Saturday, April 16, 2011
Losing weight has been on my to-do list for a few years now, but I have not done much about it, apart from occasionally going on a diet and joining a gym. None of these plans lasted long, so there were no results to show. Then, earlier this year, I was offered a chance to have a health analysis done by a highly respected Austria-based team of medical practitioners, Dr Harald Stossier and wife Dr Christine Stossier, recognised for their eating plan known as the Viva Mayr way of life. The two doctors were in Dubai for the Arab Health 2011 exhibition.
Keen to learn more about my body and how I could shed a few kilograms and stay healthy, I gladly accepted the invitation.
Dressed in a white T-shirt and a pair of denims, Dr Harald Stossier radiated positivity and looked the part - a fitness and well-being guru, as did his wife Dr Christine.
Digestion is key
Dr Harald is the medical director of the Viva Centre of Modern Mayr Medicine, Austria, and his wife Dr Christine, the head physician at the centre. It is a leading detox clinic and resort, particularly in helping allergy sufferers.
First, they sat me down to explain the benefits of the Viva Mayr way of life. Simply put, it all begins and ends with the smooth functioning of the digestive tract. Almost every modern disease can be linked to poor digestion, said Dr Harald. What matters is not just what we eat but how and when we eat it and what we eat it with, said the doctor. That, it turned out, was a revelation for me.
The Mayr therapy was developed by an Austrian doctor, Dr Franz Mayr (1875-1965). He found that there is a direct link between digestive health and overall health and attractiveness, and suggested that how we eat is as important as what we eat (see next page for details).
Modern Mayr medicine is a synthesis of natural healing methods. By combining Mayr therapy with applied kinesiology, Dr Harald and his team offer a tailored therapy approach to the specific needs of each individual.
After briefing me on the therapy, the Stossiers invited me to take a physiological test. Dr Christine examined my tongue, teeth and nails. She checked my stomach for signs of uneasiness (fortunately there were none). She knocked on my ribs, again no difference between right and left sides (also a good sign).
The next step was Applied Kinesiology, a diagnostic method that tests individual muscles and their change in strength using specific stimuli and therapeutic measures. This, they said, would give them an insight into any potential disorders.
Diagnostics also include analysing one's mobility and vitality as well as identifying mineral, trace-element or vitamin imbalances.
I was asked to raise my leg and resist the pressure applied on it by the doctor. Everything OK there. She then conducted some tests to find out how my thyroid was doing. Apparently, it has started showing some signs of weakening "but that can be confirmed only after a detailed blood test," she said.
Finally came the allergy and intolerance tests for which I was given powdered trace minerals, sugars, gluten and so on.
To my relief my preliminary examination did not show any worrying signs. I was declared a fairly healthy person. "But you could do better if you adopted some lifestyle changes well in time to avoid problems later on in life," advised Dr Christine.
One thing the tests revealed was that my muscles had more stress build-up than they could possibly handle.
And what about the bloated feeling I often experienced? Dr Christine explained, "That's due to flawed eating habits and has nothing to do with your hormones. Nowadays we tend to blame everything on the hormones. It's become fashionable to say ‘hormones are playing havoc on my body and mind,' and brush aside the real problem. But the reality is that more often than not it's got to do with your gut. All you need to do is improve your lifestyle and eat right."
I could apparently do well with some mineral supplements along with my diet to improve my thyroid's performance. My muscle tone would also get better if I took more magnesium and calcium. I was asked to cut down on sugary fruits to avoid fructose malabsorption.
Most importantly, I was told to take some time out for myself, clichéd as it may sound. "For an hour every day, you should do what you enjoy doing, not something you have to do, to relax your body and mind," Dr Harald says. Hmm, maybe I should reinstate those long, early morning walks that so relaxed me.
Here are some practical tips from the Stossiers
Say ‘no' to sugar
We don't need any more sugar than the amount we get from the food we eat. A craving for sugar means you have not given your body the chance to digest. Also, you could be eating the wrong thing at the wrong time or not chewing enough or eating too much protein or eating when you are stressed. Instead of sugar, have a helping of fruit for breakfast.
Find the fibre
Make your diet fibre-rich. Including fibre ensures digestion occurs at the right speed and cleans the gut. Vegetables, fruit and whole grains are all good sources. Eat more pulses, nuts and seeds. Go for brightly coloured vegetables and fruits as they are rich in antioxidants, vitamins and minerals.
Time your meals
Raw food puts more pressure on the digestive system. That said, eat as much raw food as you like during the day but nothing raw after 4pm. Raw food eaten late in the day is converted to acid, leading to bloating. Dinner should not be eaten later than 6pm Provided you consume sufficient calories, skipping dinner is not a bad practice. But missing breakfast is a strict no-no. When cooking, steam vegetables, grill meats and poach, steam or grill fish. Use only warm-pressed oils for frying. Palm oil and coconut oil are especially suitable. Butter is fine, but avoid overheating it as that will destroy the good fatty acids it contains.
Make the most of the night's rest
Have a glass of water before going to bed. A small dinner will help you sleep well. Growth hormones and melatonin (the rebuilding hormone) work during the night and they need low temperatures for optimum function. Eating late raises the body temperature thereby hampering the regeneration of body cells.
Don't mix food and liquids
A rule of thumb of the Viva Mayr therapy is not to drink with your meals. Dr Stossier suggests drinking 15 minutes before eating and avoiding water or juices at least an hour or so after food as the liquids tend to dilute digestive enzymes. But drink plenty of water, herbal teas, fruit and vegetable juices throughout the day. Aim for 2-3 litres of water daily.
Chew, chew, chew
Eating in a hurry means we don't chew well and we don't produce enough saliva. This causes fermentation and putrification of food in our guts. Don't eat if you are in a hurry. Wait until you have some time to relax and enjoy the meal.
Eating when you are stressed can lead to extra fat being laid down - particularly around the midriff. Aim for 30 to 40 chews for every mouthful you take. It's hard if you are not used to it, but it's easy once it becomes a habit. Spend at least half an hour on every meal. Think about the food before your put it in your mouth and then see its implications on your body. Stop as soon as you feel satiated.
While organic food is highly recommended, Dr Harald does not believe there are any ‘super foods'. "Everything is super if eaten in moderation and eaten when required. Try to make time to eat all your meals in calm and peace. Think about the fact that you are about to nourish your body. Show respect to nature that has provided us with the food; to the people who have produced the food, and respect to yourself by eating it in the best way possible.
Indulge in fruit
Have a fresh, organic, varied and wholemeal diet. Include a serving of fruit for your breakfast. That said, fructose malabsorption causes mood swings. If you notice that, cut down on very sweet fruits like grapes, apples, and so on. and eat berries, papayas and avocados instead.
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My inspiration has turned into passion in a health care that turned into a blog. The ample of support and response was tremendously changed into positive results.
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