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Clean?!?! There is a lot to a name…

August 3, 2010

Earlier this week I had noticed that Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore had finally decided to stop taking the ‘Master Cleanse’ and have moved onto the Clean program(here).  I was saddened to see that people with such a reach and such a significant following are such flakes.  I kind of like the Kutcher, Moore and Willis group.  Anyone with a family,  who can divorce and remarry and do it so publicly and get along as well as this crew has is pretty damn cool in my books.  As well, these are all pretty cool people who you rarely hear a bad word from.  Still, these are just some hollywood people who, at the end of the day are probably best left as the characters we see on the screen (for their happiness as well as ours).

So, these 2 were doing the Master Cleanse (according to Demi, for its purported health benefits, not weight loss), which in and of itself is a pretty good indicator of tremendous lack of judgment.  Why?  Because there is no evidence of health benefits from the master cleanse and there are serious concerns with liquid fasts lasting as long as 10 days (here is an overview).  Anyone who follows anecdotal advice, and bizarre testimonials that say things like, ‘I feel healthier’, with no scientific evidence that there is ANY benefit at all is either massively uninformed or puts way too little value in scientific evidence.  Seriously the Master Cleanse is a terrible way to lose weight and a worse way to get healthy!

Detoxification is an energy-requiring process that puts a metabolic burden on the body.Therefore, water or juice fasts are not beneficial because they deplete the body of the essential nutrients required for healthy detoxification. These fasts can have many adverse health effects, including decreased energy production, breakdown of lean tissue instead of fat, increased oxidativestress, and unbalanced detoxification.

This quote above is from the article cited just above it.  This is important to note because this quote comes directly from the science to support the ‘Clean Program’ by Dr. Alejandro Junger.

What is the Clean program, this program that Ashton and Demi have moved to?  It is a diet and fast program that involves drinking 2 shakes, taking a bunch of pills and eating one meal a day (here).   What does it cost to get on this bandwagon?  Before I tell you the price, I do want to mention that Ashton and Demi are not the first celebrities to share with us their adherence to the Clean program.  No, long before Demi and Ashton, there was Gwenyth Paltrow.  As much as I like The Kutcher-Moore-Willis’s, I love Gwenyth Paltrow.  She is a ray of sunlight in an otherwise bland world.  She was the star of Shakespeare in Love and clearly the ideal muse to make me imagine that the bard himself did look upon Gwenyth’s countenance before putting quill to paper….  All of this said, apparently she is a little less rational in her decision making processes to say the least.  I hear that she has the strangest, most unscientific beliefs on toxins and the environment.  Many of her blog postings are so full of mysticism and anecdotal statements that it is impossible to take her seriously.  In any case, I still love you Gwenyth and I am pretty sure that I could tune out your ridiculous statements for a week or two while we vacation in the south of France, drinking Kale juice and grazing on organic Wheat Grass.  I got a kick out of looking at Gwenyth’s routine when she is getting in shape (here).  Kale juice, Think Thin bars, Clean Shakes, Raw Organic Kombucha juice… LMAO!!  Sure, this is one way you can get in shape, one bizarre difficult way…  (by the way, Kombucha is hilarious.  I ‘received a DVD and book on Kombucha at the drug store awhile back and laughed my way through the absurd claims of this ‘wonder’ fungi).

So, to get back on topic, the Clean 21 day program will set you back $350 plus shipping!! $350!!!!

I went to the website and checked out, ‘How Does It Work?’ to find out, well, how it works.  Don’t bother doing this because it tells you not how it works, but just how to follow the ‘cleanse’.  You can find a section on the science behind this program if you click around.  It is here.

Funny thing though.  There is no science for this $350 program.  The closest thing to scientific support for this cleanse, detox… whatever, is this:

The following articles scientifically support the basic principles of detox that the Clean Program is based upon.

So, there is no scientific evidence whatsoever that the clean program does what it tries to do, but there is some evidence that the clean program is based upon sound principles.  Okay, lets see what they have to say.  There are 2 studies listed in this section:

The Role of Detoxification in the Prevention of Chronic Degenerative Diseases

and

Acid-Alkaline Balance: Role In Chronic Disease and Detoxification

The first article suggests that toxicity in our environment, food, pesticides and heavy metals are connected to diseases like Parkinson’s and cancers.  As well, these toxins are most commonly removed by the body through a 2 stage process.  This process is optimally achieved when you have a diet of balanced macronutrients (fats, proteins and carbohydrates), micronutrients (vitamins and minerals), and phytochemicals (natural chemical compounds found in plants).  The article specifically recommends against fasting and juices as methods to detoxify the body because it inhibits the bodies natural ability to do just that.

Not only is none of this shocking, but it actually supports claims that eating meals that are balanced in macronutrients and have large amounts of  vegetables and fruits are actually the best way to detoxify the body, not this bizarre pill and shake combination by Dr. Junder.  It is a long scientific paper though, so maybe he was hoping nobody would read it.

The second study is ridiculous.  Quacks and pseudo-scientists have been promoting the Acid-Alkaline Balance diets for ages now, but there is no science behind this.  In the article listed above, the authors suggest that foods are higher in acidity now then they were in the past and then suggest that:

Although it is not common, blood pH levels can shift to the side of excessive acidity or alkalinity, in which case several clinical symptoms will appear.

