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10 Places to Travel for the Holidays

10 Places to Travel for the Holidays

The holidays are almost here, and it’s the perfect chance to get away. Whether you want to spend your holiday break lying on a sandy beach, skiing down some of the world’s best snow, or exposing yourself and your family to a new culture, here is a list of 10 must-see travel destinations.

Nara, Japan — Wakakusa Yamayaki

Nara

    Japan is a gorgeous country full of cultural exploration, but around the holiday season there is an event you shouldn’t miss out on–Wakakusa Yamayaki. This spectacular Japanese festival involves monks from two religions–Buddhism and Shintoism–setting fire to a mountain after fireworks displays and religious rituals at their respective shrines. The history behind the festival involves an ancient boundary dispute, but this has been long resolved, and the festival is a way to commemorate that occasion. The fires the monks set are more of a controlled burn than a raging inferno. However, the image of the greater part of a mountain on fire from a distance is not one you’ll soon forget. The Wakakusa Yamayaki takes place in Nara, Japan on January 23, 2016.

    Bahia, Brazil — Mareh Festival

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    Bahi

      For New Year’s Eve, what could be better than being on a serene private beach on an island off the coast of Brazil’s Bahia state for beach bar fetes and day-long parties that run for almost 10 days in their entirety? The Mareh Festival features some of today’s hottest performers and entertainers in an exotic location with crystal-clear water and open beaches. Boats offshore host their own private parties, with international DJs and musical acts in abundance. The festival runs from December 26 to January 3 on the Boipeba island of Bahia and includes festive New Year’s Eve celebrations. What better way is there to ring in the new year?

      Park City, Utah, USA — Sundance Film Festival

      Sundance

        From January 21-31, 2016, Hollywood takes over Park City, Utah, for the Sundance Film Festival as movie stars and producers rub shoulders with the downhill ski crowd and screenings compete with local scenery for the attention of the world’s press. You don’t have to be a film junkie to be invited; the slopes of the nearby Mountain and Canyon Resorts will keep you occupied just as much as the movies (if not more so). Be sure to get tickets for major screenings as far in advance as possible, and don’t forget your skis!

        Playa del Carmen, Mexico — BPM Festival

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        DSCF4412

          Packing 375 musicians into 10 days isn’t easy, but if you need to blow off some steam in early January–January 8-17 to be exact–you should head for this coastal resort near Cancun on Mexico’s Riviera Maya coast on the Caribbean. From beachfront blowouts to hot club nights, this festival is large and raucous. Besides attending performances, you can also swim with dolphins, snorkel, scuba dive, kayak, visit Mayan ruins and archeological sites or just lay on the beach and soak up the sun.

          Rajasthan, India — Magnetic Fields

          India

            In the historical and decadent 10-acre palace of Alsisar Mahal in Rajasthan, India, the Magnetic Fields event will host Indian and international musicians from December 18-20. The amazingly-preserved Alsisar palace and grounds, which recall another time, have been fashioned into a luxury hotel, featuring courtyards and outdoor garden areas. Eventgoers have the opportunity to camp out on the grounds in bedouin-style luxury tents, each suited for up to three guests. Alternatively, attendees can pitch their own tents and sip from a selection of the finest Indian teas.

            Sydney, Australia — The Sydney Arts Festival

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            Sydney

              Australia always sounds like a good idea, but if it’s not incentive enough then you must go for the Sydney Arts Festival. This three-week arts festival is the site of symphonic performances, outdoor movie screenings, and live film music orchestra. The Sydney Festival, which runs from January 7-26, features music, theater and dance, opera and classical music, circus and cabaret as well as family events. Many performances take place in waterfront parks or public theaters; some are free. Sydney’s hottest months are December and January, so be sure to pack light.

              Miami, Florida — Holy Ship!

