The Wonderful Benefits of Saunas & Hammams

Yes! It's that time of the year! As the cold and freezing air is slowly arriving, what better way to keep warm then to enjoy some wellness time with a sauna or hammam! We need to have good things to look forward during this hibernation time, right?!  It's a place to relax, unwind from the busy day, detoxify your body and enjoy a special time for yourself or with your friends!

Hammams (also called turkish baths/steamed room) have been used for centuries, since the Roman Empire, in many countries. Women in the Middle East have used hammams as a wellness ritual, a special quality time where they could meet. It was a place where no social distinctions existed. A place for the body and mind to connect. A place where you could feel rebirth. Even though it lost a little bit of its significance, hammams are still an enchanting place to let your mind wander while your body rejuvenate.

Saunas, on the other hand, come from the North. They're originally from Finland but you can find them in many houses in scandinavian countries. It is also a social and family tradition and has been used for the past 2000 years.

The main difference between a sauna and a hammam is the humidity. Saunas use dry heat and is composed of woods with vulcano rocks to heat it up in a little cabin, and it goes up to 100°C /200 °F while hammams contain 100% humidity with a lower temperature. The time spent in saunas is around 15 minutes maximum due to the high heat.

There are wonderful benefits of saunas and hammams:

  • They are stress relievers. They relax your body and mind and can also help your tense muscles and that is why they are great after a workout to recuperate.
  • They improve your circulation.
  • They help get rid of toxins.
  • They cleanse your skin and improve its elasticity as the sweat detoxes your pores and you'll come out with a glowing fresh face!
  • They help strengthen your immune system, which is a good thing in winter!

If you have any health problems, it is better to consult your doctor prior using them. It isn't recommended for people with heart issues, high blood pressure and inflammation due to the high temperature. It is also important to keep hydrating yourself, so don't forget to drink water before, during and after. 

Do you go to saunas or hammams? Do you have any rituals around them? I'd be happy to hear about them! I often go with my girl friends and it really is a time for wellness and self care in good company. What about you?!

Happy Day!

Sources:

http://www.saunatec.com/lifestyle/healthwellness.htm

http://www.livestrong.com/article/242883-sauna-benefits-calories-burned/

Sleeping rituals for a better sleep

Having trouble falling asleep? or waking up in the middle of the night? Insomnia? Not surprising as lack of sleep is a big issue and many people suffers from sleep deprivation. We live in a society where there is a non stop flow of information, the news, hectic work hours, busy schedules. We run all day long between our multiple chores and we can't separate from our phones and laptops. This constant "noise" isn't helping to find rest at night. We forgot about how to find rest and calmness after a long day. We always feel the need to do something and if we don't, we feel like we're losing time.

Sleep is essential. We need between 7-8 hours of sleep. Noticed how when you sleep less, you are moody, craving sweets, more hungry, brain fog, tired, no motivation and exhausted after a work day? Sleepiness is also one of the main reason for car accidents. Lack of sleep do really have an impact on the quality of your life. That's because our body rejuvenate from our busy lives during night time.

Sleep is definitely a health component and the number one medicine for beauty! It is good for your skin, it improves your memory, your creativity, your performance. It lowers your stress levels and helps control cholesterol level. Studies showed that longer sleep increases your lifespan. It affects your anxiety and depression. And catching up on your sleep on the weekend due to a busy week schedule isn't always helping as your body needs a routine. Having a balanced healthy week should be the goal in the long run.

Here's some tips to find sleep:

 

  • Sleep routine

Our bodies need a rhythm, so why not start a sleeping ritual before going to bed. Stop working (if you are a workaholic!), turn off your laptops and phones an hour before going to bed and enjoy this 1 hour to relax, and have a moment for yourself. Take a relaxing bath, shower, body lotion time, do some meditation, read a good inspiring book, light some candles and listen to some relaxing music. It's a good opportunity to write in your gratitude journal.

