A stay at The Original F.X. Mayr&More Health Centre, Austria

I first came across Dr Franz Xaver Mayr - an Austrian nutritionist who lived to the age of 90 and believed the cure to nearly all human ills, both physical and mental, could be found in the intestines, whilst researching an article on the world's most effective weight loss regimes.

My curiosity was piqued, and not long after, I went to a Mayr clinic on the Wörthersee, in Austria, where they clean out your guts in accordance with his regime. I lost half a stone in a week, and learnt to chew every mouthful until it was pap.

The Mayr regime is about two things - cleaning the system out and teaching the patient how to carry on into real life. Mayr's theory was that most people have years of semi-digested food sitting around in their gut. Just think of the fridge when you get back from holiday. All that rotting food creates a cycle of poor digestion, filling your body with toxins, which puff you up and slow down the digestion of the next intake of food. He also thought it contributed to women's infertility. So we started each day with a dose of Epsom salts - which taste so vile you know they are doing good.

Breakfast, however, was delicious: smoked trout fillets, gofio mash or sheep's yoghurt, with either a fresh spelt roll or three rice cakes. And all to be chewed; the digestive process starts in the mouth with the saliva - Mayr believed if you chew food to pap, it's easier to digest, makes your gut more efficient, and so you lose weight. It's not what you eat, rather how. It also takes ages to chew every mouthful 35 times (the optimum number). When you've spent 15 minutes masticating rice cakes, you're not only bored, you're full.

Then there was vegetable broth, and a little lie-down; the Mayr regime doesn't recommend strenuous exercise - there is a gym, overlooking the lake, with a coterie of machines; pool; and pedaloes to take out on the lake - but they don't mind if all you do is a little pilates. Too much exercise impedes the detoxification process - thank God.

The chef is superb - home-made soup for lunch, and, depending upon which diet the doctor deems most appropriate during the initial consultation, a choice of three main courses: stuffed aubergines, spinach risotto or buffalo mozzarella and tomato salad.

There were daily massages and daily detoxification treatments; dark "poisons" were extracted from my feet through an electrified foot bath; I was slipped into a toasted sandwich-maker and radiated with light; and hooked up to a drip and infused with natrium bicarbonate.

At the great weigh-in, one week later, I'd lost half a stone; I felt in control, and ready to go out and chew each mouthful 35 times.

The Original F.X. Mayr&More Health CentreGolfstraße 2A-9082 Maria Wörth-DellachKärnten, AustriaTel: 0043 4273 2511-0Fax: 0043 4273 2511-51E-mail:single rooms from £90 a night, though less than a week's stay is not recommended: seven days (tailored treatments are extra) cost about £1,100.

Elisabeth Rushton

Elisabeth has over a decade of experience as a luxury lifestyle and travel writer, and has visited over sixty countries. She has a particular interest in the Middle East, having travelled extensively around Saudi Arabia, Oman, and the UAE. A keen skier, she has visited over fifty ski resorts around the world, from La Grave to Niseko. She is currently focused on writing about luxury products fo...(Read More)

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