Saturday, April 28, 2018

The Benefits of Having a Healthy Diet

Whether you want to lose weight, are happy with your weight as is, or just want to improve your overall wellbeing, eating healthy is where it’s at. Having a diet that’s high in antioxidants, fibre, and other essential nutrients has some great payoffs not just for your immediate health, but for your future health too. Below are some of the most important reasons why healthy eating is something everyone should adopt, and how having a healthy diet can benefit you in both the short and long term.

It Boosts the Mood

Did you know that what you eat can also affect your mental health? If you didn’t, then you do now. Foods that are processed, packed with trans-fat, sugar, or high in carbohydrates can throw off the mood-regulating chemicals in your brain, triggering symptoms of depression such as feelings of helplessness, irritability, and reckless behaviour. To combat depression, Dr. Ali Ghahary – a family physician and strong advocate of healthy eating – recommends consuming foods that contain creatine, omega 3’s, and vitamin D. These health-promoting nutrients can be found in things like grass-fed beef, fish, and dairy products.

It Improves Brain Function

The term “brain food” isn’t just a saying – it’s fact. Over the years, consumption of foods that contain saturated and trans fats (such as fast food) can actually shrink the brain and reduce your cognitive abilities. Foods such as avocados, fish and walnuts can help keep the brain functioning at a higher level.

It Gives You Energy

You’ve most likely heard that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and this is true. Eating a good, healthy breakfast every morning not only gives you the fuel needed to get you through your day, but it can also improve performance at school or work. Without breakfast, you’re more likely to feel irritable, tired, and in some cases even restless. If you’re someone who doesn’t typically eat breakfast and aren’t quite sure what to have, Dr. Ali Ghahary has compiled together a small list of some healthy breakfast ideas here.

It Helps You Sleep

People who skip meals, don’t eat healthy, or snack late at night are more prone to developing poor sleeping habits. However, according to a 2013 study, if you eat right you’re more likely to sleep better. In addition, you’ll also make healthier food choices. Unfortunately lack of sleep can also be much more than just a matter of changing your eating habits. For more information on sleep disorders, including insomnia, click here.

It Boosts Your Immune System

If you’re someone who catches colds easily, you might want to take a look at what’s on your plate. Things like sugary foods, carbonated and/or sugary beverages, processed and/or fast food are some of the worst things for your immune system, as they provide little to no nutritional value. In order to nourish and support immune function, you should consume foods that are free of additives and chemicals. Some of the best foods that can boost your immune system are those that contain vitamin C (such as grapefruit, oranges, tangerines, lemons and limes.) Vitamin C increases the production of white blood cells, which boosts your immunity and helps ward off viral and bacterial infections. Fresh garlic, ginger, sunflower seeds, poultry, shellfish and green tea are also great immune-boosting foods to consider having more of.

For more tips on healthy eating, visit

Thursday, April 12, 2018


If you’ve ever suffered from an injury – such as a back injury, knee injury, or have injured another part of your body – then you know that it can sometimes take a bit of time before your body is back to feeling like it was before that injury occurred; and, in some cases, you might never fully get back to feeling 100%. Things like pain medications, such as anti-inflammatories, and other over-the-counter products such as ointments and numbing agents, can and do provide relief, but they’re only a temporary band-aid. In the event that you do develop an injury and don’t heal within the timeframe expected, or your pain worsens, that’s where a physiotherapist comes in. 

A physiotherapist is a trained professional who works to help patients regain ability, as well as treat different diseases and disorders, through different types of physical manipulation. While most people think that physiotherapists strictly work with muscle and other sport-related injuries, they’re actually adept in many different areas and treat individuals of all ages – from children, to adults, to seniors. There are also generally three different classifications of physiotherapy: 

  • Musculoskeletal
  • Neurological
  • Cardiothoracic

Musculoskeletal physiotherapy, which is the most common type of physiotherapy today, treats things like arthritis, sprains and strains, back pain, sports injuries, workplace injuries, and bursitis. Individuals who have had surgery may experience reduced mobility post-op, and will sometimes require musculoskeletal physiotherapy as a result. Neurological physiotherapy treats certain disorders associated with the nervous system – for example, patients who’ve had strokes, spinal cord injuries, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, and acquired brain injuries. Cardiothoracic physiotherapy is used to help treat things like emphysema, asthma, bronchitis, and other respiratory-related disorders. The main goal of a physiotherapist to improve a patient’s quality of life by restoring their function, and alleviating pain, and reducing symptoms. If the patient has a permanent injury, then they work to reduce the effects of any dysfunction they might be experiencing.

