5 reasons travel is good for your health

 

Woman practicing yoga on pier

Americans are forfeiting their vacation days, despite the stress, anxiety and other negative effects of not taking time off from work. In fact, a report by Project: Time Off, shows U.S. employees took about 16 vacation days in 2013, down from about 20 in 2000. Apart from depriving yourself the chance to enhance your productivity and work performance, avoiding taking a break can lead to stress overload and other potentially damaging effects on your health, experts say.

After all, vacations offer the chance to relax and restore overall well-being. But simply taking a hiatus from your demanding workday schedule isn’t enough. Traveling somewhere new can enable you to immerse yourself in new surroundings, boost your brain power and fully recharge. With this in mind, here are five reasons why traveling is smart for the mind, body and soul and expert tips for making the most out of your vacation days to rejuvenate and ensure a stress-free getaway.

#1 You’ll Recharge Emotionally and Increase Empathy

According to Wallace J. Nichols, author of “Blue Mind: The Surprising Science That Shows How Being Near, In, On, or Under Water Can Make You Happier, Healthier, More Connected and Better at What You Do” vacationing — especially near the water – can help us reset our emotions and actually increase compassion. “Often associated with feelings of awe and wonder, water can boost our empathy and compassion, our connection to ourselves and those we are with, and for many — from musicians like Pharrell Williams to neurologists like Oliver Sacks — it’s a steady source of creativity and insight,” he says.

#2 You’ll Get Back in Shape

While some may not describe vacations as an opportunity to escalate their fitness routines, travelers may be more active than sitting in an office chair all day. Tourists may walk as much as ten miles a day while sightseeing in Europe or visiting Disney World. Travelers may also be more inclined to try new activities while in a new place, like paddleboarding or hiking. There are also fitness-centric resorts that encourage guests to get fit and try new workouts to boost physical and mental health away from home.

#3 You’ll Engage in New Surroundings and Eliminate Stress

Traveling has many advantages, with stress relief topping the list, according to Dr. Margaret J. King, the director of the Center for Cultural Studies & Analysis, a think tank focused on the ideas, products and ideas that drive consumer decisions. ‘There are lots of psychological benefits from change of venue from home and work to ‘third places’ devoted to just experiencing the environment. With a short list of activities each day, freed up from the complexities of ongoing projects and relationships, the mind can reset, as does the body, with stress relief the main outcome. Humans thrive on novelty, and travel offers the complete package with new faces, sounds and sights,” she says.

#4 You’ll Wind Down and Rest Up

Little sleep mixed with high stress can lead to irritability and negative consequences on your cognitive performance and efficiency. Max Hirshkowitz, chairman of the board of the National Sleep Foundation says a vacation is a great opportunity to catch up on sleep. To feel more energized, the NSF recommends at least seven hours of sleep per night for adults. “Reserve that time,” he says. “Make it an important thing you need.”

Girl with map at Brandenburger Tor

#5 You’ll Boost Your Mood

Many studies suggest that travel can improve our emotional state. A 2014 survey conducted by Diamond Resorts International found over three-quarters of respondents reported feeling happier when they planned a trip at least once a year. Dr. Leigh Vinocur, a certified physician and spokesperson for the American College of Emergency Physicians, isn’t surprised by the findings. “It’s hard to sit on a beautiful beach somewhere and ruminate about paperwork or deadlines. That is why over three-quarters of respondents to the Diamond Resorts International survey reported feeling happier when they regularly vacationed. Periodic and regular vacations while taking time for yourself and your family lowers your stress level and decreases the release of all those stress hormones that contribute to degrading our mental and physical health,” she says. Plus, studies show reminiscing about pleasant vacation memories may trigger happiness long after your trip.

Discover health benefits of Golden Berries, Peruvian super food

uchuva o golden berry 2ef

Golden berry (Physalis peruviana) it not a true berry. It’s in the tomato family, and closely related to the ground tomato known as tomatillo. Tomatoes are nightshades, a large group of plants that also includes potatoes, eggplants, and golden berries. Called “aguaymanto” in Peru, golden berries look like small yellow tomatoes. Now golden berries are making their way in to American health food stores as the newest super food.

