"A vegan diet can be very healthy," says Vesanto Melina, coauthor of the book Becoming Vegan, although, she adds, "like any diet, it has to be well designed." But what does that mean, exactly? Here's the scoop on veganism, from what it means and why people choose it to how to make sure it's healthy.
What does vegan mean? While vegetarians choose not to eat animals -- including poultry and fish -- vegans omit all animal products from their diets, including dairy, eggs and even honey and gelatin. True vegans also exclude any food products that were made using animal products, such as refined sugar and beer (both of which tend to be made using animal charcoal filters) and maple syrup and molasses (for which lard is often used in processing). They also restrict use of animal products in nondietary aspects of their lives -- examples include leather, fur, beeswax, wool and down.
Why go vegan? There are a number of reasons people choose to follow a vegan lifestyle. One of the more obvious is respect for animal welfare; vegans believe that humans should not be harming animals for their own benefit. Another is environmental; the cultivation of plant foods uses far less land, energy and water than the production of animal foods. In addition, studies continue to demonstrate the health benefits of a vegan diet; it has been shown to benefit those with diabetes and prostate cancer and to reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease and colon cancer, says Melina.
Ensuring a vegan diet is healthy There are no nutrients your body needs that cannot be found in an animal-free diet, but for those of us in the Western world, it often takes a bit of effort to make sure we're including certain vitamins and minerals. For instance, most North Americans get vitamin B12 from animal foods, since while this essential vitamin does exist in soil, our vegetables are usually so well washed that the B12 levels are negligible. Instead, Melina recommends that vegans get vitamin B12 from supplements or B12-fortified foods (such as soy milk or imitation meats). She also advises that vegans pay attention to the calcium in their diet by making sure to include green, leafy vegetables such as broccoli and kale -- in fact, she notes, humans absorb calcium twice as well from such vegetables as they do from cow's milk -- and other foods such as almonds, sesame seeds and blackstrap molasses, which is also a great source of iron.
And what about protein? Well, the idea that it's hard for vegetarians (and vegans) to get enough protein is a myth, says Melina. "We get protein from veggies, from grains, from nuts and seeds and particularly from legumes," she says, adding that these foods are all good sources of vitamins, minerals and fibre, as opposed to animal products, which tend to be high in saturated fat and cholesterol. In fact, she notes that "vegans tend to get about the optimal amount of protein," whereas many people eating a typical North American diet actually take in too much.
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Making veganism part of an omnivore life Veganism isn't necessarily an all or nothing decision. It's possible to make some lifestyle choices that are based on vegan philosophy -- whether your reasoning is ethical, environmental or health-based -- while not giving up animal products entirely. Here are some suggestions:
• Eat lots of whole plant foods: whole grains, fruits, veggies and legumes. Many of the health benefits of vegetarian and vegan diets have just as much to do with what people do eat as with what they don't.
• Cut back on your consumption of animal products. Make some of your meals vegetarian or vegan, and when you do use animal products, make them an accent to your meal rather than a focus. Explore cuisines and recipes that focus on plant foods.
• When using animal products, recognise where they came from and use them accordingly: don't waste food, and use everything you purchase to its fullest potential (e.g., making soup stock from bones and taking care of leather goods so that they last longer).
• When you do buy animal products, consider where they came from: think about choosing free range and organic.
Vegan meal planning It's not hard to plan vegan meals -- it just requires a shift in perspective. One option is to use substitutions for animal ingredients -- a wide range is available, from vegan cheese and sour cream substitutes to imitation meats. But you can also choose to prepare meals that are based around plant foods -- Asian cuisines, such as Chinese and Indian, are especially plentiful in animal-free dishes.
Recommended reading For more on veganism, check out the following resources:
Books: • Becoming Vegan by Brenda Davis and Vesanto Melina This detailed guide to vegan nutrition, written by two registered dietitians from British Columbia, offers information on how to plan a healthy, balanced vegan diet, including special consideration for infants, children, seniors, pregnant and lactating women and athletes. Also check out Becoming Vegetarian, by the same authors, which includes a chapter of vegan-friendly recipes. • How it all Vegan! by Tanya Barnard and Sarah Kramer This popular cookbook is a must-have resource for anyone considering a vegan lifestyle. In addition to the extensive recipe section -- which covers both food and household goods, including cleaning products and cosmetics -- the authors have provided a comprehensive listing of nonvegan ingredients, from adrenaline to wool.
On Hollywood's biggest night (aka the Oscars) the stars always look incredible. Here are our favourite looks and trends from the 2017 Academy Awards.
