take a while to get 100% well. And that is ok for now.
    I look forward to keeping in touch with you, and hearing about your journey in a new country (you are so BRAVE!!!)
    Janet Kennedy

  2. Hello Janet, lovely to meet you!
    It can indeed be confusing. Do I really need to understand leptin signalling, what are the odds that I ever will, and will I be led down the garden path if I don't?
    I've slowly progressed to my current primal diet, and it's made a huge difference but I agree that no "program" is likely to get us 100% of the way to where each of us wants to be.
    Best of luck on your way to that place; I look forward to your comments!