The type of physiotherapy that someone will receive depends solely on their requirements. Physiotherapy can be manual, which may include things like stretching, resistance training, spinal mobilization, as well as joint manipulation, or it can also include electrotherapy techniques consisting of ultrasound, laser therapy, and more commonly, TENS – also known as Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation. When it comes to actually receiving physiotherapy, the biggest misconception people have is that that they think they will feel better immediately following treatment, when in fact it’s not at all uncommon for symptoms to intensify following your first session. When a patient decides to enter into physiotherapy, it is usually because the methods they’ve tried themselves haven’t been successful. A physiotherapist, on the other hand, has different approach to their techniques, and they are techniques and certain manipulations that the body may not be used to, hence why it’s normal to have some discomfort during the first few sessions. Once your body starts to get used to those new techniques, the pain eventually decreases.

Generally, physiotherapy sessions last anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour depending on the injury and area of the body that is being worked on. Similarly, how many physiotherapy sessions a person needs also depends on those same circumstances.

For more information on physiotherapy, speak with your family physician or visit the Canadian Physiotherapy Association’s website at

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Sliced Roast Beef Recall Following Listeria Concerns

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency has issued a recall for Deli Classic brand seasoned cooked roast beef produced by Mississauga’s Erie Meat Products limited with best before dates from April 10th and April 17th . The recall was first issued back on March 28th for the same product sold at Druxy’s Famous Deli restaurants, but the CFIA is now saying that meat was sold on a much larger scale than initially thought – including in Alberta, Ontario, Quebec, Newfoundland and Labrador, with a strong possibility of it also making its way to other Provinces and Territories across Canada. The CFIA goes on to say that while illnesses have been reported, they’re still in the midst of conducting lab testing to determine just how many of those illnesses are linked to the contaminated meat.

Listeria, also known as Listeria monocytogenes, is food-borne disease-causing bacteria that causes a condition called listeriosis which travels through the blood stream. It is commonly associated with things like deli meat, soft cheeses, unpasteurized milk, uncooked fruits and vegetables, and seafood that is kept refrigerated. 

The most common symptoms of listeriosis include fever, muscle/body aches, headache, vomiting and diarrhea. Listeriosis, in rare cases, can also cause blood infections and meningitis. In most cases, symptoms will start anywhere from 1 to 14 days after being exposed to listeria. However, in pregnant women it may take as long as 4 weeks before any symptoms develop. For otherwise healthy individuals, the symptoms of listeriosis are usually mild. However, it can be very serious for other individuals such as those with weakened immune systems, those of a certain age (such as seniors), or women who are pregnant – i.e. causing premature birth or stillbirth.

In order to determine whether or not a patient has listeria, Dr. Ali Ghahary will pay close attention to the symptoms that the patient is exhibiting and will also refer them for blood work as this is generally the most effective way to make a firm diagnosis. Other bodily fluid, such as spinal fluid or the placenta, can also be tested for the detection or non-detection of listeria monocytogenes. If it is confirmed that listeria monocytogenes are present, it can be treated by one of two ways: No treatment, as most people with mild symptoms will not require any medical intervention and their bodies will clear the infection within 7 days. Or, it can be treated with antibiotics. If pregnant, prompt antibiotic treatment (usually via intravenous) can help prevent the infection from affecting an unborn baby. How long you will need to be on antibiotics depends on the severity of the infection itself. For example, in mild cases, patients may need to be on antibiotics for 10 to 14 days, while antibiotic treatment may last as long as 6 weeks in cases where meningitis develops as a result of the listeriosis.

To prevent listeria, Dr. Ali Ghahary recommends the following:

•  Make sure raw foods such as poultry, beef and pork, as well as vegetables, are washed and cooked thoroughly.

•  Keep vegetables and uncooked meats separate from each other as well as separate from foods that are already cooked and ready for consumption.

•  Wash hands as well as all cooking utensils one you have finished handling uncooked foods.

•  Consume cooked foods as soon as possible and do not leave them sitting.

•  Do not eat luncheon or deli meats unless they are steaming hot.

•  Avoid eating pâtés or meat spreads that have been refrigerated, smoked seafood that has been refrigerated, as well as products made from unpasteurized milk.

Monday, April 9, 2018

How Eating Hot Peppers Could Send You to the Hospital

When it comes to healthy eating, we all known that things like fried food, carbohydrates, and sugar are all bad for our health. They can increase the risk of diabetes, cause cardiovascular problems and increase the risk of heart attack and stroke, as well as contribute to significant weight gain – but those aren’t the only bad foods making headlines these days. A 34-year-old man recently made news across the globe after being sent to hospital following a chili pepper eating contest in upstate New York. The culprit? The “Carolina Reaper.”

