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.

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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.

Understanding Lupus

Lupus, also commonly known as Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (or SLE), is a chronic condition that occurs when the immune system cannot tell the difference between intruders and good tissues – then targeting the healthy tissues and organs in the body – i.e. the muscles, joints, lungs, heart, blood vessels, kidneys and skin – which results in inflammation and pain. Currently, an estimated 1 in every 1,000 Canadians between the ages of 15 and 45 suffer from lupus, with more individuals being diagnosed with Lupus each day. Though lupus affects both genders, it is found to be more predominant in women than men.

The list of early signs and symptoms of Lupus is lengthy. Some of the signs and symptoms include: Chronic fatigue, painful muscles and joints, arthritis, a low-grade fever, skin rash, light sensitivity, hair loss, mouth ulcers, loss of appetite, dry eyes, as well as abnormalities of the blood such as having a low platelet count or being anemic. Individuals with lupus are also at an increased risk of developing other health problems such as kidney, lung and heart disease, as well as the development of blood clots. It is important to remember, however, that the symptoms of lupus will vary from person to person.

Different ways Lupus can affect the body

Lupus can occur as three types of cycles:

1. Acute – Where symptoms happen abruptly and are severe, requiring medical attention – but are usually only short in duration.
2. Chronic – Where symptoms may persist but are not as severe as an acute flare-up.
3. Remission – Where symptoms will disappear for an extended period.

While there are no definitive answers as to what, exactly, causes lupus, research into the condition has discovered that there may be hormonal, environmental and genetic elements to it.

Since there is no specific cause of lupus, family physicians like Dr. Ali Ghahary in Vancouver will instead treat the symptoms that are associated with it. Commonly prescribed medications to treat the symptoms of lupus include anti-malarial medications as well as anti-inflammatories such as NSAIDs (Naproxen, Advil, etc.) Immunosuppressant medications may also be prescribed to control severe flare-ups, but it is not recommended that they be taken on a long-term basis as they can come with side effects as well as increase your risk of infection and other health problems down the road.

If you would like more information on lupus, including self-help resources and details on Government-supported programs that are offered to those with lupus, please the Lupus Canada website at lupuscanada.org.

Skin Irritation

 

Millions of Canadians live with or have had a skin condition in their lifetime. 20% of Canadians live with acne, while 3 million Canadians have been diagnosed with rosacea and/or psoriasis. Another common condition of the skin is skin dryness, flakiness and/or itching. While eczema is something that is often characterized by these same symptoms, they can also be the result of a change in weather and temperature – particularly in the fall and winter months.

When there is a decrease in temperature, there is also a decrease in the skin’s moisture content. This can then lead to the skin becoming dry, irritated and itchy, flaky, and you can even develop a rash. Even individuals with otherwise healthy skin are at risk. You are also more prone to developing dry, irritated skin if you have any of the pre-existing conditions mentioned above.

While we can’t always predict nor can we change the weather, there are certain steps that Vancouver physician, Dr. Ali Ghahary, says we can all take to ensure that our skin remains healthy – and to also decrease some of those annoying, irritating symptoms that come along with skin dryness.

Since the change in weather and temperature can have a huge impact on our skin, it is important to try not to stay outdoors for extended periods of time. If you find that you will be outdoors for longer periods, make sure you are wearing layered clothing to keep the skin protected (i.e. gloves, scarves, sweater.) People also often think that taking hot showers is good for the skin – but just like cooler temperatures, hot temperatures can also damage the skin and cause it to lose its moisture and natural oils, leading to dryness, irritation and rash.

In order to replenish the skin’s moisture, using a moisturizer is beneficial. There are plenty of moisturizers on the market – it all depends on the type you are looking for. For example, if you have sensitive skin, then you may want to choose a moisturizer that is fragrance-free. Moisturizers can be found at drug stores, cosmetic stores, or online. If you have any questions about which moisturizer is best suited for your skin type, your pharmacist or physician may also be able to answer any questions you have – and, in fact, may even be able to make a recommendation.

Changes in weather and temperature aside, skin problems can also develop due to a number of other reasons, including sensitivity to soap, laundry detergent or other chemicals, an allergy to latex, fatigue, stress, and even bacterial or viral infections.

If you have any concerns about your skin or notice any abnormalities, speak with your physician today. If you do not have a family physician but would still like to speak with a medical professional about your concerns, Dr. Ali Ghahary is available to see walk-in patients at Brentwood Medical Clinic in Burnaby.