Our favourite red carpet dresses from the 2017 Oscars ranged from red hot (Ruth Negga) to classic (Taraji P. Henson) to super romantic (Hailee Steinfeld). See our favourite looks from the Academy Awards below.
Ruth Negga in custom Valentino
Image by: Getty Images
Negga, who is nominated for her role in Loving, paired a demure dress silhouette with a fiery colour. We love the lace detailing on her custom Valentino gown—which she paired with Irene Neuwirth jewellery (including that incredible crown. That blue ribbon she accessorized her dress with? It’s to show her solidarity with the ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union).
Hailee Steinfeld in Ralph & Russo
Image by: Getty Images
This dress is the most romantic. With pastel colours, metallic florals, a delicate scalloped neckline and soft flowy fabric, Hailee Steinfeld is the picture of feminine romance. Good thing she paired this stunning dress with a smoky eye to keep things young and modern.
Olivia Culpo in Marchesa
Image by: Getty Images
Culpo not only wore a stunning custom gown from Marchesa, the gown was made in collaboration with Stella Artois to benefit Water.org. We especially love the fringe detailing and that delicate black bow at the waist.
Octavia Spencer in Marchesa
Image by: Getty Images
Spencer looked stunning in this silver, feathery dress by Marchesa. The feathers look artful—not gimmicky—and the colour is gorgeous. Take notes people, because this is how you embrace texture on the red carpet.
Michelle Williams in Louis Vuitton
Image by: Getty Images
We love this plunging neckline on Michelle Williams—and the fact that she swapped her usual column gown for this softer silhouette. The two tone blocking isn’t something we usually see on the red carpet, but to combo of classic black and soft golden shimmer are subtly elegant.
Viola Davis in Armani Prive
Image by: Getty Images
We’re suckers for a stunning red dress—so Viola Davis’ off-the-shoulder number is one of our faves. The neckline is super flattering to her toned arms and she wisely chooses to let that colour own the look by keeping hair, makeup and accessories simple. Bravo.
Busy Phillips in Stella McCartney
Image by: Getty Images
More velvet on the red carpet! This strapless hunter green dress is so flattering on Busy Phillips. The polka dot panelling and rounded neckline make this simple silhouette much more interesting.
Emma Stone in Givenchy
Image by: Getty Images
Stone goes for the gold (a trending colour) at the 2017 Oscars. This delicate and detailed (That fringe! The beading!) column gown isn’t as risqué as past red carpet choices for the actress—but of course she stuns in just about anything. Is anyone else getting old Hollywood vibes? Applause all around for this outstanding look.
Not many women can pull off a dress the same colour as their skin tone, but Nicole Kidman is a red carpet pro—so she does it effortlessly. The delicate beading and 90s-era neckline have us swooning over this Armani Prive gown.
Taraji P. Henson in Alberto Ferretti
Image by: Getty Images
Sometimes sinple is best. Henson wore a simple navy velvet dress (yes, we know it looks black) with a high slit and off-the-shoulder neckline. She complemented her almost-LBD with a stunning diamond necklace. Simple, elegant and drop dead gorgeous.
Charlize Theron in Dior Couture
Image by: Getty Images
Metallic and gold were clear winners on the red carpet tonight, so it makes sense that the always-stunning Theron would embrace the trend. We love the deep neckline and pleating of this stunning dress.
Eyeliner used to be applied to enhance a look, but for 2016, it is the look. Subtle or dramatic and thin or thick, liner looks come in every variation you can imagine. We asked makeup artist Grace Lee for her best eyeliner tips and techniques—and how to find your perfect formula.
"I love how eyeliner can transform a person's eye," says Grace Lee, lead makeup artist for Maybelline New York Canada. "You can easily make eyes look bigger, exaggerated or elongated." Having a sense of your eyeshape and picking the best formula for you are the starting points of a freat eyeliner look. here are Lee's suggestions.
YOUR EYE SHAPE
Since you already have a flattering shape (lucky you!) use eyeliner to “follow the shape of your eye,” says Lee. If you want to make your eyes look larger, draw the eyeliner thicker at the centre of your eye, giving the illusion of roundness.
Too much eyeliner on deep-set or hooded eyes is a waste—it will disappear whenever you open your lids. Instead, says Lee, “keep the eyeliner as close to the lash line as possible.” This will create the illusion of full, dark lashes while still looking quite natural.
Think of Zooey Deschanel, Katy Perry and Christina Ricci, whose round eyes all benefit from a flick of liquid liner. You can elongate your look by using liner to extend it outward in a cat-eye shape. When doing a cat eye, start with the flick at the outer corner, then work your way in, along the lash line.
