Hanan Health Realm Transports us to her kingdom
In a constantly evolving world, lifestyles and food trends are continuously changing. We are exposed to a daily pressure struggling to maintain the most precious asset, our health, while being overwhelmed with information overload. However, do not panic! Hanan Health Realm is here to guide you in making your health a priority and above all, taking action!
Health expert, Instagram activist and graduate from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition (IIN), the world's largest nutrition school, Hanan Al Kabra Jebai works wholeheartedly and truthfully to put our hands on the assets helping us to lead a healthy life. According to the passionate and assiduous woman, self-care is not selfish. Here, she explains it all.
Why did you choose the word “Realm”?
The term is very common in the United States, and I personally find that it encompasses so many things. By using it, I convey that Hanan Health Realm’s approach is luxurious and expansive. It is adapted to the biological individuality of each person’s needs, which come first. It is not in any way based on the idea of "One size fits all". I try to fully understand the person and get familiar with his medical history, his past and lifestyle. This way, I am able to exploit his present to help him build a better future.
What is your work approach?
In order to recognize the singularity of each person, I first start by looking into the “health history”, ailments and goals. The process requires a lot of listening to be able to know and evaluate their story, lifestyle, how did they get here, etc. This information will constitute a database that I can refer to before recommending necessary blood tests and finally have the blueprint to follow. With this last phase, I can address the person’s concerns and health problems in order to help him achieve his objectives.
What are the services that you offer?
I used to offer one-on-one sessions. However, currently, I am focusing more on the public, that is to say my Instagram followers, so that they can have tools that will allow them to start building a healthy living. Thereafter, I intend to use my energy to produce my products that will be at the service of HHR, Hanan Health Realm. So, even if it seems that my objectives have somewhat changed, the context has still the same since the beginning; my goal was to put my skills at the service of those who need them, to impact the society, in order to make a real difference. It is an important step with the acquired background knowledge, which is in the field of health, in my case. I love science and I am passionate about people and their incredible potential.
How did you discover your passion for this field?
It all started the moment we learned that my mother had breast cancer. We started the fight, going from one doctor to another trying to understand how this disease can affect such a young body. Unfortunately, we only received vague answers in addition to the classic treatment of the time. This is when I realized that there was a problem, and being always a perfectionist, I did not understand how a doctor who is considered a “medical model” could not relieve his patient, but rather left her delivered to her fate. At the time, although I was not old enough to understand why cancer attacked one body and not another, I absolutely wanted to have answers, refusing their way of looking at things. Seeing my mother as a test subject created a deep inside feeling of anger. This experience awakened my desire to enrich my human-related knowledge.
What was the role of your mother in your professional and personal development?
My mother overcame her illness on her own, because of her perseverance and state of mind. She is a fighter, a leader, an inspiration. My mother is my first “mentor”.
What are the lessons you learned from living in France? And how challenging is being multicultural?
In fact, I was lucky to have been exposed to several cultures; and they are all part of my identity. Having multiple cultures became a part of my identity, which made it difficult to belong to only one. To answer your first question, France is my identity, my childhood. A country has given me a lot. So yes, I am French, Lebanese, Syrian, and American by culture. Above all, I am a woman of the world.
Who is Hanan? How would you describe yourself?
I am a passionate woman, devoted to self-discovery, human beings and science. I would describe myself as a curious woman, in constant search of the mystery of Real Health and always trying to appreciate the present moment.
Tell us about your ambitions. How far do you plan to get? What are your plans?
I must admit that sometimes my ambitions scare me. My goal is for HHR to become a health authority, the Real Health and not disease. Besides, that is exactly why I collaborated with the American University of Beirut upon my return to Lebanon. The objective was to educate the new generation on the importance of agriculturally preserving the land. In fact, what grows on fertile soil, free of pesticides, will enrich our health. This permaculture project aims to create a living and healthy community, in order to build the Lebanon of tomorrow. In Lebanon, we need leaders who are in good mental and physical health, to guide the country in the right direction. Health encompasses numerous aspects, but it mainly involves nutrition. This project aimed as well to restructure mainstream culture. It started well, however, given the situation in Lebanon; it will have to remain on hold for the time being. Today, I am more focused on my platform, aiming to become a health icon, an inspiration, because my passion is my mission.
You mention on your website, “Health brings happiness”. Can you elaborate?
Absolutely. It is when we are healthy that we can truly enjoy life. Whereas if we are suffering from any disease, we would be consumed by pain unable to value the present moment. In addition, the current health crisis is the biggest proof as it teaches us to that nothing equals health, and that prevention comes first. This is why I always say that our health is our wealth. Moreover, it is by being in good health that we can conquer the world. The world needs lively people, who have the ability to enlighten others.
What advice can you give to your subscribers to help them take care of their health?
Sleep. Getting enough sleep is crucial. Sleep is the foundation of two other pillars: nutrition and physical exercise. Sleep is therefore the first pillar. It is essential for the proper functioning of our brain and our body: whether to improve mental and emotional health, lose weight, gain weight, build muscles, regulate hormones, boost productivity and above all, allow the body to self-cleanse. We all know the lymphatic system, one of the cleansing systems of the body, but we also have another cleansing system, called the lymphatic system which is located in our brain allowing the drainage of waste, so as not to develop Alzheimer's for example. Well, this system is only operational when we respect this famous sleeping habit.
