Whether you need a pan to bake your favourite brownies or a skillet to whip up an easy breakfast scramble, chances are you reach for what you thought was perfectly safe nonstick cookware. But according to a recent investigation by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), those pots and pans could actually contain harmful chemicals.
What the study found
Based on its findings, the FDA reported that PFAS (a group of 5,000 synthetic chemicals that are also known as “forever chemicals”) are present in about 98 percent of Americans’ bloodstreams. And one of the major sources? The food we eat, claims the Environmental Protection Agency, noting that the dangerous substances are absorbed into food from things like nonstick cookware.
While the FDA says that the levels of PFAS are not yet high enough to be harmful to our health, that doesn’t mean that the recent results aren’t troubling. After all, PFAS (which can flake off into your food when you’re cooking over high heat) have been associated with serious health risks including cancer, infertility and kidney or liver damage—to name a few.
And even though scientists don’t know the exact effects of PFAS on our bodies, it’s always smart to avoid exposing yourself to toxic, manufactured substances when possible (one way to do so is by getting these vegetables from the farmers’ market).
How to choose safe nonstick cookware
As a result of the study, many PFAS have been banned from being used to produce pots and pans. But if you’re in the market for a new set right now, stay away from aluminum and Teflon materials, which can contain high levels of PFAS and other chemicals. Instead, the Government of Canada recommends looking for nontoxic materials like ceramic, stainless steel or glass.
And to make your safe nonstick cookware last longer (and prevent it from releasing any potentially harmful chemicals), make sure you clean it properly and avoid chipping the pan with metal utensils or cooking over high heat, both of which can cause PFAS to enter your food or the air you breathe.
Chlorine is a common additive to keep pathogens and bacteria from ruining everyone’s favourite summer activity, swimming in a pool. What you might not expect is how chlorine can trigger chemical reactions with other common elements and compounds. “If the water has copper in it, as well water often does, the copper can become oxidized by chlorine,” shares Doris Day, MD, clinical associate professor of dermatology at NYU Langone Health. “In turn, it can bind to the hair shaft and turns blonde hair green.” Dr. Day recommends wetting hair with tap water before swimming so strands can’t absorb as much chlorinated water, then using a vinegar rinse after swimming to keep hair free of green hues. (Also, these blonde hair products can help you maintain those icy locks.)
Running is the sport I always gravitate to for its low-maintenance (have kicks, will run) and accessible (open door, go) nature with high-impact returns. Plus, I’m a sucker for instant gratification (thanks, virtual checkmarks) and the on-demand feedback that I can access (via my running app, Strava, and fitness tracker) with each run to help me improve my game. (What’s more, it’s an excuse to have a little me-time.)
One of the first things I do when gearing up to train for a race is to plug the race date into my running app. Then, it spits out a weekly training schedule, outlining the type of run (tempo, speed or long) and distance I need to complete each week.
But, I’ve always been more of a fair-weather runner. So, when Saucony invited me to run the eDreams half-marathon in Barcelona, I quickly said, “sí!” A springtime race was just the incentive this winter-adverse runner needed to continue logging miles through a frosty and flurry-filled season. And a trip to Barcelona was the icing – or more like the crema Catalana.
The Challenge: Train All Winter
The half (21.1 kilometers) has quickly become one of my favourite longer races – and the preferred distance for many other runners, especially women with the number of female entrants doubling their male counterparts in most races. (Interested in taking on the challenge? See everything you need to know about running your first marathon.)
With my running schedule mapped out, my playlist primed and my favourite shoes both for short and long runs flat-laid at the front door, my training schedule was set. (Check out the running gear our editor relies on for marathons.)
Photo Credit: Grace TobyThe Setting: Beautiful Barcelona
I was excited to return to Barcelona, the largest city on the Mediterranean, where I had fond memories from previous travels to this area. A few years back while staying in the Poblenou area (new town), I was struck by the wide-open promenades and avenues – a dream for runners – and I instantly regretted not packing my kicks.
