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Alzheimers and Diet

Leah Sarich | posted Friday, Jan 16th, 2015


Women make up the majority of Canadians with Alzheimer’s disease, the most common form of dementia. For Alzheimer Awareness Month I spoke with Dr. Zahinoor Ismail of the Hotchkiss Brain Institute. He explains the latest research in Alzheimers suggests the environment is contributing more to the disease than previously thought, particularly our diets.

Dr. Ismail says one area of research has found the Western diet that has a high sugar and fat content can be particularly damaging to the brain. And in fact, sugar seems to be the real culprit. Dr. Ismail explains sugar increases the production of an amyloid protein in the brain thought to contribute to brain damage and the loss of cell structure and function. Sugar also affects the blood brain barrier and is pro-inflammatory. In other words, sugar is bad news for your brain.

As for those sugar substitutes, Dr. Ismail says they cause insulin spikes and contribute to changes in bowel bacteria and he suggests the negative end result is the same.

Dr. Ismail says this research is yet another reason why we should be eating more clean, whole foods not only to protect the brain but to help in the prevention of numerous chronic diseases and to improve our overall general health.

As well as eating healthy to protect your brain, Dr. Ismail also recommends staying social and using the brain as much as possible and exercising regularly.

For more information on Alzheimer’s disease and dementia visit this website. 

3 simple things you can do to avoid the flu

Sydney Loney | posted Thursday, Jan 15th, 2015


Take a sick day

Last year, the flu killed 258 people and sent 3,720 to hospital — in Ontario alone. Still, past studies show Canadians are reluctant to stay home no matter how horrible they feel: Almost 80 percent of us have gone to work while ill (46 percent of women cite guilt as the reason they don’t call in sick). This is bad because of the contagion factor (you’re germy for up to seven days after symptoms show up) and because lack of rest makes you sicker for longer.

Stay in bed if you have a temperature of 38C (100F), says Susan Poutanen,a microbiologist and infectious disease specialist at Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto. “You should also stay home if you develop a runny nose, a sore throat, chills, aches or a cough — some of the first signs of the flu.”

Three steps to avoid the flu

1. Sleep more: Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University say less than seven hours makes you almost three times more likely to catch a cold. Stick to a strict sleep schedule and do whatever it takes, whether that’s wearing an eye mask or switching on a fan, to help you fall asleep faster.

2. Beware the break room: It’s the most infected area at work, say researchers at the University of Arizona. Highly contaminated spots include doorknobs, copy-machine buttons, coffee-pot handles and sink tap handles.

3. Wash, rinse, repeat: A study in the American Journal of Infection shows the flu virus lives on hands and surfaces for up to 10 minutes—and most people touch
their faces once every three minutes. The best defence is to wash hands frequently, lathering up for 20 seconds each time.

Talking to Teens

Leah Sarich | posted Thursday, Jan 8th, 2015


Life can be tricky for a parent and their teenager. This is why it’s really important for parents to understand what’s happening in the adolescent brain.

Dr. Monique Jericho, a Pediatric Psychiatrist at the Alberta Children’s Hospital, explains the brain of a teenager is under major renovation. Not only are there new mental and emotional pathways developing to help a teen make the transition from being a child to an independent adult, the reward centres of the brain that seek novel experiences are also heightened. This means a young adult is going to be acting differently as they try and understand all these new emotions they’re experiencing. For many, they may isolate themselves more as they work out these emotions and try to establish their independence from their parents, others may be more sullen and sad. Dr. Jericho says what’s not normal is when teens experience these moody behaviours all the time. It’s normal for a teen to be sullen and aloof some of the time, but other times they should be happy and content. It’s about allowing for a range of emotions during this period.

It’s also critical that parents keep the lines of communication open with their teen, which can be challenging particularly if they’re not getting anything back from their child. But Dr. Jericho says it’s vital that your teen sees the parent trying to stay connected. Dr. Jericho says being a teenager is like being given the keys to a fast car, but not knowing how to drive yet. Parents need to be on hand to help their teen with ‘driving lessons.’

Dr. Jericho suggests chatting with your teen in the car. It’s not an intense face to face discussion, it’s a more casual setting. She also says try to meet your teen where they’re comfortable…. at the mall, at a coffee shop etc. Dr. Jericho also warns parents that if all of sudden their teen offers some information about their lives that seems concerning, parents must not overact. By not overreacting you’re modelling for your teen how to negotiate a complex emotional situation and most importantly you won’t shut down the line of communication.

If you’re concerned about your teenager, or you want to know where to find more advice about how to talk with your teen, you can always call Access Mental Health at 403-943-1500.

Family Finished – Now What?

Leah Sarich | posted Tuesday, Jan 6th, 2015


Once a couple has decided they’re finished having children, the conversation about contraception can change. So I spoke with Dr. Rupinder Mangat from the Northeast Calgary Women’s Clinic about the options for women and men at this stage in their lives.

