How Prolonged Sitting Can Harm Your Health

Whether you’re sitting at work, at school, or live a sedentary lifestyle, research has shown that sitting for extended amounts of time has been linked to a number of health concerns, including obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and high blood sugar levels. According to a series of studies, those who sat for longer than 8 hours per day without any kind of physical activity were at as high a risk of dying compared to those who died from obesity and smoking-related illness (such as lung cancer.) Data from that same study, however, also showed that getting as little as 60 minutes of moderate exercise per day actually countered the effects of prolonged sitting and improved health. In addition to some of the aforementioned health concerns, which can be quite serious, too much sitting can also have an impact on your back and posture.

If you’re someone who does happen to sit for long periods of time, Dr. Ali Ghahary, a family physician at Brentwood Medical Clinic in Burnaby, says that you should get up and move around as much as possible. If you are able, you should take a break from sitting at least every 30 to 60 minutes. Some offices may also be able to accommodate their staff by allowing use of standing desks. If you have a business meeting to attend, recommend that it be held while going for a walk instead of sitting in a conference room. At home, instead of sitting while watching television or talking on the phone, stand while doing so. If you have an at-home gym, position things like bikes and treadmills in front of your television…this wat you can still watch your favourite shows and be in motion at the same time. Physical activity such as this can work wonders; it can help maintain muscle tone and improve mobility.

As mentioned, sitting can also have an impact on your back…so if you suffer from a sore, stiff back after a long day at work or school, your chair/sitting is likely the reason why. The reason your back might hurt after sitting is because sitting puts quite a bit of pressure on your spine as opposed to standing. When we sit, the disks in our back, which are meant to expand and contract as we move, actually become compressed. Over time, these disks will eventually lose their flexibility, which can also then increase the risk of developing herniated disks. The back isn’t the only part of your body that can be affected, either. Your neck and shoulders can, too. Because it’s not uncommon to hold your neck and/or head forward while sitting doing computer work, this can lead to the cervical vertebrae becoming strained, thus causing the neck and shoulders to become sore. Sometimes this pain can even become permanent. Muscle degeneration can also occur due to prolonged sitting, and you may notice this in the hips especially. Prolonged sitting can cause the hips to become tight, as well as reduce your range of motion in the hips. Decreased hip mobility is also the leading cause of falls in individuals who are elderly, leading to hospitalization.

As if all of that wasn’t bad enough, sitting also equals poor leg circulation. This can cause swelling, which is typically reduced by keeping your legs and feet elevated and by applying ice to the swollen areas. However, prolonged sitting can also lead to a condition known as DVT (Deep Vein Thrombosis.) DVT is the development of blood clots in the legs; and, if left untreated, can be deadly.

More information on how sitting all day can be damaging to your health (and how to counteract it) can be found by clicking here.

Gluten Intolerance vs Gluten Sensitivity

For anyone who suffers from gluten intolerance or gluten sensitivity, you know that finding gluten-free foods is important so as to not aggravate any symptoms. However, while the terms gluten intolerance and gluten sensitivity are often used interchangeably, there are also slight differences between being the two. For example, if you are sensitive to gluten, then that means specific parts of the immune system are involved and an immune response is triggered; whereas if you’re intolerant to gluten, the immune system does not play a role.

The best way to explain gluten intolerance is to compare it to lactose intolerance. If someone is lactose intolerant, they may experience things like diarrhea, abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting. The reason an individual may be lactose intolerant is because they lack an enzyme known as lactase. Without this enzyme, it makes it difficult for the body to breakdown and digest lactose. To avoid the aforementioned symptoms, individuals that are intolerant are unable to consume things like milk and other dairy products, and will instead have to buy products that are lactose-free. The same goes for gluten intolerance.

Because gluten sensitivity is also quite common, individuals with this condition will often say that they have a gluten allergy. However, this isn’t necessarily the case. While it’s possible to have an allergy to wheat, that doesn’t necessarily mean you have an allergy to gluten. In fact, according to allergists, gluten allergies don’t actually exist. You’re either allergic to wheat, sensitive to gluten, or have Celiac Disease – an autoimmune disease that is triggered when gluten has been ingested. The aforementioned conditions (wheat allergy, gluten sensitivity, and Celiac Disease) can also overlap. It is important to note that if you have a gluten sensitivity, you cannot go into anaphylaxis. This can only occur if you are allergic to wheat.

Symptoms of gluten intolerance and gluten sensitivity can manifest in a variety of ways. Gluten sensitivity may cause things like nausea, acid reflux, mouth ulcers and constipation, as well as feelings of fatigue, joint pain, and even headaches. Similarly, gluten sensitivity can also cause gastrointestinal-related symptoms; i.e. nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal pain.

The best thing you can do to avoid these symptoms is to avoid gluten. Many companies often make products that are gluten-free. In fact, most grocery stores have aisles dedicated to gluten-free foods. There are also certain goods that are naturally gluten-free, and the list is extensive. Gluten-free foods include broccoli, asparagus, brussels sprouts, lettuce, mushroom, olives, potato, spinach, squash, zucchini, pineapple, coconut, beef, chicken, cod, pork, nuts quinoa and soy…just to name a few; while foods such as bread, cookies, cakes, other pastries, alcohol (beer, specifically), gravy, malt vinegar, pretzels, pizza, sausages, salami, as well as soups and sauces (as they may contain wheat as a thickener) should be avoided.

To determine whether or not gluten sensitivity or gluten intolerance are triggering your symptoms, it is recommended that you first be tested for both Celiac Disease as well as wheat allergy. If those tests come back negative, then physicians typically recommend trying a gluten elimination diet and exclude certain foods to see if that helps.