During this trip, we stayed on the western side of the shore at the W Barcelona, known as the sail hotel for its glistening shape which seems to rise out of the harbour. With a beach-front boardwalk that takes off at the foot of the hotel, this made it the ideal spot for beachside runs, as well as being close to various race events and the big run.
Photo Credit: Grace TobyThe Pre-Run Agenda: Biking and Race Prep
We arrived in the city on a Friday afternoon giving us ample time to settle in and acclimatized to the new time zone before Sunday’s race. With a desire to play tourist while sparing our legs, we took an electronic bike tour. Along with being a great destination for runners, Barcelona is a bike-friendly city. Our biker gang cycled through the buzzing city and up the steep Montjuïc (which means mountain of the Jews) mountain and through the tranquil garden of Jardins de Mossèn Costa I Llobera, which houses the largest cacti garden in Europe. Once we reached the top, we were rewarded with panoramic views and watched the cable car sweep across the city, high above the rooftops. Then, we rode through the Olympic Ring, with the Torre Calatrava (the iconic telecommunications tower) that was built for the 1992 Summer Games.
We rounded up our day with a joyride through Parc de la Ciutadella (Barcelona’s Central Park), the city’s biggest and oldest park. The sprawling and idyllic park includes a zoo, the monumental Cascada fountain (on the same scale as the Trevi Fountain in Rome and was designed by a young Gaudí), and a lake dotted with rowboats.
Later that day, we picked up our race kits from the Arenas de Barcelona, which was formerly a bullfighting stadium until the practice was banned in 2010. It now houses a six-floor shopping mall with a rooftop terrace that offers a scenic (and free) view of the city. At the Saucony booth, I had my running gait analyzed by their experts and learned that I favour one foot, pronating inwards. Armed with this new information, they helped me pick out the best pair of shoes to wear.
Since it was the night before the big day and we needed a good night’s sleep before our early wake-up, we decided to have an early dinner (well, early for Spain) at the restaurant in our hotel. We feasted on a carb-heavy meal of paella that was chockfull of shellfish and chorizo, and of course, ordered dessert, too.
Photo Credit: Grace TobyThe Race: “Anybody Can Run if They Put in the Time to Train”
On race day, we were rewarded with a warm and sunny 21-degree day – a stark contrast from my training days back home. Running alongside more than 19,000 runners (it was sold out) from every corner of the world, our all-female Canadian crew made up of women of every age and with varying race experience, from a first-time race-goer to seasoned pros who complete several marathons a year. It reaffirmed my belief that anybody can run if they put in the time to train. (Read about how a marathon helped one woman take her health back.)
The flat and fast route allowed for speed and the opportunity to spot landmarks, from the Arc de Triomf at the start, through the old town with balconies trimmed with the Catalan flag and then along the eastern portion of the modernist Eixample district and down by the beach, ending near the Parc de la Ciutedella. I used the crowd’s energy to propel me with each mile, until I reached the finish line. I was so proud of our group as each of us made it in the top ten among fellow Canadian runners.
Photo Credit: Grace TobyThe Reward: Food, Views and Pride
Following race day, it was time to reward and indulge ourselves with sleeping in, a massage and a few pitchers of sangria. We spent the rest of our time sightseeing, visiting the Sagrada Famiglia, and strolling through the various unique neighbourhoods, such as the Gothic Quarter and Las Ramblas, and of course some time beachside.
I packed up my luggage full of new memories and deeper connection with this group of women, and proudly wore my medal – my prized souvenir – home.
Too often, we keep using dishcloths and dish towels long after they’ve gotten dirty. All we’re doing is spreading bacteria and germs on everything they touch—including the utensils we use on the food we eat.
“Believe it or not, dish towels can be one of the dirtiest items in your home,” says Bailey Carson, head of cleaning at Handy, a home-cleaning service. From cleaning up spills to wiping off countertops, they often get used more than they’re cleaned.” Because dish towels are so absorbent, they are the perfect home for bacteria, mildew, and even mold.
