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When you hear the word “carbohydrates” you most likely automatically assume the worst – but did you know that not all carbs are considered bad for your health? In fact, the body needs carbohydrates in order to properly function. For example, the brain needs carbohydrates for energy, while they also help to maintain healthy blood glucose levels and restore something known as muscle glycogen following physical activity. So, if you’re wondering if all carbs are bad, the short answer is no. At the same time, not all carbs are good for you either, so we’ll break down the good vs. bad below.

Carbohydrates are separated into two main categories:

1. Sugars (also known as “simple carbohydrates”)
2. Starches (also known as “complex carbohydrates”)

Sugars, or “simple carbohydrates” as they’re more commonly known, are the bad kind of carb that you should typically avoid. Examples of these kinds of carbohydrates include molecules of simple sugars or monosaccharides like fructose, glucose and galactose. When formed together, they are known as disaccharides (table sugar, for example.) Refined sources of simple carbs and things that you should typically avoid or significantly limit from your diet include sodas, baked goods, packaged cookies, breakfast cereals, and fruit juice concentrate.

Starches, or “complex carbohydrates” (also referred to as polysaccharides), are broken down by the body and turn glucose into energy. Unlike simple carbs, which contain little to no nutritional value, complex carbs are considered to be high in nutrients and also help you digest food more slowly which can decrease feelings of hunger, and therefore be beneficial if you’re trying to lose weight. Dietary fibre is also considered a starch, and can be found in things like whole grains, nuts, beans, and of course fruits and vegetables – apples, berries, bananas, carrots, broccoli, and leafy greens in particular. Other starch sources include corn, oats, peas, rice, and whole wheat bread. Along with helping with weight loss, complex carbs are also ideal for individuals with type 2 diabetes as they will help you to manage your blood sugar following meals, and even protect against cardiovascular problems.

The higher quality carbohydrates you consume, the better. Examples of high-quality carbs are those that are plant-based. Lower quality carbs may be fortified with certain vitamins and minerals, but they’re often lacking in essential nutrients and also include added sugar, sodium and fat, as well as preservatives in effort to improve both taste and shelf-life and are not typically foods that you should consume on a regular basis – or at all. The quality of carbohydrates you eat can also have both positive and negative effects on your health. Lower quality, simple carbs tend to digest more rapidly, which means you could also have a rapid spike in blood sugar as a result. You’re also more likely to develop hunger more quickly, while complex carbs have the opposite effect.

As for the amount of carbohydrates you need to consume every day, this depends on a number of factors, including your current weight, age, gender and height, as well as your activity level. You burn more energy the more physically active you are, which means you’ll need more calorie/carbohydrate intake. However, you should also look at other options for dietary sources of energy aside from just carbohydrates, such as protein, eggs, and even drinking water.


Hypertension | Dr. Ali GhaharyNearly one in five Canadians (that’s approximately 4.6 million people) between the ages of 20 and 79 have hypertension – the medical term that is commonly used to describe high blood pressure. Blood pressure is when the force of your blood gets pumped from the heart and against the blood vessels, making it possible for the delivery of things like nutrients and oxygen to different organs and tissues in the body. However, when you develop hypertension, this means that there is too much pressure in your blood vessels – thus the term “high blood pressure” – and when you have high blood pressure, this can cause damage to those blood vessels as well as pose other serious risks to your health if left untreated.

When it comes to the risk factors of high blood pressure, there are many. However, some of those risk factors are things that you can control, while other risk factors may be beyond your ability to control. For example, one of the most common reasons why someone might develop high blood pressure is often due to their lifestyle. This can include everything from having an unhealthy diet to excess consumption of alcohol, living a sedentary lifestyle, being overweight or obese, to bad habits such as smoking. You can also develop high blood pressure as a result of stress and other health conditions such as diabetes, kidney disease, and sleep apnea. That being said, these are all things that you can manage and control, which can help keep your blood pressure at healthy levels. As mentioned, there are also certain risk factors associated with high blood pressure that cannot be controlled, such as age and genetics. You’re more likely to develop high blood pressure as you age, or if there is a history of high blood pressure in your family.

