2019 Wellness Guide
It’s a new year. That means a fresh opportunity for wellness resolutions.
Although the old adage “an apple a day keeps the doctor away” was well intentioned, visiting your doctor for preventive treatment could actually prove to be the most effective tool in avoiding disease and maintaining good health.
Preventive medicine is the use of a therapy to create change in the body that will prevent disease, disability and death, explains Stacy
Chronister, D.O., clinical assistant professor of internal medicine at Oklahoma State University.
“A common example of preventive medicine is the treatment of hypertension (high blood pressure),” Chronister says. “Hypertension is often called ‘the silent killer’ as most people feel fine even though their blood pressure is elevated. An anti-hypertensive medication doesn’t necessarily make a person feel any different but can help prevent him or her from having a stroke, heart attack and kidney problems over the next 10-20 years. That person’s health will therefore be better in the future because of the preventive medicine he or she is taking now.”
While there are doctors who specialize in the field of prevention, there’s no need to seek a specialist, as all physicians practice preventive medicine to keep their patients healthy.
“Every physician is trained in preventive medicine; however, a specialist may recommend a person speak with his or her primary care about medications and vaccines,” Chronister says. “Nurse practitioners and physician assistants also are great resources for preventive care and may serve as a patient’s primary care provider.”
She also points out that some of the most effective forms of “preventive medicine” might not include medication at all.
“The best form of prevention is diet changes, smoking cessation and exercise,” Chronister says. “These recommendations can come from any source such as chiropractors, nutritionists, physical therapists or any other provider in your health care team.
“As a primary care physician, I love to have at least one ‘well visit’ per year where I can spend time educating my patient on specific lifestyle changes that can benefit him or her. I love to tailor this plan specifically to his or her life, and this takes time.”
So, there is one old adage you can certainly subscribe to: “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” This is especially true since “all insurances now cover a free yearly visit to your primary care provider to discuss preventive care,” Chronister says.
“These appointments are at no cost to you and can significantly improve your health for the rest of your life.”
Trending treatments for total wellness
From jam-packed schedules, deadlines and commitments, to emotional and physical trauma and post-traumatic stress disorder, the average American is bombarded with physical, mental and emotional stress.
While prescription medications or a massage might be the first lines of treatment that come to mind, many new therapies have made their way to Tulsa.
They work to combat the effects of life’s often unavoidable stressors, resulting in better mental clarity, pain relief, quicker immune response, relaxation and even creativity. Think of it as total wellness for the mind and body.
Many disorders are caused by poorly functioning patterns in the brain. Neurofeedback works to change imbalances and alter those brain pathways.
“Regardless of whether certain areas of the brain are overactive or underactive, neurofeedback can encourage the brain to self-regulate and ultimately produce more healthful brainwave patterns and change thinking and behavior patterns,” says Marie McCabe, clinical director of RenuYou Neurofeedback Brain Fitness Center.
The noninvasive procedure first measures the electrical activity in the brain, and that brainmap is then read by a certified, licensed professional to determine the best protocols for that individual. Sensors are placed on the scalp that read the electrical activity and high-tech equipment amplifies the electrical impulses and breaks them into the four key frequency bands, McCabe explains. Reward biofeedback is used to encourage the brain to reroute.
“Using sophisticated computer software, a customized protocol is developed to address the individual’s unique needs,” she says. “The goal of
neurofeedback is to improve the brain’s ability to
self-regulate, maintain flexibility and smoothly shift between states of relaxation and arousal.”
Neurofeedback can benefit patients of any age — from those age 4 to 90 — and is used for treating myriad ailments from anxiety, depression and autism to strokes, concussions, PTSD and insomnia. “We have 70 different protocols for a variety of issues,” McCabe says.
Because every brain is different, the number of sessions required varies. “For example, we often find in treating veterans who have experienced PTSD that they need more sessions than someone being treated for ADHD,” McCabe says. “The brain is very plastic, and once it forges a new neuropathway, it has no reason to go backward unless a head injury or something traumatic should happen.”
Floatation and magnesphere therapy
Floatation therapy strips away environmental stimuli such as sound, touch, light and gravity, allowing the mind to relax in a way it never could in an ordinary day. The therapy can take place in several different types of vessels. One is a pod-shaped tub filled with up to 1,200 pounds of Epsom salt that creates water so dense, the body floats on top of it, which removes the effect of gravity on the body while also naturally relaxing muscles with magnesium. Other options include larger pools or rooms.
Brandon Washatka, chiropractic physician at Longevity Effect wellness and performance facility, says often floatation therapy patients will see improvements in blood pressure after five or six float sessions, but there are many benefits, such as reduced heart rate, back pain and muscle tension, as well as increased energy, quality of sleep and creativity. He says that’s the reason many professional athletes, like NBA star Steph Curry, routinely use the therapy.
For those who experience anxiety in enclosed spaces yet want to experience the benefits of floating, magnesphere therapy is a comparable option.