Health Canada recommends wiping your kitchen surfaces with paper towel (and these eco-friendly cleaning products) to avoid cross-contamination and the risk of spreading germs. But for those of us who want to take the eco-friendly (and budget-friendly) approach, here’s what you need to know about using dish linens.
1. Using one as a hand towel? Replace a couple of times a week.
Let the purpose of your dish linens dictate how often they should be washed. Are they just for drying your hands after washing them? Wiping up water on counters or polishing away fingerprints on cupboard doors? In that case, Julie Finch-Scally, founder of The Duster Dollies, says that it’s all right to reuse that type of towel for three to four days.
2. Using one to wipe down surfaces and dry dishes? Replace every day.
If you’re using your dishcloths and towels to wipe down cutting boards, wash down stovetops, clean up after spills, or even for drying your dishes, you should replace them more often. “Ideally you should wash your dishcloths once a day,” says Liz O’Hanlon, director of Metro Cleaning (UK) Ltd.
3. Using one to wipe up spills? Replace after every use.
If you’re using towels to wipe up spillages (especially those that include raw meat or fish), replace the towel immediately after each use, advises O’Hanlon.
4. Does this sound like too much washing? Have an ample supply of dish towels.
Of course, just because you should replace dish linens up to seven days a week doesn’t mean you have to run a load of a few dishcloths and towels every single day. Instead, collect dirty towels in a basket under your sink and wash them when you’ve collected a full load’s worth.
5. Have stinky towels on your hands? Wash them with hot water.
That smell would be mold and mildew—so you’ll need to wash them in very hot water. If they come out of the dryer still smelling bad, it’s time to get a new set.
Apple’s much anticipated irregular heart rhythm notifications and ECG app officially launched in Canada today. “We’ve seen the ECG App and irregular rhythm notifications on Apple Watch have meaningful impact on our customers across the United States, Europe and Hong Kong,” says Jeff Williams, Apple’s chief operating officer. “We are excited to bring these features to customers in Canada, giving them access to empowering information about their heart health.”
While the ECG app has only just become available to Canadians, some users (like this Canadian man) were already using the Apple Watch heart rate sensor to provide insight into their health. In fact, customer feedback is really what led Apple’s innovation and entry into heart health. “It was actually very organic,” says Sumbul Desai, MD, Apple’s vice president of Health. “We started off as a fitness device and we put the optical heart sensor into the watch to be able to detect the accuracy of our calorie measurements and our calorie calculations.” After introducing heart rate on Apple Watch a few years ago, Dr. Desai says Apple received a number of letters from customers who had gone to the doctor after noticing an elevated heart rate only to find out they had atrial fibrillation, a serious infection, an allergic reaction or something else that would explain what they were seeing on the heart rate app.
That insight led Apple to question what else they could measure and ultimately led to the Apple Heart Study, a clinical trial by Apple and researchers at Stanford Medicine that studied whether the app that analyzes pulse-rate data can screen for a heart rhythm disorder. Spoiler alert: It can.
The ECG app is the first ever direct-to-consumer product that allows customers to take an electrocardiogram right from their wrist. Apple was able to launch the feature for U.S. customers almost a year ago after receiving clearance from the Food and Drug Administration, but it wasn’t until earlier this spring that Health Canada approved Apple Watch software for the features.
Photo Credit: Apple
Here, with the help of Dr. Desai, we’re answering your most common questions about Apple Watch heart rhythm notification and ECG.
What exactly is atrial fibrillation?
Atrial fibrillation (AFib) is a type of irregular heart rhythm, also known as an arrhythmia, according to the Heart and Stroke Foundation. Arrhythmias are like an electrical disturbance of the heart. “Your heart normally beats in a very normal, steady drumbeat,” says Dr. Desai. “When your heart’s playing jazz—beating all over the place—that’s usually how to characterize atrial fibrillation, and that’s not healthy for your heart.”
The most common risk factor for AFib is high blood pressure, while other common causes include diabetes, an infection or inflammation of the heart, hyperthyroidism, heavy alcohol use, and even sleep apnea.
