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April 19 2014

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Dr. Alejandro Junger on Diet Truths

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This column features weekly tips and advice from a revolving cast of industry leaders on hand to discuss your beauty dilemmas, from blemishes to Botox. To submit a question, e-mail celia_ellenberg@condenast.com.


Here are a few dietary fact or fictions I’d love to get your verdict on:


Is there a difference between drinking ice-cold or room-temperature water? I’ve heard the former can help you burn calories, but the latter is better for digestion.

“Room-temperature water does enable optimal digestion, although drinking chilled water has been found to burn calories, although very minimally. Your best bet is to be sure you are staying hydrated either way. Staying hydrated is essential to vital health. Shoot for eight to ten glasses of water daily, either lukewarm or ice cold.”


I’ve heard there are benefits to having water with lemon as the first thing you drink in the morning. True?

“Lemon water is very detoxifying, high in vitamin C, and is actually alkalizing to the body. Warm lemon water is a great addition to your morning routine for many reasons. It’s a gentle, natural diuretic, it gives you a daily dose of vitamin C, it helps impart clearer skin, it hydrates the lymph system, it aids in digestion, and it balances pH.”


I’ve been reading a bit about how eating foods in certain combinations (fruits alone, vegetables with a starch) can help improve digestion and nutrient absorption. Have you found that to be true?

“Optimal digestion and absorption through food combining is unique to the individual. However, some people find these basics helpful: fruits alone or on an empty stomach or before your meal; protein only with non-starchy vegetables; grains with starchy or non-starchy vegetables; and avoid protein and grains together. Healthy fats like avocado, coconut oil, and olive oil go well with all foods and are a great addition to your diet, no matter what.”


If I’ve been getting pretty abysmal sleep lately, could that affect my diet?

“Getting adequate rest and sleep is essential for proper functioning. Our bodies do the bulk of their regulatory cleansing and repair work overnight, while we’re asleep. Without enough sleep, the body cannot properly rest and repair, a must for keeping hormones balanced and releasing toxins. All of these functions are crucial in maintaining weight and/or weight loss.


“Even one night without enough sleep affects the hormones that regulate appetite. The body will produce more of the hormone ghrelin, signaling that we are hungry, but less of the hormone leptin, which signals when we’ve had enough to eat. Consistently not getting enough sleep can affect blood-sugar levels and contribute to insulin resistance. Chronic sleep deprivation has been linked to diabetes and obesity. Adequate sleep amounts vary for each individual; however, we typically suggest at least eight hours of sleep.


“Eating shortly before bed can have a negative effect on the quality of sleep, as well as your metabolism, so eat at least one to two hours before bed. A lighter meal in the evening can also promote a deeper, more restful sleep.”


The Uruguay-born, New York-based Dr. Alejandro Junger is a pioneer of the modern detox movement. His first book, Clean: The Revolutionary Program to Restore the Body’s Natural Ability to Heal Itself, was a New York Times Bestseller, and he is a favorite of Gwyneth Paltrow, among countless other well-known fans. Most recently, Junger teamed with L.A.-based The Detox Market to offer his groundbreaking Clean detoxification program to the masses.

Photo: Courtesy of Getty Images

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