              Ship

                This four-day cruise featuring 40+ electronic music acts on the 4,000-passenger ship MSC Divina is a sun-filled excursion to nowhere–well, almost. Technically, the ship docks in the Bahamas, and some people disembark to go to a private island, but otherwise, the main action is aboard the ship. Performers will improvise sets in rooms, lounges and just about anywhere they can find a space and an audience. Because of the cruise’s popularity, Holy Ship! takes place twice; the first cruise is January 3-6, 2016, and the second one is February 10-13, 2016.

                Miami Florida — Jam Cruise

                As opposed to Holy Ship!, above, Jam Cruise is a happy-go-lucky, laid-back affair where 3,000 revelers sail off into the Caribbean sunset enjoying jam-band music and partaking in easygoing revelry. There are shipboard casinos, restaurants, yoga classes, and–of course–musical shows. Along the way, Jam Cruise makes stops in Mexico and Honduras, and you can disembark to do some local exploring. Jam Cruise sets sail from January 6-11, 2016.

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                Saalbach, Austria — Rave on Snow

                Austria

                  From December 10-13, 2015 the villages of Saalbach and Hinterglemm in Austria are the site of Rave on Snow, which features international DJs and performers from Europe, the U.S. and Asia. The celebration’s Gipfel Party happens on the peak of Schattberg Mountain, over 2,000 meters above sea level. During the day there are over 200 kilometers of ski and snowboard runs to explore, and at night the entire village becomes a vibrant festival area surrounded by snow-capped mountains.

                  Reykjavik, Iceland — Sónar Festival

                  iceland

                    The Sónar Festival in Reykjavik, Iceland takes place from February 18-20 and features over 50 noted international performers. Sónar Reykjavik is a satellite festival of the main music, technology and creativity festival of the same name, which takes place in Barcelona, Spain in June. For Sónar Reykjavik, there will be five stages and a capacity for more than 3,500 guests. At least some of the festival will take place underground as well as in the country’s most avant-garde large music venue, the Harpa Concert House.

                    Featured photo credit: Hinterglemm village seen from Zwölferkogelbahn lift, Saalbach-Hinterglemm, Austria/MattiPaavola via en.wikipedia.org

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                    Last Updated on August 12, 2019

                    12 Best Foods That Improve Memory and Brain Health

                    12 Best Foods That Improve Memory and Brain Health

                    Nutrition plays a vital role in brain function and staying sharp into the golden years. Personally, my husband is going through medical school, which is like a daily mental marathon. Like any good wife, I am always looking for things that will boost his memory fortitude so he does his best in school.

                    But you don’t have to be a med student to appreciate better brainiac brilliance. If you combine certain foods with good hydration, proper sleep and exercise, you may just rival Einstein and have a great memory in no time.

                    I’m going to reveal the list of foods coming out of the kitchen that can improve your memory and make you smarter.

                    Here are 12 best brain foods that improve memory and brain power:

                    1. Nuts

                    The American Journal of Epidemiology published a study linking higher intakes of vitamin E with the prevention on cognitive decline.[1]

                    Nuts like walnuts and almonds (along with other great foods like avocados) are a great source of vitamin E.

                    Cashews and sunflower seeds also contain an amino acid that reduces stress by boosting serotonin levels.

                    Walnuts even resemble the brain, just in case you forget the correlation, and are a great source of omega 3 fatty acids, which also improve your mental magnitude.

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                    2. Blueberries

                    Shown in studies at Tuffs University to benefit both short-term memory and coordination, blueberries pack quite a punch in a tiny blue package.[2]

                    When compared to other fruits and veggies, blueberries were found to have the highest amount of antioxidants (especially flavonoids), but strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries are also full of brain benefits.

                    3. Tomatoes

                    Tomatoes are packed full of the antioxidant lycopene, which has shown to help protect against free-radical damage most notably seen in dementia patients.

                    4. Broccoli

                    While all green veggies are important and rich in antioxidants and vitamin C, broccoli is a superfood even among these healthy choices.

                    Since your brain uses so much fuel (it’s only 3% of your body weight but uses up to 17% of your energy), it is more vulnerable to free-radical damage and antioxidants help eliminate this threat.

