As much as we’re looking forward to post-pandemic life, many of us just can’t seem to shake the low energy, bloat, blah moods, and sleep issues we developed during lockdown. Why? From that extra glass (or two!) of wine to comfort-food binges to increased exposure to chemical cleaners, “our bodies have taken a hard hit recently, and virtually everyone now has a liver that isn’t functioning as well as it should,” notes world-renowned detox authority Alejandro Junger, MD. The good news: The liver is our most resilient organ. “Take simple steps to support its ability to detox and heal itself, and you can feel dramatically better by next week,” promises Dr. Junger, whose devotees report using his approach to quickly transform their health and shed one to two pounds every day.
Tucked under the right side of our rib cage, the football-sized liver “is constantly filtering blood pumped from the intestines,” notes Dr. Junger. Most of what we ingest — fat, sugar, protein, alcohol, vitamins, minerals, medicine, toxins — is sorted and then shipped off or processed by the organ. In fact, it’s the hub of our metabolism and our main fat-burning organ.
The liver also fuels our stress response, regulates hormones, produces immune cells, and performs more than 500 other functions. So it’s no wonder it struggles to keep up — especially during a pandemic. With so many roles, symptoms of a sluggish liver pile on, especially blood-sugar issues, high cholesterol, cravings, weight gain, GI woes, fatigue, anxiety, insomnia, and low immunity. Luckily, Dr. Junger’s fix is not only fast-acting but also easy and very effective.
What are the benefits of a liver detox?
Dr. Junger’s famous Clean 7 plan starts by targeting the biggest liver-zapping culprits: Sugar, grains, processed foods, and alcohol. Turns out, these options typically turn into a massive excess of blood sugar that the liver must convert to fat. “When the liver is overwhelmed, fat gets trapped in the organ itself, impairing function,” Dr. Junger explains. Skipping these problem foods, even if only for a short time, boosts liver health. And per scientists at Baylor University in Texas, it helps 98 percent of people lose significant body fat.
What will you eat instead? Healthy protein and antioxidant-rich plant foods, especially cocoa, berries, cruciferous vegetables, leafy greens, and seeds. They’re loaded with nutrients that help the liver repair itself and eliminate toxins that otherwise have health-dampening side effects.
What’s the science behind it?
To take the findings of modern science to a whole new level, Dr. Junger draws on ancient Ayurvedic healing practices as well as spices. He loves holy basil, ginger, cinnamon, and especially turmeric. Worth noting, these practices now have traditional clinical studies backing them up. Take turmeric — research shows its compounds break up fatty deposits clogging the liver and also repair liver tissue damaged by exposure to toxins. There’s also evidence that turmeric’s antioxidants spike fat burn by up to 560 percent! And a study from the National College of Naturopathic Medicine found that a detox based on Ayurvedic principles improved liver function by 53 percent in just one week.
Dr. Junger, a cardiologist, reveals that Ayurveda helped heal his own treatmentresistant IBS. “Seeing how well it worked humbled me as a doctor who had long practiced strictly Western medicine. Now I believe factoring in ancient wisdom makes my approach an unstoppable force!” he says, adding that you can repeat the weeklong approach as many times as needed to achieve your health goals and feel amazing.
What could your results look like?
As Laura Ann Joy’s weight crept up and countless diets failed, she never gave her liver much thought — yet it took a daily beating. The stressed-out mom often grabbed junk food on crazy days; she also took over 300 pills a month for a rare spinal arthritis. “Luckily, I saw an interview with Dr. Junger on Instagram,” recalls the Florida account exec, 50. “I realized I was depriving myself of food, but not giving my body what it needed to heal and thrive.”
She was soon using the doc’s guidelines, filling up on things like smoothies and turkey meatballs with veggies. “After five days, I was never hungry, had no cravings, and my pain was already better.” She was so thrilled, she’s done three detox cycles in a row. “Your body resets and you get to live your best life. I’m pain-free, off all my meds, and I’ve lost 55 pounds!”
This article originally appeared in our print magazine, First For Women.