healthy lifestyle staples: skin brushing
the healthy lifestyle staples series here at bananas + bellinis is something that i think is really important. not only do i get to give you a glimpse of some of the things i do/use on a regular basis, i also get to show you how easy it can be to incorporate healthy habits into your day-to-day life.
today, i want to add another item to my list of healthy lifestyle staples: skin brushing. skin brushing is known to have many health and beauty benefits, such as reducing cellulite, stimulating the lymphatic system, aiding digestion and detoxification of the body, increasing energy and circulation and exfoliating the skin.
the skin is the largest organ in the body and its job is essentially to protect us from anything that might be harmful [toxins, germs, viruses, bacteria, etc]. if the skin is not well taken care of, it’s ability to protect us decreases. skin brushing is an easy way to keep the skin in tip-top shape as a part of your regular skincare regimen.
so, how does it work? by stimulating the skin, you’re essentially getting a bunch of the other systems in your body working. it’s best to do first thing in the morning before showering when your skin is dry and your system is relaxed. you should always brush in the direction of your heart, as this is the way the lymphatic system naturally flows. start with the soles of your feet [the nerve endings there are connected to your entire body], working your way up your legs, over your stomach, booty, hands, arms, chest [ladies, be sure to avoid the ladies, if ya catch my drift] and down your back [see the diagram below]. because you’ve just exfoliated, showering after skin brushing is the best way to go so that you can wash away all of the the dead skins cells. apply some lotion [or coconut oil!] after your shower to soothe the skin and moisturize. you should notice a difference in how your skin looks and feels almost immediately.
a few things to keep in mind when skin brushing:
- don’t brush too hard, you don’t want to irritate the skin
- skip over any cuts, rashes, irritations or varicose veins
- leave your face and neck alone since the skin there is so sensitive
ready to give skin brushing a try? you can buy a skin brush at most drug or health food stores for under $20. you can always order one online, too!
diagram courtesy of healthy lifestyle choices 101
3 reasons you should start oil pulling
oil pulling is one of those things i had known about for a really long time before taking the plunge and trying it out for myself. i mean… who wants to swish a tablespoon of oil around in their mouth for 20 minutes? not me… or so i thought.
after doing more research and reading about all of the amazing health benefits of oil pulling, my curiosity got the best of me and I decided to give it a try. oil pulling is an ancient ayurvedic practice that is said to rid not only the mouth, but the entire body, of harmful toxins while restoring balance throughout your system. as you might have guessed, once i started oil pulling, i became obsessed with it.
basically, all you do is pick an oil [i recommend coconut oil because of it’s strong anti-bacterial and anti-viral properties and mild taste], swish around a tablespoon of it in your mouth for 15-20 minutes on an empty stomach and spit the oil out into the trash can, not the sink. it was easiest to work into my daily routine by taking a spoonful of oil right before brushing my teeth and hopping in the shower in the morning. here are three reasons you should make it part of your day-to-day routine, as well!
- it improves oral health. after just a few days you should notice whiter teeth and better breath. over time oil pulling will also build up the strength of your teeth and gums.
- it can reduce the symptoms of allergies. this includes sinus congestion, mucus build up in the chest and that terrible dried out feeling you sometimes experience in your sinuses.
- it can improve skin issues. because oil pulling rids the entire body of toxins, many have experienced clearer skin and reduced severity of eczema after oil pulling regularly. this can be super helpful even if you don’t experience severe acne, especially in the cold, dry winter months.
other reported benefits of oil pulling include reduction of sleep issues, elevated energy levels, reduced inflammation, improved kidney function, correction of hormone imbalances and, my personal favorite, alleviated symptoms of a hangover.
i recommend trying this out for at least a week to see what kinds of changes you notice before making a decision about it one way or another. the first few times can be kind of rough [swishing around a spoonful of oil in your mouth is definitely something that takes time to get used to] and if you can’t make it through the entire 20 minutes at first, don’t worry! you’ll slowly get used to it and once you start seeing and feeling the benefits, you’ll probably wonder how you ever lived without it.
image courtesy of green med tv
miracle hangover cure: milk thistle extract
as you probably know, one of the recurring themes here at bananas + bellinis is balance, simply because i believe that in order to live a healthy life, you have to live a happy life and happiness doesn’t come from deprivation, restriction or self-inflicted punishment or criticism. i know from personal experience that depriving yourself, obsessing over your food intake and criticizing yourself for your appearance, weight, financial status, life choices, etc. does not lead to happiness… at all.
one thing that i’m not afraid to share is my love for going out and enjoying myself over a few drinks. cocktails, beer, wine… i like all of it. i believe that in moderation, having a drink or two… or three… is perfectly fine and nothing to feel bad about. now, with that being said, there is one kinda out there, health nut thing that i do to give my liver a little prep and that is incorporating milk thistle extract into my supplement regimen the day of an event I know i’ll be drinking at.
