Alfredo Batalier Pineda, General Director of SHA Wellness Clinic, the Spanish Mecca for healthy lifestyles, told BeautyHack about the principles of macrobiotic nutrition, the main rules of a healthy lifestyle and why you never want to eat a burger after a visit to the clinic.
- Now SHA Wellness Clinic is on everyone's lips, people from all over the world come here. Do you remember how it all began?
- It's a very personal story. My father started having problems with the digestive system - for ten years, doctors from the best clinics tried to find an effective treatment, prescribed numerous medications, tried different nutrition programs. But my father only got worse, and at the age of 55, doctors diagnosed cancer. We were fortunate enough to meet one doctor, an adherent of oriental practices, who immediately suggested changing his lifestyle, and at the same time his eating habits. The malignant cells disappeared in just a few months, and this doctor still works in our clinic - he is already 80 years old.
My father realized that life gives him a second chance, and decided to share his personal experience of healing with other people - that's how ten years ago the decision was made to create the SHA clinic.
- Macrobiotics helped change those very eating habits, right? Can it be called the basic concept of all your programs?
- We like to combine different directions in medicine, therefore, SHA employs doctors from China, Japan, India - a total of about 300 professionals from 42 countries. We understand that our guests have everything except time - that's why we try to include the maximum of effective practices in one or two weeks so that the result is evident. And macrobiotics, of course, is at the head of all of them.
- The place where the clinic is located was probably also chosen for a reason?
- The concept of the clinic was helped by the famous scientist Michio Kushi. It was he who taught the doctor who helped my father - he is also the creator of modern macrobiotics, the principles of which are now adhered to by many celebrities (from Madonna to the President of Japan).
For several days, Mr. Kushi and I traveled along the Spanish coast in search of the ideal location for the clinic, and in the end invited us to our country house in Alicante for dinner.
In the evening, he said: "Here we need to build a clinic." In the place of our house, can you imagine? “This is where we need the energy we need,” was his argument. We had to demolish our house and neighboring villas to build a large complex. Mom was the hardest to decide on this, but it is still our home - there are just more guests.
- Let's say I'm planning to visit SHA for the first time - how do I understand which program I need?
- You can define a program together with your doctor, but to be honest, a person always knows better what his body needs. Before your visit, you will need to choose one of our ten programs: detox, weight control, fitness and anti-smoking program, sleep disorders recovery, anti-stress, healthy menopause and others. In the first 24 hours after arriving at the clinic, we carry out many examinations and consultations, and then we decide if the chosen program is right for you. The very next day at 8 am you start your recovery - you go for a walk or a yoga session. After breakfast, serious activities begin - massage, treatment, blood purification.
It is impossible not to say about our restaurant - on the very first day you will be selected the ideal food system, and even dietary meals will be prepared like in a Michelin-starred restaurant. During the day, you can attend free workshops on yoga, nutrition, self-diagnosis, and so on. So it turns out that your whole day will be scheduled.
- There is no time for entertainment at all?
- Why not? We have a lot of entertainment, from cinema screenings to cooking lessons. Swimming pool inside the complex, in the open air - with or without music, everything to your taste.
I am sure that the guests of our clinic are having a great time, and I call it a “healthy vacation”: wonderful weather, magnificent sea views, wildlife, and in addition to this, there is also a wellness. After all, you need to come from vacation not only with beautiful photos on your phone.
- How do your guests return to their usual way of life after such a healthy vacation?
- In principle, two types of people come to us. The first ones do not want to change anything in life - they will not give up alcohol, junk food, but two or three times a year they will come to SHA to "cleanse themselves." The second group of people are looking at a new way of life and really want to adhere to the same rules at home. Sometimes the changes may not be dramatic at all: you just need to start training for 20 minutes every day or devote half an hour to meditation. And it is these people who have decided to change who come to us completely different: they look better, feel better. They get used to the macrobiotic diet, which is the best anti-age.
“ But do you still insist that your guests eat a macrobiotic diet when they return home?
- It's not as difficult as many people think. Well, firstly, this is not a diet - this term is more suitable for some kind of time constraints. And macrobiotics is a way of life. Therefore, first of all, we advise everyone to learn to speak your body language - it always tells you if you are tired, overeat, or there is an imbalance in the body. Our patients can stick to 80% of the rules of macrobiotic nutrition, and leave the remaining 20% for old habits, already this will be enough to become healthier.
It should also be borne in mind that the rules of nutrition for each person will be different - we all live in countries with different climates, all have their own way of life. The principles of macrobiotic nutrition can be found on any website - don't eat sugar and dairy, for example. But we also give individual recommendations so that a person knows what he can eat every day, and what he can indulge in only a couple of times a month. That is why every guest on the first day of the visit undergoes diagnostics and goes for a consultation with a nutritionist.
It is difficult to rebuild only during the first two months - and even then, because natural and organic products are not always available from which to prepare homemade meals. And when you see the result, you want to continue, and the thought arises: "Why did I not know about macrobiotics before?" Everything changes - your well-being, taste.
Sometimes patients confess to us: "I'll come home from the clinic and eat a burger right away!" A couple of weeks pass, they return, and I don't feel like eating a burger, because the body has cleared itself.
- Are there people for whom macrobiotic nutrition is contraindicated? Children, for example?
- Macrobiotics suits absolutely everyone. Children only need breast milk - think, because we are the only mammals that consume milk in adulthood, and even from another animal. It is not in vain that nature has thought of everything - and factories and companies convince us that humanity needs dairy products every day. The most "malicious" agitator is Denmark, because there are many cows, and all the food is based on dairy products.
By the way, many people come to us with children - they also do yoga, swim in the pool under the supervision of curators, and are examined by pediatricians.
- Are there really a lot of Russian clients?
- There are most of them, and the age of our guests is decreasing every year. People don't want to be treated, but to prevent diseases - and that's great. Our Russian guests are also attracted by the latest innovation - the opening of 11 residences, where guests with children stay. Imagine a masseur or a doctor comes to you personally - you just have to press a button. Many stars have already fallen in love with the residences, but I can’t name their names, unfortunately - we are obliged to maintain confidentiality.
New devices and types of treatment are constantly appearing - we are already exactly somewhere in the middle between Western and Eastern medicine thanks to these innovations. We add 15 new treatments every year to make life easier for our clients. Now they do not need to travel around the world to receive this or that treatment - we have it all.
- Do you yourself use the services of the SHA clinic ?
- To be honest, no. I try not to interfere with my personal life in my work, besides, I am embarrassed when my staff serves me. But my parents are our most regular clients.
- Advise, what steps on the way to recovery can each of us take right now?
- First, start monitoring your diet. People don't even think about how much what we eat affects our health. Secondly, get enough sleep - nothing will prolong youthfulness like a healthy sleep. Third, devote time to meditation - this will keep the body in balance. Fourth, devote 20-30 minutes a day to physical activity every day - whether it be training in the gym or a simple walk. In addition to all this, it is very important to have a purpose in life. The “home-work-home” lifestyle sometimes leads to the fact that we forget about our main purpose.
And of course, connect with other people. Sociable people are always healthier, and for this it is not necessary just to be constantly surrounded by other people. Communicate with those who are pleasant and interesting to you, spend more time with them, and you will be happy. By the way, happiness is the final touch on the path to recovery. Laugh, smile, enjoy what you are doing. And if it doesn't work out, change your life, but don't postpone happiness "for later."
Interview and text: Anastasia Speranskaya