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World’s Most Mysterious And Mesmerizing Forests That Will Leave You Breathless

World’s Most Mysterious And Mesmerizing Forests That Will Leave You Breathless

Forest tourism has been a popular activity for decades, as people seek out beautiful and unique landscapes across the globe. Whether its for a world-class hike or to take breathtaking photographs, we are drawn to these thickets of towering trees and diverse wildlife. The peaceful quiet and the absence of most of civilization’s marks allows us moments in time we never forget. Below are some of the world’s most stunning, unforgettable forests. Where would you go first?

Crooked Forest, Poland

    image source: Lisa Beach650 via Flickr

    The Crooked Forest is exactly what it sounds like: a small forest of bent pine trees, located in western Poland. The trees were planted around 1930, when Germany controlled Poland, and grew with their bent shapes at roughly 90 degree angles. Some guess it was a deliberate modification by humans, though no one can say how or why this would be done. The trees grew normally for 7-10 years before whatever method or event caused them to start growing crookedly.

    Aokigahara (Sea of Trees), Japan

      image source: keio via Flickr

      The Sea of Trees or Aokigahara forest resides northwest of Mount Fuji in Japan. It is a dark, dense forest with hidden caves and a curious absence of most wildlife. You might recognize Aokigahara for its grisly reputation as “the Suicide Forest”. In 1998, 73 dead bodies were found in the forest, with many of them appearing to be suicides. In 2002, 78; in 2004, 108; and in 2010, 54. The forest’s fame has become such a concern that watchmen have been hired to do sweeps of the forest in an attempt to prevent further suicides.

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      The Red Forest, Ukraine

        image source: Matt Shalvatis via Flickr

        The Red Forest, originally the Worm Wood Forest, is located within the 10 kilometer (6.2 mile) area affected the Chernobyl nuclear incident in 1986 in Ukraine. As a result of the radiation, the forest turned a ginger-brown color, earning its current name. Most of the forest was bulldozed and buried under carpet in order to partially replant the area. Bits of civilization from abandoned towns are still there, like the old bumper car pictured above.

        Luntai Huyang Poplar Forest, China

          image source: china.notspecial.org

          Luntai Huyang Forest is the largest, densest, and best preserved population of diversiform-leaved poplars in the world. The name of this tree means “the most beautiful tree” in the Uygur language, one of China’s many ethnic minorities. It has a remarkable ability to withstand drought, sand, and harsh winds, ironic considering the forest’s proximity to expanses of desert.

          Redwood National and State Parks, California

            image source: Justin Kern via Flickr

            The Redwood National and State Parks in California consist of Redwood National Park, the Del Norte Coast, Jedediah Smith State Park, and Prairie Creek State Park. Redwood trees are one of the tallest tree species on Earth, able to reach up to 397 feet (115.5 m) high. A number of threatened animal species reside in the parks. It is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site and an International Biosphere Reserve.

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            Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, Uganda

              image source: flöschen via Flickr

              This park is part of the larger Bwindi Impenetrable Forest and is one of the most diverse ecosystems in East Africa. It contains a wide range of both plant and animal species, including a notable population of mountain gorillas. It was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1994.

              Olympic National Park, Washington

                image source: James Gaither via Flickr

                Located on the Olympic peninsula of Washington State, the Olympic National Park was preserved by President Theodore Roosevelt in 1938, and has since been declared a UNESCO World Heritage site. The Hoh and the Quileute tribes reside here. The park contains a diverse range of features, including old-growth, glacial mountains, and temperate rain forest.

                Black Forest, Germany

                  image source: Roland via Panoramio

                  This thickly-wooded forest includes moutains, rivers, and Mummelsee lake. There are also a couple museums, such as the Black Forest Open Air Museum which features reconstructions of the 16th-17th century life of the local population at that time. This is reportedly the setting of many of the Grimm brother’s fairytales as well, giving it an extra whimsical appeal.

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                  Maolan National Nature Reserve, China

                    image source: China Tour Advisors

                    The Maolan National Nature Reserve is a rare forest due to its Central Asian tropical karst features, which offers an exciting ecosystem much-valued by the scientific community. Karst topography is a rare landscape, and most areas with this feature are barren, making Maolan a true treasure for scientific research. The area has plenty of lush vegetation, mineral-rich rocks and soil, and underground caves.

                    Devil’s Tramping Ground, NC, USA

                      image source: Jason Horne via Flickr

                      Not so much the forest itself as a specific area of it, Devil’s Tramping Ground is the name given to a spot in a North Carolina forest that is swathed in legend. The area, as pictured above, is a circular patch of land which is mostly devoid of plant life. Local lore holds that this is a spot where the devil stomps around in a circle, plotting the destruction of mankind. Scientists from North Carolina’s DOA took soil samples from the spot and tested them, finding the soil to be too sterile and acidic to support plant life, but many still believe the myth.

                      Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve, Costa Rica

                        image source: Clifton Beard via Flickr

                        This large reserve in Costa Rica stretches over 10,500 hectares (26,000 acres) and contains a highly diverse ecosystem with 2,500 plant species, 100 species of mammals, 400 bird species, 120 reptilian and amphibian species, and thousands of insects species. “Cloud forest” refers to a category of tropical or subtropical forest which has consistent or frequent low-level cloud coverage.

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                        Sagano Bamboo Forest, Japan

                          image source: Casey Yee via Flickr

                          Forests aren’t only for trees. This stunning bamboo forest in the Arashiyama district of Japan contains more than a dozen varieties of bamboo, growing to enormous heights and blanketing the area. Some of the plants are up to 100 feet tall!

                          Yellowwood State Forest, IN, USA

                            image source: Elizabeth Nicodemus via Flickr

                            The Yellowwood State Forest gets its name from the yellowwood tree..Besides its beautiful landscape, the forest is known for one other thing: the presence of large boulders in the branches of three individual trees. Each boulder has an estimated weight of 400 lbs. (180 kg) and is wedged at the base of each tree’s branches. Nobody knows how or why these boulders got there, and theories range from tornadoes or floods to UFOs.

                            Ancient Wuda Forest, China

                              image source: Gizmodo

                              The Wuda Forest in northern China was buried under thick volcanic ash from a volcanic eruption 298 million years ago, preserving the forest but hiding it completely. In 2012, scientists finished reconstructing the ancient forest, which stretches 20 sq. kilometers (12.4 miles). Many of the trees were knocked down in the volcanic blast, of course, but the forest was considered an amazing site as a number of long-extinct plant species were unearthed and identified.

                              Ardennes

                                image source: Luxembourg belge via Flickr

                                The Ardennes forest was the site of several of Europe’s most famous battles in the last century: the Battle of the Ardennes in 1914, the Battle of France in 1940, and the Battle of the Bulge in 1944. It is a densely forested and often foggy area. The fog can be so great that in the Battle of the Ardennes, French and German troops bumped into each other due to the fog. Besides its historical significance, Ardennes is also rich in minerals and wildlife.

                                Featured photo credit: Olympic National Park, Washington/Michael Hanson via photography.nationalgeographic.com

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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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