These beautiful little fruits are native to the Andes of South America where they grow profusely. They especially like to trail among rows of native corn where little children pick them to supplement family nutrition. When ripe, the outer shell is discarded and only the bright yellow-orange fruit is eaten. They taste moderately sweet, with a slight citrusy tang. Gathered wild, they are eaten fresh and are also made into a preserved commercial jam, but with lots of sugar added.

Though new to the market in the U.S., golden berries have a long history of exportation and use in Europe, the Middle East, and China. In the 1800s, they were first brought to Europe and later commercially cultivated in South Africa, where they are called Cape gooseberries, and where they fast became a staple commodity.

It took another hundred years for golden berries to make it to the United States. Here, they are known as Incan golden berry or Pichuberry, named after Machu Picchu, and marketed as a Peruvian super food.

Low in Calories

Golden berries only have about 53 calories per 100 grams, the amount of a typical serving. They contain vitamins A, C, E, K1, B1, B2, and B3, as well as fatty acids and phytosterols. Trace amounts of calcium and iron, plus other minerals, are also found in golden berries. But their claim as a super food does not come from their nutritional value.

High in Antioxidants

This unique fruit has specialized antioxidants including polyphenols and carotenoids, qualifying it as a super food useful for their anti-inflammatory and other healing qualities. Research has found use of golden berry extract in cancer, diabetes, and hypertension. The berries also have liver and kidney protective properties.

A recent study found golden berry extract improved kidney function after renal injury. Apparently, their unique antioxidant power is the key to their healing value.

Healing Power of Withanolides

The primary compound in golden berries that seem to do the healing are a group of naturally occurring steroidal lactones called “withanolides.” The entire plant, not just the fruit, contains withanolides. Four main withanolides have been isolated from the plant, along with the discovery of nine previously unknown withanolides.

Withanolides are also what gives Ashwagandha its value as an adaptogenic healing plant. Considerable research has been conducted on Ashwagandha, often termed Indian ginseng, because of its benefits to the endocrine system. The withanolides in golden berries are considered to have similar effects including anticancer benefits.

Though beating cancer with plants alone is controversial, those like golden berries that contain withanolides can be useful in adjunctive therapy. Research suggests that the powerful inflammatory cytokine tumor necrosis factor alpha is suppressed in the presence of withanolides. This suppressing effect turns on genes that enhance cancer cell death, called “apoptosis.” They also help prevent metastasis—the spreading of cancer throughout the body.

10 Healing Properties of Golden Berries

  1. Antioxidant effects
  2. Cancer protective effects
  3. Counters bacteria
  4. Kidney protective effects
  5. Liver protective effects
  6. Lowers fever
  7. Lowers blood sugar
  8. Modulates immune function
  9. Reduces inflammation
  10. Weight loss benefits

A New Super Food

Golden berries with their high antioxidant value and low sugar content can play a role in low calorie and diabetic diets and products. Their nutrient value adds benefits to salads, yogurt, and cooked dishes.

Though essential fatty acids only make up 2% of the fruit, the oil content is mostly linoleic acid. Its low saturated acid and high phytosterol content make it useful for those on cholesterol- and triglyceride-lowering diets.

The natural sugar content is mainly sucrose. It is very low in fructose, and with only 0.5% sucrose, it’s a tasty source of nutrition while on weight loss diets.

Like many Amazonian and Andean plant foods, golden berries are loaded with vitamin C. There is more vitamin C in this exotic fruit than in pears, pineapples, or plums, and only slightly less than citrus fruits.

sweet-golden-berriesc

How To Use Golden Berries

Scientists are only just beginning to discover the full value of this fruit, but why wait to enjoy it? Consider adding a handful of golden berries to your morning protein blended smoothie. Natural health products that contain golden berry include beverages, yogurts, sugar-free preserves, smoothies. Of course, you can also go for the whole dried fruit.

Though golden berries are generally considered non-toxic, one study found that in very high doses they could cause toxicity in heart tissue in men. Those with allergies or sensitivity to the nightshade family should avoid consuming golden berries to prevent possible reactions.