World Health Organization Recognizes Compulsive Sexual Behaviour as Mental Disorder


For the first time, the World Health Organization is recognizing compulsive sexual behaviour as a mental disorder – referring to it as Compulsive Sexual Behaviour Disorder or CSBD.

According to ICD-11 criteria, CSBD is characterized as a persistent pattern of failure to control intense, repetitive sexual impulses (see Impulse Control Disorders), urges resulting in repetitive sexual behaviour, and those repetitive sexual activities becoming the focal point of a person’s life to the point where they begin to neglect their health and personal care, as well as have a lack of responsibility and initiative, and continued repetitive sexual behaviour despite any adverse consequences. In order for an individual to be recognized as having CSBD, they must exhibit the aforementioned behaviours for a period of 6 months or more, as well as have problems with personal relationships, such as family and friendships, as well as educational and occupational problems (i.e. poor grades and/or decreased work performance, failure to meet deadlines, etc.)

Behaviours that are commonly associated with CSBD include practicing unsafe sex, having multiple sexual partners, exhibitionism and voyeurism. Individuals with CSBD will have an inability to contain their sexual urges as well as an inability to respect the boundaries of other, feel emotional detachment to their sexual partners, and even feelings of guilt and shame. Many people with CSBD will be aware of their urges and the fact that they are uncontrollable.

As mentioned above, there are also many consequences that can arise as a result of compulsive sexual behaviour, such as dissolution of marriage, financial problems, legal problems, unwanted pregnancy, and sexually transmitted diseases or infections. While the terms sexually transmitted diseases and sexually transmitted infections are often interchangeable, they technically mean different things. An individual that has been diagnosed with a sexually transmitted infection means that it has not yet developed into a disease. For example, Human Papillomavirus – also known as HPV. A woman can be a carrier of the virus without any symptoms. If a woman develops cervical cancer as a result of HPV, it is then that she has an STD (as cancer is a disease.) The same goes for conditions like gonorrhea or chlamydia if they develop into Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID.) To break it down more easily, a sexually transmitted infection occurs when microbes, viruses or bacteria enter into the body and multiply, and it is considered a sexually transmitted infection when the body function or structure begins to disrupt and when signs or symptoms are present. In short, a sexually transmitted infection is typically the first step of a sexually transmitted disease. Because many sexually transmitted infections often begin with no symptoms at all, individuals may not even be aware that they have one, which is why getting tested for an STI is so crucial. If an STI is cause by a bacterial infection and detected early enough, they can usually be cured with antibiotics.

While what causes compulsive sexual behaviour and other impulse disorders (i.e. gambling) remains unclear, it is thought that they may be a combination of changes in the brain’s pathways, an imbalance of natural brain chemicals, as well as certain conditions that affect the brain. When it comes to treating compulsive sexual behaviour, patients can benefit from seeking therapy – whether it’s in group sessions (such as Sex Addicts Anonymous) or one on one with a licensed psychologist or psychiatrist. In addition, cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) has also been known to be quite helpful in the treatment of CSBD. SSRI medications (such as Prozac, Paxil and Celexa) have also been shown to decrease compulsive urges. While this can be an uncomfortable and embarrassing subject of conversation, one should never feel ashamed to reach out for help if they need it.

Lack of Balance and Prevention of Falls

Balance is something we learn early on as infants and children. First, we learn by sitting. Then, we learn by standing. Following that, we’re often learn with bicycles, roller-skates, and rollerblades. However, as we age, balance is something that can also decrease – especially in those who are elderly. When it comes to balance, it isn’t just a matter of learning how to stand on your own two feet. In order to be able to balance properly, many parts of our bodies also need to be functioning properly – including your bones, muscles, joints, eyes, nerves, heart, and even ears. If we’re not fully functioning, it’s not uncommon to start to experience balance problems.

Lack of balance can be caused by a variety of conditions. Vertigo, for example, is a condition that causes a sense of spinning/motion (also known as dizziness) even though nothing around you is actually moving. As a result, you lose your balance and can stumble. Vertigo is associated with many different medical conditions, including Meniere’s disease, migraines, vestibular neuritis, benign paroxysmal positional vertigo, motion sickness, and even head injuries such as concussions. In addition, lack of balance can also be caused by other neurological conditions, such as Parkinson’s disease, as well as certain medications, and even psychiatric disorders such as depression, stress and anxiety.

If you are someone who frequently experiences balance problems, Dr. Ali Ghahary recommends booking an appointment with your family physician for a thorough examination. Depending on the symptoms and severity of said symptoms, Dr. Ghahary may refer patients for a series of tests including bloodwork, hearing tests, and medical imaging. An in-office neurological exam is also sometimes done to check a patient’s reflexes and ensure there’s no abnormal brain activity or involuntary functions that could be contributing to the patient’s balance problems. If all of the tests conducted determine that there are no significant problems with your health, it may simply be a matter of learning balance restraining exercises, which can be taught to you by a physiotherapist. In order to prevent falls, you may also require the use of a cane or walker. If severe vomiting or dizziness also occurs along with your balance problems, you may need to be prescribed medication to help control those symptoms.

Because those who are elderly are much more susceptible to falls, especially if living on their own, it is important to reiterate that they should not be walking around in the dark, or doing any kind of climbing (i.e. up/down stairs, or on/off ladders) that could increase their risk of losing their balance or having a fall. Falls can be detrimental to seniors, as they are more likely to suffer from fractures, sprains and breaks.

For more information on fall prevention, visit the BC Balance and Dizziness Disorders society at