While every Canadian faces his or her own unique set of health hurdles, there are a number of ailments that have become pervasive in Canada. Though medicine has advanced over the years, our modern lifestyles have introduced a new set of health challenges. Here are some of the top health problems that Canadians face today.
According to the Public Health Agency of Canada, diagnoses of diabetes among Canadians increased 70 percent from 1998/1999 to 2008/2009. For those ages 35 to 44, the number of diagnoses actually doubled in that decade! Experts blame the shocking increase in the disease on rising obesity rates, caused by diet and inactivity. The Canadian Diabetes Association says there are nine million Canadians with diabetes or prediabetes, and experts expect the prevalence of the disease to grow another 47 percent by 2024.
Heart disease and stroke are consistently among the leading causes of death in both men and women. Though some of the contributing factors, such as age, race and family history, are out of our control, many of the lifestyle factors associated with heart disease are on the rise. For instance, the rise in obesity and inactivity is putting more and more Canadians at risk. And for those Canadians living with diabetes, heart disease risk is also higher. While smoking has decreased greatly in the past decade, 16 percent of Canadians are still smoking, and putting themselves at a significantly higher risk for developing heart disease.
Multiple sclerosis may not be a leading killer, but it's a scary and uniquely Canadian disease. Canada has the highest rate of MS in the world, with about 100,000 people living with the disease. Most are diagnosed between the ages of 15 and 40, but the cause of the disease is still unknown. Mysteriously, some of the hardest hit countries seem to be those furthest from the equator, leading some people to believe that the disease is linked to a shortage of vitamin D, which is produced from sun exposure. But even accounting for our northern location, this theory doesn't seem to explain why our rate is a whopping 28 percent higher than that of Denmark, the country with the next highest rate.
Cancer as a whole is the leading cause of death among Canadians, and the incidence of the disease is expected to increase in coming years as our population ages. More than 75,000 Canadians are estimated to die of cancer a year. While lung and colorectal cancers account for 40 percent of all cancer deaths, skin cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer. In the past two decades, we have managed to decrease the death rates associated with many cancers, including breast, prostate and stomach cancers, but others, such as liver cancer, are on the rise. (Liver cancer is associated with hepatitis, alcohol use, obesity and diabetes.) Though there have been many advances in cancer research in the past several years, Canadians still have a long way to go in the fight against cancer.
While it's not a disease in itself, alcohol leads to a number of dangerous diseases in Canadians, including addiction and several types of cancer, but alcohol can also lead to other accidents and personal injuries. In fact, alcohol can account for eight percent of all deaths among Canadians under the age of 70, and a study from the journal Addiction says that Canadians drink about 50 percent more alcohol than the rest of the world, on average.
Much like cancer, chances are that everyone has been affected by mental illness in some way, whether through association with friends or family, or through their own struggles. According to the Canadian Mental Health Association, 20 percent of Canadians will experience mental illness in their lifetime, and eight percent of adults will experience major depression. Mental illness also leads to suicide, which is one of the leading causes of death among Canadians from adolescence to middle age. Unfortunately, Canada still struggles to properly treat mental illness, as many patients wait months to see a psychiatrist or are forced to pay out of pocket for therapy.
There has been a recent flurry of misinformation warning the public about the safety of vaccines that has gotten health officials worried that we could soon see a rise in previously eradicated diseases. In early 2014, there was an outbreak of the measles in Fraser Valley, B.C., that made hundreds of people sick because of the failure to vaccinate against the disease. Currently, the province of British Columbia is reporting their lowest vaccination rates among kindergarteners in a decade. And it's not just affecting kids. During the 2014 flu season, a poll found that less than four in 10 Canadians received the flu shot, and the primary reason so many neglected to get it was because of a mistrust of vaccines. In the coming years, education about vaccines should be a priority in Canada to keep the next generation free of preventable diseases.
Making minor, yet meaningful changes to your lifestyle can help you become a significantly healthier and happier person. Our health expert shares five tips on sleep, nutrition and fitness to help you achieve these goals.
"Why does she look and feel so good? I think I want what she's having!" If you find yourself thinking like this it might be time to adopt some new habits.
All you need is time and patience to make the perfect caramelized onions. Here's how.
Golden and sweet, yet super savoury, caramelized onions add depth of flavour to so many dishes. They make the best pizza, burger and sandwich toppers and turn plain old cooked pasta or potatoes into gourmet dishes.
