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10 Reasons for You to Listen to Music Even When It’s Not in a Language You Understand

10 Reasons for You to Listen to Music Even When It’s Not in a Language You Understand

Aldous Huxley once wrote “After silence, that which comes nearest to expressing the inexpressible is music.” Music is and has always been a great source of inspiration and entertainment for many. And even more so when accompanied by brilliant lyrics that gives the song its soul.

But here’s a fun insight. A vast majority of the music that we come across in our life has lyrics in languages we do not speak, hence rendering “the soul of music” incomprehensible, inaccessible. But should this stop us from listening to them anyway? Common sense dictates, yes. But I’m here to prove otherwise.

1. You can learn a new language with ease.

As strange as it may sound, music can be a great tool to learn a language. If you’re learning a new language or at least planning to learn a new language, you should definitely be listening to songs written in it.

There have been lots of research on the role of passive listening in learning a new language. And listening to music can be described more accurately as passive listening on steroids.

You may have experienced this before. You listen to some catchy tune and you later find yourself involuntarily trying to sing it yourself. What we are talking about is trying the same thing with foreign songs.

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2. You can always feel the music.

To brute logic, music may be an organization of rhythm and melody accompanied by lyrics that serve as the prime content of the song. However, as an art form, music is much more than just an organization.

The prime asset of any song is the accompanying emotion. How does it make you feel? And one thing about emotion is that it that there are no cultural barriers, such as different languages, that define it.

Any piece of music in the world, sung in any language, will have an accompanying emotion that its listener can almost immediately comprehend. So the language of a foreign song shouldn’t matter at all as long as it makes you feel the way you wish to feel, which is true of all music.

3. You can just move to it.

One of the prime purposes of music throughout history has been as a means for dancing. Every culture has its own form of dances and with them, songs that accompany these dances. Like emotions, rhythm is something that has no cultural barriers, and anyone who loves to “move” can move to a movable piece of music regardless of the language.

How many times have you come across an upbeat song like Hot Chip’s latest release with no knowledge whatsoever of what the singer or singers are singing about, and you just felt like dancing along? I know I have. This is true for upbeat songs of almost every language.

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4. It opens your gateways to the musical styles of the world.

This is particularly important if you’re a creative musician. But it may be just as important for someone simply passionate about music. Every culture in the world has its own unique path of evolution. And with it, its own cultural values, norms and a unique style and flavor of art.

This is just as true for music as it is for any other art form. If you are open to listening to foreign songs, you have opened yourself a gateway to a new dimension of music to draw influences from. Most creative musician draw all their influences from songs originating in one culture. Imagine if they had the entire world to draw influence from.

5. Music is in the same genre, different culture.

Even if you wish to stick to the genre of your culture, there is music of the same genre that is sung in many languages. Rock music, heavy metal, hip hop—whatever you happen to like, it is practiced throughout the world. And each language adds its own unique flavor to the genre.

There could very well be a musician in Mongolia who influences you more than someone in your own country. The point is, if you are open to listening to songs in foreign languages, you do not restrict your influences. There could be a piece of music waiting to inspire you out there. Don’t let one barrier separate you from it.

6. You can translate the lyrics after all.

You are living in the 21st century for god’s sake! You have access to tools that can actually help you decipher the meaning behind the words of that foreign song you’ve so much grown into. Most of these tools are free and incredibly accurate.

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Translating the words will for starters help you understand the content of the song, so that the next time you feel like singing it out loud, you actually know what you sing of. Then there is the unique insight the translated words provide on the culture associated with the song.

7. You can connect with native speakers.

Every traveler dreams of being treated by the locals as one of their own. Every traveler also knows how hard it is. Hence, most of us end up travelling to new places but simply miss out on living that new place. Well, once again the answer is music.

Imagine yourself in a room with a foreigner. A tense environment. Suddenly, he starts singing a folk song of your culture. How happy would that make you? Every culture has a set of songs it holds very dearly and if you can sing along with the locals, they will undoubtedly treat you as their own.

8. You avoid the tragedy associated with great music, horrible lyrics.

How many times have you come across a great piece of music only to end up being disappointed with the shallow lyrics? How many times have you appreciated the singer’s singing but just loathed the weak lyric he/she sings?

Well, here’s some great news in the context of this article: this isn’t going to be a problem with foreign songs. If you like the music, you just like it, regardless of how the lyrics go. And having avoided this tragedy, you are free to draw a subjective influence from the music. The greatest artists will tell you: subjective influences are the best!

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9. You will be perceived as cultured.

The modern world is incredibly lacking in people who are cultured. And to be perceived as one can be a great asset to hold. If you genuinely enjoy foreign songs, then you are, to the average eye, more cultured than the rest.