 

  • Sleeping environment

Your bedroom should be a warm and cozy place. You spend so many hours of your day in your bed that you should feel good and comfortable. Make your bed in the morning, organize and make space for a quiet, peaceful haven of yours. Your room needs to be dark at night. If you can't close your shutter or there is too much light, wear an eye mask. Open your windows - keeping your room cool and fresh is also part of a good night sleep. You know it already, but no TV, no computer, no phone an hour before bed. The light and electronic energy isn't good for your body, so try to hide those little annoying lights from alarm clock or other devices. Lavender or tea tree oil are known to improve sleep. Put a few drops of these scents on your pillow.

 

  •  Exercise

A 30 minute physical activity during the day is important not only for your health but also for a good night sleep. Walking home after work is a good transition between your day and evening. Avoid late workouts as they can give you more energy and stop you from falling asleep.

 

  •  Restorative Yoga / Relaxation / Meditation

A 10 minute meditation where you just sit still and do nothing helps to find peace and stop thinking about your to do list for tomorrow. Yoga is a wonderful tool for so many aspects of life and it is also for the sleep too! Relaxation, breathing exercise or yoga are good ways to relax and let go of your day. Here's some pre bedtime yoga poses! Studies have shown that yoga improves the time and quality of sleep for people with chronic insomnia. Preparing your body for a good night sleep is also key to falling asleep faster. If you slow down an hour before, your body will recognize that it's time for bed.

 

  • Sleep Cycles

We have sleep cycles during the night and you don't want to miss your wave! When you feel tired don't wait too long before finding your bed as you may miss your cycle. Cycles last from 90 minutes to 2 hours. And the more restorative sleep is often said to be the sleep before midnight.

 

  • Food

There are some foods that will make you find dream land easier like bananas (magnesium and melatonin), potatoes (tryptophan), oatmeal (melatonin), almonds (tryptophan and magnesium), flaxseeds (omega 3 fatty acids that helps to sleep), herbal teas like chamomile (it relaxes and calmed the mind), mint or valerian and honey (orexin that helps to calm). You shouldn't eat at least 2-3 hours before bed so your body has time to digest and avoid coffee, alcohol or sugar in the evenings and even better if you can stop your coffee breaks around 4pm.

Good night!

 

Sources:

http://www.naturalhealthmag.com/health/15-sneaky-sleep-stealers

ttp://www.drfranklipman.com/sleep-tips-top-10-sleep-mistakes-and-their-solutions/

http://www.foodmatters.tv/articles-1/stressed-out-having-trouble-sleeping

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/02/02/sleep-health-benefits-_n_817803.html#s234464&title=Improve_Memory

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dr-michael-j-breus/yoga-insomnia_b_1939696.html?utm_hp_ref=healthy-living&ncid=edlinkusaolp00000009

Great reasons to start juicing!

"Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food"

Hippocrates

Hippocrates, "the father of western medicine" understood it all- centuries ago. Food has wonderful healing powers. I am amazed every time when I look for benefits of fruits, vegetables, nuts & grains and even spices and how much nutrients they contain and how they can help  you fight against infections, disease and just bring you health. Nature is beautifully done. A lot of people take pills to heal from headaches to insomnia automatically without even wondering why it happens. I'm not saying to stop taking them but being more aware of your own body and needs is essential to understand the mechanism for a healthy life. When we pay more attention and listen to our body, we realize it is trying to warn us and give us signs through symptoms that something is wrong. Treat your body as a temple, it is the most precious gift you own. The better nourished and took care of, the better it will shine for you. Juicing is one way to bring health and glow to your life.