milk thistle extract is something that i was introduced to when i was doing a 30-day mind-body cleanse last january and it has seriously changed my life. milk thistle is a plant and the extract that comes from its leaves is known for its ability to detoxify and protect the liver and its vital functions, so obviously this stuff has a place when it comes to the prevention/cure of hangovers.
you can purchase milk thistle extract in tincture or pill form [i prefer the tincture] and take it during the day when you know you have a happy hour or a birthday party to attend. you can put a dropper full in your water or tea as much as you would like throughout the course of the day [the taste isn’t strong] or directly into your drink while at the event. the morning after a night of drinking, especially if I’m not having an #iwokeuplikethis moment, i’ll also put a dropper full into a glass of ice cold water and before i know it, i’m back to 100%.
of course, this trick is much less effective if you drink a lot, a lot or if you start mixing alcohol [that’s never a good idea and I can’t help you there], but give this a try the next time you go out for a few drinks and I promise you won’t know how you ever lived without it.
images courtesy of the glamorous housewife
healthy lifestyle staples: tongue scraping
okay, i know what you’re thinking. tongue scraping? is she serious? what even is that?! well, i’m 100% serious and after you read this article, i guarantee you’ll go buy yourself a tongue scraper and love it.
so, why is this a healthy lifestyle staple? tongue scraping, or jiva shodhana in sanskrit, is an ancient ayurvedic practice that is known for not only keeping your mouth extra clean, but can help to detoxify the entire body, as well. here are three great reasons to start using a tongue scraper asap:
- it improves oral health. because tongue scraping removes the bacteria that forms on your tongue throughout the day, it will ultimately leave you with fresher breath, less plaque buildup and healthier gums. it can also reduce your chances of getting cavities.
- it aids digestion. tongue scraping will clear up your taste buds so that you can really taste the food you are eating and begin the digestion process smoothly. digestion begins with salivation and if you can’t truly taste your food, your body won’t know how to properly begin to break it down, which can screw up the whole process. and no one wants that.
- it boosts your immunity. because the tongue is the first line of defense in your immune system, removing toxins and bacteria from it can prevent them from being reabsorbed into the body, which is especially important during cold and flu season.
i know that this sounds really weird, but give it a try. i guarantee once you start you will wonder how you have ever gone without doing it. it’s best to do it twice a day, once in the morning and once in the evening, right after you brush your teeth. i personally use this tongue scraper by dr. tung’s. the stainless steel versions are preferable to the plastic ones and you can purchase one on amazon for around $5-$7.
image courtesy of the chalkboard
healthy lifestyle staples: reusable water bottles
as a human living in the 21st century, it seriously amazes me how good, clean, pure water is nearly impossible to come by… unless, of course, you live in the mountains next to a spring you can drink from… but i’m assuming for most of us, this is not even close to being the case.
bottled water isn’t even safe these days… they are actually adding things like magnesium sulfate [bath salts], potassium chloride [used in lethal injections to stop the heart] and straight up salt to bottled water. dasani has recently taken a lot of heat for this, but unfortunately, they’re not the only company adding things to their water. it’s pretty pathetic that i now find myself reading the ingredients lists on bottled water… that literally makes no sense. and, as if this wasn’t already bad enough, the plastic bottles that water comes in contain even more chemicals [that I cannot spell or pronounce] and the most talked about of them all, bisphenol a [bpa] is known to cause breast cancer and birth defects. effing awesome.
if you’re anything like me, you’re most likely asking yourself, “soooo, what the eff am i supposed to be drinking?” some of you may be surprised by this answer, but i seriously believe that the best, healthiest and safest water for us to be drinking is tap water. now, i know that there is really no way to know 100% for sure what’s in the water that comes out of our faucets, but i’ve reached a point where i feel like as long as it’s been filtered, tap is the way to go. it’s time to kick the bottled water habit to the curb.
Image courtesy of paper hounds
the best thing you can do to kick the bottled water habit fast is to find a fun reusable water bottle that you can easily throw into your bag and take everywhere with you. there are tons of companies that now make glass, aluminum and plastic water bottles in a variety of colors and prints that are not only safe, but look great and will also help you to reduce the amount of waste you are contributing to the planet.
some of these companies even use recycled materials for their products and donate a portion of their profits to charity. i’m pretty much obsessed with bkr bottles, which are pictured above, but klean kanteen, sigg, and hydros also have some really great options, too. the prices may seem high for a water bottle, but think about how many times you’ve picked up a $3 bottle of water at the bodega. see what i’m getting at here?
when it comes to filtering your tap water, there are a lot options out there, as well. personally, i use a traditional brita pitcher right now, but I’m dying for one of these pitchers from soma. the filters are made from malaysian coconut shells, fine silk and other plant-based materials… health and luxury rolled into one package? perfect.
image courtesy of selectism
so, go shell out for a new, fun water bottle and a water filtering system of some kind. you’ll be much healthier and end up saving money over time, which means more disposable income for things like an uncontrollable green juice habit, mani/pedis, yoga classes, and happy hours with your friends. sounds like a win-win to me.
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