The Role of a Dietitian

When it comes to healthy eating, making the right food choices isn’t always easy. You may need to change your eating habits due to being overweight, having high cholesterol, or because of food allergies or sensitivities. While family physicians like Dr. Ali Ghahary can certainly help steer patients in the right direction when it comes to making healthy food choices – such as recommending low-carb diets – you may need additional help from a dietitian.

Just as any other healthcare professionals – such as doctors, pharmacists and specialists – dietitians are just as important to your health and wellbeing. They not only work alongside patients, but also with general practitioners, in hospitals, long-term care facilities, and from time to time you may even find a dietitian in a grocery store providing customers with tips on healthy eating.

An RD (registered dietitian) is a professionally trained individual that is able to counsel patients on food and what it means to have good nutrition – and not only that, but the information in which they do provide is tailored specifically to the client whom they are helping. Meaning that the information in which a dietitian provides to you is given to you with your needs in mind and yours alone, as food that is good for one individual may not be right for another.

In addition to providing patients with counselling on nutrition, dietitians can also provide patients with information on how to combine their healthy eating with other lifestyle changes, such as fitness. Healthy eating and weight loss often go hand in hand. Following the advice of a dietitian or a nutritionist can also help to reduce the risk of diabetes as well as lower your cholesterol and blood pressure.

To find a dietitian in your area, visit the Dietitians of Canada website at dietitians.ca.

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Dr. Ali Ghahary’s Tips for Managing Diabetes

If you’ve just been diagnosed with diabetes it can be tough to navigate – at least initially. For many, managing diabetes means having to make lifestyle changes, and while it’s certainly not a death sentence, it can still be a matter of life or death if you don’t take the appropriate steps to keep yourself healthy.

The most common form of diabetes is Type II diabetes. Type II diabetes occurs when the body doesn’t use insulin properly – also known as insulin resistance. This can lead to a number of health problems including heart disease, stroke, neuropathy, and of course high blood sugar.

Below, Dr. Ali Ghahary, a family physician in Vancouver, shares some important steps that you can take if you’ve been diagnosed with Type II diabetes – which will not only help control your blood sugar levels, but improve your overall quality of life, too.

First and foremost, make sure you’re eating healthy. Ensuring you’re eating a good, well-balanced diet is something Dr. Ali Ghahary recommends to all of his patients, but it is especially important for managing diabetes.

Certain foods such as carbohydrates (i.e. pasta, bread, grains), milk, candy, canned fruit and starchy vegetables break down into glucose and raise blood sugar levels a lot faster than other foods would. Instead, choose non-starchy vegetables like beans, broccoli, carrots, cauliflower, onions, tomatoes and peppers. You can find a full list of non-starchy vegetables by clicking here. You should also choose other healthy food options such as nuts, whole grains and seeds, and of course limit your sugar intake. When it comes to protein, make sure your choices are low in saturated fat – like turkey or fish. Avoid things like hot dogs and deli meats, as these are foods that are processed and contain little to no nutritional value, and can also increase the risk of high blood pressure. When choosing grains, make sure they’re whole grains – such as quinoa and wild rice. Whole grain bread is also a healthier alternative to white bread. Grains contain a wide variety of healthy vitamins and minerals. Avoid things like pasta and white rice. As for dairy, avoid things like chocolate milk or any dairy product that is full fat. Greek yogurt, for example, is a healthier, low-fat option.

Managing diabetes doesn’t just mean changing your diet, however. It is also important to have a handle on your weight. Being overweight can lead to diabetes or make diabetes worse. Losing weight can not only decrease your blood sugar levels, but it can also decrease the risk of other health complications such as kidney failure and cardiovascular problems.

For more information on both Type I and Type II diabetes, click here.

Living With Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes

Dr. Ali Ghahary, a general practitioner in Burnaby, British Columbia at Brentwood Medical Clinic, treats patients of all ages who suffer from wide-ranging health problems including diabetes.

Living With Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes

The most common types of diabetes are Type 1 and Type 2.

Type 1, typically affecting people under the age of 30, occurs when little to no insulin gets released into the body, causing a build-up of sugar as a result. In effort to help keep blood sugar at the correct levels, it is treated with a combination of insulin and appropriate meal planning. Foods recommended for Type 1 diabetes are those with a low glycemic index such as wholegrain breads, whole-wheat pasta, lentils, chicken and fish – while sweets, butter/margarine and alcohol should be avoided.

Type 2 is generally seen in adults over the age of 40 and is the more common of the two as 90 to 95 percent of those diagnosed as diabetic are diagnosed as being Type 2. It occurs when the body is unable to manufacture enough insulin or is unable to use the insulin that it releases accordingly. This is also known as something called insulin insensitivity. In addition to the use of insulin, Type 2 diabetes is also managed with several health and lifestyle changes such as exercise and weight loss.

Checking and controlling your blood glucose levels on a regular basis to ensure that they are within the target range (4.0-7.0 mmol/L before meals, 5.0-10.0 mmol/L two hours after meals) is essential to your health. If you become shaky, irritable, confused, lightheaded, nauseous, or have a rapid heartbeat, this may be a sign of hypoglycemia (low blood glucose) and is critical to treat quickly. Symptoms of hyperglycemia (high blood glucose) include weakness, fatigue, blurred vision and frequent urination.

Ignoring the signs of diabetes and leaving the condition untreated can lead to serious health complications including but not limited to chronic kidney disease, stroke, and nerve damage.