Juicing has been a wonderful discovery for me and it improved my health and my whole being on so many levels. I drank fresh juices before, but mainly fruits or carrots, not on a weekly basis and never juiced myself besides orange juice. I learned about juicing through my yoga classes and Internet. I started to be really interested and curious in nutrition and health. When you taste a fresh home made juice for the first time, you will directly see the difference with bottled juices and will never want to go back! It feels like a health potion! I can feel all those super vitamins and all the goodness they contain going through my body. I love that you can improve your health, your wellbeing, your mood with juicing. It really is part of my lifestyle now and couldn't live without it! I really recommend to everyone to start juicing and add those super vitamins and see for yourself how it can improve your energy and health. You don't have to change your diet, just add a juice once a week or every few days, with your meal or in between. You'll surprise yourself wanting more! ;)

I've seen positive changes on friends who added juices to their diet. They felt great and saw it on their skin, mood and diet afterwards and started spreading the love for juices! ;)

"Juicing is the 15 minutes nutrient express to health"

Jason Vale, Hungry for Change Film

Benefits of juicing

1. Daily dose of fruits & veggies

Vegetables are usually a side dish, something you add to your meal and sometimes it's not even there. If you are busy and don't have time to prepare a healthy meal or if you're not a veggie fan, juicing is a perfect way to add your daily dose of fruits and vegetables into your diet and you'll get even more than the usual recommended size.

2. Energy

I think this is one of the best reason to start juicing and one of the best benefits you'll see. It gives you energy. At the time I started juicing, I was juicing a lot, drinking green smoothies and eating lots of raw food. I never had that much energy. I was in great mood from the minute I woke up until evening when I was working out and didn't want to stop! All the vitamins and nutrients are a great source for your level of energy. Juicing gives a rest to your digestive system as it goes directly to your bloodstream and is digested in 15 minutes. The vitamins and minerals are directly active in your cells. So all the extra energy that isn't used for your digestion can be used for exercise.

3. Detox

Thanks to those vegetables, specially the green leafy ones packed with chlorophyll, which are full of nutrients, are good to detox your body. It energizes the cell in your body. It cleanses the liver, purifies the blood, prevent cancer.

4. Happy state of mind

Since it will give you more energy, the happy mood will show up! There's also this good feeling about being healthy that comes with juicing.

5. Weight loss

It can be a good start to pay more attention to what you are eating and could help you with losing some weight. Your cravings will disappear and you'll be soon choosing healthier choice. Starting your meal with a juice is a good way to eat/drink more of the good food as you might be less tempted with junk food after drinking it. Don't think as you need to avoid certain kind of foods, just add juices and vegetables and your body will see the difference and will ask for more.

7. Boost your immune system

Fruits and veggies are packed with nutrients, vitamins, minerals, enzymes, antioxidant and phytonutrients, which are mainly alkaline food and strengthen the immune system against infections and colds.

8. Skin & Hair glowing

Your skin will start glowing! For real!;) I can see the difference on my face and whole body.

 

What you need:

  • a juicer (if you don't have one, you can use a blender and a strainer to remove the pulp- it won't be the exact same texture though). There's different types of juicer with very different prices. Go with the juicer you can afford at the moment and you can always change later if  you feel like it. It's better to start juicing instead of waiting for the perfect juicer.
  • fruits & vegetables (organic is better if you have the budget for it)

Juicing can be quite expensive and a lot of people can be influenced by that. You don't need to be juicing every day or every week. It's always better to juice once in a while than never, right?! I see this as an investment for my health.

Happy juicing day!

Sources:

  • "Les meilleurs jus de fruits et de légumes", Sonia Tybergien, 1993
  • http://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-5197/4-Reasons-Why-You-Should-Try-Juicing.html

Green Smoothies Benefits!

Time to add some green into your life!

So what is exactly this green madness you might ask?! Well for the ones who think this drink should belong to Shrek...you should definitely try it! It's greenylicious!;)

Green smoothies are a great way to add greens into your diet, the easy way! I'm a big fan of those healthy smoothies as I could feel the difference in my energy level and body in general when I started drinking them last november. I usually alternate with juices for my morning breakfast depending my mood or what I feel like having.

So what is it exactly?

  • It's a blended drink with fruits, leafy green vegetables and water.

Check out their health benefits:

  • Weight loss

Your food cravings and taste for sweets will surely disappear after a few weeks of  green smoothie consumption! It is filling so you won't feel hungry after and won't indulge in those cookies.