First cultivated in a Rock Hill, South Carolina greenhouse by Ed Currie, the Carolina Reaper was certified as the world’s hottest chili pepper by the Guinness World Records on August 7th, 2013. But just how hot is it? According to the Scoville scale, a pepperoncini is approximately 1,000 units on the Scoville scale and a jalapeno is approximately 8,000 units, while the Carolina Reaper is said to be more than 2 million units – with some even suggesting they’re as high as 10 million units. Regardless, they’re hotter than the average pepper. 

So what does it actually feel like to eat a Carolina Reaper? Like many peppers, the heat from a Carolina Reaper starts as a slow burn and may even trick you into thinking you’re out of the woods, but it eventually increases into what can only be described as feeling as though your mouth and face are on fire. Saliva production also increases, and the body will also begin to sweat. Following consumption of the pepper, the man began dry heaving almost immediately. He then developed intense neck pain as well as pain in the back of the head, which eventually spread across his entire head – but it didn’t stop there. Over the course of the next couple of days, he would begin to experience thunderclap headaches. A thunderclap headache is a severe headache in which the onset is sudden and where the pain only takes seconds to minutes to reach its maximum capacity. In many cases, a sudden and severe headache is often a sign of a medical emergency – such as a brain aneurysm – and can be fatal. Luckily this was not the case for the man from New York. However, the pain was severe enough to send him to the emergency room. After running a series of tests, the ER staff were able to rule out a brain aneurysm as the cause of the man’s headaches. They did, however, discover that arteries in his head were constricted and cutting off blood flow, and diagnosed him with a condition called Reversible Cerebral Vasoconstriction Syndrome – also known as RCVS. Its main symptom? Thunderclap headaches as a result of narrowed arteries; and while it’s a condition that has known to be happen as a result of use of certain medications like decongestants, antidepressants and illicit drug use, doctors had never before seen a case where a chili pepper was the cause of RCVS – until now.

Along with RCVS, hot peppers have also been known to lead to other health problems. In 2016, a San Francisco man was sent to hospital with a 1-inch hole in his esophagus after he’d consumed a paste made out of ghost peppers. A ghost pepper is anywhere from 100 to 400 times hotter than a jalapeno, and 10 times hotter than a habanero pepper. Chili peppers can also lead to or worsen heartburn, ulcers, and can even cause the skin to become inflamed.

The oils from the Carolina Reaper and other hot peppers can be difficult to get off your skin, and sometimes scrubbing your hands with simple hand soap and water won’t always do the drink. Instead, healthcare professionals like Dr. Ali Ghahary recommend washing your hands with dish soap. Unlike the average bar of soap, many dish soaps have oil-dissolving properties. Wiping your hands down with a small amount of rubbing alcohol can also get rid of the chili oil. If you’re looking to relieve your mouth and throat of that burning sensation, keep in mind that capsaicin isn’t soluble in water, so if you do drink a cold glass of water and that burning sensation is still lingering, don’t be surprised. Milk is a better, more effective option.

Remember, if you experience a sudden and severe headache, don’t wait to seek out medical treatment, as it could be a matter of life or death. Call 911 or go to your nearest emergency room. For information on other types of headaches, including migraines, click here

Saturday, April 7, 2018

What is Autism Spectrum Disorder?

Autism Spectrum Disorder, commonly referred to as, simply, Autism, is a neurodevelopmental disorder that first occurs during childhood, which impacts brain development and causes individuals to have difficulty with social interaction and communication, and is also known for its tendency to cause repetition of specific behavioural patterns. 

Whether it is a child living with autism or an adult, the characteristics are often similar, but may differ in terms of age of onset, severity of symptoms, functioning levels, and challenges with social interaction. In cases where the condition is mild, personality differences may be noticeable, while things like aggression and sometimes even self-injury occur in cases where the autism is more severe. It’s also not uncommon for there to be immune system irregularities, nutritional deficiencies, and gastrointestinal problems. Because of the way in which these symptoms can differ from person to person, treatment for ASD is always specific to the individual. However, despite these weaknesses, patient with autism will also exhibit many strengths such as non-verbal reasoning skills, perceptual motor skills, drawing skills, music skills, and also often have exceptional memory skills.