This connection is intended to make you think that the diet we eat leads to our blood being out of its natural pH level, but the truth is, blood pH levels shifting out of balance is not common at all, as they admit, in fact it is associated with serious diseases totally unrelated to our diet.

The first article is written by a doctor by the way, and does appear quite scientific, even if it only suggests exactly what we already now, eating a balanced diet is good for your health.  This second article is written by a nutritionist and a PhD.

Something that jumps out at me though, is that both the nutritionist and the PhD work for Metagenics Inc.  Why this jumps out at me is that after a little searching into DeAnn J Liska’s biography, the doctor who wrote the first of the two articles, I find that she too worked for Metagenics.  She now works for Kellogg’s which moves her up on my most hated doctors list.  In fact:

DeAnn J Liska is director of nutrition science at The Kellogg Co., where she is responsible for research and science on health benefits of products and product ingredients, as well as review of the science and substantiation behind novel ingredients and health benefit claims.

This means she could be the doctor responsible for the claims that 3 grams of fibre in Froot Loops now makes it a child doctor favorite for good health.  Wow, I am going to write her a letter and ask, but in the meantime, let’s look at this Metagenic’s connection.

A little more poking around on the website shows that Metagenic’s is the manufacturer of the Clean Program.  The website claims:

  • A medical professional created the Clean Program.
  • We are in the health business, not thesupplement business.

I think they are saying that the program was created by Dr. Junger and the program is in the Health business, not the supplement business, but now I am wondering if this is true.  After all, Metagenic’s is in the Supplement business, not the health business.  Is it possible that the Clean Program was developed by Metagenic’s and they have put their product behind the smiling and handsome face of Dr. Junger.  If this is the case it is well hidden.  The website is owned by Clean Partners llc, which is headed by Dr. Junger, so it is entirely possible that Dr. Junger picked Metagenic’s because he liked their theories and their manufacturing process.

Metagenic’s is a NSF certified manufacturing facility.  This means that their product is inspected on occasion to make sure that the product in the package matches what the package says.  As well, they are NPA certified which means that they comply with the FDA and allow inspections of their facility.  These are both huge improvements over the uncertified supplement businesses that hide behind the DSHEA.  If you are going to take supplements, make sure that they are NSF certified!  Still, I was wondering.  I read this article in our local paper recently:

This article lists problems with herbal remedies that aren’t certified for sale in Canada.  Problems ranging from high levels of unhealthy bacteria, to high levels of lead, arsenic and mercury.  That got me to thinking about this certification that the Clean program goes though (via Metagenics).  What are acceptable levels of lead and mercury?  Are there any?

The process of distilling nutrients into pills and powders will by its very nature aggregate miniscule amounts of heavy metals and toxins into comparatively large amounts.  Although this product is certified, I would love to see what an independent analysis of these pills and powders would show up.  Are there acceptable levels of toxins, just as there are acceptable levels of rat droppings?  Can we see the toxin levels that have been randomly tested for in these pills?  Will Metagenics release this information to its consumers?

So at the end of the day, this detox and cleanse has no more scientific basis than the Master Cleanse.  Still I am left with a bunch of questions.  First, I wonder how clean, the Clean program is?  Second, I wonder if this is the brainchild and implementation of a large supplement company or an individual doctor.  Finally, are we really just sheople?  Will we believe in an unscientific program if some high profile celebrities decide to try it?

I ask this question because the traffic to the Clean website went up thousands of times its pre-tweet levels-since the Ashton-Demi tweet.  If you guys (Demi or Ashton) are reading this blog posting, please feel free to tweet that you are going on the ‘You Are Not A Fit Person’ program, or anything that mentions my name, even veiled insults and hateful thoughts (alas, as I pointed out earlier, this is rather unlikely as you guys do seem to be pretty nice people, just my luck!!).

Thanks.

13 Comments leave one →
  1. Dhrumil (ceo clean program) permalink
    August 5, 2010 12:25 pm

    Would love to get us all on the phone to do a Q/A session and address what’s written in this post.

    Are you open to that?

    • YouAreNotAFitPerson permalink*
      August 5, 2010 1:03 pm

      Absolutely,

      When would be a good time for you. My email is mark@youarenotafitperson.com. You can contact me with phone numbers, etc there. If there are any tests or results you ant to discuss with me, if you could send them to me in advance so I could review them, that would be tremendously helpful.

  2. August 25, 2010 12:03 am

    Incredibly well written article.
    I would love to offer you a complimentary consultation and design a detox program for you.
    After we talk and you try it, I want a follow up article, as good as this one, on your impressions at that time.
    Are you in ?

    Warmly
    Alejandro Junger

    • YouAreNotAFitPerson permalink*
      September 2, 2010 12:06 am

      Thank you very much for your complements. I would love to discuss your cleanse further with you and talk about expected and measurable outcomes. I would also be glad to write about that here as well. Please feel free to contact me at my email to arrange a follow up. My email is under the about me section.