                    Broccoli is packed full of antioxidants, is well-known as a powerful cancer fighter and is also full of vitamin K, which is known to enhance cognitive function.

                    5. Foods Rich in Essential Fatty Acids

                    Your brain is the fattest organ (not counting the skin) in the human body, and is composed of 60% fat. That means that your brain needs essential fatty acids like DHA and EPA to repair and build up synapses associated with memory.

                    The body does not naturally produce essential fatty acids so we must get them in our diet.

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                    Eggs, flax, and oily fish like salmon, sardines, mackerel and herring are great natural sources of these powerful fatty acids. Eggs also contain choline, which is a necessary building block for the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, to help you recall information and concentrate.

                    6. Soy

                    Soy, along with many other whole foods mentioned here, are full of proteins that trigger neurotransmitters associated with memory.

                    Soy protein isolate is a concentrated form of the protein that can be found in powder, liquid, or supplement form.

                    Soy is valuable for improving memory and mental flexibility, so pour soy milk over your cereal and enjoy the benefits.

                    7. Dark Chocolate

                    When it comes to chocolate, the darker the better. Try to aim for at least 70% cocoa. This yummy desert is rich in flavanol antioxidants which increase blood flow to the brain and shield brain cells from aging.

                    Take a look at this article if you want to know more benefits of dark chocolate: 15 Surprising and Science-Backed Health Effects of Dark Chocolate

                    8. Foods Rich in Vitamins: B vitamins, Folic Acid, Iron

                    Some great foods to obtain brain-boosting B vitamins, folic acid and iron are kale, chard, spinach and other dark leafy greens.

                    B6, B12 and folic acid can reduce levels of homocysteine in the blood. Homocysteine increases are found in patients with cognitive impairment like Alzheimer’s, and high risk of stroke.

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                    Studies showed when a group of elderly patients with mild cognitive impairment were given high doses of B6, B12, and folic acid, there was significant reduction in brain shrinkage compared to a similar placebo group.[3]

                    Other sources of B vitamins are liver, eggs, soybeans, lentils and green beans. Iron also helps accelerate brain function by carrying oxygen. If your brain doesn’t get enough oxygen, it can slow down and people can experience difficulty concentrating, diminished intellect, and a shorter attention span.

                    To get more iron in your diet, eat lean meats, beans, and iron-fortified cereals. Vitamin C helps in iron absorption, so don’t forget the fruits!

                    9. Foods Rich in Zinc

                    Zinc has constantly demonstrated its importance as a powerful nutrient in memory building and thinking. This mineral regulates communications between neurons and the hippocampus.

                    Zinc is deposited within nerve cells, with the highest concentrations found in the hippocampus, the part of the brain responsible for higher learning function and memory.

                    Some great sources of zinc are pumpkin seeds, liver, nuts, and peas.

                    10. Gingko Biloba

                    This herb has been utilized for centuries in eastern culture and is best known for its memory boosting brawn.

                    It can increase blood flow in the brain by dilating vessels, increasing oxygen supply and removing free radicals.

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                    However, don’t expect results overnight: this may take a few weeks to build up in your system before you see improvements.

                    11. Green and Black Tea

                    Studies have shown that both green and black tea prevent the breakdown of acetylcholine—a key chemical involved in memory and lacking in Alzheimer’s patients.

                    Both teas appear to have the same affect on Alzheimer’s disease as many drugs utilized to combat the illness, but green tea wins out as its affects last a full week versus black tea which only lasts the day.

                    Find out more about green tea here: 11 Health Benefits of Green Tea (+ How to Drink It for Maximum Benefits)

                    12. Sage and Rosemary

                    Both of these powerful herbs have been shown to increase memory and mental clarity, and alleviate mental fatigue in studies.

                    Try to enjoy these savory herbs in your favorite dishes.

                    When it comes to mental magnitude, eating smart can really make you smarter. Try to implement more of these readily available nutrients and see just how brainy you can be!

                    More About Boosting Brain Power

                    Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

                    Reference

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