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South Beach Diet

Since 2014, a self-reported 14 million Canadians were estimated to have considered themselves overweight or obese according to a study done by Statistics Canada. This is a rate that continues to rise steadily in Canada predominantly as a result of an increase in overly processed foods, excess calories, and lack of nutrients in diets, in addition to inadequate exercise regimens.

For many individuals, weight-loss can be quite a challenge and a true test of self-discipline; and while it can oftentimes be discouraging when weight-loss goals are not met, causing one to fall back into old eating habits, maintaining a healthy weight is vital to your overall health and well-being.

Low-carb diets are something Dr. Ali Ghahary advocates, and there are several healthy and easy-to-follow diet options that will help you achieve your weight-loss goals. One of those diets, and perhaps the most popular today, is the South Beach diet, known for its low-carb-friendly, high-protein and high-in-fiber food choices. Foods such as vegetables and legumes (chickpeas and kidney beans) are a vital part of the South Beach diet as they slow down the body’s digestion, thus making you feel fuller for a longer period of time, while foods that are higher in protein (such as chicken and fish) avoid spiking your blood sugar, making you less likely to feel hungry and want to overeat. The great thing about the South Beach diet is that while it focuses on all healthy foods, it also has the ability to include certain carbohydrates, making it an easier diet for many to cultivate. The purpose of the South Beach diet is to find a steady balance of healthy foods you are putting into your system, not just for weight-loss but also for your general well-being, and it is a diet that you can stick to on a long-term basis. However, as with any diet, the initial phase is usually the toughest and requires determination.

For the first two weeks of the South Beach diet (otherwise known as ‘Phase 1’), you will focus on eating proteins, low-fat dairy products, and vegetables. Cabohydrates such as breads, rice, pasta, fruits, potatoes, sugar and alcohol consumption are all to be completely avoided. This is in effort to train your body to eliminate the bad carbohydrates from your system, reduce cravings, and introduce healthier alternatives. At the second level (known as ‘Phase 2’) of the South Beach diet, carbohydrates are gradually reintroduced. If you would normally have a slice of toast for breakfast each morning, instead try one piece of fruit, followed by two pieces of fruit the next day, three pieces the day after, etcetera. Fruits such as apples, bananas and pears are considered to be higher in carbohydrates, but those particular fruits can be good for you if eaten in moderation. Once you rid your body of the “bad” fats and carbohydrates and slowly re-introduce the “good” fats and carbohydrates, you will find that you will have fewer cravings and will begin to notice weight-loss as well as an increase in your energy level and other effects as a direct result of your dietary changes. The great thing about the South Beach diet is that while it is low in carbs, it is not as low in carbs as other diets out there, and at the final phase of this diet you can actually get as much as 30% of your calories from carbohydrates, so long as you are choosing the right ones to intake to give your body the appropriate nutrients and minerals required to help you achieve and maintain your weight-loss goals. You can find an overwhelming number of recipes for the South Beach diet simply by doing a search online.

As always, it is important that you first check with your general practitioner before making any significant dietary changes.

Dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease

Dr. Ali Ghahary, a family physician in Vancouver, is adept in treating chronically ill and geriatric patients, including those suffering from dementia.

Dementia is a term that means loss of memory and other cognitive functions, which interfere with activities of daily living. Living with any form of dementia can take a toll on the patient and caregivers. It can come as a shock, and it will be a moment of crisis where strong support is needed.

Alzheimer’s, the most common form of dementia, accounts for 60 to 80 percent of cases in Canada and generally affects more seniors than any other age group. Alzheimer’s occurs when the brain cells and connections die, affecting the ability to think coherently and remember things both in the long and short-term. Currently, there is no cure for the disease, but there are ways to help advance the field and assist the people suffering, including both patients and their loved ones.

The Alzheimer’s Society of Canada is an active community-centered organization dedicated to helping those with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. Their focus is to provide adequate and thorough education, counselling, support, and resources for help outside the doctor or hospital setting not only to patients, but to families, caregivers, and healthcare professionals who work with Alzheimer and dementia patients.

Advocacy is an important role of the Alzheimer’s Society of Canada. They work closely with government officials and the community to push for legislative changes that will improve the programs that work towards finding a cure or better treatment for this degrading disease. The goal is to improve the care offered to Alzheimer and dementia patients, while providing the support needed to those who suffer alongside them.

Mounting research and evidence shows that the earlier the disease is caught, the better the patient and family tend to fare. There are services offered by the Alzheimer’s Society of Canada that will help newly diagnosed patients and families become more familiar with symptoms and how to handle them. For example, First Link is a referral service that helps you find the appropriate practitioners; MedicAlert Safely Home is a program offered to help ensure the Alzheimer sufferer does not get lost or injured, assisting with a safe return home. On the MedicAlert bracelet is critical information about the person’s health, so as to avoid medical errors if there is an emergency.

For more information about Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, contact your local chapter of the Alzheimer’s Society of Canada. No referrals are needed. Even if you are unsure if there is even a diagnosis of dementia lurking in your family, this organization can still help you find the best resources as well as healthcare providers in your area who can make a diagnosis and recommended treatment options.

How Exercise Benefits Your Health

With people in Canada looking for ways to live longer and have more energy, regular exercise is the key to optimal health. Not only does it keep you fit, but it has also been shown to warn off depression, strengthen bones, and improve digestion. People who exercise regularly also have a lower risk of mental decline, Alzheimer’s and mental illness.

In addition to treating patients with maladies such as the flu or common cold, Dr. Ali Ghahary, an accomplished family physician at Brentwood Medical Clinic in Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada, also helps to manage his patients’ health by suggesting various lifestyle changes, including exercise.

Just 1.5 hours of exercise per week can reduce the risk of premature death by 20 percent. If you exercise five hours per week, risk of death at an early age decreases as much as 34 percent. A carefully planned workout routine can add years to your life and also lower the risk of diabetes, heart disease, stroke, osteoporosis, high cholesterol and colon cancer. Exercise is a simple, effective way for Canadians and individuals all over the world to boost their health and prevent chronic diseases.

The brain also benefits significantly from a challenging workout. Studies have indicated that physical activity not only improves cognitive function, but also reduces anxiety and minimizes the detrimental effects that stress can oftentimes have on the body. Children and adolescents who exercise a few times a week have also been shown to perform better in school than those with a sedentary lifestyle, and active adults have higher levels of GABA, a chemical in the brain that improves the mood and wards off anxiety. Physical exercise also stimulates the formation of new brain cells, helping to improve learning functions and problem solving skills.

Overall, regular exercise can make you healthier, happier, smarter, and more productive – all you need is a minimum of 30 minutes each day in order to reap the benefits.