In Canada, physicians follow a specific criteria to evaluate and diagnose ASD by using the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5). As an example, some of the criterial includes the following: Deficits in social-emotional reciprocity, ranging from abnormal social approach and failure of normal back-and-forth conversation; to reduced sharing of interests and emotions. Deficits in nonverbal communicative behaviours used for social interaction, from poorly integrated verbal and nonverbal communication; to abnormalities in eye contact and body language, to a lack of facial expressions and nonverbal communication, and deficits in developing, maintaining, and understanding relationships, including difficulties adjusting behavioyr to suit various social contexts; to difficulties in sharing imaginative play or in making friends; to absence of interest in peers. This is just a small example of the criteria followed. You can find a complete, in-depth copy of the manual by clicking here.

As mentioned, treatment for Autism Spectrum Disorder is designed specific to the individual. Because so many other health conditions can develop as a direct result of autism, medications prescribed may include anti-inflammatories, antibiotics, anti-fungals, anti-virals, as well as psychotherapeutic medications. Diet is also often looked at as part of a patient’s treatment plan, which may include following a ketogenic diet, a yeast-free diet, or gluten-free diet. In addition to these standard treatment methods, other therapies such as neurofeedback and sensory integration can help reduce behavioural symptoms associated with autism. 

For more information on Autism Spectrum Disorder, visit the Autism Society of British Columbia’s website at

Friday, April 6, 2018

National Oral Health Month

When we think of dental hygiene we often consider it to be completely separate from our overall health. However, your oral health is just as important and should be treated as equally as you would with all other aspects of your health – which is why the Canadian Dental Association has designated April as National Oral Health Month.

Having poor oral health can have a negative impact on your health – whether it’s missing or broken teeth, cavities, or other dental-related issues. We all need to have good dental hygiene, and that means a commitment to taking proper care of your teeth by brushing and flossing regularly. This reduces the risk of gum disease as well as prevents tooth decay, and will even leave your teeth looking whiter. Good oral hygiene doesn’t just happen at home, however. You also need to have regular visits with your dentist as well as go for regular cleanings with a hygienist. Patients will often have their teeth examined while they’re at their cleaning appointment. There, your dentist will carefully examine each tooth as well as take a series of x-rays to ensure there aren’t any other issues going on with the teeth – for example, if you need a root canal or if you have gum disease. Signs of gum disease include red, sore or swollen gums, bleeding gums, and bad breath. Your dentist will also be able to check for any signs of oral cancer – something that approximately 3,200 Canadians are diagnosed with each year. Signs of oral cancer include red or white patches in the mouth, small lumps or thickened areas in the mouth, open sores that don’t heal, or numbness and tingling in the mouth. 

In addition to brushing and flossing your teeth regularly, it’s also recommended that you eat a well-balanced diet as well as limit foods and/or beverages that are high in sugar. The less sugar you eat, the more likely you will be to develop a cavity and require a filling. Good nutrition will build strong teeth and help keep your gums healthy. Cutting back on sugar also has other great benefits for your overall health. By decreasing your sugar intake, you also decrease your risk of developing conditions like diabetes, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure.

Depending on age, dental hygiene may differ for some. Children, for example, need to be taught the importance of taking care of their teeth – but they also need to be shown how to do that. There are many different ways in which youngsters can be taught – however, it can be a task for some, so it’s important to make it a fun activity that gets them wanting to do it as opposed to them feeling like it’s a chore. You can find some helpful tips, tricks and activities for children here

When it comes to seniors, they may be on certain medications that can cause dry mouth or gum problems, so it’s important for seniors to also have regular dental exams. Many seniors also have dentures – either partial or full – or dental implants. These need to be treated as carefully as real teeth would. Just as normal teeth can have a build-up of plaque and tartar, so can dentures, so it’s important to clean them every day – either by using a special dental cleanser like Polident, or by soaking them in a mix of warm water and vinegar. When it comes to dental implants, while they look like a normal tooth, they’re not as strong as real teeth would be – meaning they can break more easily. To avoid breaking or cracking a dental implant, you should avoid foods that are hard and/or crunchy. It’s also important to be gentle when brushing or flossing around an implant.

For more information on National Oral Health month, visit the Canadian Dental Association’s website at

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

If you suffer from Irritable Bowel Syndrome (also known as IBS), you’re not alone, as an estimated 5 million Canadians suffer from it, while an estimate 120,000 Canadians are diagnosed with IBS each year, therefore making it one of the more common disorders of the digestive system. In fact, Canada is said to have one of the highest diagnosis rates of IBS in the world.

