Summer Health and Safety Tips: Sunburn

Dr. Ali Ghahary

With summer right around the corner next month, many Canadians will want to take full advantage of the longer days and rising temperatures. However, it is important to know about some of the most common heat-related illnesses and dangers that are associated with summer so that you are able to get out and enjoy the warmer weather without putting yourself in harm’s way.

A prevalent problem during the summer months in Canada is something called Erythema, more commonly known as sunburn. This is caused by overexposure to sunlight (ultraviolet radiation), resulting in redness, swelling and blistering of the skin. While sunburns are usually easily treated with at-home remedies such as applying aloe vera or calamine lotion on the affected areas, using a cool compress, or soaking in a cool oatmeal bath to help sooth the skin, in severe cases a sunburn may actually require more urgent medical attention and involve treatment such as Acetaminophen (Tylenol), anti-inflammatory drugs such as Ibuprofen (Advil), or the use of topical steroids such as Hydrocortisone cream. At Brentwood Medical Clinic, family physician Dr. Ali Ghahary is able to assess sunburns and provide the appropriate treatment required depending on the severity.

dr. ali ghahary

While many individuals tend to ignore the very real dangers of UV radiation, it is still important to educate oneself on the hazards of being exposed to too much sunlight, the risks associated, and what you can do to prevent future health problems as a result. Although UV radiation does have certain benefits such as providing our bodies with Vitamin D and the ability to fight off germs, the risks generally outweigh the benefits.

For example, that perfect summer tan you’ve been working on? It is actually the result of being exposed to too much UV radiation and damage of your skin, and may in fact make you susceptible to other health problems later on down the road. Sunburn can always be prevented and it is important to take steps to ensure that not only your skin, but also your body as a whole, is protected when being out in the sunlight for prolonged periods of time.

While there is no safe way of going about tanning, you can take some additional steps to protect yourself from sunlight overexposure by covering up with hats and loose, long-sleeved shirts and pants, and by staying in places where there is plenty of shade. You should also wear sunglasses with UVA and UVB protection at all times while outside as sunlight can quickly cause inflammation of the cornea, which can be quite painful. Tanning can also cause premature aging of the skin, blotchiness, age spots, and even skin cancer. Something as simple as wearing an SPF 30 sunscreen will help to provide you with protection against UV rays, which will decrease these risks.

Low-Carb Diets: South Beach Diet

low-carb dietSince 2014, a self-reported 14 million Canadians were estimated to have considered themselves overweight or obese according to a study done by Statistics Canada. This is a rate that continues to rise steadily in Canada predominantly as a result of an increase in overly processed foods, excess calories, and lack of nutrients in diets, in addition to inadequate exercise regimens.

For many individuals, weight-loss can be quite a challenge and a true test of self-discipline; and while it can oftentimes be discouraging when weight-loss goals are not met, causing one to fall back into old eating habits, maintaining a healthy weight is vital to your overall health and well-being.

Low-carb diets are something Dr. Ali Ghahary advocates, and there are several healthy and easy-to-follow diet options that will help you achieve your weight-loss goals. One of those diets, and perhaps the most popular today, is the South Beach diet, known for its low-carb-friendly, high-protein and high-in-fiber food choices. Foods such as vegetables and legumes (chickpeas and kidney beans) are a vital part of the South Beach diet as they slow down the body’s digestion, thus making you feel fuller for a longer period of time, while foods that are higher in protein (such as chicken and fish) avoid spiking your blood sugar, making you less likely to feel hungry and want to overeat. The great thing about the South Beach diet is that while it focuses on all healthy foods, it also has the ability to include certain carbohydrates, making it an easier diet for many to cultivate. The purpose of the South Beach diet is to find a steady balance of healthy foods you are putting into your system, not just for weight-loss but also for your general well-being, and it is a diet that you can stick to on a long-term basis. However, as with any diet, the initial phase is usually the toughest and requires determination.

low-carb diet

For the first two weeks of the South Beach diet (otherwise known as ‘Phase 1’), you will focus on eating proteins, low-fat dairy products, and vegetables. Cabohydrates such as breads, rice, pasta, fruits, potatoes, sugar and alcohol consumption are all to be completely avoided. This is in effort to train your body to eliminate the bad carbohydrates from your system, reduce cravings, and introduce healthier alternatives. At the second level (known as ‘Phase 2’) of the South Beach diet, carbohydrates are gradually reintroduced. If you would normally have a slice of toast for breakfast each morning, instead try one piece of fruit, followed by two pieces of fruit the next day, three pieces the day after, etcetera. Fruits such as apples, bananas and pears are considered to be higher in carbohydrates, but those particular fruits can be good for you if eaten in moderation. Once you rid your body of the “bad” fats and carbohydrates and slowly re-introduce the “good” fats and carbohydrates, you will find that you will have fewer cravings and will begin to notice weight-loss as well as an increase in your energy level and other effects as a direct result of your dietary changes. The great thing about the South Beach diet is that while it is low in carbs, it is not as low in carbs as other diets out there, and at the final phase of this diet you can actually get as much as 30% of your calories from carbohydrates, so long as you are choosing the right ones to intake to give your body the appropriate nutrients and minerals required to help you achieve and maintain your weight-loss goals. You can find an overwhelming number of recipes for the South Beach diet simply by doing a search online.

As always, it is important that you first check with your general practitioner before making any significant dietary changes.