Two copper coils on either side of a zero-gravity recliner produce low-level electromagnetic fields equal to those occurring naturally in the body, Washatka explains. Research indicates different tissues — muscle, bone, nerve — respond to different magnetic fields. The magnesphere has protocols to maximize the relaxation response for particular tissues, which dampens the global stress response.
By doing this, the magnesphere helps the body transition from the “fight or flight” response of the nervous system to a more restful, parasympathetic response, which, in turn, helps create a more relaxed state.
Washatka says it’s ideal for athletes, those who participate in intense workouts or those who suffer from chronic headaches and fatigue. Longevity Effect requires floatation therapy patients to be 16 years of age, but individuals of any age, including babies, can benefit from magnesphere therapy.
Hyperbaric oxygen therapy
Simply put, oxygen therapy involves breathing concentrated oxygen in a pressurized chamber. The pressure then bombards the body’s tissue with oxygen.
“The lungs are saturated with concentrated oxygen being pumped into the chamber, which saturates the vessels in the body with more O2,” Washatka explains. “The compression inside the chamber constricts the body’s blood vessels, which forces the oxygen out into the surrounding tissues. This will aid in healing damaged tissue, increasing circulation and accelerating the healing response in the body.”
Adult patients can benefit from hyperbaric oxygen therapy, Washatka says. It’s ideal for anyone with damaged tissue, such as those recovering from illness or athletes in intense training.
“LeBron James uses oxygen therapy treatment,” he adds. Not only does it improve oxygen intake, but it also increases blood supply and energy levels and prevents infection.
Whether you’re looking for a quick hangover fix or a way to kick a seasonal cold, IV infusion therapy can help. IV therapy delivers vitamins and supplements directly into the bloodstream, bypassing the digestive system and allowing for higher doses than oral intake.
Blaine Price, D.O., of Midtown Wellness Institute says his practice offers a variety of IV therapy options, including a high-dose vitamin C infusion and a Myers Cocktail.
“We also have one for weight loss and hangovers,” he says. A high-dose Vitamin C infusion is used for treating immune system problems, cancer, fatigue, weakness, mononucleosis and other viruses.
The Myers Cocktail, invented by Baltimore physician Dr. John Myer, combines magnesium, B vitamins and vitamin C, and has been found to be effective against acute asthma attacks, migraines, fatigue, fibromyalgia, acute muscle spasm, upper respiratory tract infections, chronic sinusitis, seasonal allergies, cardiovascular disease and more.
Patients are typically 18 years and older, and the number of treatments needed are subject to each person’s needs. “Our services are personalized to the individual,” Price says.
Although there can often be a fear of trying something new or unconventional, such as these trending therapies, Washatka says the benefit is “they allow people from all walks of life to find a treatment that works for them. There are great stories happening for people using them.”
Body work benefits
The term “body work” might conjure up images of your vehicle’s exterior, but it also refers to specialized treatments and therapeutic manipulation of the human body, which can reduce pain and stress and increase mobility and strength. Chiropractic care, acupuncture and clinical massage are a few examples of body work treatments that provide these benefits plus many more.
Chiropractic and acupuncture
“Chiropractic adjustments reduce discomfort, such as morning back pain, and increase joint mobility and function,” says Sean Riley, doctor of chiropractic at Tulsa Spine and Rehab.
According to the American Chiropractic Association, “chiropractic services are used most often to treat neuromusculoskeletal complaints, including but not limited to back pain, neck pain, pain in the joints of the arms or legs, and headaches.”
“Our primary goal of treatment is reducing symptoms as quickly as possible while reducing the chance of recurrence,” Riley says. “I’ve seen proven results in my patients who report immediate changes to their symptoms following an adjustment. Ultimately, we want patients to ‘graduate’ from our care to a pain-free self-care status.”
With acupuncture treatments — the application of thin needles to specific points of the body — patients can expect improved energy, sleep and digestion “and general overall improved wellness,” says Sara Gomendi, N.D., of Tulsa Spine and Rehab.
Typically, patients do not experience discomfort, yet some discomfort is possible during chiropractic body work. However, the goal is to reduce pain.
“We believe eliminating pain is a first step to help patients get moving,” Riley says. “Honestly, our goal is to make patients not need us anymore.
“We get right to work. On a first visit, we determine what’s needed, set a goal and build a plan to get patients there. We want to help patients develop their own ability to maintain their body at optimal health. Patients often report relief from pain on their first visit.”
Massage is no new concept for relaxing muscles and increasing mobility, but its additional benefits are nothing to be dismissed, says Andrew Radford, manager of Sole and Body Massage, which offers seated and full-body massage.
“Other than pain relief and increased mobility, massage therapy helps in many aspects: increasing lymph circulation, alleviating problems related to allergies and sinuses, subsiding headaches and migraines, invoking feelings of calm, reducing stress, helping with blood circulation, etcetera,” Radford says.
Applying pressure to muscles also helps increase their pliability and maximum range of motion, allowing them to endure longer levels of endurance and consistent activity.