When it comes to keeping your blood pressure under control, changing your lifestyle can be hard, but with the right mindset it is something that you can easily achieve. As mentioned, having a healthy diet is an important aspect in reducing your risk of high blood pressure. Once of the most common dietary approaches that health professionals recommend is the DASH diet – which stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension. The DASH diet focuses on eating more fruits and vegetables, low-fat dairy products, fish, poultry, whole-grains and nuts, while limiting your intake of things like sugar and red meat, as well as foods that are high in saturated and trans fats, sodium, and cholesterol. Exercise is also important, as being at a healthy weight not only reduces your risk of developing high blood pressure, but is beneficial to your health in a number of other ways, such as decreasing your risk of heart disease, and it can even boost your mood and relieve things like stress and anxiety. Things like cigarette smoking and alcohol consumption can be difficult habits to break, and you may need extra help with those which is okay. There are plenty of cessation tips available online as well as different things, like patches, that you can try, while groups like AA and other counselling/therapy and rehabilitation programs can also help if you are dependent on alcohol. Along with making healthy lifestyle habits, medications can also be prescribed to help control blood pressure. Some of the medications that are most commonly prescribed include diuretics, beta-blockers, ACE inhibitors, ARBs, CCBs, and direct renin inhibitors.

If high blood pressure remains untreated and out of control, your health will be at risk, which is why getting your blood pressure under control is so important. Having high blood pressure can increase your chances of suffering a stroke or heart attack, puts you at increased risk of heart failure, kidney disease, retinopathy (eye problems), and dementia.

If you are someone who has recently been diagnosed with high blood pressure, it’s important to be as educated as possible on what your blood pressure numbers should be and how to properly monitor your blood pressure. Having a blood pressure level of 120/80 mmHg means you are at low-risk of developing hypertension, while blood pressure readings between 139/89 mmHg and 140/90 mmHg put you at a moderate to elevated risk of hypertension. You can help to keep track of your blood pressure by having an at-home blood pressure reading device, which can be a good tool in helping keep your physician informed on how well your blood pressure is being controlled and knowing how well you are or aren’t progressing. When using an at-home device, it’s important that you don’t smoke or drink caffeine at least 30 minutes before taking your blood pressure. You should also sit and rest quietly for at least 5 minutes prior to taking your blood pressure, and make sure your feet are flat on the floor and arm at heart-level.

Pairing Antibiotics with Probiotics

If you’ve ever been on antibiotics, then you’re most likely aware of the havoc they can wreak on your gut. In some cases, depending on how stubborn a bacterial infection is, patients will sometimes require to be put on a second round of antibiotics – which can increase gastrointestinal upset. While problems with the gastrointestinal/digestive system don’t necessarily happen with all antibiotics, it’s a common occurrence with many. Along with nausea and vomiting, patients may also experience diarrhea. Oftentimes these symptoms will persist throughout the entire duration of the antibiotic in which you’ve been prescribed, and several days after you’ve finished the course.

Because stomach problems are so common when taking antibiotics, it’s often recommended that you take your antibiotic with food. Having your antibiotic with food in the stomach can help reduce some of the aforementioned symptoms. If taking your antibiotic with food doesn’t help, however, and your symptoms persist or worsen, then you may need to try other avenues. Along with recommending that antibiotics be taken with food, doctors and pharmacists also recommend probiotics. When you take antibiotics, not only are you killing off the bad bacteria, but you’re also killing off the good bacteria, too. This is because antibiotics cannot differ between which bacteria is “friend” and which is “foe.” As soon as you start taking an antibiotic, you should also include a probiotic.

Probiotics can be found in different foods, or it can be taken as a supplement. One of the best food sources, as far as a probiotic goes, is yogurt. Yogurt is made from milk that has been fermented by fermented bacteria, such as lactic acid bacteria and another bifidobacterial. Along with reducing gut-related symptoms (such as diarrhea) due to antibiotic use, yogurt can also benefit your health in other ways, such as improving bone health and controlling blood pressure. Not all yogurt contains probiotic, so when choosing a yogurt make sure you read the label and look for the words “active bacterial cultures” or “live cultures.” Probiotics can also be found in other dairy products as well as a variety of vegetables and fermented soybeans.

Along with helping reduce symptoms associated with antibiotic use, probiotics have many other added health benefits. They can play a huge role in immunity, improve digestion (especially helping us absorb essential nutrients that have cancer-fighting effects), improve the skin, and reduce the risk of a wide range of diseases. Patients with conditions like irritable bowel syndrome (also known as IBS) and ulcerative colitis also say they’ve noticed a decrease in symptoms as a result of taking antibiotics. Probiotic use has also been linked to improved oral health and weight loss, though there has not been as much evidence to support these claims. Regardless, there are many benefits to taking a probiotic.

