Bollywood’s Detox Destination: How an Alpine Wellness Clinic Works

It’s no surprise that celebrities go through a plethora of wellness regimes to look the way they do and stay healthy while at it. Ever wondered what these routines are like? How much of it is about quick fixes and how much is about taking care of the body from the inside?

Let’s look at one such wellness destination that attracts several celebrities – from Bollywood and Hollywood (read Deepika Padukone, Alia Bhat, Liz Hurley and Karlie Kloss) to even international politicians.

Set up in 2004, Viva Mayr clinic in Austria is a health and wellness centre that many have flocked to. It specialises in a form of extreme detoxification it refers to as “the Mayr cure”. And as The Guardian puts it, the program is “as notorious as it is successful.” So what’s it all about?

Model and actress Elizabeth Hurley at the Viva Mayr clinic.

All About the ‘Mayr Cure’

At the outset, their principle sounds basic – long-term health stems from a healthy gut. So they believe in improving one’s health by focusing on digestion, what we eat, and how we eat it. Invariably, it also ends up being that you eat extremely small meals. Although, they say that weight loss isn’t the primary motive.

Guests or patients, however you want to look at it, reportedly consume around 600 calories a day – roughly equivalent to a plate of chhole bhature. Highly selective food is served with a ‘no gluten’ and ‘cut down dairy’ policy. Lots of water, epsom salts and alkaline foods are central to their diet plan.

Food served at the Viva Mayr clinic.

There’s also no caffeine, alcohol, or sugar.

Another integral part is the ‘chewing training’. It says that chewing each morsel of your food 30-50 times does the trick for better digestion. Take time with your meals, eat slow and let the intestines digest it well. Dr Christine Stossier, assistant medical director of the clinic, even goes as far as to say that “You can eat healthy, organic food, but if you eat it in the wrong way, it loses a lot of its value.”

Another doctor from the clinic has been quoted as saying, “Better to eat McDonald’s and have good absorption than organic, farm-to-table food that is not being absorbed at all.”

The point being that no matter how healthy you eat, it doesn’t count if the nutrients aren’t being absorbed.

The “Mayr cure” was developed almost 100 years ago by Dr Franz Xaver Mayr, an Austrian physician who believed in “auto-intoxication”: the idea that we are poisoning ourselves by ingesting the wrong things, which we then struggle to get rid of.

A Picture-Perfect Retreat or a Medical Centre?

The main idea of the clinic is that you spend a week there and you return rejuvenated and lighter, both literally and metaphorically. However, headaches, loss of appetite and bouts of crying are apparently part and parcel of the program.

It also includes massages, a number of blood tests and methods like Functional Myodiagnostic Test, also known as Applied Kinesiology.

A guest at the Viva Mayr Clinic.

It’s a muscle test, widely questioned by practitioners of modern medicine, to check for weakness areas and the body’s reaction to certain substances. The criticism is mainly that it does not have any scientific basis, which makes the diagnoses unreliable.

The idea that eating only alkaline foods will give you health benefits also hasn’t found too many takers in the medical community.

So, some experts suggest we call it what it is – a fancy wellness retreat with an extremely specific routine rather than a medical centre.

Some publications have reported first-hand accounts of staying at the clinic. And one of them summarised that the stay made them lose two kilos and had their energy levels up. But described one of the nights where they just drank lots of water with salt and went to bed hungry.

Many studies over the years have warned against such extreme diets and “cleansing” theories.

So How Do So Many Celebrities Swear by It?

The clinic focuses majorly on relaxation, de-stressing and all kinds of detox.

People exercising at the Viva Mayr clinic.

Cellphones are not allowed, there’s a lot of sleep, fresh air prescribed exercises to treat your pain and soothing techniques like massages and footbaths.

It’s all very relaxing no doubt, and a good holiday in Alps is bound to have its benefits. Massages, exercises and the kind will also have a positive effect on your pain. And eating such small amounts of food, albeit healthy, can lead to obvious weight loss.

All of these benefits makes it a popular destination for the rich and famous.

The basic principle is no doubt not-so-controversial and possibly beneficial. Eat healthy, eat well, eat on time and you’ll be fine.

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