How common is AFib? Does it always indicate something serious?
AFib is the most common arrhythmia and affects approximately 200,000 Canadians. Your risk of developing it increases with age and other factors like diabetes, high blood pressure and underlying heart disease. (Psst: Here’s how to lower blood pressure naturally.) As the Heart and Stroke Foundation explains, most people with AFib lead normal, active lives with treatment, but if left untreated, it can interfere with your quality of life. The two major complications of AFib are heart failrure and stroke. (Do you know the stroke symptoms women are likely to ignore?) “What happens is when your heart’s playing jazz, your heart’s not pumping fully and pushing blood out the way it should,” explains Dr. Desai. “It can create clots and if those clots get sent throughout your body, then that is when it can lead to stroke. That’s the biggest risk of atrial fibrillation and the one that most physicians worry about.”
What does an ECG do?
An ECG (electrocardiogram) is a test that records the timing and strength of the electrical signals that make up your heartbeat. The time in between each of your heartbeats and the strength of each heartbeat should be roughly the same. That’s known as sinus rhythm. If your heart is beating in an irregular pattern, an ECG test would show atrial fibrillation.
How does Apple Watch ECG compare to the type of ECG test I would get in a hospital?
“ECGs are normally 12 leads and they take a full, three-dimensional picture of your heart, so we’re able to take one of those 12 leads and deliver that via the watch,” says Dr. Desai. “It’s one simple picture; it’s not the full picture, so there are certain conditions you can pick up that way, and atrial fibrillation, for example, is one of them.” Dr. Desai also notes that the Apple Watch ECG is not diagnostic like a hospital device, meaning it’s really meant as a prescreening tool that can prompt users to seek out further testing from their doctor.
Photo Credit: AppleHow does the Apple Watch ECG work?
First, let’s talk about the irregular heart rhythm notification. With the latest watch update (watchOS 5.3), this feature is available to anyone in Canada with Apple Watch Series 1 or later. Using the optical heart sensor, the feature occasionally checks the user’s heart rhythm in the background for signs of an irregular heart rhythm. If an irregular rhythm is detected on five rhythm checks over a period of 65 minutes, the watch will alert the user and prompt them to see their doctor.
The ECG app is only available with Apple Watch Series 4, thanks to the addition of built-in electrodes in the Digital Crown and the back of Apple Watch. After updating your watch, you’ll need to set up the ECG app following these steps. After that, you can take an ECG at any time, although Apple doesn’t recommend doing so daily. Instead, save it for times when you’re feeling symptoms such as a rapid or skipped heartbeat, when you have other health concerns, or when you receive an irregular heart rhythm notification. To take the test, follow these steps:
Make sure your Apple Watch is snug
Open the ECG app on your Apple Watch
Rest your arm on a table or in your lap and with the hand opposite your watch, hold your finger on the Digital Crown.
Wait for the recording to count down from 30. At the end of the 30-second recording, you will receive a classification (sinus rhythm; atrial fibrillation; low or high heart rate; or inconclusive)
Next, tap Add Symptoms to customize the report, which will be saved to the Health app on your iPhone.
Each of your ECG results will be stored in the Health app on your iPhone or in the iCloud if you choose to backup your data and nowhere else (Apple is really serious about user privacy and maintains that each person’s health data is theirs and only theirs). That way if you want to share your health data with your doctor, you can easily access each ECG result and export it as a PDF.
What does my doctor think of these features?
You doctor will probably have questions since it is a new technology, but Dr. Desai says overall feedback from the medical community has been very positive. “The clinicians that have used it so far have found that it’s providing them with additional information about the consumer or patient that they were having a hard time capturing,” she says. “For example, when you’re living your daily life and you’re having heart palpitations that are happening at a very specific time, the ability now to capture a 30 second ECG and then go and share it with your physician has been really helpful.”
