How to Prevent Kidney Stones

In yesterday’s articles we discussed how the kidneys function. Today, we are going to continue that conversation by discussing kidney stones, how they occur, the symptoms associated to them, and how they can be treated.

Kidney Stones
Kidney Stones

Kidney stones form as a result of your urine containing (and being unable to dilute) crystal-forming substances such as calcium, oxalate and uric acid. In addition, your urine may also lack the substances that prevent these crystals from forming, which then creates an ideal environment for kidney stones to develop. While kidney stones do not have one definitive cause, there are several factors that can increase your risk of developing kidney stones. These risk factors include having a family history of kidney stones, dehydration, having an unhealthy diet, obesity, digestive disorders and other medical conditions such as metabolic disorders, which can increase the concentration of calcium or oxalate found in urine.

An individual suffering from kidney stones usually presents with severe pain in the back that can spread to the abdomen, nausea and vomiting, painful urination, and urine that is cloudy and/or has a foul odor. It is also not unusual for pain to fluctuate in intensity.

There are three different types of kidney stones:

1. Calcium Stones
Calcium oxalate is a naturally occurring substance that is found in certain foods such as fruits and vegetables, nuts and chocolate. Your liver also produces oxalate.

2. Struvite Stones
These kinds of kidney stones are formed as a result of an infection, such as a UTI (urinary tract infection). Struvite stones can grow rapidly and become large. These stones sometimes come on with little warning and have very few symptoms.

3. Uric Acid Stones
Uric acid stones can form in individuals who are not drinking enough fluids or are losing too much fluid, in individuals who have diets that are high in protein, as well as individuals diagnosed with gout. There are also generic factors that may increase the risk of uric acid stones.

Ali Ghahary
Dr. Ali Ghahary practices at Brentwood Medical Clinic in Burnaby, BC. Click here for clinic directions and contact information.

For individuals prone to developing kidney stones, Vancouver physician Dr. Ali Ghahary suggests controlling the intake of foods that are high in calcium and oxalate such as beets, chocolate, tea, coffee, cola, nuts, strawberries, and spinach.

For prevention of kidney stones, HealthLink BC also recommends drinking 10 to 12 cups of water per day and eating foods that come from plant-based protein sources such as dried lentils, peas, beans and tofu. You should also limit packaged foods and replace salt with things like herbs, lemon or lime zest/juice, garlic and ginger – and absolutely avoid alcohol! You should also use caution when taking calcium supplements as they can also lead to an increased risk of kidney stones.

While kidney stones are usually passed through urination (something that can cause severe discomfort), depending on the size and location of the stones you may require a procedure known as ESWL (Extracorporeal Shock Wave Lithotripsy). This procedure uses sound wave vibrations to break the stones into tiny fragments, making them easier to pass in your urine. If this is unsuccessful, surgery may then be required.

If you would like more information on kidney stones, you can connect with Dr. Ali Ghahary on social media platforms such as Twitter  at http://twitter.com/dralighahary, and Linkedin.

For any questions you have about kidney stones, or if you suspect you may have kidney stones, Dr. Ali Ghahary is available to see walk-in patients every Monday and Wednesday from 2 PM to 8 PM, Fridays from 12 PM to 4 PM, and Sundays from 1 PM to 6 PM. Hours are dependent on patient volume, so make sure you take a look at the clinic’s walk-in schedule and contact them to ensure they are still accepting patients on the day you choose to attend.

Health Benefits of Drinking Water

While not everyone considers water to be an important factor in his or her everyday health, it is actually a key component to staying healthy and is fundamental in keeping nutrients circulating properly in your body. The human body is composed of at least 60% of water and plays an integral role in many different bodily functions including digestion, absorption, and maintenance and regulation of body temperature. Drinking water is also a great way to quench your thirst without having to worry about calories that are found in soda and other sugary beverages, which can be low in nutrients and not provide any benefit whatsoever in terms of your health.

If you do not drink enough water each day, you may wind up suffering from dehydration. Symptoms of dehydration include dry mouth, dry eyes, urine that is dark in colour, fatigue or dizziness, and nausea that worsens after exercise. When the body is dehydrated, your brain will trigger its thirst mechanism, which is not something you should ignore.

For individuals looking to lose weight, substituting water for beverages that are high in calories can help. It’s also imperative to include foods that are water-rich in your diet, as these are more filling and can also help to decrease your calorie intake. Water-rich foods include fruits and vegetables, beans, oatmeal and broth-based soups. The body absorbs these foods slower, making you feel full.

Staying hydrated also helps with muscle performance and keeps them feeling energized. If you are not getting enough water, muscles will not work as well. It is recommended that you drink at least 17 ounces (a little over 2 cups) of water prior to exercising, and you should also drink water at regular intervals during physical activity to replace the fluids you lose from sweating.

Water also plays a significant role in kidney function. The kidneys are responsible for flushing out toxins. However, if you are not getting enough fluid intake then this becomes difficult for the body to do and you may be at an increased risk of developing kidney stones.

Not only does water help with various parts of your health, but the effects of drinking water can also be noticeable from the outside, too, and keeps the skin looking good. If you don’t drink enough water, your skin can appear dry and wrinkled.