Be it cooking dinner while listening to Italian Opera, or working out with Rammstein playing in your work out headphone, if you enjoy doing these things, then you already hold an appreciation for the foreign cultures that they originated from; this is something that is very uncommon among average people and hence “unique.” Cultivating this habit can be as beneficial to your career as it is to your personal life.

10. You break barriers between cultures.

Time and again, history has proved that art can be a great means to connect the world. This has been especially true in the modern world where technology has made art forms from every corner of the world accessible. And it is no different with music, the queen of the art forms.

You know this when you see people who don’t speak Korean enjoy k-pop, people who don’t speak Hindi dance to Bollywood songs, or people who don’t speak English produce music in genres that originated in English speaking nations. Basically, we are all becoming a part of one huge mega-culture.

Featured photo credit: Wikimedia via upload.wikimedia.org

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Nabin Paudyal

Co-Founder, Siplikan Media Group

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Last Updated on November 15, 2019

Expert Advice That Will Teach You How to Increase Your Metabolism

Expert Advice That Will Teach You How to Increase Your Metabolism

Wouldn’t you like to be able to eat twice as much as you do now without gaining weight? If so, I have good news for you because this is possible when you learn how to increase metabolism.

How Much Do You Know About Metabolism?

Before we get to the meat, let me say that metabolism is a term that describes all the chemical reactions in your body.[1] These chemical reactions keep your body alive and functioning, however, the word metabolism is often used interchangeably with the metabolic rate or the number of calories you burn.

The metabolic rate is a rough estimate of how much energy your body needs to simply stay alive and perform all its biochemical reactions. These reactions require energy, aka burn calories.

Imagine that your brain alone consumes nearly 20% of your TDEE (total daily energy expenditure at rest),[2] your digestion and the detoxifying system come second, repairing tissues third and so on.

Staying alive is expensive for your body and its two main currencies are fats and sugars.

When I am talking about improving your metabolic rate (metabolism), I mean improving the amount of energy, your body requires to (pretty much) lay down in bed and do nothing for 24 hours.

Extra physical activity, extra thinking or fighting illness are things that require a lot of energy (burn a lot of calories) but they don’t really increase metabolism… actually they can decrease it.

Can You Naturally Change the Speed of Your Basal Metabolism?

The answer to this question is yes and you can also achieve an increase in metabolism and a drop in body fat by eating more.

Shocked? Well, I was too.

The way I came across this phenomenon is quite funny. Over my 10 years as a coach, I helped many busy professionals to naturally increase their metabolism by getting them leaner, fitter and stronger but, at the beginning of my career, I actually had no idea whether they were losing weight because of an increase in metabolism or because we created a calorie deficit with diet and exercise.

When I was training my clients regularly, they would lose weight. Every time I would take a few weeks of vacation, I would come back to London and find out that most of them gained back a generous amount of weight despite the fact that they were following their diet and they swapped our weight training sessions with cardio.

On the contrary, when they were going on vacation, they would do zero exercises and binge like there was no tomorrow but come back either lighter or weighing the same (but looking more muscular).

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Observing this phenomenon happening over and over again, got me curious about the mechanics of our metabolism and the ways to hack it.

Was it really possible that by relaxing and eating more food, someone could actually maintain his/her current weight or even be losing fat?

Driven by the desire to answer this question, I spent a good amount of years researching and testing different food strategies until I finally cracked the code to an improved metabolism that allows you to eat like a king and look like a Greek God.

Does Eating More Increase Metabolism?

Before I explain why eating more increases your metabolism, let me dig into something that I see people doing much more often: “eating less and moving more.”

It is quite common to see people embarking their yearly weight loss journey (usually after Christmas or Easter) by following very restrictive diets and bombarding their body with several hours of exercise per day.

Despite the short-term effectiveness of this approach, in the long run, if the goal is to increase metabolism and lose a lot of fat over an extended period of time, this simply won’t work.

As I have mentioned before, eating fewer calories and exercising more are energy-consuming activities for your body. In the first case, your body needs to use its own energy reserves to top up the missing energy it needs to fully function; and in the second, it takes your body extra energy to contract your muscles.

In both cases, your TDEE (Total daily energy expenditure at rest) doesn’t vary much; therefore your metabolism stays unchanged.[3]

A different scenario happens when you eat less and move more for an extended period of time (weeks or months). In that case, your metabolism will slow down because your body is receiving a “we have little access to food and we need to run away from threats” signal.

Your metabolism is like your bank account.

To understand this concept, let’s imagine that you have $4,000 coming into your bank account each and every month. The money you spend on housing, transport, food and leisure are calibrated according to this monthly income.

