Getty Images Image by: Getty Images
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.
Infused water Source: Ryan Brook
Weight loss goals can seem insurmountable. To lose each pound of fat, you need to cut 3,500 calories, and that number can sound scary. But taking little steps to cut just 100 or 200 calories at a time goes a long way. Use two of these tips each day and you'll lose a pound in a little over a week—no starvation necessary.
We all know about the dangers of soda, but even drinking unsweetened juice will give you a sugar rush at a rate of 120 calories per cup. And chances are you don't just drink a cup. Individual serving-size bottles of juice are typically about 450 mL, and can clock in at over 200 calories. But if you're a juice drinker, it can be hard to switch to water right away. Try muddling some watermelon and mint into your water to get all kinds of flavour, and a touch of sweetness, for almost no calories. Or make iced tea using a fruity flavoured tea, and skip the sugar.
Who doesn't love pasta? But when your fettuccine comes with around 400 calories in two cups (even before the sauce!), you can feel guilty about eating it. Try replacing half the pasta with a cup of zucchini that's been cut into thin strips to match the shape of the pasta. Just throw it in the water a couple of minutes before the noodles are done. You'll still get the flavour and texture of the pasta that you crave, but with almost half the calories, because that cup of zucchini has just 30 calories.
Did you know that half a cup of barbeque sauce can contain about 250 calories? If you're someone who uses sauces liberally, this could be a big source of extra calories for you. Instead, give your meats a spice rub, which contains virtually no calories. And keep an eye on stir-fry sauces, such as teriyaki. You can often get a lot of flavour using spices (think fresh ginger, garlic and herbs) and little soy sauce, instead of using a rich sugar-filled sauce.
According to a study from the New England Journal of Medicine, potato chips are in fact the biggest contributor to obesity. In a study that found Americans gain about a pound a year, chips were the biggest cause of that weight gain. Though a serving might have about 160 calories, chances are you eat at least two to three times that. Instead, bake a cup of kale mixed with a teaspoon of oil and a bit of salt to make your own kale chips. For about 70 calories, you'll get a much more nutrient-dense snack that won't make you pack on the pounds.
If you haven't yet heard of cauliflower rice, you're missing out. This simple recipe is the perfect low-calorie replacement for white rice, which will set you back about 250 calories. Just process cauliflower florets in a food processor or grate them with a box grater, then cook with a bit of water or oil until soft. Use it for the bed of rice below meat or fish, or on the side of a curry dish. The cauliflower mimics the texture of rice but has only about 30 calories per cup.
Hamburger buns can easily contain 200 calories or more. Instead of a bun, sandwich your burger or chicken breast with veggies that contain almost no calories. You've heard of using lettuce instead of a bun, but how about grilled portobello mushrooms? Or a tomato cut in half? If you can't give up bread entirely, try a small wrap, which should cut the calories in half. Thinking outside the bun will help you lighten up your meal.
Getty Images Image by: Getty Images
This common succulent is known to be a great solution to relieve burns but did you know that it's toxic to both cats and dogs? Symptoms of aloe poisoning include diarrhea, vomiting, loss of appetite, depression, tremors and a change in urine color. Typically, symptoms begin to show about six to twleve hours after ingesting but if you fear your fur baby has nibbled on some, don't wait—get peace of mind and seek medical assistance to avoid any further complications. How to curb food aggression in dogs
Calla lillies, although quite beautiful, contain insoluble crystals of calcium oxalate that are toxic to dogs and cats if ingested. Symptoms of poisoning may be seen almost immediately and include pawing at face, drooling, foaming and vomiting. More severe symptoms include swelling of the lips, tongue, oral cavity and upper airway, making it difficult to breathe or swallow. In most cases where a pet eats a plant containing calcium oxalate, treatment can be managed at home by rinsing your pet's mouth thoroughly, but it's always best to seek medical advice from your vet.
This easy-to-grow houseplant contains a chemical that is toxic to cats and dogs. If consumed, your pet may experience mouth irritation, increased salivation, vomiting and difficulty swallowing. If you want to keep this plant in your home, be sure to store it in a place that is out of reach to ensure your pet's safety. How to keep your pet safe and healthy this summer
Hyacinth's toxicity is highly concentrated in the bulbs as oppose to the leaf and when ingested in large amounts, can result in problems for your pet. Depending on the amount ingested, symptoms can be moderate to severe and include irritation to the mouth and esophagus, profuse drooling, vomiting and diarrhea. In severe situations, symptoms range from increased heart rate to changes in respiration and difficulty breathing. If you fear your dog or cat has ingested hyacinths, contact your vet for treatment recommendations.
Like the calla lily, the satin pathos plant contains calcium oxalate. If massive amounts of plants containing this toxin are consumed, the symptoms become much more severe and include convulsions, renal failure, coma and death. It's possible for your pet to recover from severe calcium oxalate poisoning, but in most cases permanent liver and kidney damage will have already occurred. 8 ways to keep your dog healthy
Daffodils pose a danger to dogs and cats if ingested. Symptoms can include severe gastrointestinal issues like vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal pain, low blood pressure, lethargy and kidney damage. There is no specific treatment or antidote for daffodil ingestion, but you can rinse any existing plant matter from your pet's mouth thoroughly to prevent further damage. If your pet's vomiting or diarrhea is extensive, take them to the vet.
The asparagus fern is another common houseplant and can be toxic to your dog and/or cat if ingested and can also cause minor skin irritation in pets with sensitive skin. Beware the berries, as they are more toxic to your pet than the foliage and thus cause more serious symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal pain. Since treatment is generally symptomatic, most pets will make a full recovery in 24 to 48 hours, but always consult with your veterinarian if you're concerned. 5 reasons you shouldn't declaw your cat
Tulips can signify that spring has finally sprung but that doesn't mean they're safe for your dog or cat to be around. If ingested, tulips can cause depression, severe vomiting and diarrhea, excessive drooling and loss of appetite. Induce vomiting and seek veterinary help.
This common houseplant is know for it's hard-to-kill properties and can not only cause vomiting and diarrhea if ingested, it can also cause skin irritation if your pet is exposed to it repeatedly. Keep the plant in an out-of-reach spot or in a room where you can close the door to keep your fur baby away.
This flowering shrub can do serious damage to your dog or cat depending on the amount consumed. Symptoms can vary from excessive drooling, sweating (nose and foot pads), vomiting, diarrhea and low blood pressure to more serious side effects such as total loss of coordination, severe muscular weakness, Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome, coma and possibly death. If a small amount is consumed by your pet, don't fret! The toxin found in azaleas is metabolized and excreted rapidly, so your pet will generally begin to feel better within hours and can make a full recovery in 24 hours. However, if large amounts are ingested, activated charcoal should be administered to your pet repeatedly on the first day. As always, consult your vet. 7 ways to cope with losing a pet