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.

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Common Health Concerns for Men

As anyone would, men also face certain threats to their health as they age. It isn’t unusual for men to go to the doctor less frequently than women. As a result, men are at a much higher risk of developing serious, life-threatening health conditions.

Below, Vancouver physician Dr. Ali Ghahary outlines some of the different health concerns amongst men, along with information on how they are diagnosed and what you can do to treat them.

Ali Ghahary - Men's Health Concerns

1. Prostate Cancer
Prostate Cancer Canada recommends that men be screened for prostate cancer by the age of 40 – this according to new guidelines released in 2013. As of 2016, over 20,000 Canadian men were diagnosed with prostate cancer, and 1 in 8 men will die from it. Prostate screening is initially done by a PSA test – a simple blood test that can determine the amount of PSA protein that is in your blood. Not only can a PSA test indicate whether or not you have prostate cancer, but it can also detect other prostate-related conditions. Common symptoms of prostate cancer include difficulty urinating or having a frequent urge to urinate (especially in the evening), painful urination, or the inability to urinate. Symptoms of prostate cancer are not always present, therefore early detection is important.

2. Heart Disease
While heart disease can affect men and women equally, it is still a health condition that men often worry about. If heart disease runs in your family, you area at a greater risk of developing heart disease yourself. However, other factors also play a part in determining whether or not you will develop heart disease at some point in life – including diet and exercise. It is important to see your physician for annual checkups. At an appointment, Dr. Ali Ghahary will check a patient’s blood pressure and also refer them for basic blood testing, which is often helpful in determining cholesterol levels. If high, this can be a precursor to heart disease.

3. Erectile Dysfunction
While this can be an uncomfortable subject for patients to talk about, it is more common than one might think. According to a recent study done on almost 5,000 Canadian men between the ages of 40 and 80, at least half of those have had ED. Men who have had their prostate removed, have diabetes, and smoke are at a greater risk of developing it.

4. Weight Management
As men age, their metabolism slows down. If your metabolism is slow, your weight can increase. It is important to stay physically fit and make healthy food choices. Read Dr. Ali Ghahary’s articles titled ‘The Surprising Health Benefits of Exercise’ and ‘Weight Loss and Weight Management’ for more information.

While these certainly are not all of the health concerns that men are faced with, they are some of the most common.

Obesity: Why it Exists, What it’s Caused By, How it’s Treated

diet-695723_960_720With an increasingly steady percentage of Canadians struggling with obesity, it is important to raise awareness and learn about all of the positive ways to ensure you are leading a healthy lifestyle. Obesity, a result of excess body fat being accumulated, can have a severe and sometimes life-threatening impact on one’s health. In this article we will look at what obesity means, why people become obese, the health risks associated with obesity, and obesity treatment options.

As of today there are at least 6 million Canadians struggling with their weight, with 1 in 4 adults and 1 in 10 children diagnosed as being chronically obese. One of the top reasons why we are seeing more and more individuals’ becoming obese is due in part to increased food consumption and overly processed foods. The expenditure of fast food has also tripled over the years. In addition to dietary causes, sedentary lifestyles also lead to obesity. This can include watching too much television, spending too much time in front of a computer, or playing video games. By burning less calories and avoiding physical activity, your obesity risk increases significantly. By staying fit you will not only lose weight, but physical activity also helps to decrease other health risks such as high blood pressure, osteoarthritis, and even helps to stabilize insulin levels.

physiotherapy-595529_960_720In addition to lack of physical activity, research has also shown that insomnia plays a factor in weight problems with increased appetite being a direct result of sleep deprivation, which then doubles your risk of becoming obese. If you are not getting enough sleep, your body produces something called Ghrelin, a hormone that works as an appetite stimulant, and less Leptin, a hormone that works as an appetite suppressant. If you do suffer from insomnia, there are several natural remedies that can help such as acupuncture, taking more vitamins and minerals, and making modifications to your diet by avoiding stimulating foods such as caffeine, sugars, and carbohydrates. In fact, Dr. Ali Ghahary is a strong advocate of low-carb diets, which are safe and easy to follow for all individuals. A faulty obesity gene called FTO, albeit rare, is found in 1 in every 6 people, which causes overeating. Individuals who carry this particular gene tend to gravitate towards fatty foods and take longer to feel full. If you experience significant weight gain in a short amount of time, this may be indicative of other health problems, and should be checked out by your physician. Certain medications may also cause rapid weight gain, and alternative treatment methods should be considered whenever possible.

People who struggle with obesity often find themselves feeling discouraged if they do not lose weight immediately or don’t notice any immediate benefits. However while the benefits may not always be noticeable to the naked eye, losing just 5 to 10 percent of your body weight (12 to 25 lbs. in an individual weighing approximately 250 lbs.) can have a significant improvement on your health. With reduced calorie intake and increased physical activity, it will be easy to achieve a healthy weight and maintain it in the long run.