Dr. Ali Ghahary, a physician in the Greater Vancouver area, recommends patients make water their go-to beverage of choice. The Canadian Food Guide also recommends that individuals drink water each day, limiting the intake of carbonated/soft drinks, energy and sports drinks, sweetened beverages and alcohol. These are extremely high in calories and low in nutrients. If you are turned off by water due to its lack of flavour, try adding things like orange wedges, lemon, lime, berries or mint. Other healthy options include 100% fruit juices and fortified soy beverages.

February is Heart Month in Canada

Heartbeat - Dr. Ali Ghahary
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Heart Month, created by the Heart and Stroke Foundation, is a campaign to raise awareness on heart disease and promote positive lifestyle changes to lessen the risk of patients developing heart disease or suffering from a stroke.

At least 9 in 10 Canadians over the age of 20 have at least one risk factor for developing heart disease, and an estimated 600,000 Canadians are currently living with heart failure. While there is no cure for heart failure, there are many steps a person can take to manage the condition, and other changes one can make to avoid the development of heart failure later in life, as 8 in 10 cases of heart disease and stroke are preventable by making simple lifestyle and behaviour changes.

If you are a smoker, consume alcohol, are physically inactive, have high blood pressure or high cholesterol, you are at an increased risk of developing heart disease. As many as 14 million Canadians are obese or overweight, and more than 2 million Canadians have been diagnosed with diabetes, with prevalence on the rise.

salad-374173_1280
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Eating well is a key factor in keeping your heart healthy. Instead of eating over-processed food such as pizza, hot dogs, and deli meats, choose foods that are natural. Fruits and vegetables, for example, carry lots of nutrients such as vitamins, minerals, fibre and antioxidants, and you should eat 7 to 10 servings each day.

Dr. Ali Ghahary, a physician in Vancouver, is a strong advocate for healthy eating and healthy lifestyles, and you can find diet-specific information by visiting https://alighahary.wordpress.com. In addition to eating more fruits and vegetables, you should also try to consume whole grain foods rather than refined grains such as pasta or white bread. Whole grain foods such as brown rice, quinoa and hulled barley contain fibre, vitamin B, and protein. Other foods containing proteins include beans, lentils, fish, tofu, lean meat, and certain dairy products that are lower in fat. Making a meal plan by writing down a list of foods and recipe ideas may be helpful, and you should always read the nutrients facts found on packaging to know how much salt, sugar or trans fat you may be consuming. If you like to snack, instead of eating potato chips try alternatives such as celery, cucumbers, carrots, or grape tomatoes – these go great with low-fat dips, salsa, hummus or peanut butter.

Physical activity is also important in maintaining heart health. By exercising 150 minutes per week, you are not only preventing heart disease and stroke, but you will also be lowering your cholesterol as well as avoiding diabetes, osteoporosis, and certain types of cancer. You will also notice benefits quickly; blood pressure will improve, and you will feel much more energetic as a result of staying physically fit.

For more information on exercise and its many health benefits, along with other great health tips, visit Dr. Ali Ghahary’s blog at http://alighahary.blogspot.ca. You can also follow Dr. Ghahary on Twitter at http://twitter.com/DrAliGhahary.

Senior Health

hand-588982_960_720With Canadians living longer, it is also important to note of the potential health risks that come with aging. As such, Health Canada is continuously researching ways to recognize the ongoing needs of seniors in Canada.

Some important principles that Dr. Ali Ghahary recommends for his patients are healthy eating, injury prevention, good oral hygiene, physical activity and smoking cessation; all of which are especially crucial for the well being of seniors in Canada today. Below we will take a slightly closer look at some of the foundations of these principles and the important roles that they play in helping seniors live healthier, happier lives.

fruits-155616_960_720Good nutrition, in particular, is relevant not only for your overall health, but also for seniors to maintain good balance, strength and resistance as they age, with the Canadian Food Guide recommending that all adults ages 51 and older eat at least 7 servings of fruits and vegetables per day, 6 to 7 services of grain products (bread, quinoa, cereal, cooked pasta) per day, up to 3 servings of milk/alternatives (fortified soy beverages, yogurt, cheese) per day, and 2 to 3 services of meat/alternatives (cooked fish, shellfish, poultry, lean meats, tofu, eggs, peanut butter, nuts and seeds) per day.

Up to 30% of seniors experience at least one fall every year, which are the dominant cause of injuries to seniors, and 85% of those falls requiring hospitalization. Common causes of falls amongst seniors include poor balance, usually due to declining muscle and bone strength, diminishing vision or hearing loss, and unsafe conditions in the home. It is important to take preventative measures in and around the home to avoid injury. This can be done by adding non-slip surfaces to the bathroom, eliminating clutter, installing good lighting in the home, having well-lit walkways and stairways, and placing otherwise hard-to-reach items in spots that are easier to get to. In the autumn and winter months it is also imperative to clear paths and staircases of any snow, ice or leaves in order to avoid slipping.

Low-impact exercise such as walking or aqua-fit is also beneficial to senior health, but one should always first check with their family physician before commencing any new exercise programs.