Just as anything else you take, probiotics also aren’t free of side effects. While probiotics provide relief for antibiotic-related diarrhea and other gastrointestinal/digestive issues, one of the most common side effects reported as a result of taking probiotics is an increase in gas and bloating. You may also develop constipation. However, these symptoms are only temporary and will usually dissipate after a few weeks. If you are concerned or notice any of these symptoms, it won’t hurt to speak with your family physician or get a pharmacist’s advice. Probiotics (especially probiotic foods like yogurt) may also trigger headaches and migraines, increase histamine levels, and may even increase the risk of infection in those with suppressed immune systems if the bacteria or yeast found in probiotics were to enter the bloodstream, though the chance of this happening is extremely rare.

Complications Associated with Diabetes

Complications Associated with Diabetes | Dr. Ali GhaharyIf you have diabetes, the you know the importance of proper management and making sure your diabetes is under control. If it is left untreated or not properly managed, your risk of developing diabetes-related complications can increase exponentially – and there are many complications that can occur. Among some of the most common complications that are associated with diabetes include heart disease and stroke, kidney disease, eye damage, and nerve damage (also known as neuropathy), just to name a few. Below we take a look at the link between diabetes and these complications that can occur, and the steps you need to take to reduce your risk.

Heart Disease and Stroke

While heart disease and stroke can occur as a result of many different factors (unhealthy eating, being overweight, if you are a smoker, and having high blood pressure or high cholesterol, for example), you can actually develop heart disease as much as 15 years earlier if you happen to be diabetic compared to individuals who are not diabetic – coronary artery disease, in particular – which is why it’s so crucial to ensure your diabetes is being properly managed.

Whether you are diabetic or not, it’s always important to pay close attention to your risk factors and practice maintaining a healthy lifestyle through things like healthy eating and getting regular exercise, as these are healthy habits that will help you to improve your overall health and wellbeing. To see just how at risk you might be, it’s also a good idea to have your blood pressure checked at every doctors’ visit, as well as measuring your A1C and blood lipid levels.

Kidney Disease

Type 2 diabetes is among one of the leading causes of kidney disease in Canada. In fact, as many as fifty percent of those diagnosed with diabetes will develop signs of kidney damage as a result of both high blood glucose levels and having high blood pressure. Over time, high blood glucose levels can cause the tiny blood vessels within the kidneys to become damaged and your kidneys will then be unable to properly filter your blood. This ultimately leads to what’s known as proteinuria, in which protein particles known as microalbumin will spill into the urine – and, as kidney disease progresses, your kidneys will begin to fail, and you will eventually need to go on dialysis or will require a kidney transplant.

Along with diabetes, kidney disease is also linked to high blood pressure – so this is something you will want to ensure that you are keeping at target range. It is also linked to smoking, so if you are a smoker then you need to quit. Having a healthy diet can also be helpful. Eating protein can make your kidneys have to work harder, so if you’re going to consume foods that contain protein then you need to make sure you’re eating smaller portions. You should also eat foods that contain less potassium and phosphorus.

Eye Damage (Diabetic Retinopathy)

When you have diabetes, it’s not uncommon to develop eye problems – including changes in vision, and even blindness. This is known as diabetic retinopathy. Caused by high blood glucose levels, this can cause damage to the blood vessels in the retina – the tissue that lines the back of the eye. If left untreated, the damage can progress and you can develop further problems with your vision, which is again why it’s so important to ensure your diabetes is under control. Along with making sure your diabetes is properly managed, you should also be going for regular eye exams with your optometrist. It’s also important to note any changes with your eyes, such as blurred vision, to your optometrist immediately.

Nerve Damage (Neuropathy)

Nerve damage is considered to be one of the longer-term complications that is associated with diabetes. Having high blood glucose levels over an extended period of time can cause damage to the peripheral nerves, affecting limbs such as the hands, arms, legs and feet. Individuals who develop neuropathy may not notice things like simple cuts, scrapes, sores or blisters, which can increase the change of developing things like infections and foot ulcers, which also increases the chance of requiring amputation.

Common symptoms that are associated with neuropathy include sharp, shooting pain, burning, tingling or pricking sensations, throbbing pain, as well as numbness and having the inability to feel hot or cold temperatures. If you have signs of nerve damage, always inspect your legs and the soles of your feet for things like cuts and blisters, wear properly fitting, comfortable shoes, and take care of your feet in general. As always, you should also be sure to keep your blood sugar levels at target range.