Most individuals diagnosed with IBS are under the age of 50, though it can affect older adults as well. IBS affects everyone different. It can be a mild inconvenience for some, while for others it can be severely debilitating and have a negative impact on many aspects of their life – from emotional wellbeing, to the ability to socialize, as well as one’s professional life (i.e. work or school.) This is because symptoms of IBS can be unpredictable. One can develop diarrhea, while another may have constipation. These two symptoms may also often alternate. One of the most common symptoms that may be indicative of IBS is abdominal pain…particularly if that pain is relieved after a bowel movement. Symptoms of IBS are generally easily recognizable, so it is not a difficult condition to diagnose. In addition to the symptoms of IBS, it’s also not uncommon for individuals with IBS to also suffer from other chronic health conditions such as fibromyalgia, headaches, dyspepsia, chest pain, urinary or other gynecological symptoms, insomnia, anxiety and depression.

What causes IBS is unknown, though it’s suspected that it is a result of a disturbance in which the way the gut, brain, and nervous system interact with one another.

Along with paying attention to the symptoms in which the patient is experiencing, Dr. Ali Ghahary may also refer them for other diagnostic testing. These may include a blood test, stool test, colonoscopy, barium enema, and other miscellaneous tests – many of which are done to rule out any other gastrointestinal related problems other than IBS.

Once a patient has received a firm diagnosis of Irritable Bowel Syndrome, it’s all about managing the symptoms. Because IBS is a chronic condition, it’s not something that can do away. There are, however, things you can to do relieve the discomfort and improve your quality of life. As abdominal pain is a common symptom associated with IBS, taking an antispasmodic or probiotic prior to meals may provide short-term relief of pain, especially after eating meals. If you suffer from constipation, taking a soluble fibre supplement may help – though in some cases you may also need to take a laxative. Alternatively, if you suffer from diarrhea, a medication known as loperamide will be beneficial. It’s also a good idea to talk with your physician about changing your diet, as this can also help with gas and bloating, both of which are also common in patients with IBS. 

For more information on IBS, visit

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Hazards in the Workplace

Regardless of your job title, almost every position comes with potential workplace health hazards. Chemical, ergonomic, biological, physical and psychosocial are some of the most common occupational hazards that all workers should watch out for. Below, Dr. Ali Ghahary shares a more in-depth look at these hazards and what to do in the event that you experience a workplace related injury or illness.

Chemical Hazards

Almost every workplace has chemicals – cleaning products, in particular. However, chemical hazards can also come from things like gums our vapors as a result of wielding, gases such as propane and carbon monoxide, other flammable materials, and even pesticides. Some of these chemicals are considered safer than others and may not result in any serious harm to your health – however, in other cases, workers may be sensitive to these chemicals and can develop things like skin irritation and breathing problems. Carbon monoxide, in particular, can be extremely harmful and may even result in death if you are exposed to high levels.

Ergonomic Hazards

These hazards occur whenever there is any kind of strain put on your body. For example, lifting heavy objects, doing construction work, sitting or standing for extended periods of time, having poor posture, slips, trips or falls, and repeated movements (i.e. typing.) Even lighting that is too bright or too dim is considered an ergonomic hazard due to the impact it can have on your eyes and eyesight. Ergonomic hazards are much more difficult to spot than other hazards, as it may take a few days for any type of bodily straight to be noticeable.

Biological Hazards

As a family physician, biological hazards are something Dr. Ali Ghahary has to pay close attention to. Those who work in the medical field (such as in doctors offices, hospitals, laboratories, or as first responders) are much more susceptible to biological hazards. The types of biological hazards one can be exposed to includes blood and other bodily fluids, bacteria and viruses, mold, animal or bird droppings, insect bites, and even certain plants.

Physical Hazards

These are hazards that come from the environment – such as overexposure to sunlight/ultraviolet rays, ionizing and non-ionizing radiation, extreme temperatures (hot and cold), and loud noise.

Psychosocial Hazards

In recent years, psychosocial hazards have been a hot topic of conversation. A psychological hazards can include stress due to workplace demands, lack of flexibility, and not having room to improve or grow in your career. Psychosocial hazards can also include things like sexual harassment and bullying in the workplace.

For more information on workplace safety, visit the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety website at British Columbians may also find useful information via the WorkSafe BC website at

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Chocolate Myths and Facts

Easter weekend is the bearer of all things sweet – especially chocolate and mini eggs. Still, Dr. Ali Ghahary, a family physician from Vancouver, says it’s important to be mindful when indulging in those sweet treats. READ MORE...