And guess what? They're really easy to make! You'll need a large skillet, some onions, a pat of butter, a pinch of salt, and some time. It's a long process (40 to 50 minutes), but absolutely worth the wait. Time and patience means no scorched onions and the ultimate in flavour and texture. Here's how:
First, choose the right skillet. For best results, use a large heavy-bottomed cast iron or stainless steel skillet. If the skillet is too small the onions are crowded and will steam instead of caramelize, meaning the process takes more time. A nonstick skillet will work if that's all you've got, but you won't get the same sticky bits (called the fond in chef speak) on the bottom of the skillet that really add flavour.
Slice the onions. Trim the stem and root ends of the onions and peel away the skin. Slice the onion, lengthwise, thinly (about 1/4 inch or just less). You can use 1 to 4 onions in a large skillet. More onions will take longer to caramelize and fewer onions will take less time, simply keep your eye on the skillet depending on how many you start with. Yellow cooking onions are the most common and versatile onion to use for caramelizing. However, you can use any onion each with subtly different flavours and colours, experiment to find your favourite.
Melt butter (about 1 tbsp) in skillet over medium heat.
Add the onions when the butter stops bubbling and stir a few times to coat the onions. Cook over medium heat (reduce to medium low if the onions start to look or smell like they're burning), stirring once every 5 minutes or so, until the onions are ultra tender, a rich golden colour and have a delightful sweetness. At 10 minutes the onions are still plump and mostly white with just a few golden edges. At 20 minutes look for the onions beginning to shrink, become a little sticky and deepen in colour. At 30 minutes you'll see that the onions are a deeper, richer colour, have really started to shrink and become almost jam-like. The bits are beginning to stick to the bottom, use your spoon or spatula to scrape them up when you stir. At 40 minutes, taste the onions and check the colour. You're looking for meltingly tender onions with a rich golden hue and a sweet taste. Add a few more minutes (up to 10) depending on where they're at now. Note all the bits stuck to the bottom of the skillet in the photo below. These are good!
Deglaze the skillet and season the onions. To deglaze means to add liquid (you can use water, wine or vinegar, about 1/4 cup) to the skillet and stir for a minute or two in order to scrape up all the delicious bits (fond) that are stuck to the bottom of the skillet. The liquid will bubble up and steam, releasing those nuggets of flavour. Often in cooking, we are fearful of things stuck to the bottom of the pan, but unless it's scorched and totally black, this is where the true flavour lies. Once deglazed, stir in a pinch of salt, taste and add more as needed.
Let the onions cool. Then use as you desire. It's a good idea to make a large batch. Simply thaw before using. These are great to have on hand for quick pizza toppings or to stir into an easy pasta dish.
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Ginger may not be the first spice you think of to incorporate in your snacks, salads and dinners but it's one of the healthiest on the planet! Here's why:
1. It's healthy for your heart.
Research has shown that ginger may lower cholesterol and help prevent blood clotting, which could, in turn, help prevent blood vessel blockages that can lead to heart attacks or strokes.
A recent study out of Pennsylvania State University found that a meal made with a spice blend that included ginger (along with garlic, rosemary, oregano, cinnamon, cloves, paprika, turmeric and black pepper) reduced levels of triglycerides by 30 percent when compared to an identical non-spiced meal.
2. It helps your tummy!
Ginger has long been associated with relieving nausea and morning sickness, motion sickness, and even menstrual pain, as it's original use was for pain relief. A 2012 study shored up that wisdom, showing that ginger can reduce nausea after chemotherapy when taken as a supplement.
3. It can help you breathe easy.
Ginger tea is a classic remedy purported to ease cough and cold symptoms. And it turns out, there’s some science to its soothing powers when you’re sick. In 2013, research out of Columbia University found that ginger might help asthma patients breathe more easily.
4. It has anti-inflammatory effects.
Osteoarthritis causes joint pain and stiffness, but the anti-inflammatory effects of ginger can help that. In a trial done by the National Centre for Biotechnology Information, participants who took ginger extract had less pain and needed less pain medication than those who didn't.
*Although rare, too much ginger can cause heartburn, diarrhea and irritation of the mouth, according to the University of Maryland. There can also be interactions with medications, such as acetylsalicylic acid.
But most of us can indulge in ginger for its flavour and health benefits. Try it in:
Apple Cran-Curry Salsa
Apricot Almond Energy Bars
Asparagus and Orange Salad With Ginger Dressing
Broiled Tofu With No-Cook Peanut Sauce