Dietary Supplements

If you’re not consuming a sufficient amount of healthy food, then that also means that your body isn’t getting adequate essential nutrients. In order to maintain optimal health, some of the most important nutrients our bodies need include the following:

VITAMINS (to help boost the immune system, strengthen our teeth and bones, aid in the absorption of calcium, help our bodies metabolize proteins and carbohydrates), aid in healthy brain and nervous system functioning, maintain healthy skin, and even prevent certain cancers), MINERALS (to help carry oxygen, maintain healthy skin, hair and nails, improve bone health, balance water levels, prevent tooth decay, aid in blood clotting, support healthy blood pressure, as well as support the immune system), PROTEINS (to help form antibodies, hormones and other essential substances, act as a source of fuel for cells and tissues, and ensure the growth and development of skin, hair, bones and muscles), FATS (to provide the body with energy, and help with functions such as cell growth, blood clotting, muscle movement, blood sugar balance, brain activity, hormone production, and immune function), CARBOHYDRATES (to support the immune system and nervous system, brain function, digestive function, as well as provide us energy so that we can perform daily tasks), and last but not least, WATER (to flush out toxins, keep the body hydrated and lubricated, as well as transport nutrients.)

As mentioned, one of the common reasons why someone may not be getting enough nutrients is often due to having a poor diet. However, nutritional deficiencies can also be caused by certain diseases and even medications (which can sometimes impair the absorption of nutrients.) While it can be a good idea to improve your diet so that you allow your body to get the nutrients it needs, this may not always be enough for some. When this is the case, you may need to take a dietary or nutritional supplement. There has been a lot of scientific evidence to show that certain dietary supplements are not only beneficial for your overall health but can even assist in the management of certain medical conditions.

As for choosing which supplement is best for you, they come in a wide range of doses as well as different formats (such as pill-form and even in beverage form.) It’s also important that you are aware of some of the risks associated with them. For example, some supplements may increase the risk of bleeding. If you take a supplement before or after surgery, they can also affect the response your body has to anesthesia, and they can even interact with medication you’ve been prescribed. One example of an interaction between a supplement and medication is vitamin K, which can prevent the blood from clotting, while some antioxidant supplements like vitamin C and vitamin E may reduce the effectiveness of certain types of chemotherapy drugs. You also need to be cautious about taking dietary supplements if you happen to be pregnant or nursing, as many of them have not been tested for safety in these individuals.

It’s also possible to get too much of a dietary supplement. For example, many of the ingredients that are found in dietary supplements are now being added to different foods, such as breakfast cereals and beverages – and when you get too much of something, that can cause you to develop side effects. These side effects can range from mild to severe, and may include things like nausea and vomiting, headaches, reduced bone strength, liver damage, and can also potentially cause birth defects.

Common Vision Problems

Out of our five basic senses (which include sight, hearing, smell, taste and touch), vision is one of the most important as it’s one we depend upon for our everyday routines. The eyes contain a wide range of tissues and structures that are both complex and also very sensitive, which is why it’s so crucial that you have regular check-ups with your optometrist to ensure your eyes are as healthy as they should be and that there are no underlying conditions you should be concerned about. Furthermore, if you are experiencing problems with your eyes, such as blurry vision, then it is also a good idea to get your eyes checked out. Below is a list of some of the most common conditions known to affect the eyes, how they are diagnosed, symptoms you should watch for, as well as how these conditions are treated.

Blurry vision, as mentioned, is one of the most common problems that is associated with the eyes. When you have blurred vision, you lose the sharpness of your eyesight. This loss of sharpness results in objects appearing hazy or out of focus, and you may also have difficulty reading. Blurred vision will typically only occur in one eye, though it is possible for it to affect both eyes. In many cases, the primary causes of blurred vision are refractive errors, such as nearsightedness and farsightedness, as well as astigmatism – however, there are other eye problems that can be the result of blurred vision, including different diseases of the eye, and even neurological disorders. With nearsighted and farsightedness, vision problems are typically corrected with a pair of glasses or contact lenses (if you suffer from dry eye, it’s usually recommended that you avoid the use of contacts), and you may also be a candidate for LASIK eye surgery. When you have astigmatism, your blurred vision will usually be noticeable at all distances. Astigmatism is also usually corrected with glasses, contact lenses, or surgery. Along with eye strain, another common symptom that is associated with blurred vision or headaches, which is something glasses, contacts or surgery may be able to help relieve.