  • Nutrients & Digestion

Nutrients that are blended are absorbed better than regular food and are easier to digest since the food is already broke down. The enzymes and fibers contained in the green leaves will help you to digest the food better. It also means you can consume more greens blended than in salads for example. It could be a great way to make your kids eat more veggies. It is packed with minerals, vitamins and fibers.

  • Immune system

It will strengthen your immune system and you will become strangers with Mr. Cold & Mrs. Flu.

  • Fibers

Green leaves contains insoluble fibers that are needed to eliminate the waste and toxins accumulated in the body. 

  • Energy

It will give you a boost! Great way to start your morning full of energy!

  • Alkalizing your body

Our way of living is pretty much  a combination of being stressed out, eating processed food, not doing enough exercise which result our body to be more acidic than alkaline. Acidity in the body is an open door for infections and illnesses. Green smoothies are a great source to alkalize your body and balance your pH.

  • Chlorophyll

Leafy greens contain what is often called "liquid sunshine". Chlorophyll is a green pigment found in plants that brings sunshine to your body! It contains minerals and proteins and cleanses the system and oxygenates the organs.  According to Dr. Ann Wigmore, the pioneer of living foods and wheatgrass juice,  "consuming chlorophyll is like receiving a healthy blood transfusion". It helps rebuild the blood flow, purify the liver from the toxins. The brain functions at its best when highly oxygenate.

  • Glowing Skin 

Your skin will start glowing and have a better & healthier complexion. As your body is receiving all the good nutrients and is getting rid of the toxins, it will show up on your face and you will look radiant!

  • And not to forget the awesome feeling you will have after drinking them!;)

Victoria Boutenko is the woman who started drinking green smoothies to improve her health and is the author of "Green for Life". Her family changed their whole diet due to health issues. They ate raw food for 7 years which improved significantly their health. After hitting a plateau, she started to look for what was missing in their diet with an opened mind and scientific approach. Leafy green vegetables were the answer. She suggests a special food group for leafy greens as they are totally different from the starchy vegetables. Their enzymes are digested differently from the other food groups. Dr. Ann Wigmore said that green leaves are the only food group that could be combined with any other one without problem, such as fermentation. She also recommends not to mix fruits with starchy vegetables (carrots, beets, broccoli, zucchini, cauliflower, etc.) because the mixture doesn't combine well with those two types.

All you need:

  • A powerful blender
  • Fruits (bananas are usually used as a base with its creamy texture but you can use any kind of fruits - berries are great too!)
  • Leafy greens such as spinach, parsley, romaine lettuce, kale, swiss chard, green collards, bok choy.

If you're new to green smoothies:

I would recommend to start with spinach or romaine lettuce as you will barely taste the greens. You can also add dates or more fruits for the sweet taste. I think it's important that you like your first smoothie, so you'll keep drinking them, as on the opposite if they are super packed with greens at first, you might find them too "green" and stop after your first one. You can slowly increase the percentage of green leaves. You just have to try and test!  You don't need to add a lot of different fruits. Keep it simple with a few ingredients.

It is also good and important to vary your greens and change every other day/ week as they all contain different nutrients and mainly because greens contain a very small dose of alkaloids, which on small amount isn't a problem but could cause on the long term symptoms of poisoning (if you eat spinach or kale everyday for weeks and weeks).

I usually make my green smoothie in the morning for breakfast. It became my weekly routine, as I feel really good after drinking them and it keep me full until lunch time. It's the perfect drink before or after a jog or workout. You could make it for lunch, dinner or it's also perfect as a snack. It's super quick to prepare and easy to carry in a mug or in a bottle. You can keep it in the fridge for 2-3 days...but I always drink mine fresh, as it tastes better and you get more nutrients.

My friends & family who tried them were positively surprised by the good taste and were asking for more!;)

 

Are you a fan of those green monsters drinks? Have you seen any health benefits thanks to adding them to your diet? Are you starting? Share your thoughts!

Happy Green day!

Sources:

"Green for Life", Victoria Boutenko, 2010

"Green Smoothie Revolution", Victoria Boutenko, 2009

"Les incroyables vertus des smoothies verts", Colette Hervé-Pairain et Nadège Pairain, 2011

Drink your water!

