Live long with these tips. Image by: Calaimage/ Paul Bradbury
Bad health habits are literally taking years off your life, according to a new Canadian study. But we have strategies for curbing the worst offenders.
We have bad news and good news. First, the bad: whether it’s being a couch potato, smoking, letting one glass of Chardonnay turn into the whole bottle, or indulging in a giant bowl of chips and dip, our most beloved vices are killing us. Or rather, they’re drastically reducing our life expectancy, says a new study recently published in the peer-reviewed journal PLOS Medicine. It found that smoking, eating junk food, vegging out and drinking can actually slash almost six years off the life expectancy of both men and women.
The study, authored by Dr. Doug Manuel, a senior scientist at The Ottawa Hospital and professor at the University of Ottawa, focused on the worst habits, which contributed to nearly half of all deaths reported in Canada. Using a predictive algorithm Manuel and his team created, population health surveys at the individual level were examined to learn just how dangerous these vices can be. The findings were dramatic—“smoking, by itself, was associated with 32% to 39% of the difference in life expectancy across social groups,” the study says.
But that’s where the good news comes in: though their impact can’t be understated, you can combat unhealthy habits—or at least tame them. Here are the 4 guilty pleasures that are worst for your health, and what you can do to curb them.
While only about 20 per cent of Canada’s total population smokes, it is still the reigning health hazard for Canadians. When lighting up again, remember that the overall loss of life expectancy is an estimated 2.8 years. Coming up with a smoking cessation plan can help you butt out.
2. Eating Junk Food
A poor diet can shave off 1.2 years of your life, so we think it’s safe to say that giving into your sweet tooth at every craving is not a good call. To head off that 3pm junk food craving, don’t skip meals, and keep healthier snack options on-hand.
3. Physical Inactivity
With all the hours you put in at the office, it can be hard to find the opportunity and motivation to head to the gym. But yoga, Pilates, running or even going on 15-minute walks will add an extra 2.6 years onto your life. The solution? Changing your perspective.
4. Consuming Alcohol
Drinking has the least impact of these four vices—drinking contributed to a two-week decrease in life expectancy, but we know heavy drinking impacts your health in other ways. That’s why it’s important to drink with restraint.
Photography by Angus Fergusson
The best way to beat those midwinter blues? A touch of green. Read on for our guide to low-maintenance houseplants.
When it comes to decorating, we believe most spaces benefit from a plant or two, and the decor world agrees—houseplants have made a comeback. According to Jill Jensen, founder of Jill Jensen Botanicals, a Clarington, Ont., tropical-plant wholesale company, the resurgence in popularity comes down to four things: Compact, easy-to-care-for plants appeal to both small-space dwellers and novice gardeners; good-quality botanicals are more readily available at garden centres, flower shops and even your local grocery store; we now know they improve our mental health; and decorative pots have received an esthetic upgrade, with options in everything from marble to ombré woven baskets. When caring for houseplants, Jensen says the first step is having the right environment. Tropical houseplants typically do best in a temperature-controlled space—over 17°C is OK, but above 21°C is ideal. Read on for our selections and Jensen's best tips to ensure that your plants thrive.
Great for spaces that don't get a lot of natural light, this leafy choice is also less susceptible to both pests and disease.
This stylish plant is almost indestructible. It thrives in low-light conditions and needs only moderate watering, so it's ideal for first-time plant owners—or for those with black thumbs!
Named for its colourful spiky flower, this pretty tropical will sprout suckers, or tiny shoots, as it ages; once the shoots reach a substantial size, you can separate them to form new plants.
This hardy variety can grow up to six feet tall but doesn't tend to spread out, which makes it ideal for small living or work spaces.
A succulent is any plant that stores water in its leaves or stem. Available in a variety of rich textures and colours, these trendy botanicals prefer lots of light; since they're desert plants, don't overwater them (allow the soil to dry completely between waterings).
