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 http://alighaharyvancouver.ca.

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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.

Epilepsy Triggers and Treatment

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Epilepsy is a neurological disorder that is the result of abnormal brain activity, bringing about loss of consciousness, convulsions (seizures) and other sensory disturbances. Symptoms of epilepsy range from mild episodes of staring or petit-mal seizures, to more severe and uncontrolled movements and seizures known as grand-mal.

Epilepsy currently affects up to 65 million individuals worldwide and 300,000 Canadians, with 15,000 new cases of the disorder being diagnosed in Canada each year. At least 30% of patients that are diagnosed with epilepsy also have accompanying learning disabilities, psychiatric disorders, memory loss, and even behavioural problems. The number of Canadians diagnosed with epilepsy is higher than the number of Canadians that have been diagnosed with colon cancer, and almost as high as the number of Canadians with prostate and breast cancer. (It is always important to have regular checkups with your physician and go for any screenings required. http://alighahary.blogspot.ca)

In as many as 60% of the cases of epilepsy, the cause is unknown. However, epilepsy can also be the result of serious brain injury (i.e. trauma at birth), being involved a motor vehicle accident, or having a stroke. Brain tumors and certain infections can also lead to epilepsy. While epilepsy is more frequently diagnosed in children and seniors, it can affect individuals of all ages. 44% are diagnosed with epilepsy before the age of 5, 55% before the age of 10, and 75% to 85% before age 18. In nearly half of childhood cases, seizures disappear completely.

Along with the aforementioned causes, seizures can also be triggered by stress, emotions, lack of sleep, having poor nutrition or skipping meals, illness, fever and allergies.

Long-term drug therapy is used to treat epilepsy. Vancouver physicians like Dr. Ali Ghahary and Neurologists across Canada prescribe both narrow-spectrum and broad-spectrum AED’s, depending on the types of seizures the patient is having, and they can be prescribed as a single medication or used in combination with others. Medications prescribed to treat epilepsy include those in the class known as Benzodiazepines, such as Clonazepam and Diazepam, which are also commonly used to treat those who have anxiety or difficulty sleeping. Other medications commonly prescribed to treat epilepsy and seizures include Divalproex, Gabapentin and Carbamazepine. If medications are unsuccessful, brain surgery may be considered.

As always, these medications have side effects and one individual may not react the same as another, so it is important to weigh the risks and benefits of these drugs with your doctor and pharmacist and be sure to make them aware of any concerns you have or side effects you may be experiencing.