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Viva Mayr clinic Austria: the retreat where you anti-age by 10 years by chewing stale bread

Viva Mayr landscape, Viva Mayr review,, main post

The famous Viva Mayr clinic offers a cure to regenerate the skin, colon conditions, and fertility with diets and treatments that involve eating 3-day old bread. Journalist Sarah Dawson visited the newly-opened Mayr resort in Altaussee, Austria to try it out

In the Viva Mayr dining room overlooking the tranquil waters of Lake Altaussee I’m chewing on a piece of three-day-old Spelt bread.  I move it to the right, as instructed in our lesson (yes, there are lessons in chewing correctly here), to the left, and another ten times before it goes down the hatch.

I’m taking the ‘Mayr Cure’ at the newly launched Viva Mayr clinic in Austria’s Salzkammergut region and although it’s my third ‘Cure’ and I know what to expect, it’s challenging.  Earlier this morning instead of my strong, milky cup of builder’s tea, I drank (with nose held), a warm glass of Epsom salts, and I’ve come down with a head cold and swollen tonsils.

But there’s method to the chewing and salt madness – the salts zip through the digestive system, eliminating toxins, hence a fast flight to the loo is par for the course. What’s more, this majestic mountain and lakeside location has been selected for its proximity to a salt mine and mineral-rich spring so drinking the water here is like nectar to the digestive system.

Viva Mayr spa, Viva Mayr review, by
The 600 m2 salt spa offers relaxtion and wellbeing

Alongside the salt detox is the early morning body brushing followed by hot/cold showers for lymph stimulation, then various treatments to cleanse the colon and stimulate sluggish systems from abdominal massage to aerial yoga, nightly liver packs (hot water bottles to support liver detox) to re-training – or rehab – (because quite frankly, most or many of us are doing this wrong) in the chewing and ‘rhythms’ of eating food.

IBS cure

Nine years ago I visited the Viva Mayr’s first venue on the shores of Lake Maria Worth, where, after experiencing mild to bad IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) for many years, the Viva Mayr founder and head honcho, Doctor Harald Stossier found the ‘cure’ to my symptoms in diagnosing a fructose intolerance via kinesiology muscle testing, an abdominal examination and a breath test.

You’d think that eating fruit could only be a good thing, but too much of it and a build up of methane prevents vitamins and minerals from being properly absorbednbbg, leading to poor elimination, not to mention embarrassing wind and a bloated tummy.

Weight loss is not the target goal; it’s about regenerating the colon where good health and an inner glow begin. Slimming down is simply an added bonus.

I avoided fruit for six months, lost half a stone in weight, dropped two dress sizes and made some dynamic lifestyle changes.  Six months later I’d qualified as a yoga teacher in India and set up my yoga therapy business, Karmiyoga, in Brighton.  In 2009 I returned to the Viva Mayr to research causes and treatments for IBS after being commissioned to write my first book Irritable Bowel Syndrome – The Essential Guide (Need2know).

Turning back the clock

Fast forward six years and I’m with a group of international journalists on the first ever press trip to the Viva’s latest acquisition in Austria’s Styria region.  Surrounded by mountains and nestled beside the tranquil Lake Altaussee it’s the same ‘drill’, with a different view.

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Beautiful landscapes in Altaussee

Modern Mayr medicine is based on the digestion programme created by Austrian born Dr Franz Xaver Mayr nearly 100 years ago. His theory is that by regenerating, the colon conditions like arthritis, diabetes, allergies and insomnia can be healed – and replaced with a dramatic increase in energy, improved body shape, clear skin, sparkly eyes, and a fresher, younger face following the removal of toxins and ‘puffiness’ due to over-acidic diets.  Unlike many other detoxes, weight loss is not the target goal; it’s about regenerating the colon where good health and an inner glow begin. Slimming down is simply an added bonus.

Modern Mayr medicine is based on the digestion programme created by Austrian born Dr Franz Xaver Mayr nearly 100 years ago

As a practising/teaching yogini I follow a healthy and balanced diet and I’m all for retaining good physical and mental faculties into old age and becoming enlightened – but I’m also curious to find out whether taking the ‘Cure’ can help give me a younger ‘biological’ age, versus actual age to boost fertility, which thanks to scientific and medical advances is much more possible over 39.