Don't expose the maroon leaves of this plant to direct sunlight—it will cause the delicate tissue to burn
This compact version of the popular fiddle-leaf fig adds visual impact without taking up too much space.
One of the few plants with the same common and botanical name, this lush pick purifies the air in your home. It's also easy to care for, as it does well in most light conditions (except direct sun) and can survive with occasional two- to three-week intervals between waterings.
This fast-growing plant benefits from regular pruning— otherwise, it will quickly become overgrown. If the wide, flat leaves get dusty, wipe them gently with a soft damp cloth.
Unlike most cacti, this variety is native to the rainforest, so it prefers ample moisture (ensure good drainage so roots don't sit in water) and indirect light. It produces small white flowers in late winter or early spring, followed by small berries (similar to the ones on mistletoe, hence the name). Handle with care—the stems break easily.
Three perfect perches for your plants.
Beverages account for a huge source of our sugar intake. Image by: Getty Images
Sugary drinks contain a lot of empty calories and have been linked to numerous health issues. Learn how to kick these drinks to the curb with five healthy alternatives.Trading in your sugary chai latte for a chai tea made with steamed milk may seem like the end of the world. But, changing your diet can be easier – and yummier - than you think.
Everything you need to know about eye cream to keep the skin around your peepers in tip-top shape.
This “total eye rescuer” contains 10 active peptides and a variety of botanical extracts to nourish and regenerate tired thin skin around the eyes. Dr. Nowell Solish, a Toronto cosmetic dermatologist, recommends Eysilix to patients who want an effective undereye fix without a prescription. $30, shoppersdrugmart.ca.
Consider this eye cream the ultimate undereye beauty fix. Use the stainless-steel applicator to massage the luminescent formula into the orbital bone. The cream’s host of anti-aging ingredients—including caffeine, licorice-root extract and retinol palmitate, a form of vitamin A—work together to reduce the look of wrinkles, fine lines, dark circles and puffiness. $45, sephora.ca.
North American women are more concerned than ever about the look of fatigue, likely because sleeplessness spurs cellular oxidation, a phenomenon that slows cellular turnover and prompts skin to age prematurely. Maximize your beauty sleep with Garnier’s newest eye cream, which is formulated with lavender and caffeine to reduce the look of wrinkles, dark circles and fatigue. Everything you need to know about anti-aging ingredients. $25, shoppersdrugmart.ca.
This retinol-laced cream is a miracle worker for tired undernourished eyes. Peptides, jojoba-seed oil and vitamin A kick cell regeneration into high gear. With nightly use, you’re bound to find fewer fine lines and a brighter, more youthful appearance. $79, sephora.ca.
This all-natural eye cream reduces visible signs of aging and protects against environmental aggressors with botanical active ingredients, including PhytoCellTec, an extract derived from the stem cells of a rare Swiss apple. This eye cream is a must for women who prefer all-natural makeup and skin care. $50, well.ca.
Free of artificial fragrances and colours, this emollient balm infuses the eye area with moisture, which leaves skin silky-smooth. Vitamin B5 gives skin elasticity a boost, while vitamins C and E, plus grapefruit extract, work in tandem to ward off future signs of aging. Learn how to cover your dark circles with makeup. $68, dermalogica.ca.
With this product, texture is everything. The innovative serum-in-a-gel formula contains a clever concoction of antioxidant components to replenish undereye skin, reduce the appearance of puffiness and correct signs of photodamage. Our tip? Keep it in the fridge for a cool morning jolt to puffy eyes. $80, skinceuticals.com/canada.
This ultra-luxe serum contains purified cellular water, which hydrates skin deeply upon first application. Guerlain’s newest formula also contains desert rose flower, which spurs cellular regeneration and protects skin against environmental aggressors such as pollution and UV rays. $118, guerlain.ca.
This tip originally appeared in the January 1981 issue of Canadian Living magazine. Click here for more timeless tips!