In older adults, cataracts and age-related macular degeneration are also common. A cataract is when the lens becomes clouded, causing your vision to appear blurry or tinted in colour, and you may also notice the appearance of halos surrounding objects that you look at – especially at night. Initially, a cataract may have little to no impact on your vision. However, they do progress, and once cataracts have reached a certain stage, they will require eye surgery for correction. Aside from age, you are at risk of developing a cataract if you are frequently exposed to UV radiation, if you have certain medical conditions such as diabetes or hypertension, if you smoke, have had a previous eye injury or eye surgery, if you are on certain medications such as corticosteroids or hormone replacement therapy, if you consume excessive amounts of alcohol, or if there is a history of cataracts in your family. Age-related macular degeneration (also known as AMD) tends to typically affect those over the age of 60 and is characterized as gradual damage macula’s cells with symptoms that include blurry vision and distorted vision. It is also considered to be one of the most prevalent causes of vision loss and blindness. Treatment for age-related macular degeneration can include laser therapy as well as anti-angiogenic drugs in which medication is injected into the eye to stop new formation of new blood vessels and block leakage from already-abnormal blood vessels that cause AMD.

Even if you don’t notice any abnormalities with your eyes, it’s important to go for regular check-ups so that you can be on top of your eye health and take necessary precautions against certain eye diseases as well as get the appropriate treatment should there be anything wrong with your eyes.

Clinic and Emergency Room Visits During COVID-19

One of the most common concerns that people have as a result of COVID-19 is whether or not it is still considered safe to visit the ER for other maladies unrelated to the virus.

Prior to COVID-19 being declared a public health emergency by our officials back in March of 2020, British Columbia saw as many as 6,559 visits to ERs across the province in just one day. However, just one month later, on April 6th, 2020, that number dropped to approximately 2,995 ER visits. While this ultimately shows that people were doing what they needed to be doing by staying home – and that the system, as a whole, also had more hospital bed availability in the event of a worst-case scenario where there was an increase in COVID-19 cases (which, ultimately, there was) and those needing emergency in-hospital treatment, such as in the ICU, these lower-than-usual numbers that we initially saw in the amount of hospital visits that British Columbians are making may have been an indicator that people were choosing to ignore their health and the fact that they may need medical attention.

While COVID-19 is certainly a highly contagious virus, and while many non-essential services (i.e. restaurants and shopping malls, as well as gyms, community centres, beaches and parks) were at one point closed or had strict restrictions in place to help prevent transmission of the virus, essential services (including things like banks, medical clinics pharmacies and emergency rooms) have always remained open to the general public – because, despite COVID-19, these are still services that people require on a daily basis. Yes, the idea of stepping into a medical setting, such as a hospital, where you know there are likely COVID patients being treated, is a scary thought and may even be anxiety-inducing for some; and while those are very valid fears to have, it’s also important to note that there are specific protocols in place to ensure the safety of both patients and ER staff. For example, hospitals have COVID-19 specific wards. This means that any patients exhibiting telltale symptoms of this virus are not going to be placed with patients at the ER for other medical issues. There are also PPE policies in place for patients and staff, as well as other specific policies and procedures followed for patients who do present to the ER with symptoms of COVID-19.

When it comes to visiting your family physician, many medical clinics, such as Brentwood Medical Clinic, now offer telehealth appointments for their patients. This way you are still able to consult with a physician, but it is done so virtually as opposed to you having to leave your home to go to the office. However, in-person visits are also still an option if necessary. In other words, if you need to see your doctor or visit the ER, then you should, as their doors remain open. Even if you’re unsure as to whether or not what you’re experiencing is a medical-related problem, or whether it may or may not be an emergency, it’s always better to be safe than sorry, as it could be a matter of life or death. The medical system is there for those who need it, and the benefit of seeking medical help may outweigh the risks.

Healthy Eating Habits

Depending on the foods you eat, your health can be impacted in both negative and positive ways. The unhealthier the foods are that you eat, the unhealthier you will feel. Whereas the healthier foods you eat, the healthier you will feel.

