Health Dangers of Sugar

Dr. Ali Ghahary, a family doctor from Vancouver, Canada, has always been a strong advocate of healthy eating.

Ali Ghahary - sugar cubesIn previous blogs, Dr. Ali Ghahary has written about the importance of having a healthy diet and how bad eating habits can negatively impact your health. Something that has been long known to contribute to a decline in health is sugar. Canadians consume an overwhelming amount of sugar each year – almost 90 pounds worth! On average, males and females between the ages of 9 and 13 consume about 103 to 120 pounds of sugar – a number that increases during teenage years, up to as much as 138 pounds. The primary source of sugar consumption in the younger generation is carbonated soft-drinks. However, it can also be found in other sources such as candy, and even fruits and vegetables. Sure, sugar can taste good, but it is having harmful, even life-threatening effects on our health.

Ali Ghahary - carbonated beverages
Soft-drinks are a common source of sugar

Perhaps one of the reasons why Canadians are consuming so much sugar today is because we don’t actually know how much we’re putting into our bodies. This is why in 2014, Health Canada proposed that changes be made to nutrition labels that would require companies to make it clear as to exactly how much sugar was going into packaged foods in the hope that it would deter individuals from eating unhealthy items and instead want to make healthier choices. The World Health Organization also came up with new guidelines that same year, stating that sugar should make up for less than 10 percent of our energy intake per day, which is a number that has already been far exceeded. They go on to add that if we cut that number in half to 5%, we would reap additional benefits.

Salad dressings also contain sugar, something that is usually unbeknownst to shoppers without reading nutritional labels.

Even for individuals who do strive to make healthy food choices, sugar can still be difficult to avoid. This is due in part to sugar being hidden in certain processed foods that aren’t necessarily thought of as “unhealthy” or even sweet. Ketchup, for example, contains as much as 4 grams of sugar in just one tablespoon. Salad dressing, tomato sauce, marinades, processed meats and pretzels also contain sugar. It is even found in infant formula.

One of the main reasons why sugar should be avoided is because it contains calories and does not have any essential nutrients. In fact, excessive intake of sugar can actually lead to nutrient deficiencies. Sugar is also high in fructose, which can cause a multitude of health problems. While it may not be an issue if we only consume a small amount (from a fruit, for example) or exercise regularly…if fructose overloads the liver, it is then turned into fat. Sugar can also cause insulin resistance, which causes problems with glucose (blood sugar.) Too much glucose can be toxic, and is one of the biggest reasons for complications from diabetes. Individuals who consume more beverages containing sugar, such as soda, are 85% more likely to develop Type II diabetes. According to multiple studies, sugar has also been thought to contribute to cancer – one of the leading causes of death worldwide – as it feeds cancer cells. In addition to all of these health problems, sugar also leads to cavities, feeds candida (yeast), can lead to osteoporosis, contributes to heart problems and ulcers, can cause arthritis, and promotes the aging of skin.

For more information on healthy eating, follow Dr. Ali Ghahary on Instagram and Twitter. If you are interested with speaking to Dr. Ghahary about your health directly, you can find his walk-in schedule on his website at

Common Causes of Nausea and Vomiting

Ali Ghahary - Common Causes of Nausea and VomitingNausea and vomiting are two common symptoms in women who are pregnant. Frequently referred to as “morning sickness,” these symptoms can arise during any time of the day and usually occur between the 5th and 18th weeks of pregnancy, typically worsening around week 9. While there is no magic cure for nausea in pregnant women, there are some steps you can take to reduce these symptoms, such as avoiding anything that may act as a trigger. For example, certain smells such as perfumes, deodorants, soaps, household cleaners and other odors may induce the feeling of nausea. You may also want to make some dietary changes. Rather than eating large meals, switch to eating small but frequent snacks that are low in fat and high in protein – avoiding an empty stomach should help to reduce the feeling of nausea. Sipping on water, fruit juice and other clear fluids is also helpful in-between meals. Natural ginger is also another helpful remedy.

Along with pregnancy, there are other common causes of nausea and vomiting, as outlined below.

Nausea can manifest after eating too much at once. If our stomachs become full beyond capacity, the result of that is the feeling of nausea or wanting to vomit. If you overeat on a frequent basis, you are also putting yourself at risk of developing further health problems such as fatigue, weight gain, and even gastrointestinal problems. As recommended by Vancouver physician Dr. Ali Ghahary, patients should practice healthy eating habits by consuming diets that are low in carbohydrates, such as the Paleo diet or South Beach diet. More information on healthy eating can be found by clicking here.