  3. Matt Wegner permalink
    June 5, 2011 5:07 am

    Thank you for publishing your article. As a result of it, I’ve decided to not purchase The Cleanse program and instead adjust my diet and nutrition to healthier balanced meals. I was very interested in purchasing the full program, so I decided to do as much research as possible on the Internet to make an informed decision. Most of the info I found references Hollywood testimonials or articles. I unfortunately had to search 4-5 pages into google results to find yours and hope that others take thetime to find it too.

    Was there ever a meeting with the CEO and Dr. Junger? Did you learn anything new, or confirm your article?

  4. July 24, 2011 1:14 pm

    Yes, I’ve just been introduced to Junger/Clean Program by a very smart reporter friend, yet in digging into it (as a 30-year veteran medical writer), I’m turning up EVERY hallmark of classic quackery, BIG-TIME. The super-fast, super-aggressive responses above from Junger and his team make me wonder, YANAFP, if they’ve got you kidnapped and hooked up to an IV of green superjuice yet…

    • YouAreNotAFitPerson permalink*
      July 25, 2011 1:09 pm

      Hey Brenda, thank you for the comment. Yes, it appeared to me to just be a slick version of the standard cleanse quackery. I did get an interview with Dr. Junger, but it was just him repeating the standard story from his website, although I began to understand where he gets his beliefs from. Dr. Junger trained (I have no idea if the training was formal or not, but he said that he learned there) at the Institute for Functional Medicine and is a huge supporter and this explains his connection to Metagenics. Metagenics merged with the company started by Jeffrey and Susan Bland, the founders of the Institute for Functional Medicine, and Jeffrey Bland is the Chief Science Officer of Metagenics. He is a huge supporter of theirs and his product is developed by them.
      I challenged Dr. Junger on the science behind his claims, and he responded by being skeptical of science itself, suggesting that science and medicine was really part of the problem. Although I agree that when applied to a market economy, the scientific method can be used to find evidence in support of less valuable ideas, while ignoring more valuable ones, but to take this to be skeptical of the scientific method is absurd. In any case, I continued to press for generally accepted scientific evidence that the Clean Program actually does what it claims it does and he sent me several studies related to specific herbs, etc that have been shown to have some medicinal effects. I also pushed for the types of specific tests that were done at the Metagenics lab and the results of these tests. Dr. Junger said he would send them, but he still has not.
      We agreed to continue the interview. I tried to contact Dr. Junger a number of times since then to finish the interview, but he was not available. I have to say though, Dr. Junger is tremendously charming and I very much want to believe in him. I look forward to finishing the interview some day and publishing it here. I have to warn though, according to wikipedia, Jeffrey Bland has been in charge of 2 companies that have been charged by the FTC, and that Stephen Barrett of Quackwatch describes the Institute of Functional Medicine as a ‘questionable organization’.

      • reactnewyorkcity permalink
        January 14, 2012 9:24 pm

        This program is backed behind science, quite a bit actually! I have the research and clinical trial outcomes that were conducted. You can email me for them: reactnewyorkcity@yahoo.com

      • YouAreNotAFitPerson permalink*
        January 14, 2012 10:27 pm

        I would love to see the research and clinical trials. Please send them along to me. mark@youarenotafitperson.com

  5. July 25, 2011 5:08 pm

    Good work, Mark–you’re doing better reporting on this than I can find in the general media to date. Funny how the same folks will wrap themselves in the mantle of ‘scientific studies’ and then, when their data isn’t there, will turn their noses up at “Western medicine.” Not that so-called Western medicine is perfect by a long shot, but you sorta can’t have it both ways. Keep up the good work. And yes, the dude is charming–he has charmed Gwyneth Paltrow, and we all know that THAT’s a hallmark of hard science!

  6. claire permalink
    September 11, 2011 6:49 am

    But you don’t have to buy any shakes or supplements to do the clean program. You can make your own fresh juices and shakes.

    • YouAreNotAFitPerson permalink*
      September 12, 2011 9:54 am

      No, you are right, you can just buy his book and then mix up your own shakes, etc. There are many levels to his marketing. On the other hand, you can just buy my book and you don’t need to mix up juices and shakes or ever buy any supplements… Your choice.

  7. Jessica F permalink
    November 1, 2011 8:54 pm

    Hmmm, I have done the Clean program and don’t really know why you’re so skeptical without even trying it. I’m not a fad diet person, in fact I’ve never done diets before. I’ve always been fairly fit and eat healthy so I decided to read this book and see if I could gain anything from it and the experience. I read the book from start to finish and it seemed to make logical sense. I don’t believe for one second that our Western medicine has all the answers to healing the body, in fact I think it usually harms out bodies. For this reason I decided to complete the entire 21 days of Clean and see how I felt! I didn’t buy supplements from him, I bought them from Whole Foods. After doing Clean I feel absolutely amazine! I also dropped 20 lbs which I’ve kept off since May. My skin has never been cleaner, my body hasn’t felt so light, I haven’t had ANY allergies which is a miracle, and haven’t been sick. I attribute this to eliminating gluten, dairy, alcohol, sugar and caffeine. Say what you will, it works 🙂

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