Eating healthy doesn’t just mean making changes in the foods you buy at the grocery store. In some instances, it also means that you may need to make some changes to your environment. For example, many offices, schools and other public places have vending machines or cafeterias. While this might seem like an easier alternative to making and packing your own lunch, snacks or other meals, the foods that come from these places are often high in calories, carbohydrates, sugar, sodium, and are all around unhealthy. Making your own meals may mean that you have to allow yourself some extra time in the mornings before getting ready to head to work or class, but the benefits of doing so will pay off in the long-run.

If you’re used to eating certain foods, drastic changes can be difficult to stick to. If weight loss is one of your goals and one of the reasons why you want to change your eating habits, going from routine eating habits into a strict diet is often one of the reasons why such diets (also known as fad diets) are a failure. Instead, I recommend gradually changing your eating habits so that your body can get used to the changes. If you’re craving something sweet, rather than grabbing that chocolate bar, have a piece of fresh fruit instead. Some of the healthiest and tastiest fruits that will still give you that sweetness you’re craving include mango, strawberries, and watermelon. They’re also rich in essential vitamins and minerals that the body requires in order to function at its fullest potential. The things you drink are also part of your diet. It’s not uncommon to drink fruit juice or soda in effort to quench our thirst, but these beverages are often high in added sugars and other types of ingredients that are considered unhealthy and provide little to no nutritional value. If you are craving fruit juice, the best option would be to either buy juice that has no sugar added or make fruit juice on your own. However, the best thirst quencher that you can give your body is water. It not only keeps you hydrated, but also helps with digestion, transportation and absorption of nutrients, circulation, saliva creation, and also helps maintain body temperature. Water is also good for keeping the joints lubricated, which can essentially help reduce joint pain, and even keeps the skin looking healthy – therefore reducing your risk of premature wrinkling and other skin problems.

Portion control is also an important aspect of healthy eating. We often eat until we feel full or go back for seconds before actually realizing we’re full. Before filling your plate a second time, sit for at least 30 minutes before you decide whether or not you want more as it takes a bit of time for the stomach to digest food. Furthermore, your plate should also consist of a variety of foods recommended by Canada’s Food Guide, including fruits and vegetables (dark green vegetables, such as broccoli or spinach), grain products (whole grains such as barley, brown rice or quinoa), meat and alternatives (lean meats, poultry, fish, beans, lentils or tofu), and milk and alternatives (skim milk, fortified soy, Greek yogurt, cheese.) Canada’s Food Guide also recommends including a small amount of unsaturated fat in your diet, while limiting things like butter.

Our eating habits also change with age. For example, children tend to have smaller appetites but need calories to promote growth and development. They should have small, nutritious snacks, and their meals should include a variety of foods from the aforementioned food groups. Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding, in addition to healthy eating, are also recommended to take a multivitamin that contains both folic acid and iron. Because you’re essentially eating for “2” when pregnant, you also need to consume more calories. You can do this by including a few extra servings from each food group each day. As you age – especially if over the age of 50 – so does your need for vitamins. Specifically, vitamin D. Vitamin D not only helps absorb calcium, but it also helps promote the growth and strengthening of bones. While you can get vitamin D from the foods you eat, it can also be helpful to take a supplement to ensure you’re getting the right amount of vitamin D each day.

Changing your eating habits can be tough at first, especially when it comes to figuring out what to cook. However, you can find plenty of healthy recipes online (especially Pinterest), or by picking up a healthy recipe book from your local library or bookstore. If you’re unsure about where to begin in terms of making dietary changes, you could also significantly benefit from seeing a registered dietitian or nutritionist to help get you started. They will not only be able to teach you about which foods are good and which should be avoided, but can also help you to come up with a meal plan that is specifically tailored to you and your dietary needs.

Reasons to Avoid Fast Food

If you’re in a hurry, going to the nearest drive-thru/fast food restaurant can be a quick and easy way to fulfill your hunger needs – but it can also put you on the fast-track to bad health. Fast food is high in things like saturated and trans fats, cholesterol and sodium, which can all increase your risk of developing many different health problems including obesity in addition to things like high blood pressure, heart disease, and diabetes – especially if you eat a lot of it over time. If fast food is something you are going to consume, it’s something that should be done in moderation and not just as an excuse to get out of cooking, as it can become a habit that you easily fall into. To avoid the habit of buying fast food as a quick and easy hunger fix, I instead recommend trying meal prepping. This is something that can be done as much as a week in advance and is also a fun activity to do together with your family.

