Worried about having a third or fourth cup of coffee today? You shouldn’t be. There’s new evidence that seals coffee’s growing reputation as a healthy drink—even in seemingly large quantities.
In a new study from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, researchers have found that people who drink three to five cups of coffee a day may be less likely to die prematurely from a range of causes.
Drinkers of both caffeinated and decaffeinated coffee were found to have a lower risk of premature death from cardiovascular diseases, neurological diseases (such as Parkinson’s disease), Type 2 diabetes and suicide. (There was no effect on cancer deaths.)
Researchers are still trying to figure out why coffee is linked with longevity. Caffeine is clearly not the star ingredient, since decaf coffee offers the same benefits as caffeinated. Instead, expect to hear more about coffee’s antioxidants and other compounds, which are believed to reduce insulin resistance and inflammation, two factors researchers are eyeing as culprits in a number of conditions.
More coffee benefits Previous research has linked coffee drinking to a lower risk of not only the diseases mentioned above, but also liver cancer, colon cancer, asthma and Alzheimer’s. Though, in most coffee studies, smokers derive no benefit from their coffee habits and it has been linked to an increased risk of lung cancer.
Coffee has also been found to improve athletic endurance when running or working out, which might mean getting more health benefits from exercise. And drinking black coffee has been associated with weight loss.
But researchers aren’t suggesting we all start guzzling java all the time. Despite the benefits, coffee can have a downside, namely if its caffeine impairs sleep. Consider limiting caffeinated coffee to the morning hours or only sipping a cup when you really need a boost, not throughout the day.
Rediscover Ottawa, which walks the line between charming town and cosmopolitan city, with first-class cultural and historic experiences.
Modern digs: Alt Hotel Ottawa Rest your head at the Canadian-owned Alt Hotel in downtown Ottawa, where you can grab snacks (or full meals) in the lobby and keep up your yoga practice with the hotel's new Nama-Stay yoga videos. Bonus: The Alt is eco-friendly, with geothermal energy used for heating and cooling, plus energy-efficient lighting.
Historic haven: The Century House Bed and Breakfast Ottawa With just four rooms, The Century House offers a quaint stay without skimping on modern amenities such as free parking and Wi-Fi. It's known for its gourmet breakfasts (think indulgent waffles or a hearty frittata), served up family-style in the dining room.
Morning munch: Benny's Bistro Hidden behind The French Baker in the ByWard Market, this is a tiny gem that serves some of our all-time favourite brekkies. Order the buckwheat crêpe, which is stuffed with ham and Gruyère and topped with an egg.
Dinner hour: Absinthe Café Stop by this Wellington West hot spot for French-inspired cuisine and a taste of its namesake drink. On Monday nights, there's a special fondue menu; go with friends and order cheese and meat varieties to share, then finish with the Valrhona chocolate fondue for dessert.
Sweet treat: Moo Shu Ice Cream & Kitchen Try small-batch ice creams and ice cream truffles made with Ontario dairy and fresh, sometimes surprising, ingredients, like craft beer or lime leaves.
Spring: C'est Bon Gourmet Food Tours Take a guided walking and tasting tour of one of Ottawa's famed foodie neighbourhoods: the ByWard Market, Wellington Street, Preston Street (Little Italy), the Glebe or Chinatown.
Summer: Yowttawa This outdoor music fest will celebrate the country's 150th anniversary with performances by Canadian artists, plus contributions by other international artists.
Fall: The Canada Science and Technology Museum After $80.5 million in renos, the museum will reopen in November, just in time for its 50th anniversary of celebrating Canadian innovations, such as a prototype of the world's first pacemaker and a cobalt-60 therapy machine from the '50s—at the time, a revolutionary new way to deliver radiation to cancer patients.
Winter:Nordik Spa-Nature Spend a day rotating between the spa's seven outdoor baths and eight saunas. Book a massage for ultimate R&R.
WHAT'S CLOSE BY? If you have the time to range farther afield, here are three other spots to see in Ontario.
2 1/2 hours away: Thousand Islands A pretty archipelago with ton of history (it was once pirate territory!), this region is now an ideal spot to go boating, hiking and exploring historic castles.
3 hours away: Prince Edward County Visit a few of the dozens of artist studios and galleries in the region, where you can even take an art class—in between wine tastings, of course.
OTTAWA THE GREAT To celebrate Canada's sesquicentennial—the 150th anniversary of Confederation—Ottawa is leading the charge with a full year of awe-inspiring events. Here's a small sampling of what's on in our nation's capital.
March 3 and 4: Red Bull Crashed Ice Watch downhill skaters race to the finish line on a huge track that runs along the locks of the Rideau Canal— which will be the final leg of the 2016–17 ice cross downhill championship.