Women need a wide range of vitamins and nutrients to balance their hormones, especially with a demanding career and lifestyle.

Dr Tanja Korak has worked at the sister Viva Mayr in Maria Worth and is fine-tuned in all things Mayr.  While prodding and kneading my tummy she explains that women need a wide range of vitamins and nutrients to balance their hormones, especially with a demanding career and lifestyle.

‘If food is insufficiently digested it leads to fermentation (too many carbohydrates turns to sugar and cause gas/bloating) and acidic overload (too much protein/booze) causes putrefaction, which leads to vitamins and minerals not being properly absorbed. These disturbances prevent optimum health and hormonal balance, which affects a woman’s ability to conceive, regardless of how old she is’, says Dr Korak.

‘When digestion is good, so is our sleep, our nervous and endocrine systems, and so too are we drawn to nutritious food and lifestyle choices. It’s usually when running low on energy and deficient in certain minerals/vitamins, that we turn to caffeine, sugar, alcohol or cigarettes, and it’s a vicious cycle in terms of pressure on the body’s systems, and makes trying for a baby more difficult,’ she concludes.

Cake addiction

She checks my reproductive and endocrine systems and any vitamin and mineral deficiencies via the kinesiology method, a holistic diagnostics tool that blends Eastern and Western medicine. Eastern medicine believes we have channels of electrical energy (meridians), flowing around our body and that each muscle relates to an organ and a meridian. If there’s a chemical, emotional, energetic, or structural blockage the muscle will be weak. In Kinesiology testing it’s as if the body speaks to the doctor, saying ‘yes, I need more of that’, or ‘no that’s no good for me’.

MORE: Dru Yoga on a Wales wellbeing retreat. But what is it?

Dr Korak asks me to raise my arm to test my general muscle strength, and places various substances on my tongue. I’m ok with dairy, fructose, wheat and gluten, but I’ve an overgrowth of candida, a fungus and yeast caused by refined carbs, sugar, alcohol or stress upsetting the gut’s flora balance.

I wasn’t aware of any of any symptoms – except a life-long love of cakes and occasional brain fog.  I’m placed on a mild Candida diet, but very pleased I’m otherwise in good nick. She sends me for a blood test to check free radicals and antioxidants levels.

Boiled potatoes and broth

When you’re hungry, full of cold and craving a cup of tea, it’s tough being presented with a boiled potato and a drizzle of hemp oil for breakfast, lunch and dinner, which is the Viva’s candida diet.  I manage to sweet-talk the waitress into allowing me a boiled egg for breakfast with two rice crackers and a ‘protein portion’ (smoked fish or avocado dip) for lunch and dinner as neither disrupt the candida and add interest to the boiled potato.

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Deliciously healthy meals are served by an award winning chef

The centre’s medical director, Dr Fegerl, a dashingly handsome and dauntingly young-looking doctor, lectures each evening on the fine art of eating. ‘The regulation of acid and alkaline concentrations is a crucial factor to good health because it influences our metabolism and ensures digestion, excretion, breathing, detoxification and cardiovascular systems function properly,’ says Dr Fegerl.

It’s tough being presented with a boiled potato and a drizzle of hemp oil for breakfast, lunch and dinner

‘But it’s not just about what we’re eating; it’s how we’re eating. With busy lifestyles and daily pressures many people aren’t eating in a calm or healthy way, and they’re overdoing the acidic foods (meat, dairy, fish, alcohol and coffee), which is causing health issues from irritable bowel syndrome to leaky gut syndrome, where toxins leak into the blood stream, poisoning the body from the gut.  Austrian Physician and scientist Dr Franz Xaver Mayr believed that conditions including osteoporosis, heart disease, and rheumatism are due to this chronic hyper-acidity.’

So what’s the solution? In a nutshell it’s rehabilitation of our eating habits, a 20:1 alkaline:acid diet, and chew, chew, chew.  Want to try it? See our six-step Mayr DIY plan at the end.