As for other reasons why fast food should be avoided, much of it contains things like chemicals, fillers, additives and preservatives. These help to improve the taste of the food and prevent it from spoiling but aren’t actually food for you. MSG, for example, is an additive that is commonly found in fast food. It not only improves taste, but also increases your desire to want more of the specific food you’re eating as it is a neurotoxin which excites the brain cells. Essentially, many fast foods have an addictive nature, which explains why you might find yourself consuming more food from a fast food restaurant than you would the food you make at home – because it’s specifically made to taste more appealing and be more desirable.

As mentioned, fast food is also high in saturated and trans fats, while it contains little to no healthy fats – which the brain needs for proper health and development, including for the creation of serotonin, dopamine, and GABA (also known as gamma-amino butyric acid.) When your levels of these various neurotransmitters become disrupted as a result of eating unhealthy fast food, this can lead to everything from agitation to anxiety, depression, and even fatigue/lethargy, and you may also notice an increase in inflammation. Unhealthy oils also cause damage to our DNA and result in us aging faster.

Fast food is also high in sugar, including white sugar and high fructose corn syrup. While you might think it’s the fat in fast food that causes one to gain weight, sugar is also one of the biggest (if not THE biggest) culprits. In addition to weight gain, sugar can also lead to other symptoms such as mood swings, fatigue, “brain fog”, skin problems, as well as things like insulin resistance, diabetes, hormonal changes, heart disease, and cancer. It is also important to note that it isn’t just food that is high in sugar, as sodas also contain it – and no, diet soda isn’t any better. In fact, soda contains even more chemicals that you would be ingesting into your body. Using sugar substitutes also isn’t helpful, as these too can contribute to weight gain

If you already suffer from digestive problems such as acid reflux or irritable bowel syndrome, these high-fat, high-sugar fast foods can either make those problems worse or lead to their development.

If your biggest road block to eating healthy is because you’re always in a hurry, try meal prepping, as mentioned. There are also some healthy snacks that you can take with you on the go, such as sliced fruit and vegetables, low-fat cheese sticks, and yogurt. Speaking with a dietitian or nutritionist can also be helpful in planning meals best tailored to you and your health needs.

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

Personal Protective EquipmentYou’ve likely heard the term PPE – otherwise known as Personal Protective Equipment – talked about a lot in relation to COVID-19. PPE refers to protective clothing and other items, such as:

• Gloves
• Face masks (surgical masks, N95 respirators)
• Face shields
• Hair covers
• Goggles
• Gowns
• Other equipment designed to protect the wearer’s body from injury/infection

Because frontline workers, such as nurses and physicians, come into extremely close contact with patients who are ill, and because COVID-19 is an extremely contagious virus, these frontline workers need this protective equipment to not only protect themselves from developing the virus, but to also stop it from being passed onto others – such as co-workers, other patients they see, as well as from bringing it home to their loved ones. Along with hospitals and doctor’s offices, PPE is also used in clinical labs. There are also certain procedures in which there is a greater need for PPE to be used, such as intubation (in which a tube is inserted through the patient’s mouth and into their airway), as well as nebulizer treatments (in which medicated mist is delivered to the patients lungs via a machine.) These particular procedures can cause a larger amount of the virus to be dispersed into the air.

When wearing Personal Protective Equipment, this acts as a barrier between the person and the illness-causing viruses or bacteria. Because the easiest way for germs to enter your body is via the eyes, nose, and mouth (as well as when your hands touch these areas), PPE is designed to cover these areas of the face. There are also different types of Personal Protective Equipment that come with different qualities and capabilities, and there are very high standards for the way in which they are made. For example, they should be fluid resistant and leak protective, have a filtering capacity, as well as be resistant to tears and snags. When used properly with other infection control measures that are put in place (such as covering your mouth when you cough or sneeze, hand washing and use of alcohol-based hand sanitizer), PPE will help minimize the spread of infection from person to person. Using PPE effectively also means proper removal and disposal, which also prevents both the wearer and other individuals from infection.

One of the most common questions asked by the general public is if they, too, should be wearing any type of Personal Protective Equipment, such as masks or gloves – and the answer is yes. In British Columbia, the wearing of certain types of PPE, such as face masks, is mandatory in indoor public places – such as shopping malls, grocery stores, schools, libraries, as well as on public transit. By continuing to follow all public health orders and restrictions, you not only keep yourself and your loved ones protected, but also reduce the risk of spread of the virus in your community.