Now, imagine that a rich uncle starts to send you $1,000 each day. What would you do? Probably, you would save that money for the first two or three days but, when you notice that $1,000 keep on coming every single day, you would likely start to spend more right?

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What if, instead of a rich uncle sending you money, a poor uncle needed your financial help to pay for the treatments of his illness? You would probably try your best to adjust your spending according to your old $4,000 monthly budget.

That’s exactly how your body reasons:

More Resources Coming in = More Energy Released (Improved Metabolism)

Fewer Resources Coming in = Less Energy Released (Decreased Metabolism)

Note that activities like weight training[4] and high-intensity interval training (HIIT),[5] when combined with an increase in nutrient-rich foods, will also improve your metabolism.

For this reason, today, when I coach a new client, I always start by increasing their daily food intake and their physical activities. Usually, people are quite confused because they come to me to lose weight and I tell them to eat more but, without fail, the next weekly weight-check shows a lower number.

Be aware that not all foods are equal and only certain foods have the power to increase metabolism to a noticeable extent.

Foods That Increase Metabolism

Doubling up on Snickers bars won’t improve your metabolism and you know that. What you may not know is that certain foods that are marked as “healthy” doesn’t help you with increasing your metabolism. They also make you gain weight.

Before giving you a list of foods to eat or avoid, let me explain a simple principle of human biochemistry.

Your body uses energy from three (or four) main sources:

  • Sugars: whether you eat a Snickers bar or a banana, the carbohydrates contained in both get absorbed in the gut and become blood glucose (the basic form of sugar our body utilizes as a source of energy).[6]
    When blood glucose is present in the bloodstream (elevated levels), the body always uses it as its primary source of energy. When blood glucose levels drop (this phenomenon happens when you’re using these sugars to fuel a physical activity or when your pancreas produced a spike of insulin and stores that glucose into fat and muscles), your body starts to release fatty acids into the bloodstream to use as a source of energy.
  • Fatty acids: either from your own fat cells (adipocytes) or from whatever fat-containing foods you ate in the past 2-3 hours. Fatty acids are a slower and more consistent form of energy than sugars that your body can utilise.
  • Amino acids: Amino acids are the broken-down form of proteins. Proteins cannot be used by the body as a source of energy, not even in their broken-down form. Your body can transform amino acids into glucose with a process called gluconeogenesis.[7] This is a very inefficient process where a decent amount of energy gets wasted (and that’s a good thing for us but I’ll get to that later).
  • Ketones: when you don’t feed your body any source of carbs (or proteins in excess), your liver produces an alternative source of energy called Ketones. It can replace the need for glucose (most of it at least).[8]

Now that you know the four energy sources the body can use to fuel its metabolism, let’s get to the meat (quite literally).

To make this simple for you, I am going to divide foods into three categories:

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  1. Red Flags – Avoid the red foods because they slow your metabolism. They are usually extremely low in micronutrients and high in antinutrients (agents that are highly toxic). They are highly processed or spike your insulin levels (therefore stopping your fat burning process).
  2. Orange Foods – Limit your consumption of orange foods. The orange foods on the list are suboptimal choices but they don’t have a negative impact on your metabolism when consumed in moderation. In fact, they contain a decent amount of micronutrients and, if eaten in small amounts, they shouldn’t stop your fat burning process.
  3. Green Foods – These are foods to consume most. Green foods will improve your metabolism and should be the main bulk of your diet.

Next, I’ll get into details exactly what foods to eat and avoid:

Sugars and Carbs

Sugars do not directly improve metabolism because they stop the process of fat utilisation. There is an exception to this rule though. When you eat a diet extremely low in carbohydrates and sugars for an extended period of time (two to six days onwards), introducing carbohydrates and sugars can actually improve metabolism quite a bit.

Unfortunately, for most of us that love eating bread, pasta, fruit and yoghurt, unless we were on a low-carb diet for the past few days, these foods are not an optimal choice.

Sugars like fructose (found in fruit or commercial sugar) actually decrease metabolism and should be limited. Heavily processed sugars and carbohydrates should be also limited. Here is the colour list of sugars and carbs that affect metabolism:

Red Flag Sugary Foods You Should Avoid:
  • Dried fruit
  • Commercial and packaged corn
  • High fructose corn syrup
  • All sorts of candies and lookalike
  • Packaged fruit juices and purees
  • Sugary dairy products like flavoured yoghurt, condensed milk etc
Orange Sugary Foods You Should Limit:
  • Bread and flour-based products
  • Milk and also vegan milk alternatives that are sweetened
  • Most fruit (exceptions are in the green list below)
  • Potatoes and potato starch products
  • Oatmeals and other grains
Green Sugary and Carb-Containing Foods That Improve Metabolism
  • All berries except strawberries
  • Tubers like squash, carrots, parsnips etc
  • Sweet potatoes
  • White rice
  • All green vegetables

Fats

Fatty acids and fats, in general, can improve or decrease metabolism depending on their composition.