YOUR TOOL KIT
“Keep your eyeliner pencil sharpened and clean for precise application,” says Lee. The good news? Pencil liner is the easiest to master, and it’s great for an everyday look. Left, High:Make Up For Ever Aqua XL Eye Pencil in Matte Black M-10, $25, sephora.ca. Right, Low:Maybelline New York Master Skinny Eyeliner in Refined Charcoal, $12, maybelline.ca.
When it comes to liquid liner, only one thing will ensure perfect application: practice. Try applying strokes to the back of your hand before tackling your eyelid, suggests Lee. Use liquid liner for retro cat-eye looks. Left, High: Chanel Stylo Yeux Waterproof Eyeliner Pen in Noir Intense, $35, thebay.com. Right, Low: Essence Easy 2 Use Jumbo Eyeliner, $4, shoppersdrugmart.ca.
“Use smaller strokes to connect your liner into one long, precise line,” says Lee. It’s easier than trying to get a perfect line in one swipe. Use gel liner to build dimension and to achieve thicker, more graphic looks. Left, High: Urban Decay Super Saturated Ultra Intense Waterproof Cream Eyeliner in Perversion, $26, urbandecay.ca. Right, Low:L’Oreal Paris Infallible Lacquer Liner 24H in Blackest Black, $13, lorealparis.ca
Draw some attention to your look with bright line flicks. With colour, “sometimes, it’s more about taking it down a notch than amping it up,” says Lee. “Start with a thin layer, then build a more intense hue as needed.” Try blue or green eyeliner this spring for a fresh pop of colour. Left, High: M.A.C. Cosmetics Modern Twist Kajal Liner in New Marine, $19.50, maccosmetics.ca Right, Low: Hard Candy Take Me Out Liner in Yolo, $5, walmart.ca
This is celebrity inspiration at its finest! Although we mere mortals don't usually bust out the same kind of money that celebrities do for weddings, we can't help but gawk at their gorgeous, stunning, one-of-a-kind (did we say gorgeous?) wedding dresses.
Here are some scary truths: 70 percent of new Alzheimer's patients in Canada will be women, and we're diagnosed with depression and dementia at twice the rate of men. But new research says there are three simple lifestyle changes we can make right now to keep our brains healthy as we age.
You brush your teeth to prevent tooth decay and check your blood pressure to monitor for signs of heart problems. But are you doing anything to keep your brain in tip-top shape? Because you should be. Brain health, which experts define as a combination of cognitive (memory, attention, thinking) and mental (emotional well-being) fitness, is a major, albeit under-the- radar, health issue for Canadian women.
It's major because as we age, so do our brains. Vascular changes can decrease blood flow; we can lose volume in key areas, including the hippocampus and the prefrontal cortex, the regions responsible for learning and memory. Myelin, a fatty material that makes up the protective coating around nerve fibres, starts to deteriorate, causing the brain to slow down. And nerve cells can develop plaques and tangles— structures caused by the buildup of proteins called beta-amyloids that can disrupt the brain's normal function. In some people, these and other signs of normal aging can cause mental health problems, strokes and brain disorders such as dementia and Alzheimer's, and increase the risk of diseases such as multiple sclerosis.
Brain health is an under-the-radar issue because, though women are more likely to experience cognitive decline (thanks to dementia or Alzheimer's) and to suffer from depression, most of the research on these conditions still focuses on men.
Thankfully, studies are showing that straightforward lifestyle changes—exercising regularly and not smoking are at the top of the list—help shore up what researchers call "cognitive reserve," a buffer that "delays the changes or makes your body better equipped to handle those changes," says Lauren Drogos, a brain researcher at the University of Calgary.
In fact, Drogos says there's evidence to show that, in some people, even serious symptoms do not necessarily develop into cognitive impairment. She points to the Nun Study, a famous long-running research project on aging and Alzheimer's that has been tracking 678 nuns from convents across the United States since the mid-1980s. One of the nuns, Sister Mary, died at the age of 101 showing no outward signs of cognitive decline—but when researchers examined her brain, they were shocked to find she had "abundant neurofibrillary tangles and senile plaques, the classic lesions of Alzheimer's disease." Scientists don't know exactly why some people can have severe symptoms, such as plaques and tangles, without experiencing cognitive decline, but, happily, cases like Sister Mary do show that dementia isn't an inevitable part of aging.
