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.

What Are Gallstones and How Are They Treated

Gallstones

Do you have sudden pain and/or pain that is rapidly intensifying in the upper right side of your abdomen? What about pain in your shoulder, nausea or vomiting? All of these symptoms may be strong indicators of a gallbladder attack caused by gallstones. Such an attack can last for a few minutes or as long as several hours.

What Do You Do During a Gallstone Attack?

The first course of action (and the most important course of action, at that), would be to book an appointment with your family physician. If you do not have a family physician, Dr. Ali Ghahary, a general practitioner from Vancouver, is available to see patients on a walk-in basis at Brentwood Medical Clinic in Burnaby, BC. It is important to note, however, that this is a walk-in clinic, therefore wait times and closing times may very. To find Dr. Ali Ghahary’s walk-in hours, please visit his website at alighahary.ca/schedule. You can also find out more information by visiting the clinic at brentwoodwalk-inclinic.com and by calling them directly.

What Causes Gallstones?

There are two types of gallstones that can form: Cholesterol gallstones, which are yellow in colour, or Pigment gallstones, which are dark brown or black in colour.

While it’s not clear what, exactly, causes gallstones, healthcare professionals are under the impression that it is a combination of many different factors including too much cholesterol in your bile – resulting in the formation of crystals that then turn into stones, as well too much bilirubin – a chemical that is products when red blood cells are broken down. Gallstones can also be caused by the gallbladder not emptying itself correctly, which can also contribute to the formation of stones.

What Are the Risk Factors?

Certain individuals are at a higher risk of developing gallstones. For example, they tend to occur more frequently in females than males, as well as certain ethnicities such as Native Americans or Mexican-Americans. You’re also at an increased risk of developing gallstones if you are over the age of 40, if you are pregnant, obese, have diabetes, have a family history of diabetes, take any medications containing estrogen (i.e. birth control/oral contraceptives), have liver disease, or have an unhealthy diet (i.e. a high-fat or high-cholesterol diet.)

How Can I Reduce My Risk of Gallstones?

In order to reduce the risk of gallstones, there are certain changes you can easily implement into your life. First and foremost, Dr. Ali Ghahary recommends making healthy food choices – particularly foods that are low in fat and low in cholesterol, such as fresh fruits and vegetables, low-fat dairy products, lean meats, poulty and fish, as well as whole grains such as brown rice, bran cereal, oats and whole wheat bread. AVOID foods like chocolate, pizza, creamy sauces and soups. You can find more information on a gallbladder-specific diets by reading HealthLink BC’s ‘Eating Guidelines for Gallbladder Disease’.

It is also important to remember not to skip your meals. By skipping meals or fasting, you actually increase the risk of gallstones, as this can cause bile to build-up in your body until the next time you eat. Also, try not to eat large, heavy meals. Instead, try consuming smaller meals throughout the day. Eating smaller meals tends to minimize the risk of gallstones by constantly removing bile from the gallbladder.

While diet is the primary cause of gallbladder disease, it’s also important to try to maintain a healthy weight. Eating healthy can certainly help with weight loss as well as weight maintenance, but it doesn’t hurt to implement physical activity into your daily routine as well. More information on the many benefits of exercise can be found by visiting Dr. Ali Ghahary’s blog on WordPress.

How Are Gallstones Diagnosed and Treated?

Gallstones are diagnosed based on the patient’s symptoms as well as medical imaging tests, such as an ultrasound or CT scan. Most individuals with gallstones may not even have symptoms nor need treatment. However, this is entirely dependent on how the patient feels as well as the findings of test results.

In some cases, healthcare professionals may take a ‘watch and wait’ approach for any complications to arise (i.e. intensifying pain) before deciding on treatment, while in other cases you may need to be prescribed oral medications to help dissolve the stones.

In cases where there are complications or if the gallstones keep returning, you may need surgery to have your gallbladder removed. This procedure is known as a cholecystectomy.

How to Stay Healthy This Fall

As summer transitions into fall in just two weeks time (the first day of autumn is September 22nd), Vancouver physician, Ali Ghahary, has put together a list of tips on how to better prepare yourself for the changing seasons.

How to Stay Healthy This Fall

As flu season approaches in November, it’s not a bad idea to get the flu shot a bit early. Typically, many clinics and pharmacies around Vancouver and surrounding areas will offer the flu shot as early as October. If you are high-risk (such as a senior over the age of 65, have a previously diagnosed chronic illness, have a weakened immune system or are pregnant), Dr. Ali Ghahary recommends getting the flu shot. It is also recommended for children under the age of 5. There are many types of flu strains, and it is a highly contagious illness, so it’s always a good idea to protect yourself against it. To avoid influenza, always practice good hygiene habits such as regular hand washing, keeping your mouth and nose covered when coughing, and avoiding contact with others who are sick.

Along with the fall also comes gloomier weather – this means more clouds and rain than sunshine. As a result, we’ll be spending more time indoors than out, which means our intake of Vitamin D will be decreased. To ensure you’re getting enough Vitamin D, Dr. Ali Ghahary recommends taking a Vitamin D supplement. Taking Vitamin D helps with calcium absorption, and it also boosts your immune system and your mood. Click here for more surprising benefits of Vitamin D.

Daylight savings also occurs in the fall. On November 5th, we’ll be turning our clocks behind an hour. This means that there will be longer periods of darkness, and as a result you will be getting some extra sleep. However, some people often have trouble with daylight savings as it can make you feel as though your sleep pattern has been significantly disrupted. Despite getting that extra hour of sleep, it’s still important to go to bed at a decent time and make sure you’re getting at least 8 hours of sleep each night so you feel well-rested the next day. For those who suffer from insomnia, Dr. Ali Ghahary shares some tips on how to fight it on his website at alighahary.ca.

You may also notice a change in your skin during the colder fall months, and even into winter. Cooler temperatures can cause skin to become pale, dry and flaky, so it is important to keep your skin moisturized. You can also still wear a sunscreen. If you have sensitive skin, your family physician or dermatologist will be able to recommend something to you.

Staying active is also important! With the change in weather you may be less inclined to exercise outdoors. However, there are still ways you can keep fit at home. If you don’t have exercise equipment, doing stretches and yoga are great ways to stay physically active. Many community centres also have drop-in sessions available and some even offer free fitness classes.

Also remember to keep eating healthy. In-season vegetables broccoli, squash, kale, cabbage, and other dark, leafy green vegetables such as spinach and romaine lettuce. You can find much more information on healthy eating by clicking here.