He says simply sleeping in unfavorable positions or having an overactive body can sometimes lead to painful knots or trigger points in the
“Massage therapy can break those down through concentrated pinpoint pressure on those points to disperse the lactic acid that can build up to cause pain,” he says.
While discomfort is possible, especially during a deep-tissue massage, Radford says, “it should never go over your tolerance and never exceed an 8 or 9 on the pain scale, as it’s a ‘good discomfort.’”
Subsequent maintenance visits vary among patients and their needs, from twice a week to monthly appointments. Radford suggests coordinating massage with chiropractic adjustments. “It can help to come in just before or after a chiropractic appointment since manipulation of the muscles can assist in the realignment of bones and joints.”
Riley agrees with the power of combining body work treatments. “We integrate these services to be more effective,” he says.
Whether the result is simply reduced stress or improved blood pressure, body work offers a host of benefits to help patients feel better, inside and
How to start a healthy diet
“Eating healthy” ranks high among the top New Year’s resolutions. But what exactly does that mean?
“Diets are not a one-size-fits-all plan,” says Jasmyn Walker, registered dietician nutritionist at Cancer Treatment Centers of America in Tulsa. “I avoid using the word ‘diet’ in communications with patients as I feel it has become destructive and defines a temporary time of monitoring foods consumed. It is important to encourage patients to adopt a healthy lifestyle to include healthy eating.”
One could count calories, for example, but only consume fast food, which would result in a diet that is nutrient deficient. It is important, Walker emphasizes, to eat well-balanced meals. “I like to recommend half-plate non-starchy vegetables, quarter-plate complex carbohydrates and quarter-plate lean protein sources,” she says.
Walker says simple sugars and alcohol contain empty calories and can be highly inflammatory. By eliminating or significantly reducing these, one will likely see weight loss.
Her top three tips for healthy eating are:
Know your schedule in order to prep appropriately.
Keep it simple.
Eating healthy doesn’t need to be complicated and require multiple ingredients.
Remember the purpose of food is to nourish your body and support you with activity and lifestyle.
Consider meeting with a registered dietician for more details based on genetics and the benefits of a healthy diet tailored to you. Walker says, “Appropriate nutrition can aid in preventing, treating and managing diseases.” — Kirsten Dominguez
The future of wearable tech and medicine
With the release of Apple’s newest smartwatch, the Apple Watch Series 4, a new fitness feature is now available. In addition to monitoring heart rate, it also can measure heart rhythm. Ravi Kode, M.D., a cardiologist with St. John Heart Institute, sees first-hand how this technology is changing health care. With the rise of smartwatches, more people are paying attention to their hearts and how they are behaving. This brings new questions to appointments, where patients present concerns about fluctuating heart rates.
“When people started wearing heart rate monitors, a lot more people would come in about heart rates and a lot of the time they were just natural fluctuations,” Kode explains.
Determining a healthy heart rate revolves around factors including whether the person is at rest or exercising, and whether the person is calm or under stress. However, with the heart rate and rhythm monitoring features in a phone, health care providers are able to observe consistent data. Smartwatches can be synced with apps on smartphones, where data is logged and presented in charts or graphs. “It will overall improve the way we can relate to patients,” Kode says.
The need for a heart rhythm monitor depends entirely on the person. “A fit young person with no negative health history would not benefit much from this extra function. For older people experiencing cardiac conditions or passing-out episodes, it could be useful extra information,” Kode says.
Perhaps the best use case for these monitors is the detection of atrial fibrillation (AFib), or irregular heartbeats, which can result in issues like blood clots, strokes and heart failure. Identifying these irregular heartbeats early on can help doctors reach a diagnosis sooner.
Looking toward the future, Kode anticipates smartwatches or similar wearable technology that will measure much more than just heart rates, giving health care providers more available data than ever before. “That’s where things are headed,” he says. — Madeline Ewing
Healthy heart basics
“A healthy heart is one that works efficiently, not harder than it should,” says Eric Polak, chairman of the Tulsa American Heart Association board of directors. “It is important to understand that heart care doesn’t start in your 50s or 60s when it becomes a need to care; it is something to begin being mindful of in your 20s.” Establish a relationship with a primary care physician and access the preventive care that is available to you at an early age.
Rather than focusing on a daunting end goal, Polak recommends starting small and building on healthy habits. In the end, you will have established a healthy lifestyle rather than merely meeting a goal.
Some healthy habits to start with:
- Stand at your desk periodically.
- Walk briskly 2 ½ hours a week.
- Eat fresh fruits and vegetables.
- Meal prep for easy access to healthy foods.
- Minimize caffeine.
- Don’t smoke.
- Get good sleep.
Tell your doctor if you have sleep apnea or snore. Implement a nightly routine and don’t have a TV in your bedroom.
“We convince ourselves that we are too busy and that it’s too hard, but it takes prioritizing and a willingness to give ourselves the grace to start small,” Polak says. — Kirsten Dominguez