A luxurious villa in Menorca is the unlikely setting for a boot camp focused on the digestive system. Lucy Gilmore gets to grips with her ‘second brain’
Sitting on the terrace of Cugó Gran, a 19th-century farmhouse on Menorca, now more palatial pad than rustic retreat, with the afternoon sun basting the honeyed stone in a syrupy glow, the conversation turns to stools. If you come on a Gut Retreat, there’s no shying away from it – you’re going to spend a lot of time talking about bowel movements.
The retreat is the brainchild of travel editor-turned-nutritional therapist Jeannette Hyde, draped elegantly across the sofa in front of me, sipping a glass of iced water and chatting comfortably about poo. Lean and lithe, she is a great advertisement for her book The Gut Makeover, which aims to revolutionise the way we eat and help us to lose weight and improve our health and emotional wellbeing along the way. Her new recipe book is just out.
It centres on our “microbiome”, which is science-speak for the 3.3lb of bacteria (imagine three bags of sugar) which we cart around inside us, not all of them friendly. Dubbed our “second brain”, our microbiome and the state of our gut are now thought to affect everything from our weight to our mental health and a host of ailments in between, from IBS to autoimmune disorders, thanks to our largely “beige” Western diet.
It’s quite mind-boggling. Unravelled, I am learning, your intestines would cover a tennis court – and look like a shagpile carpet. That’s a huge area to maintain and if it’s not in good shape and there are gaps in the shagpile, then food particles can leak into your bloodstream and trigger an alarm as your body tries to fight off the intruder. Put like that, it’s easy to understand.
Essentially, the makeover aims to repair and heal your gut with a strict four-week eating plan. That means no caffeine, no dairy products, no sugar, no alcohol and no gluten. You can, of course, hole up at home and do it yourself. But if, like me, you’ve got the willpower of a gnat, it helps to go to boot camp.
It also helps to take your mind off the caffeine-withdrawal headache and sugar cravings if that boot camp is a glamorous, fully staffed villa…
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