What are your tips for healthy cooking?
I particularly encourage the gentle cooking method of steaming. Frying is not recommended at all. Regular consumption of fried foods increases “AGEs”, i.e. “Advanced Glycation End Products”. These are substances resulting from the reaction of frying, which results in the oxidation of fats for example. They are substances that the body cannot digest, and that will build up over time, causing inflammation in the arteries, thus increasing the risk of cancer, developing plaques, and waste products in the brain that can cause Alzheimer's.
What have you studied exactly?
I am an autodidact. I had mentors in France, like Professor Henri Joyeux, Jean Seignalet and Dr. Kousmine. When I knew that this is going to be my job, I decided to join the Institute for Integrative Nutrition (IIN), which happens to be the largest nutrition institute in the world. Subsequently, I obtained my Health Coach diploma. However, it is important to underline the fact that I went to IIN with a wealth of knowledge. But I reinforced my achievements at IIN which offered me additional knowledge around health, that I continue to reinforce to this day. This is what I call “Life Long Learning”: the Art of continually educating yourself.
We live in a polluted environment. We drink water from unknown sources. We eat processed foods. Even the expiration dates of some food products are modified. What can we do then?
Small efforts make big differences. This is why I suggest that you start, even with small means such as planting on your balconies, for example. Then it will take research and planning to find the best options available in your environment. In Lebanon, for example, there are agricultural regions, like the Beqaa. You can do your research and collaborate with farmers who work ethically. Get supplies from them, to feed the whole family. In this case, we encourage the local, the seasonal, and we serve both the producer and our health.
What is the information that we are taught since childhood but in reality, mislead us?
The biggest nutritional error that we have been taught since childhood, especially at school, is “The Food Pyramid” where the largest row includes bread, pasta, rice, all cereals basically. This false discipline, imposed on us from childhood, is today the root cause of the 21st century’s obesity pandemic. The previously mentioned project with the AUB also aimed to change these "guidelines", in order to create a sane society. I wanted people with low purchasing power to be able to eat products at affordable prices, but which have enormous health benefits. It is true that animal proteins have an important role but they are not essential, so having access to legumes like: chickpeas, lentils and beans, is very satisfying and nutritious. To be always, obviously, accompanied by lots of vegetables and good fats. In the “misinformation” category, there is the issue of breakfast. We are always told that it is the most important meal, but this is completely false (at least for adults). For women it's a little different, it will depend on where they are in their cycle. You can check my Instagram for more. There is also the matter of fasting. We sometimes hear that it is not recommended. Yet people are unaware that the principle of fasting is embedded in our DNA. We live an abundance of unhealthy food which is mainly the cause of the health problems that exist today, such as chronic or autoimmune diseases. On the other hand, it should be emphasized that fasting cannot be recommended to everyone and at any time.
How do you teach a woman to listen to her body?
The first thing to be understood lies in the concept of listening to your body and the “healthy” context. That is to say, to consume real food (vegetables, proteins, carbohydrates) but also to move and sleep well, etc. After that, we can be in tune with ourselves to be capable of listening to ourselves and understanding our body’s needs. Second, you have to know how to recognize the signals that the body sends, such as allergic reactions, autoimmune diseases, fatigue, etc. But above all, do not ignore them by resorting to quick remedies which only have the role of stopping the symptoms, not improving the root of the problem. We must therefore learn to spot these signals and understand their origins in order to better deal with them.
You always say that genes are not our destiny, could you tell us more?
True, our genes are not our destiny. Today, science, more than ever, shows us that with the power of our environment and lifestyle, we can activate certain genes and deactivate others. It's called Epigenetics.
Many people do not know what a Health Coach is and this culture remains practically absent in our society. Would you explain it to us?
This is a culture originated in the United States. Coaching is in fact a luxurious approach having the main role to support and encourage the coaches in his journey. Having a coach means having a "cheerleader" who encourages you, guides you, gives you information that you will transform into knowledge so that you can take action and flourish.
What is Integrative Nutrition?
Integrative Nutrition means that it integrates factors beyond nutrition. This includes mental, physical, social, romantic, financial health, etc. We have what feeds us in the plate and what feeds us beyond the plate.
Who are you addressing on your platform?
Everyone, because health is inclusive.
Do you plan to develop your recipes?
I want people to understand that I am not a chef and my focus is not on recipes. But I take advantage of my platform to show them the possibility to innovate and make healthy recipes at home.
What is your advice for the Lebanese woman?
The Lebanese woman has always been able to adapt despite the difficulties and obstacles. But I must admit that the current situation does not make the task easy. For this, as much as possible, I ask her to treasure her sleep routine, to not isolate herself, and to stay away from toxic persons. I also ask her to be good to herself with the help of reading, podcasts, music and above all, to understand that self-care is not selfish, but rather an act of resistance.