Monday, July 31, 2017

Bracing for Vancouver's Heatwave

With temperatures expected to hit record-breaking highs across much of British Columbia’s south coast this week, Environment Canada has issued a special weather statement. Daytime temperatures will exceed 30°C, which means there is an increased risk of developing heat-related illness as a result of the extreme heat. An air quality advisory was also issued, going into effect August 1st, as a result of high concentrations of fine particular matter (such as ash and smoke) in the air due to the number of wildfires that are burning across the Province.

Prolonged exposure to the sun can cause a wide variety of heat-related illnesses, including heat exhaustion and heat stroke

Heat exhaustion occurs as a result of exercising or doing any kind of strenuous activity (i.e. heavy lifting) while in a hot environment. This can lead to dehydration as a result of water that is lost due to sweating. You may also experience dizziness, weakness, nausea or vomiting, and headaches. If you suspect that you may have heat exhaustion, Dr. Ali Ghahary, a family doctor from Vancouver, recommends getting out of the heat immediately and moving into shaded areas or a building that is air-conditioned, rest, and make sure you drink plenty of water!

Heat stroke, which is the most severe heat-related illness that one can develop, occurs as a result of being in extreme heat/sun for prolonged amounts of time. When you stay in the heat for a lengthy period, the body’s heat-regulating system becomes overwhelmed and unable to cool itself down. Symptoms of heat stroke can be similar to those of heat exhaustion, including severe headache, nausea and vomiting, muscle cramps, feeling lightheaded, rapid heartbeat, breathing that becomes shallow, changes in behaviour such as disorientation, seizures, and you can even become unconscious. If you are with someone you think may be suffering from heat stroke, it is important to call 911 immediately, as this can be a life-threatening condition.

While the heat can affect anyone, individuals such as infants and elderly patients are more at risk, as well as those who have pre-existing health problems such as lung disease, heart disease, or diabetes. As such, Dr. Ali Ghahary recommends avoiding the outdoors and/or strenuous activity until these weather advisories are lifted. If you still insist on going outdoors, it is important to take steps to avoid heat-related illness by keeping hydrated (drink plenty of water!) and keeping your eyes and skin protected by wearing hats, sunglasses and sunscreen. 

You can find plenty of summer health tips by following Dr. Ali Ghahary on Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.

Friday, July 21, 2017

What Are Antioxidants?

When discussing healthy eating, the word “antioxidants” is one you might hear being thrown around quite often. They are responsible for delaying or stopping damaged to the body’s cells by removing waste, commonly referred to as “free radicals.” This is a term that is used to describe certain compounds that attach and ultimately cause damage to body’s healthy cells – i.e. from smoking or other toxins.

The best way to make sure you’re getting the antioxidants that you need is eating a diet that consists of plenty of fruits and vegetables – something Vancouver physician, Dr. Ali Ghahary, already strongly encourages his patients to do. 

Some examples of antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables that you can easily incorporate into your everyday meal planning include (but aren’t limited to) prunes, plums, raisins, cranberries, blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, strawberries and oranges, as well as kale, spinach, broccoli, asparagus, carrots, and bell peppers. Pecans and kidney beans are also high in antioxidants, as are green and black teas.

The antioxidant properties found in these foods and beverages contain nutrients that are essential for good health and can prevent a number of different diseases. The ways in which your health may be positively impacted consuming more antioxidants include having better eye health, heart health, prostate health and urinary tract health. The skin can also be improved by antioxidants, including reducing the signs of aging, and you may even notice a positive boost in your mood.

In order to prevent disease, it is always important to have regular check-ups with your physician. You can find more tips on healthy eating on Dr. Ali Ghahary’s Wordpress blog and by following him on Twitter and Instagram.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Preparing Healthy Meals

After a long day at work or school, the last thing anyone wants to do is go home and cook a meal. However, eating a well-balanced, healthy diet can actually boost that work or school performance, and your body will be much happier for it in the long run – and the best part? There are still plenty of healthy food choices you can make that are quick and easy…without having to go to the nearest drive-through restaurant.

One way of ensuring you’ll be eating healthy during the work week is to prepare your meals in advance. This doesn’t mean that you necessarily have to cook all of your meals ahead of time, but you can start the process by portioning out items and by washing and chopping up fruits and vegetables ahead of time. The great thing about meal prepping is that it allows you to carefully choose what you’re going to eat, but to also experiment with a variety of foods and flavours. Once you’ve got your meals figured out, you can place them into containers and freeze or refridgerate them, only to take them out and stick them in the microwave and/or oven when ready – and in most cases, your meal will then be ready to eat in no more than 10 to 20 minutes max.

When it comes to meal prep, it’s important to make sure that you are cooking, handling and storing your food safely, as the last thing you want to do is come down with an illness due to contaminated food. All meats and poultry should be cut on boards that are separate from vegetables. This is due to the possibility of bacteria and avoiding cross contamination. If you are making yourself a meal that is meat, poultry or seafood centric, always make sure you are cooking the food thoroughly. Uncooked food can result in food poisoning, which can be serious and leave you feeling ill for a few days. Thirdly, do not store foods longer than you should, as this can also leave the gut feeling upset. While frozen meals tend to last longer, items in the fridge should be kept no longer than 2 to 3 days at most.

For a long list meal ideas, including casseroles (and even healthy desserts!), follow Dr. Ali Ghahary on Pinterest and Instagram. There, you will find an abundance of recipes and other diet-related health tips.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Osteoporosis Prevention

There are approximately 1.5 million Canadians who are currently suffering from Osteoporosis – a condition in which the body’s bones become fragile and brittle due to loss of tissue. While there is no single cause of osteoporosis, calcium and vitamin deficiency can certainly play a role in its diagnosis. It can strike at any age, both men and women, and is often gone undetected until one has suffered a bone fracture, which happens at much higher rates in comparison to individuals who do not have osteoporosis. 

The best way to fight against the development of osteoporosis is to build up your bone health. Dr. Ali Ghahary, a family doctor from Vancouver, suggests different ways on how to do this below.

First and foremost, make sure you’re getting enough calcium. Calcium is not only beneficial for your bone health, but it also helps our nerves and muscles function. Some great sources of calcium include white beans, salmon, and leafy, green vegetables – and, of course, dairy products such as milk, yogurt and cheese. If opting for non-dairy sources, pair it with vitamin D, that way the calcium will be better absorbed into your body. The recommended dose of calcium for individuals between the ages of 18 and 50 is 1,000 milligrams per day, increasing to 1,200 milligrams for those between the ages of 50 and 70. Click here for more information on healthy diet options.

There are a few other bad habits that one should try to break in order to prevent osteoporosis. Unbeknownst to many, smoking can also play a role in decreasing bone health. On his Wordpress blog, Dr. Ali Ghahary offers tips on smoking cessation. Drinking excessive amounts of alcohol can also lead to a decrease in bone formation over time, so that is something you should also avoid.

Preventing falls is also important. While falls are more likely to happen to elderly patients, they can happen to anyone at any time. Wear shoes that are flat or low-heeled and make sure they have non-slip soles. Speaking of slipping, be careful of slippery surfaces both in and outdoors – particularly floors that have just been washed, or areas that may be slippery due to ice. You should also keep dark walkways and rooms well lit.

Lastly, exercise! It has been scientifically proven that regular physical activity slows down bone loss, and the great part about it is you don’t have to overexert yourself in order to reap the benefits. Walking and/or yoga are great forms of exercise that will strengthen your bones; even swimming. Simply find what you like and stick to it!