MORE: 5 easy alkaline diet recipes

Going with the Viva Mayr flow

As the days go by I shuffle in my slippers and towelling robe to the bathroom, dining hall, medical consultation area, lounge, and therapy area for massage or treatment.  My cold dries up, my tonsils shrink and I’ve located a box of green tea so (in between meals of course) I’m comforted by a mug of something hot and steamy which doesn’t smell of hay.

On my last day the sun comes out and I finally get outside to enjoy the pure Alpine air and mountainous scenery.  I walk the full Lake Altaussee circuit (7km). It’s breathtaking, and I’m not surprised it’s considered one of the most beautiful places in the Austrian Alps.

Lake Altaussee is nestled among the peaks of the central Alps
Lake Altaussee is nestled among the peaks of the central Alps

In my last consultation with Dr Korak, my test results are good; very low free radicals (the baddies), higher than average anti-oxidants (goodies), and in my final abdominal massage she’s satisfied that the salt cleanse has removed digestive blockages. But the best news is that in her medical opinion I have a biological age of 36, versus an actual age of 45, and following the Mayr approach to eating, along with a healthy lifestyle will help keep my biological and fertility age young.  Closing the door, I skip down the corridor!

I feel almost ten years younger!

This visit to the Viva Mayr has helped me realise that although I eat healthily, I eat too quickly and I need to manage (at least for now) my cake addiction which has caused the candida imbalance.  Armed with a bag of medicaments I commit to a three-month programme excluding all sugars including fruit/fructose and a gradual reintroduction of carbohydrates.

But first I need to beg Dr Korak for a sugar-free alternative. She says the magic word – Agave – a natural plant based syrup which I’m now using to satisfy my sweet tooth by making flap jack. I’m following an alkaline-rich diet, chewing lots, and again my body shape has altered as a result of the Mayr ‘Cure’. I’m back to size 10, from my usual 12, my tummy is flatter and although it was tough doing the detox with a cold/throat virus, the result is all the sweeter, not least because I now feel almost ten years younger!

Get the Mayr results at home, our six step plan:

Follow these basic principles for a healthy tum – and a younger you!

1. Get a digestive healViva Mayr book cover, Viva Mayr review, by healthista.comth check up – book an appointment with one of the Mayr doctors; Harald Stossier, Christine Stossier and Doris Schuscha on their bi-monthly visits to London clinics (£150, 30 minutes). Call Tosh on 020 7224 2423 or go to Email

2. Follow a 20:1 alkaline:acid balancing diet – the new Viva Mayr cook book; Eat Alkaline compiled by Harald Stossier and Emanuela Fischer has inspirational recipes and eating tips. See the table below.

3. Help your body detox (check with your GP first, not during pregnancy and other medical restrictions apply), for 3-4 days take half a teaspoon of Epsom salts (the ingestible ones, not the bathing salts) with warm water, then dry body brush before a warm to cold shower.

4. Eat slowly – chew each mouthful 20 to 50 times: Aim for a big breakfast and lunch and avoid raw foods after 4pm (salads at lunch when digestion is good). Eat a light evening meal (steamed / cooked veggies with fish/chicken, or a bowl of soup), as early as possible and avoid ‘snacking’ between meals.

5. Leave minimum 30 minutes pre/post eating before drinking – liquid dilutes the digestive juices.

6. Drink plenty of water/herbal teas between meals.

Alkaline foods 50:50 acid/alkaline balanced foods Acid-forming foods/drinks
Most vegetables, especially potatoes Water Meat
Milk and cream (but not hard/soft cheese) Butter Fish
Ripe fruits Millet grain Cheese
Spices Pulses
Herbs Grains
Cold pressed vegetable oils e.g. linseed/flaxseed (drizzled over soup of vegetables is good) Warm pressed vegetable oils
Pre-packed food
Cigarettes and stress



VivaMayr, Fischerndorf 222, 8992, Altaussee, Austria  Single rooms from 220 euros, medical consulation 150 euros, treatments such as massage and saline air inhalation, from 40 euros. To find out more click here. Fly to Saltzburg from London with, 1 hour transfer.

Sarah Dawson is a Brighton-based journalist, author & yoga teacher, and founder of, her therapeutic yoga business.

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