May 20 to Sept. 4: Inspiration Village Located in the historic ByWard Market, Inspiration Village will pay tribute to our provinces and territories, while also showcasing special exhibits and performing-arts events.
All summer long: Kontinuum, an "underground multimedia experience" Though the Confederation Line of Ottawa's Light Rail Transit won't open until 2018, one underground station will be transformed into a futuristic world by a 10-weeklong multimedia presentation.
Nov. 26: The 105th Grey Cup This year, Canada's capital will host the CFL's annual championship game.
Ignite 150: In a series of 17 stunts spaced throughout the year—from yoga on a barge accompanied by a live orchestra to gourmet dining at a table suspended nearly 50 metres in the air—Ottawa will delight visitors and residents with once-in-a-lifetime experiences.
Ottawa Welcomes the world: Ottawa's many embassies and high commissions will be given the opportunity to take over Aberdeen Pavilion and the Horticulture Building with multicultural celebrations including food, art and music.
Agri 150: More than 20 unique one-day outdoor events in 2017 will showcase Ottawa's food and drink, such as the Wine and Words Tour, which will take participants to local wineries to sample wine and cheese, with a local author to tell stories at each stop.
With our country's 150th birthday around the corner, Ottawa will be pulling out all the stops when it comes to entertaining, enlightening and engaging Canadians. We can’t wait to take part in all the amazing events scheduled throughout the year.
Our experts answer reader questions about dropping the last 10 pounds—or more.
Question: I've heard that lifting weights helps the body burn calories even when you're not active. True or false? — Reiko
Answer: That's true. A lot of women prioritize cardio because they want to lose fat, but that burns calories only while you're exercising; as soon as you stop, you're no longer burning as much. Instead, lifting weights revs up your metabolism, so you'll continue burning calories for a few hours after your workout. And don't worry about bulking up; women don't have enough testosterone for that. But you will get leaner!
— Trudie German, certified personal trainer and owner of bodyenvy.ca, Toronto
Question: Is it possible I'm meant to be this big? I've been about the same size all my adult life, give or take a dress size. My mom and my sister are both size 14, and so were my grandmas. Maybe it's genetics? — Anne
Answer: Your genes do play a role, but it's more important to remember that size isn't really a good measure of health. If you're active, feeling good and sleeping and eating well, you probably don't have to worry. According to the World Health Organization, obesity is defined as "abnormal or excessive fat accumulation that may impair health." Of course, as you get heavier, there's a greater likelihood your health could be negatively impacted. But it's impossible for me to tell just by having you step on a scale; I have to do all sorts of tests to see if your weight really is affecting your health.
Question: I'm injured and I can't work out. Is it still possible to lose weight? (Even if I'm eating my feelings about not being able to exercise?) — Katie
Answer: It's certainly possible! In fact, what you eat has more of an impact on your weight than exercise. You won't be able to work off extra calories, so be particularly mindful of other factors that influence weight, too, by getting enough sleep, finding ways to manage stress and choosing healthy whole foods in appropriate portions. And try these tricks: Serve vegetables family-style so they're within easy reach, but keep richer foods on the stovetop; use a smaller plate; and focus on your food—you're more likely to overindulge if you're distracted, so try not to eat in front of the TV, in the car or at your desk at work. Lastly, don't deny your hunger; eventually, it will backfire and you'll find yourself overeating or grabbing a convenient but unhealthy snack. People often think they have to cut back on food if they're going to lose weight, but I counsel my clients to eat more during the day. The idea isn't to willpower your way to weight loss; it's to make sustainable changes.
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.
Q: I really like the look of hardwood flooring, but I've been warned against using it in the kitchen. â€¨I don't want to settle for laminate. Are there any other options? — R.S., Brantford, ON
A: Many people love the warmth and elegance of wood floors in a kitchen, but durability is a concern. Water can damage any type of flooring, so humidity levels must be controlled in kitchen and bath environments.
Your best bet is engineered wood flooring: a thin veneer of real wood adhered to a composite wood plank. This option offers the thickness of a solid wood plank at a considerably lower price tag. The planks are sold sanded, stained and protected—often with up to 15 coats of UV-protectant varnish, making them scratch- and fade-resistant. As easy to install as laminate planks, they're a good option to use all over the house, even in the kitchen. Expect to pay $8 to $20 per square foot for the product, and an â€¨additional $4 to $8 per square foot for professional installation.
For more solutions to your design dilemmas, read what Karl Lohnes has to say about picking a couch.
This story was originally titled "Design Dilemma" in the June 2014 issue.