Food Poisoning
This occurs as a result of ingesting food or water that is contaminated with bacteria. Diarrhea, abdominal pain, chills, fever, weakness and headache are all additional symptoms that may be signs of food poisoning. Symptoms of food poisoning usually appear within 2 to 6 hours of consuming food or beverage that is contaminated, and typically last for a few days. If you suspect that you have food poisoning, it is important to see a physician as soon as possible to get appropriate treatment. Dr. Ali Ghahary is available to see patients at Brentwood Medical Clinic, a walk-in clinic in Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada.

Drinking alcoholic beverages can easily lead to nausea, vomiting, and a general feeling of sickness (commonly referred to as a hangover.) Symptoms from consuming too much alcohol also include dizziness, headache, fatigue and thirst. These symptoms can be relieved with sleep and by drinking water or fruit juice, as well as eating foods that are easier on the stomach such as saltine crackers or toast.

Stomach Flu
The stomach flu is a contagious infection that affects the gastrointestinal tract and is caused by a bacterial virus, with nausea and vomiting being the two common symptoms of this illness. While there is no magic cure for cases of the stomach flu, your doctor can recommend over-the-counter medication that will help mitigate the symptoms, and if necessary can also write a prescription for something stronger. It is important to note that the stomach flu should not be mistaken for influenza, which customarily occurs between November and April in Vancouver. Influenza is another bacterial infection that typically affects the lungs – and while it’s not uncommon to cause nausea and vomiting, there are also usually other symptoms present.

Migraine Headaches
While the affiliation between migraines and nausea/vomiting is unclear, the two commonly go hand in hand. Migraine headaches are the result of nerves in the brain firing off signals to the blood vessels, causing them to widen. On theory of migraines is thought to be low levels of serotonin, which is linked to nausea, and individuals with low serotonin levels are commonly found to be more likely to have migraines than those with higher serotonin levels. Other causes of migraines may include hormonal changes, and certain foods such as chocolate, dairy and caffeinated beverages have also been shown to act as triggers.

Certain prescription medications – antibiotics, especially – can cause nausea and vomiting. Many antibiotics are to be eaten with food in order to avoid this. However, if your symptoms are severe and persistent then you should speak with the prescribing doctor to discuss possibly changing the medication, or ways to lessen the feeling of nausea while taking medication.

If you struggle with any of the aforementioned conditions or are someone who suffers from nausea frequently, there are certain remedies that Dr. Ali Ghahary, a family physician in Vancouver, recommends patients try.

Ginger, a natural remedy, is commonly used to treat nausea. It can be found in tea and it is also available in capsules and tablets. There are also prescription and non-prescription medications available, with Gravol being a top choice as it comes in strengths for both adults and children.

Common Health Concerns For Seniors

Before joining Brentwood Medical Clinic in 2011, Dr. Ali Ghahary worked with a large percentage of geriatric patients, including at the Louis Brier Home & Hospital in Vancouver – a long-term care facility funded by the Vancouver Coastal Health authority.

In 1914, Dr. Ignatz L. Nascher wrote the first book on geriatrics. The term “geriatrics” is derived from the Greek work “geras,” meaning old age, and “iatrikos,” meaning physician, and is the field of medicine that specializes in the healthcare of elderly patients.

In 2014, over 6 million Canadians consisted of geriatric patients aged 65 and up. That number is expected to rise by as much as 7 percent in the year 2030. According to the World Health Organization, the average life expectancy in Canada is 82.2 years of age. As seniors are now living healthier and longer lives, this is an umber that is also expected to rise over time. However, elderly patients often require more healthcare resources including assisted living and extended care facilities.

As soon as we are born the aging process begins, though it progresses at different rates in each individual. Certain factors such as genetics, nutrition, lifestyle changes, and occupational hazards as well as physical and social environments all play a part in how we age. It is important for elderly individuals to see their physician for regular check-ups to ensure optimal health. Below are some examples of common physical changes and diseases that elderly patients may experience:

• Bruising
• Signs of infection
• Hair thinning/loss of hair colour
• Dry skin/skin that loses its elasticity
• Development of wrinkes
• Age spots
• Increased sensitivity to cold
• Skin cancer

• Problems with balance
• Difficulty with body temperature regulation
Sleep problems

• Eyesight changes/cataracts
• Smell and taste receptors less sensitive
• Hearing diminishes

• Less muscle strength and flexibility
• Slow movements
• Osteoporosis

• A decrease in breathing capacity
• Lung infections

• Incontinence (lack of bladder control)
• Difficulty emptying bladder completely
• Decrease in kidney size

• Increased constipation
• Increased flatulence
• Slower digestion of food
• Other digestive problems such as GERD

• Narrowing of blood vessels
Heart problems

• Decrease in estrogen and progesterone
• Increased risk of diabetes
• Hot flashes
Weight gain

• Cease of menstruation/ovulation (females)
• Enlarged prostate gland (males)