Dr. Heather Ross, head of Cardiology at the Peter Munk Cardiac Centre in Toronto, agrees: “Being able to use wearables, such as Apple Watch, to track how patients are doing in the moment, in between their episodes of care, has the potential, though not yet realized, to transform healthcare.”
Ultimately, Apple Watch ECG isn’t a replacement for your doctor’s advice or any medical tests. “We really designed those features with the intent to be used for the patient and provider to be using it in partnership. We want this to augment the doctor-patient relationship,” says Dr. Desai. (Also, see the things Canadian doctors secretly wish they could tell you.
Think of it this way: Apple Watch ECG is another tool you can use to become more empowered and proactive about your health and your healthcare. And, according to Dr. Ross, “Engaging and motivating patients to follow their heart health and advocate for their care is critical for disease prevention.”
The goal of a ketogenic diet is to force your body to stop burning its favourite fuel—glucose from the carbs you eat—and start burning fat stores for energy. The body does this by converting the fats to ketones—a state called ketosis. Keto dieters accomplish this digestive feat by cutting way back on their carbohydrate intake. But to do it right, it’s not enough to just guesstimate your carb intake; you could get it wrong and undermine all your efforts. “If you are a beginner to the ketogenic diet, counting carbs is an absolute necessity to avoid frustration in the future,” says Steven Santo, a spokesman for Kegenix/Real Ketones, a keto supplement company. Track your food intake with an app like MyFitnessPal or LoseIt, or just use old-fashioned paper and pen. What you learn may surprise you. “You may be wearing ‘carb-blinders,’ meaning you are unaware of how many carbohydrates you are really consuming in a day,” says Santo. “If you can’t see the number of carbs sneaking into your day, you may be eating many more than you think.”
The average daily goal for keto is 20 grams of net carbs. Net carbs are the total carbs in a given serving of food, minus the carbohydrates that are supplied by fiber. You’ll find carb grams quickly add up, even when you’re choosing the best low-carb foods, like spinach and avocado. Keeping your body in a quasi-keto state can be hard on you, warns Santo: “This will leave you feeling sluggish, foggy, and discouraged,” he says. “It will most likely cause a weight plateau, and maybe even weight gain.”
It happens all the time: you smack your shin on the bedpost or bump your arm on a doorknob, and then spend the next several days watching a kaleidoscope of colours shift and change as they mark the spot where you injured yourself.
Bruises are a fact of life. They’re your body’s natural response to these kinds of injuries, and they happen because blood from damaged blood cells collects near the surface of the skin. In most cases they are simply an unsightly nuisance. But of course if you have unexplained bruises that occur easily or for no apparent reason, a bruise that isn’t getting better after a few weeks, or one accompanied by extreme pain and swelling, you should talk to your doctor.
You may find that you bruise more easily as you age, and this is perfectly normal too. Our skin gets thinner and the tissue that supports the underlying blood vessels becomes more fragile, so bruising happens more often than it did when we were younger. Women also tend to bruise more easily than men because they have structurally different skin and a higher concentration of fat in certain areas, including the legs.
We normally just try to hide a bruise under a long sleeve, or perhaps disguise it with some makeup and carry on.
But thanks to Zax Healthcare, a family-owned Canadian company, now you can be proactive and actually do something to help protect against bruising before it even happens.
Zax Healthcare was founded in 2006 when President and CEO, Alyssa Rolnick, a registered dietitian and proponent of natural health, began searching for a better treatment for bruises after her husband Mark, a pharmacist, sustained a series of bruises while playing hockey.
After two years of research and development working with a leading team of chemists and botanists, Zax’s Original® Bruise Cream was born. Using a proprietary combination of Arnica and Witch Hazel, which are recommended by WebMD for bruising, along with a hint of Menthol, the topical cream heals bruises four days faster, improves discolouration, and reduces the pain and inflammation associated with bruises.
Creating a natural treatment to help speed healing once a bruise has happened was a pretty amazing accomplishment. But the team at Zax wanted to do more for customers asking for something to help build up a tolerance to the bumps that lead to bruising.