And since women are more likely than men to be diagnosed with many of these problems, the more we consider brain health when making our day-to-day lifestyle decisions, the better. (Bonus: These changes also benefit your heart and help prevent other diseases, including Type 2 diabetes and cancer.) So here's what you can do to take care of your brain.
This is your brain on exercise If you had to pick just one lifestyle change to make in the name of brain health, experts agree exercise tops the list—especially for women.
We consider neuroplasticity, the brain's capacity to form new neural connections, an exciting part of a child's development, but we now know our brains can continue to grow, repair and improve as adults, too. Physical activity is a well-researched trigger. Not only can working out bolster our day-to-day functioning and alertness but it also appears to help us repair brain damage. Plus, it slows down aging and the onset of age-related brain diseases.
Working up a sweat and pumping up your heart rate can lead to a healthier vascular system in the brain, which decreases blood pressure and oxidative stress (when your body's antioxidants can't fight off free radicals), and increases antioxidant activity, according to Marc Poulin, an Alzheimer's researcher and professor of physiology at the University of Calgary. Vigorous exercise also floods the bloodstream with a protein called brain-derived neurotrophic factor, which readies the body for repair and heightens the brain's ability to learn and form new memories. Plus, hitting the gym helps the brain repair myelin; a lack of the nerve fibre–protecting substance is a factor in developing multiple sclerosis.
Exercising can also restore crucial brain volume. Research has shown that the hippocampus— home to memory, learning and emotion—starts shrinking after age 55 by about one to two percent a year, but just one year of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise done three days a week can increase its size by two percent.
And while most of the research is about the benefits of getting in your cardio, Dr. Teresa Liu-Ambrose, an associate professor and Canada research chair at The University of British Columbia and the Vancouver Coastal Health Research Institute, says strength training is also effective, as it can enhance brain performance and function by 11 to 17 percent. "Women live longer [than men], and age itself is the greatest risk factor for dementia," she says. "But the good news is when we look at the benefit of aerobic exercise on cognition in older adults, women seem to benefit more."
The takeaway: You can reap the rewards from even a 15-minute walk. Of course, the longer you exercise, the better, especially if you get your sweat on and your heart rate up. If you want to tick a few other brain health tips off your list, consider joining a team sport. It blends physical, social and cognitive skills, and "can also add pleasure and meaning to our lives," says Dr. Nasreen Khatri, a registered clinical psychologist, gerontologist and neuroscientist at the Rotman Research Institute at Baycrest Health Sciences in Toronto.
If you have an office job and find you're sedentary most of the day, take a few minutes every hour or so to get up and move around. Research also suggests switching to a standup desk may improve your brain function.
Did you know? Taking care of a loved one—most often a spouse in your later years—can be a risk factor for developing depression and, eventually, dementia . But research out of the Rotman Research Institute at Baycrest Health Sciences in Toronto found, for the first time, that cognitive behavioural therapy, a form of talk therapy, can improve both mood and cognition.
This is your brain on sleep After a good night's sleep, you feel alert and ready to tackle the day. But that's not just because your brain has been resting. It has also been busy filing away memories and taking out the trash, so to speak, thanks to the glymphatic system, which washes the brain of waste materials. For example, a protein called betaamyloid, which is known to play a role in the development of Alzheimer's, acts as a neurotoxin when it builds up, killing neural cells in the brain. But a good sleep removes excess beta-amyloid and other waste materials, says Dr. Liu-Ambrose.
Because one of the common symptoms of Alzheimer's is disrupted sleep, it's unclear whether a lack of shut-eye should be considered part of the progression of the disease or a risk factor on its own, due to the buildup of beta-amyloids.
Nevertheless, poor sleep hastens your brain's aging process—much like sitting in the sun sans SPF speeds up your skin's aging process. And disturbed sleeping has been linked to all aspects of brain health, including an increased risk of depression and a decline in cognitive functions such as memory and reasoning. In one U.K. study out of University College London Medical School, middle-aged women who reported a drop in the average number of hours they slept had lower scores on cognitive tests involving reasoning and vocabulary.
What's more, our central clocks—a.k.a. our circadian rhythms—can drift from the patterns of our childhood, making it hard to get that much-needed rest. "As we age, our central clock is less sensitive to stimuli like light, food and physical activity," says Dr. Liu-Ambrose; this change makes it harder to fall, and stay, asleep. We can also become more vulnerable to stress and anxiety, which further disrupt those rhythms.
