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The Most Underrated Places in the World

The Most Underrated Places in the World

Traveling is one of the most fun things you can do. You get to explore new places, meet new people, and experience different cultures. Best of all, you get a break from your regular life! But instead of visiting the same places as usual, or being caught up in a tourist trap, check out some of the most underrated places in the world.

1. Bolivia

bolivia
    Even though Bolivia is near the equator, there is still diversity in its climate, which means you can experience many different things as you travel from the Andes Mountains to the country’s portion of the Amazon basin. Indigenous people make up 80 percent of Bolivia’s population, which means there is still a strong sense of culture. A variety of festivals are celebrated, and it’s easy to find traditional food and listen to traditional songs and stories. The history is still very much alive as well, so while you’re there you’ll get a good overview of the country’s past and how it has changed. Bolivia has the most preserved land in terms of forests, mountains, rivers, and lakes. This makes the views even more spectacular, and you can hike the mountain trails or go on safaris. Best of all, traveling to and within Bolivia is very affordable – you’ll spend about a third as much as you would traveling in the United States!

    2. Sao Paulo, Brazil

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    brazil

      If you want to explore a monster of a foreign city, check out Sao Paulo – with over 20 million residents, it’s the third largest metropolis on earth! The city is known for its food, markets, architecture, and museums – not to mention it’s pulsing nightlife. The city is spread out so it’s hard to stay in just one area to do all you want, but Sao Paulo boasts 30 kilometers of car-free bike paths to make getting around a little easier. Hundreds of different ethnic groups call Sao Paulo home, including the largest Japanese population outside of Japan, so you’ll have no problem finding a variety of cultures to explore to enrich your time in the city. Regardless of your interests, make sure you visit a few of the city’s 150 museums and cultural centers, 420 experimental theaters, and 12,500 (yes, really!) restaurants that serve over 52 different cuisines. Oh, and the nightlife I mentioned? There are over 15,000 places! The city stays awake around the clock, so you’ll certainly find things to do.

      3. Zhangjiajie, China

      Zhangjiajie

        Zhangjiajie is a national park in the Hunan province of south-central China. Three ethnic groups make up 70% of the local population, so there is still a lot of traditional culture to explore, including language, festivals, clothing, and architecture. The locals are very friendly and love sharing their history with tourists, which makes this park a favorite place to visit. Because it is in a subtropical climate, Zhangjiajie National Forest Park has a unique “micro climate of forest,” meaning it is cool in summer and warm in winter. There are gorgeous lakes, streams, and waterfalls, along with a wide variety of rare species of animals. Fun fact: a mountain peak here was the inspiration for the visual setting of the world of Pandora in the movie “Avatar”!

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        4. Iceland

        iceland

          Iceland isn’t as far away as you might think – just a five-hour flight from major cities in the northeast US. As a bonus, Icelandair offers you a layover in Iceland on your way to other cities in Europe, which means you can get two trips in one! As far as what to do while you’re there, you’ll have a lot to cram in. You can visit the Blue Lagoon, a geothermal spa. It’s naturally heated water where you can bathe and indulge in massage treatments. If you time your visit right, you’ll have a great view of the Northern Lights, also called Aurora Borealis. There are a lot of museums about Icelandic history, including the Vikings. If you prefer the city life, you can visit Reykjavik, the capital city, which has a great nightlife, shops, good food, and a big arts and music scene. As a bonus, everyone in Iceland speaks English, so you’ll have a bit of an easier time getting help and information with anything else you might need.

          5. The Philippines

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          Philippines-beaches-Boracay

            The Philippines is one of the largest island groups in the world, with over 7,000 islands. You know what this means? Beaches! Gorgeous beaches with white sand overlooking turquoise waters. These beaches often make a variety of “Top 10 Beaches” lists. There are a lot of rare species of animals in the Philippines, not to mention beautiful nature scenes like waterfalls, lakes, and caves. You can even see Taal, the world’s smallest volcano! The temperature is always even and comfortable, so you won’t have to worry about packing for extreme temperatures, or even layers for changes from day to night. And if you love shopping, the islands boast some of the largest malls in the world. They don’t just have chain stores, either – the Philippines are known for their handicrafts.

            6. Albania

            albania

              Albania is quickly building itself up as a tourist destination after a checkered history of dictatorship and riots, so it’s a good idea to visit now, before it gets so popular you’ll feel overcrowded. While it’s being built up, the exchange rate between its currency, the lek, and American money is the best it can be – less than one cent! That means a hotel room overlooking the beach that costs 1,800 lek is actually less than $17! Your money will go so much further in Albania that you’ll get to see and do it all. You’ll want to spend most of your time relaxing on Albania’s 362 kilometers of coastline, which stretches through the Adriatic and Ionian Seas. Some areas near the beaches are isolated, but if you like a busier scene, then you can find some coastal cities with hotels and restaurants along the sand. The cities have great museums, and also some of the best cafés and bars on tree-lined streets with outside patios, so you can enjoy the view. Though it has great beaches, the country is known for gorgeous mountain ranges you’ll want to photograph, along with historic castles and ruins that aren’t even roped off – climb in and explore!

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              7. Sierra Leone

              freetown

                Sierra Leone was known in the 1990s for having a decade-long civil war, but peace was declared in 2002 and the country is now is one of West Africa’s safest destinations. It has great beaches lined with palm trees, or you can visit Outamba-Kilmi National Park to see some amazing wildlife. You can visit an assortment of island groups, like the Turtle Islands or Banana Islands, or the Gola Forest Reserve, located in a rainforest tract. Check out Mt. Bintumani, the highest peak at 1,945 meters, for an amazing view from the summit. If you’re craving the nightlife, check out Freetown, the capital of Sierra Leone.

                8. Mozambique

                Mozambique

                  Are you tired of hearing about beaches yet? I hope not, because Mozambique boasts over 2,500 kilometers of spectacular, secluded beaches, as well as clear dive sites to see rare marine life while snorkeling and scuba diving. There are also channels along the coast that offer some of the best fishing for marlin and sail fish. Mozambique is known for its traditional music and arts, which depict the struggle for independence as well as traditional beliefs. As far as Mozambique’s history goes, you’ll want to learn about their decades-long civil war and struggles with pirates, slaves, and gold and ivory hunters. Make sure you have time for some good meals, too – Mozambique has some of the freshest seafood you’ll ever find!

                  Featured photo credit: fdecomite via flickr.com

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                  12 Best Brain Foods that Improve Memory

                  12 Best Brain Foods that Improve Memory

                  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:

                  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.

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                  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.

                  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.

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

                  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!

                  Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

                  Reference

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