What if, they wondered, is it possible for skin become more bruise-free? What if those “easy-bruisers” finally had the power to minimize bruises before they even happened? With that ambitious goal in mind, Zax Healthcare researched and crafted a, pharmacist-developed, oral supplement targeted specifically to people who bruise easily.
Zax’s Original® Bruise Vitamin is the very first supplement of its kind designed specifically for people who bruise easily to help protect against bruising. The formula, approved by Health Canada, is a unique blend of vitamin D3, vitamin C, citrus bioflavonoids, zinc and vitamin K, which are the most proven vitamins and minerals known to reduce bruising. Taken just one capsule, once daily, it strengthens skin, supports connective tissue formation, promotes wound healing and can help protect against future bruises.
As with any supplement, be sure to read the full label to ensure that these products are right for you. If you take blood-thinning medications, check with your doctor before taking the Bruise Vitamin.
As you get older, it’s important to be proactive and take control of your health and wellness. When it coms to bruises, Zax really has you covered! While bruise-free skin is the ultimate goal, the duo of Zax’s Original® Bruise Cream and Bruise Vitamin gets you one step closer!
For more information on Zax’s bruising, natural skin care, and other first aid products, or to get $10 off in coupons click here.
Look for Zax’s line of original creams and Zax’s Original® Bruise Vitamin in the first aid and skin care aisle at Shopper’s Drug Mart, Rexall, and Natural Health Stores across Canada.
A grande iced coffee with skim milk and two Splendas, please? Think again—and hold the sweet stuff. “I do not think there is sufficient evidence to prove that most artificial sweeteners are safe for consumers, so I prefer to stay away from them and indulge in the real thing [sugar] occasionally and mindfully. Plus, there’s a plethora of research that shows how consuming diet beverages may counter-intuitively lead to weight gain, which can increase your risk of chronic diseases like diabetes and heart disease,” registered dietitian and nutritionist, Chelsey Amer says.
Hitting the open road for summer adventures is a Canadian tradition for many. Whether you are planning a cross-country road trip or simply heading to cottage country, there are some key car essentials to consider before heading out. As an automotive expert and avid road tripper, I’ve learned some tips and tricks on how to make the most out of summer road adventures. And though getting road-trip ready may require a few purchases, you don’t need to spend a lot of time or money getting prepped – shopping eBay.ca gives you unparalleled range of choice and value for your different needs, wants and budgets, plus a Daily Deals program and Best Price Guarantee, so it could quickly become your one-stop shop for road trip essentials.
Photo Credit: eBay
Here are my top summer road trip tips and product must-haves that will help you maximize your vacation fun while staying safe on the roads.
Summer Road Refresh
Canadians think about tuning up their car before the winter season but giving it a simple summer refresh before hitting the hot pavement will help ensure smooth sailing. Consider visiting a mechanic for a once over to make sure fluids are topped and your battery is fully charged. I also suggest using your own scanner/diagnostic tool to assess any problems even before you head to the mechanic so you aren’t hit with any unpleasant surprises or costs during your visit.
Before you leave the driveway, make sure to pack essential safety items so you’re prepared for any bump in the road. While we all know the basic necessities like a spare blanket, first aid kit and flashlight, also consider items like a jumper power charging battery, so you’re never stuck worrying about a dead phone or jumper.
For the extra-long hauls, bring along some fun gadgets and games to keep passengers from asking “are we there yet?”. iPads and other tablets are a great way to keep busy on the road, but for some unplugged fun this summer, I highly recommend road trip bingo – a fun way to entertain all passengers on your journey.
Don’t Forget the Furry Friends
Traveling with pets is totally possible if you prepare in advance. Ensure your furry friends are safe and comfortable by packing plenty of water, stopping every few hours for potty breaks or walks and keep them buckled in with a seatbelt harness.
Being well-prepared for your next summer trip ensures your vacation starts on the right foot, so be sure to take some time to consider your car must-haves that will keep you and your travel companions comfortable and safe on the open road. Happy travels!