Dr. Mangat says there are two options: long acting reversible forms of contraception or LARCS and non-reversible contraception or sterilization. For many women as they age, the forms of contraception they used in the past may not be as suitable at this stage. Women’s bodies change as they get older and they often change too after childbirth. So, the Pill for example, may not be safe if a woman now has chronic high blood pressure or she may not tolerate the side effects of the Pill the way she did when she was younger. That’s why many doctors suggest IUDs for women at this point.

Dr. Mangat says there are two kinds of IUDs a copper one that has no hormones, and a hormonal one which releases a small amount of progesterone (about 1000 times less than the Pill) into the uterus. These can last anywhere from 3 to 10 years depending on the one you choose. This time frame may get some women close enough to menopause where they don’t have to use contraception anymore. That said, let’s remember menopause is defined as a year without a period, so even though women’s fertility starts to decline after 35 it is not at zero, so some form of contraception should be used to prevent an unwanted pregnancy.

The next category is non-reversible contraception. For women, this includes having their tubes tied or tubal ligation and for men it’s the vasectomy. For women, you’d think having their tubes tied would be 100 percent effective. It’s not. In fact, the hormonal IUD is statistically more effective at preventing pregnancy. And because a ligation is a surgery, many doctors suggest women consider an IUD first. For men, the vasectomy is a relatively simple procedure that takes about half an hour. But doctors say do not consider this a reversible form of contraception. In fact, a vasectomy can only be reversed in about 30 percent of cases.

That said, the divorce rate is 50 percent in this country. So Dr. Mangat says what you want now, may not be what you want in 5 or 10 years.

For more information talk to your family doctor about what’s right for you.


RSV Warning

Leah Sarich | posted Tuesday, Dec 23rd, 2014


During the holidays, new parents are so excited to show off their new baby to all the visiting relatives. But it’s very important that parents do not hand the baby off to any adult with a cold. That’s because it’s RSV season.

Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Calgary, Dr. Ian Mitchell explains RSV is a simple cold in adults but causes serious respiratory illness in babies, particularly those younger than six months of age. We develop poor immunity to this virus, so we will get it several times in our lives. It starts out as a sniffly nose in babies, which causes babies to have trouble feeding and become irritable. As the illness progresses it can cause respiratory distress which means the baby will have trouble breathing. That’s when it’s time to take the baby to hospital. There’s no specific treatment for the illness but in hospital, doctors will help baby get the oxygen they need and then support them with feeding, nutrition and hydration.

The challenge here is that about half of babies hospitalized with an RSV infection will go on to develop an asthma-like illness with every cold as they grow up. Some children will outgrow this asthma, others will go on to have asthma into adulthood. So, an RSV infection is very serious and parents must do everything they can to prevent it.

It’s the same message used to prevent other viral infections: wash your hands, wash your hands, wash your hands. Parents must insist even healthy people wash their hands before they handle the baby, and of course, anyone with the slightest cold cannot come into contact with the infant.

And of course at this time of year, that can be tricky when Grandma has flown in all the way from New Brunswick to see the baby but picked up a stuffy nose on the plane. But Dr. Mitchell says parents’ first duty is always to protect their child.

There is a trial underway in Calgary. Doctors are trying to come up with a vaccine to help prevent RSV infections. They’re looking for healthy children aged 2 to 5 to participate. For more information  call 403-955-2981 or email achieve@ucalgary.ca. For more information about RSV visit this website.


Hockey Night in Canada Cheat Sheet: Dec. 20

Jeff Simmons | posted Saturday, Dec 20th, 2014


his week, Hockey Night Canada has a great lineup in store for you.

There are four games being shown across the country, which include five Canadian teams.

In the Cheat Sheet each week, we’ll provide everything you need to know for Hockey Night in Canada:

Note: All games below are listed in Eastern time.


Ottawa Senators vs. Montreal Canadiens 
Channel: City
Broadcast crew: Paul Romanuk, Garry Galley
Game notes: Montreal has won its last three games against Ottawa…Habs defenceman P.K. Subban has 16 points (four goals, 12 assists) in 19 career games vs. Senators…Senators goalie Craig Anderson is 2-1-0 with a .931 save percentage in his last three starts.

Philadelphia Flyers vs. Toronto Maple Leafs 
Channel: CBC
Broadcast crew: Jim Hughson, Craig Simpson, Glenn Healy
Game notes: Toronto is 2-5-1 in their last eight home games against Philadelphia…Claude Giroux has 19 points (six goals, 13 assists) in 20 career games vs. Toronto…The Leafs are 8-2-0 in their last 10 games.

Also on Rogers: Tampa Bay Lightning vs. New York Islanders (FX)


Calgary Flames vs. Vancouver Canucks 
Channel: CBC
Broadcast crew: Dave Randorf, Mike Johnson
Game notes: Vancouver has won their last seven home games against the Flames…Calgary goalie Jonas Hiller has lost in each of his last five starts…Ryan Miller has a career .901 save percentage in five games against Calgary.

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