Live long with these tips. Credits: 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.
Beyond Thanksgiving dessert and carving jack-o’-lanterns, this autumn gourd has a host of health benefits. Here are five ways pumpkins can improve your diet, sleep and skin, plus five easy and nutritious pumpkin recipes.
1. Healthy eyes
Pumpkin is a rich source of beta-carotene—it’s what gives it that rich, vibrant colour. Packed with potent antioxidants, it helps protect your vision from degeneration. Bonus: You’ll also see stronger nails and healthier hair.
2. Glowing skin
Pumpkins are rich in a host of skin-healthy vitamins: the properties from antioxidant-rich vitamin A (retinol) act as a shield for your skin, protecting you from the damaging affects of free radicals; vitamin C helps promote collagen production and renew the skin for a glowing face; and vitamin E improves skin tone.
3. Energy boost
The daily recommended iron intake for women is higher than for men, and as women age or become pregnant, the necessary dose increases. Pumpkins are full of iron, an immunity-boosting mineral that can help ward of illness and fatigue and keep your energy high.
4. Better diet
High in fibre (7 grams per one cup of canned pumpkin) and low in calories (26 calories for 100g), pumpkins can help you stay full longer and keep your digestion on track. The Heart & Stroke association recommends 21 to 38 grams of fibre a day, however most people don’t quite reach half that amount.
5. Improved sleep and mood
Don’t toss the seeds. Raw pepitas (hulled pumpkin seeds) are rich in tryptophan (yes, the same snooze-inducing amino acid that kicks in post-turkey dinner) and can help you get more Zs. This compound also supports serotonin, which not only helps you sleep better, but boosts your mood, too.
Whether you use the whole pumpkin, the pulp or the seeds, here are five must-try recipes, ranging from savoury to sweet.
Thai Pumpkin Coconut Soup
This silky soup is a mix of traditional sweet and sour Thai flavours and has only 159 calories per serving. It’s guaranteed to be your go-to winter warm-up soup.
Pumpkin Spice Muffins
A muffin is a great grab-and-go treat. Skip the maple cream cheese spread to keep the calorie count (250 calories) low.
Arugula and Pepita Pesto
Add this pesto to salad, soups or over meat. Keeps in the freezer for up to six months.
Almond Pepita Butter
This fragrant nut butter with a mix of almond and pepita is a super-satisfying topper.
Pumpkin Pie Granola
A mix of pepitas, pecans, flaxseeds, puffed rice cereal and a medley of aromatic spices, such as cinnamon, ginger and cloves gives this granola loads of flavour.
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<p><span class="credit">James Tse </span></p>
It wouldn't be fall without a few delicious pumpkin recipes. Here are our very favourite ones.
Transform leftover pumpkin puree into a speedy five-ingredient dessert that's sure to become your full-fledged fall obsession.
Get the recipe: No-Bake Pumpkin Cheesecake For Two
This twist on an Italian classic combines lightly spiced layers of creamy mascarpone cheese and citrus-flavored ladyfinger cookies in an everyday baking dish.
Get the recipe: Pumpkin Praline Tiramisu
This stunning layer cake will make an extraordinary ending to any Thanksgiving meal.
Get the recipe: Spiced Pumpkin Layer Cake with Chocolate Icing
Can't decide between cheese cake or pumpkin pie? Treat yourself to the best of both worlds with these fabulous pumpkin cheesecake squares.
Get the recipe: Spiced Pumpkin Pie Squares
This classic pie uses sugar, or pie, pumpkins, which are abundant in the fall.
Get the recipe : Fresh Pumpkin Pie
A classic mouse can be fussy to prepare properly, but our no cook method uses a food processor to whip pumpkin, yogurt and cream into a silky-smooth (and foolproof!) treat.
Get the recipe : Pumpkin Amaretti Mousse
A gingersnap cookie crust, spiced pumpkin cheesecake filling and whipped cream cloud topping make this heavenly fall dessert absolutely irresistible.
Get the recipe : Pumpkin Cheesecake With White Chocolate Almond Bark
Taking a bite into one of these soft, moist cookies is like eating the top of a pumpkin cupcake.
Get the recipe : Spiced Pumpkin Cookies with Cream Cheese Icing
Draining pumpkin puree maximizes its flavour, eliminates excess water and makes a thick, luxurious filling.
Get the recipe : Classic Pumpkin Pie with Yogurt Whipped Cream
Calling all ginger lovers! This festive cake deliciously covers ginger from every angle, from fresh to ground to the pièce de résistance-attractive crystallized ginger garnish.
Get the recipe : Pumpkin Gingerbread Cake with Caramel Sauce
Pumpkin purée keeps these cute cakes moist and gives them rich flavour.
Get the recipe: Mini Pumpkin Cakes
Gooey sticky buns are perfect for a crowd on a cozy holiday morning.
Get the recipe: Pumpkin Sticky Buns
Studded with chocolate chips and crystallized ginger, this moist marbled loaf makes the best fall-flavoured afternoon treat.
Get the recipe: Chocolate Pumpkin Swirl Loaf
These single-serving-size pumpkin pies are a fun and easy-to-assemble take on the classic Thanksgiving dessert.
Get the recipe: Mini Pumpkin Tarts
A brown butter spread gives flaky spiced pumpkin scones nutty flavour and an extra touch of sweetness.
Get the recipe: Pumpkin Scones with Whipped Brown Butter Icing
The warm, heady spices of pumpkin pie shines through in this crisp, golden granola.
Get the recipe: Pumpkin Pie Granola
Pumpkin is a common ingredient in Thai cooking. Pie pumpkins are not always available in grocery stores throughout the year, but butternut squash makes a great alternative.
Get the recipe: Thai Pumpkin Coconut Soup
Using a blender to mix the milk and chocolate gives this indulgent drink a lovely frothy texture.
Get the recipe: Pumpkin White Hot Chocolate
If you think fall is synonymous with pumpkin pies and spiced lattes, this recipe will be your go-to all season long.
Get the recipe : Fresh Pumpkin Purée
Adding amaretti cookies to the creamy mascarpone filling gives this rolled cake a welcome crunch.
Get the recipe: Pumpkin and White Chocolate Bûche de Noël