Water is essential for your life and your health. We cannot live more than a couple of days without it. You are all aware of those basics. But do you know all the benefits you receive from drinking your daily H2O? There are so many! Sometimes we can forget and go on with our day without thinking about it, like camels. It happens to me once in a while, and I am directly reminded by my headaches and tiredness to go back on track!

First of all, your body is made of around 60-80% of water depending your body composition and age. Your brain contains 90% of water! I know, crazy! Muscles are made of 75% of water and blood 85%. Those numbers varies according to different studies, but the thing to remember is that your body is mainly composed of water. This is the first reason why you should be drinking it, so it keeps working as it should be.

How do you know when you haven't drink enough water?

Those are the usual symptoms of dehydration:

  • Headaches, migraines
  • Dry mouth, dry skin
  • Dizziness
  • Thirsty (of course!)
  • Hungry (often the hunger feeling you have is due to being dehydrated, so better drink a glass of water before eating anything - and specially before those cookies!;) - as it is also a good way to control your weight)
  • Tiredness
  • Muscles cramps
  • Constipation
  • Kidney problems
  • Urinary track infection
  • Dark urine - when you drink enough water, the urine looks clear and almost transparent

So what are all those great benefits?

  • It will relieve headaches and back pain caused by dehydration.
  • Helps with weight loss.
  • Your skin will glow as it replenishes the tissues, moisturizes and improves the skin elasticity.
  • Keeping your focus. Since your brain is made up of 90% of H2O, the more you drink and hydrate, the better your concentration level will be.
  • It flushes the toxins out. Your kidneys do a great job at getting rid of waste. It eliminates  through perspiration, urination and bowel movements. That's why it's good to have a glass first thing in the morning, to get rid of all the toxins that accumulated over the night and its a fresh start for the day ahead!
  • It improves your immune system; fights against the flu, kidney stones and Urinary Track Infection and even some type of cancer such as bladder cancer.
  • It also helps with cramps and sprains as the water lubricates the muscles and joints.
  • It is good for the digestion system. It breaks the food down into nutrients in the stomach.
  • You will feel more energetic thanks to the good level of water in the muscles. So next time you're feeling tired, drink some water.
  • Water helps to protect the spinal cord, which is also full of water.
  • You'll be in a good mood as you'll be full of energy and your body will be working as it should be!;)
How much should you drink?

The usual recommendation is 8 glasses per day which is around 2 liters. You know your body best so listen to it, but keep it around that guideline. If you are taller, stronger, exerising more, your temperature is going up, the weather is hot, you should drink more. Keep also in mind that by the time you feel thirsty, your body is already dehydrated.

Starting your day with a big glass of lukewarm water is one of the best health routine you can add to your day. It will wake you up, help activate the organs and flush the toxins out.

If you're not a big fan of water, try to add some lemon (full of goodness too!), cucumbers, oranges to make it a bit tastier & sweeter.

A good thing to know is caffeinated drinks such as coffee or soft drinks reverse the good effects of all the water you drink as it acts as a diuretic, so you will eliminate the water and you'll be dehydrated again.

So tomorrow and every morning, grab your bottle of water everywhere with you. Become best friend with it. Put it in front of your desk, in your bag, bring it to your yoga class or on your next shopping spree! If you have your bottle of water next to you, you will drink it. It is also better to drink smaller quantities throughout the day than big glasses only a few times daily. Drink it better in between meals. Don't forget your water when you travel and specially during long flights, when you need to drink a lot of water to keep hydrated with the dry air in the plane. It's getting more and more complicated with all the security controls to keep your water, so when I am without my own water, I always ask flight attendants if they can give me a big bottle so I don't disturb them every half hour. It usually works if you ask with a big smile.

Sources:

http://www.livestrong.com/benefits-of-drinking-water/

http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/water/NU00283

http://www.naturalnews.com/003202.html

http://www.mangosteen-natural-remedies.com/benefits-of-drinking-water.html