Does your gut rule your life? Grayshott Medical Spa has the answer…
Grayshott Medical Spa has been a trusted home-from-home wellness retreat for decades. Recently bought by the famous Lanserhof Group, Supreme Spy went to Surrey to find out more about their legendary approach to gut health.
A life-changing week at the Peak Health Retreat in Switzerland last year changed my view of health retreats. I came away inspired to transform my lifestyle. Seven months on and two stone lighter I feel like a new version of myself. I was interested in seeing how Grayshott compares, and whether they could teach me anything new.
The Health Regime (from £1,950 for double occupancy), a 7-day boot-camp, was launched in 2013 to collate Grayshott’s years of knowledge and expertise. Before you embark on the week, one of the medical team call to talk you through your present state of health and why you want to come on the regime.
‘’Reasons vary from weight loss, to IBS to post trauma’’. Kaye, a senior nurse said. ‘’Being pre-aware of how someone is feeling before they come allows us to personalise their stay’’.
And for a Grayshott newbie it settles pre-regime nerves.
What’s it like?
Grayshott is a red brick manor house surrounded by gardens. It’s easy to park and you step out of your car straight into peace and quiet. As you approach the front door, it swings open, your bags are taken, and your itinerary is waiting for you. The team here are very well polished and organised – which was good as I left my brain in the car.
What do you get?
My first appointment was with Ravi, Head of Fitness, to examine my body composition. I stood on a machine for a few minutes holding two sensor handles, then got a printout telling me my muscle-to-fat ratio. It was a little intimidating, but Ravi takes a knowledgeable and direct approach. Even though I had worked out enough to lose weight and develop muscles, it seemed I still had some fat to burn – useful to know.
There are at least four classes a day at Grayshott. I enjoyed the challenging 'Legs, bums and tums' class with a cool down walk around the grounds afterwards. You won’t get bored; there is so many classes (including cooking) and walks, but you can choose downtime when you aren’t having treatments – resting balances stress too.
My abdominal massage from Frank was incredible; uncomfortable in places but invigorating and an area usually missed when I go for a normal massage.
The Grayshott approach, like the Lanserhof, is to take the pressure off your digestive system, allowing it to rest and heal. It’s all about replenishing the healthy gut flora (microbiota that live in our digestive tracts), which if dysregulated, can cause inflammatory and auto-immune disfunction. There is increasing evidence that gut microbiota also affects emotions and the brain, and can in turn be affected by stress. The regime also incorporates a semi-fasting diet – Monday and Friday, you will have no breakfast, just fluids and a hearty lunch; the rest of the week you eat extremely well, just avoiding grains and dairy.
If that sounds joyless, the food is far from. Expect colourful, flavourful, clean and healthy meals that don’t scrimp on flavours or portions. ‘Supervised lunch’ sounds a bit ‘school dinners’, but just means you will have a nutritionist or dietician sitting at your table, so you can ask them loads of questions. Grayshott has its own healthy cookery book by Executive Chef Adam Palmer called Gut Gastronomy, so if you can’t make it for The Regime, you can try it at home.
Guts and stress
Have you ever listened to someone and had a lightning-bolt moment? Nutritionist Stephanie Moore gave me exactly that. How stressed we become depends on things like adrenal failure, the bodies natural fight or flight mode, as well as what we eat. I’m pretty sure a handful of goji berries won’t solve life’s stresses, but as she explained, there are many ways you can manage a stressful situation.
Here’s what she said:
Most of the body's serotonin is produced in the gut – so if your gut isn’t happy…
We are designed to cope with short, sharp bursts of stress, not prolonged, chronic worry. You need to learn how to break the cycle of stress and return to a normal resting state.
It is all about recovery – we cannot prevent things happening that may cause us stress. What counts is how we deal with it.
What to eat when stressed
Magnesium – dark chocolate (!) whole grains, nuts and seeds
Vitamin B5 and B6 – oily fish, avocados and eggs
Vitamin C - Brightly coloured and dark leafy veg
The Anti- Stress super snack – pumpkin seeds, coconut flakes, goji berries, raw cacao nibs
What to do
Move your body – Our bodies were designed to move, and we don’t do this enough. Find an exercise that you enjoy: studies have found that if you exercise with other people you are most likely to stick with it.
Breathe – Not just short, sharp breaths into your chest, focus on deep breaths that fill your lungs and press down your diaphragm, making your gut stick out. Breathing out even longer will slow your heartbeat. The longer between heartbeats, the better for your wellbeing. Nitric oxide is produced when you breathe slowly, and this calms the body.
Smile and laugh – Smiling and laughing tell your brain that you are happy. Laughing yoga anyone?
Shift your focus – Work out what really relaxes you. Walk the dog, try mindfulness colouring, read a book, or listening to a podcast. Find something that is more about ‘being’ in the present moment rather than ‘doing’ something because you feel you should.
Create a sleep rhythm – This is challenging for shift workers but wherever possible, try to go to sleep at the same time and wake up at a similar time. Orange, red and yellow lights tell your brain it is time to sleep. Blue lights from TVs and phones are stimulants. Read our blog on top tips to getting a good night sleep.
I didn’t stay at Grayshott for an entire week, but I can see myself signing up in the future, as I was so impressed with the quality of care and expertise. The mix of homely warmth and sound advice has clearly de-stressed a lot of very clued-up people. It’s a stone’s throw from London, so much easier to get to than Switzerland. You can take on the challenge of The Regime, learn some amazing habits, reset your metabolism, move your body, and have some wonderful treatments. Most importantly, you will leave feeling armed with knowledge and support to continue the journey at home - you get follow up calls too. No wonder people keep going back.