As last week’s solstice marked the passage into the astronomical summer, a discrete group of wellness-seekers, including newly-hitched Chloe Sevigny and “Stranger Things” star Cara Buono, descended upon Etéreo, the Auberge Resorts’ new property on the Riviera Maya, last weekend for a retreat curated by Sabine Heller with House of Waris Botanicals. The affair was meant to bring together an intimate group of Heller’s friends and confidantes to inspire and engage them with meaning and mindfulness.
“We’ve been through a very difficult and complicated time over the last few years and there was a collective need for healing and this was an opportunity to come together and share that journey,” says Heller. “Etéreo was the perfect place to have a departure from the mundane given the name itself means ethereal and the property floats amongst acres of mangroves. It was also ideal for a retreat because of its focus on Mayan wellness rituals.”
While the itinerary was filled with events such as a sunset ceremony guided by a shaman, consultations with herbalists, and sound baths, the highlight of the weekend affair was a health-focused discussion facilitated by Sollis Health, a medical concierge start-up, led by gut health specialist Dr. Nigma Talib.
Talib is one of the foremost naturopathic doctors in the world and is known for using her medical expertise to draw evident conclusions between internal gut health and external beauty. Her book, Younger Skin Starts in the Gut, is a 4-week program designed to bring back youthful skin through diet and is must-have for beauty aficionados. This results-driven program has earned her A-list clients—think Gwyneth Paltrow and Penelope Cruz, the former of which included Talib on GOOP’s Netflix show.
Talib’s talk was part of the Sollis Discussions series that addresses oft overlooked medical issues that affect people’s lives. For example, Talib addressed how stress affects both physical and mental health and could be partly mitigated by taking action around what we eat and she shared strategies to help take control around how to nourish our bodies
Sugar is one of the things Talib strongly advocates against stating it as the root cause from everything such as obesity to anxiety. She’s so passionately against sugar that she advises avoiding it altogether while incorporating foods that counter the effects of sugar, which includes stress.
“Eating food that is high in fiber and antioxidant content are going to help our blood sugar level out which leaves us feeling less anxious as a result,” Talib explains in an interview. “Fiber also instigates more bowel movements which balances blood sugar because bowel movements remove the sugar that’s just sitting around in the blood stream.”
She suggests eating fruits (like apples) with the skin on, avocados, beans, lentils, and broccoli for natural sources of fiber. “Chia seeds are amazing because chia seeds the have a tons of essential fats and fiber and they’re easily added into foods such as smoothies,” she says.
There are also the outer effects of sugar in the diet. Sugar glycation, when excess sugar attaches itself to protein in the body, causes collagen to sag and not work well, according to Talib, which causes skin to look older and more weathered. “Read labels and avoid simple sugar which gets added into so many foods we love, such as peanut butter,” she says. “Also, for fresh skin avoid the sun and if you’re in it, wear sunscreen, a hat that covers the face and sunglasses.”
In the interview, Talib was also asked about the uptick in Covid cases around the world and how to be cautious as so many embark on summer holidays. Those in attendance–which included the British actors Janet Montgomery and Ariyon Bakare (who drove up from Tulum where he is shooting The Mosquito Coast with Justin Theroux); fashion-industry stars Kate Young, Maria Cornejo, and Heidi Bivens; Paravel founder, Indré Rockefeller; and famed chefs Camille Becarra and Miguel Baltazar–were ready to leave for summer holidays and Covid was top of mind.
“To help the immune system against Covid, it’s important to take Liposomal vitamin C. Regular vitamin C is water soluble and it flushes out of the system too quickly, whereas Lipsomal vitamin C is not water soluble and stays in the system,” Talib explains. “Vitamins A and E, zinc, selenium and a really good probiotic also help. We have seen that people who are susceptible to Covid have lower good bacteria in their gut. The good bacteria keeps the bad bacteria at bay.”
Talib advises avoiding typical probiotic-rich foods such as kefir and kimchi because dairy is very irritating and the later causes bloat. “To reduce the bad bacteria, reduce the bad dietary things like sugar which feeds bad bacteria,” she says.
The retreat, which started out as a wellness escape, ended up as a once-in-a-lifetime bonding experience for guests through connection—with oneself, with nature, and with one another. All those in attendance were able to take home memories from the event in the form of a personal blend of House of Waris tea, created specifically for each attendee based on a one-on-one consultation with herbalist Torin Murphy. “What really matters is how you integrate the experiences we’ve shared back into your life at home,” says Ahuwalia.