One way to combat these fluctuations is to try what seasoned travellers do for jet-lag recovery: Get exposure to real daylight and eat your meals on time to nudge your brain into a routine. And don't use bright screens at night, especially before bed, because they mimic sunlight and tell our circadian system that it's day, not night—and, therefore, not time to sleep. Those who need more help might consider light therapies that have been developed to treat seasonal affective disorder, says Dr. Liu-Ambrose.
The takeaway: Many researchers consider six to eight hours of sleep a night to be the standard sweet spot, though this can vary by individual. If you're routinely getting less than that and waking often in the night, not feeling refreshed in the morning and experiencing bouts of sleepiness during the day, talk to your doctor about sleep strategies—especially if you're experiencing anxiety or depression. In the short term, napping can reverse some of the effects of poor sleep, including memory loss and increased stress. And you only need a 30-minute catnap to feel the results.
This is your brain on a healthy diet There's no perfect "brain food," but eating a nutritious diet (lots of veggies and fruit, lean meat, fish and healthy fats) is the smartest way to maintain long-term brain function and memory, and to slow the development of brain diseases.
Getting enough of specific nutrients like omega-3 fatty acids is important but not the holy grail. University of Pittsburgh researchers recently found that people who eat broiled or baked fish at least once a week have larger brain volumes in the areas used for memory and cognition, despite varying levels of omega-3 in the fish they ate. Senior researcher James Becker concluded that he and his colleagues were "tapping into a more general set of lifestyle factors that were affecting brain health, of which diet is just one part."
In a 2015 study from Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, researchers looked at the broad set of eating habits of more than 900 people over 4 1/2 years and found that those who adhered to a diet high in fish, vegetables, nuts and berries, and low in fat and sugar, slowed down their brains' aging by about 7 1/2 years when compared to those with less-healthy diets. The healthy eaters cut their risk of Alzheimer's by up to 53 percent. And even when those people only adhered to the diet part time, they saw some benefits— an effect that has not been found in other diets, says Drogos.
The researchers dubbed the most promising cluster of these eating habits the MIND (Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay) diet, which blends the longevity-boosting Mediterranean diet and the heart-healthy low-fat DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet that doctors recommend to patients at risk of high blood pressure and heart disease. More studies need to be done on why it works, but in the meantime, there's no downside to eating healthier and ditching the junk.
The takeaway: Add more veggies to your diet. Research shows that older adults who report eating more of this food group perform better in mentally stimulating activities than those who don't.
Did you know? "Menopause brain" is a real thing. As with "pregnancy brain," its more famous counterpart, women approaching menopause really do experience memory problems and brain fog. Researchers think a drop in estrogen levels might be the cause.
Can you train your brain? Does firing up a brain-training app actually help improve your memory and ward off dementia? Sorry to disappoint, but right now, evidence for the benefits of computer-based brain games is weak, says Dr. Teresa Liu-Ambrose, an associate professor and Canada research chair at The University of British Columbia and the Vancouver Coastal HealthResearch Institute. Brain games appear to help you learn to play them better, but research doesn't show that those tasks transfer to other aspects of brain performance. The same goes for crossword puzzles and sudoku, which help your vocabulary and math skills, but nothing more.
How to maintain your mental edge at any age
In your 30s: This is the time to make sure you establish healthy habits—such as getting plenty of exercise and sleep, and eating a good diet—that will affect your brain health throughout your adult years. "When it comes to maintaining brain health, the best time to start is yesterday," says Dr. Nasreen Khatri, a registered clinical psychologist, gerontologist and neuroscientist at the Rotman Research Institute at Baycrest Health Sciences in Toronto. If you feel you need a boost at work, consider old-fashioned writing instead of typing on your computer. A study in the journal Psychological Science found that university students who made handwritten notes were better equipped to recall conceptual ideas from their professors' lectures than those who had typed notes on their laptops.
In your 40s and 50s: People in this age group are part of the "sandwich generation," and often face caring for their aging parents on top of dealing with their other work, financial and parenting obligations. So, unsurprisingly, they're super stressed—and this can affect both mental health and day-to-day brain function. Dr. Khatri says it's essential to prioritize and edit out activities and commitments that increase stress without adding value to your productivity or happiness. That's because "maintaining mental health in early and mid life is key to safeguarding cognitive health later on," she says. "Untreated depression in midlife doubles your risk of developing dementia in later life."
In your 60s and beyond: In your senior years, socializing with friends and family, and picking up activities that allow you to connect, such as volunteering, are key to maintaining brain health. And sorry, keeping up with folks on Facebook isn't enough. "Ask yourself: Is social media rounding out my real-life social experiences?" suggests Dr. Khatri. What you need is face-to-face interaction.