Red Flag Fatty Foods You Should Avoid:
  • Margarine and hydrogenated fat
  • Lard
  • Gmo oils
  • Most vegetable oils from seeds and peanut oil
Orange Fatty Foods You Should Limit:
  • Nuts
  • Meat fat
  • Nut oils (macadamia, almond, cashew etc..)
  • Seeds
Green Fatty Foods You Should Eat Daily
  • Extra virgin olive oil (non-heated)
  • Avocado
  • Coconut oil
  • Butter (organic)
  • Egg yolks (free-range)
  • Bone marrow

The fatty foods in the green section tend to be very effective in increasing metabolism, especially in the absence of carbohydrates because they stimulate the production of ketones (I’ll talk about this later).

Bear in mind that 1 gram of fat has 2.5 times the calories of a gram of protein or carbohydrates; therefore “eating more fats” to increase metabolism should be done very gradually to avoid weight gain.

Proteins

Eating food not only sends regulatory signals to your brain about abundance vs scarcity of resources, but it can also increase your metabolism for a few hours. This is called the thermic effect of food (TEF).[9] It’s caused by the extra calories required to digest, absorb and process the nutrients in your meal.

Protein causes the largest rise in TEF.[10] It increases your metabolic rate by 15-30%, compared to 5-10% for carbs and 0-3% for fats

Eating protein has also been shown to help you feel more full and prevent you from overeating, in fact, a study found that people were likely to eat around 441 fewer calories per day when protein made up 30% of their diet.[11]

Also, proteins help preserve muscle mass.[12] The more muscle mass we have, the higher our basal metabolism is.

For these reasons, the first nutritional advice I usually give to clients is to reduce sugars and increase proteins. This quick swap is often enough to kickstart their metabolism and commence the fat burning process.

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Red Protein Sources That Should Be Avoided
  • Cheap whey proteins
  • Soy proteins
  • GMO meat
  • GMO eggs
  • Packaged meat
Orange Protein Source to Be Limited
  • Canned tuna
  • Canned fish
  • Canned meat
  • Gluten-rich products like Seitan
  • Farmed fish
Green Protein Sources to Have Daily
  • Free-range meat
  • Free-range eggs
  • Wild meat and fish
  • Whey protein isolate
  • Collagen and beef protein hydrolyzed

Note that this is a general categorisation of the foods that, when added to your diet, have the power to increase or decrease metabolism. There are some specific foods and supplements worth mentioning because they have been proven to improve metabolism by increasing thyroid output or resting heart rate, they are as follows.

Other Foods and Supplements

Cold water

Drinking water may temporarily speed up your metabolism. Studies have shown that drinking 17 ounces (0.5 litres) of water increases resting metabolism by 10-30% for about an hour.[13]

This is not a surprise since our body is made up mainly by water and proper hydration is key to a fast metabolism. This calorie-burning effect may be even greater if you drink cold water, as your body uses energy to heat it up to body temperature.

MCT Oils or Powders

Medium-chain triglycerides or MCT have been shown to improve metabolism by stimulating Ketone production.[14] Coconut oil contains MCT fats and, when used as a replacement for cooking oil can help you improve metabolism.

You can buy the concentrated version of MCT oils and eat it separately to further enhance this effect. Either way, coconut oil or pure MCT oil can be a great addition to your diet if you’re following a ketogenic or intermittent fasting protocol.

Caffeine

Caffeine and coffee have been shown to improve metabolism by improving heart rate and, therefore improving calorie consumption.[15]

Green Tea

Green tea

is thought to increase energy expenditure and fat oxidation, and to reduce fat production and absorption.[16]

Bottom Line

In this article, I just covered the basics of food and metabolism but, there are many other non-food related things you can do to improve your metabolism, like improving your sleep quality and following certain exercise routines.

For now, just know that making small and gradual changes to your diet can increase your metabolism and improve your general health. Starting from changing one habit at a time is always the best strategy to accomplish any goal.

Once you improve your diet, your hydration and your supplementation you can think about testing more advanced “bio-hacks” or techniques like ice baths and fasted HIIT training.

And remember, having a higher metabolism doesn’t only help you lose weight and keep it off but it also give you more energy and a feeling of vibrancy. If you give it time, it really is worth the investment.

Featured photo credit: Fitsum Admasu via unsplash.com

Reference

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