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This month, Thrive joins in celebrating National Wellness Month, where we embrace the art of living well and wholeheartedly. As we navigate through our busy lives, we lose sight of the essence of prosperity – to nurture our well-being both physically and mentally.
We caught up with several local practitioners to explore health and wellness, recognizing that it extends beyond just physical fitness. From the basics like yearly exams and nutrition to cutting-edge technology available right here in Southwest Louisiana, we help you with the tools to live a more vibrant, balanced life. Let’s celebrate this National Wellness Month by empowering ourselves to thrive in unison—mind, body, and spirit.
The Importance of a Yearly Wellness Exam
By Christine Fisher
People may associate going to the doctor with being ill. Van A. Snider, MD, internal medicine physician at the Community Health Center of West Calcasieu Cameron Hospital (WCCH) says a yearly wellness exam is beneficial for many reasons to keep a patient in optimal health.
“Our goal is for patients to maintain good health,” Dr. Snider says. “We want to help you avoid serious conditions such as hypertension, diabetes, and heart disease as well as educate you on ways to reduce the risk factors that can lead to these.”
Visiting a primary care provider for regular preventive care is one of the best ways to identify and treat health issues before they worsen. These visits can also help track progress toward health goals.
“When a patient comes in dealing with a health issue, whether it’s the flu, pain, or an injury, we focus on that particular problem,” says Dr. Snider. “If we see something that needs immediate attention, we will address it. However, the patient doesn’t always tell us of other things they are dealing with. A yearly wellness exam gives us the opportunity to look at the overall health of our patients.”
“We prefer to order annual blood tests prior to the wellness visit,” he says. “This allows us to discuss the findings with the patient face-to-face. Often, annual blood work will look at electrolytes, kidney function, liver tests, and blood count as well as cholesterol and triglycerides. We also will check a PSA for prostate health as men get older. During the visit, we can discuss any health changes noticed since a prior visit, and changes in family history.”
“It’s a good time for us to talk about vaccines, such as flu, shingles, and pneumonia, and answer any questions,” explains Dr. Snider. “We also listen to the heart and lungs, check lymph nodes, look for swelling in hands and feet and do a general health assessment. The health check is tailored to our patients, depending on their age and overall condition.”
Keeping up with routine cancer screenings can help detect cancer in the earliest stages when it’s most treatable. A physician will consider the age of the patient and any risk factors during the annual wellness visit and may recommend cancer screenings such as colonoscopy, mammogram, or additional prostate screening.
During a wellness visit, patients can better understand how to manage chronic conditions they may have, such as diabetes or high blood pressure. Disease management aims to improve quality of life through advice from the physician, making sure any medication adjustments or treatment recommendations are clearly understood.
One of the most helpful aspects of a wellness visit is the opportunity to discuss any concerns you have with a physician. “We want to establish relationships with our patients, seeing them at least once a year gives us the opportunity to talk through things like alcohol or tobacco use, any feelings of anxiety, depression, or perhaps medication changes because of unwanted side effects. Everything is fair game to discuss and we’re here to provide help. If it is outside our scope of care, we can recommend a specialist for further help,” Dr. Snider says. “Caring for you can be a team effort these days.”
Patients can better prepare for their wellness exam by doing a few things prior to the visit. Dr. Snider suggests writing down any questions you have ahead of time. This can maximize your time with a physician. Also, for patients who have an established family physician and were advised to have a screening, such as a mammogram, get that done ahead of time so the doctor has the results and can discuss any concerns during the visit.
Physicians will give guidance on healthy living as it relates to any issues for that patient. “Rather than seeing your doctor only when you have a cold or the flu, consider us as part of your team to help you maintain or achieve your highest level of vitality,” Dr. Snider says.
The Community Health Center of WCCH is open to all patients – including those with Medicaid, Medicare, insurance and those without insurance. To schedule an appointment with Dr. Snider, please call 337-310-3095.
Nutrition for Healing & Wellness
A nourishing diet and regular physical movement are two undeniable factors that greatly contribute to achieving optimal wellness. However, it’s during those moments when we feel less than our best that our entire wellness foundation begins to crumble, and our health rapidly declines. Fortunately, by the transformative partnership of nutrition and physical therapy, we can rebuild and rejuvenate our overall well-being. By embracing both of these aspects, we establish a strong support system that promotes healing, prevents future injuries, and paves the way for long-lasting vitality.
According to Claire Lalande, Thrive Nutrition Coach at Thrive Physical Therapy, the key to overall health lies in a well-balanced approach. “Nutrition plays a significant role of 80% while exercise plays 20%,” Lalande says. This highlights the importance of nurturing our bodies with nutrient-rich foods, a well-balanced diet, prioritizing hydration, and practicing mindful eating. Proper nourishment forms an essential partnership with enhancing your immunity, energy levels, and aiding recovery during physical therapy.
Preserving muscle mass is crucial, particularly when recovering from injuries or illnesses. “At Thrive Nutrition Counseling, we recommend adding protein shakes, greek yogurt, or edamame into your daily routine to help boost your daily protein consumption,” says Lalande. “Maintaining strength is vital for expediting recovery and ensuring optimal outcomes post-physical therapy.”
Reducing inflammation plays a key role in the recovery process, and omega-3 fatty acids are instrumental in achieving this. Flaxseeds, walnuts, and salmon are excellent food sources of omega-3s. “You can simply incorporate these into your diet by including walnuts to trail mix as a snack, adding flax seeds in smoothies or yogurt, and eating salmon weekly,” says Lalande.
Foods rich in vitamin C provide support to the immune system and aid in collagen synthesis, reducing the risk of post-surgery infection. “Additionally, vitamin C serves as an antioxidant, minimizing cellular damage and accelerating the healing process, making it crucial for chronic pain patients,” Lalande says. Oranges, strawberries, bell peppers and kale are among the top sources of vitamin C in fruits and vegetables. Consider including these into your diet to ensure an adequate intake of vitamin C rich foods.
Physical therapy is significant in promoting strength, mobility, and rehabilitation. Depending on the patient’s conditions and goals, our expert physical therapists at Thrive Physical Therapy can provide various techniques and exercises to address a range of conditions. A variety of hands-on techniques like dry needling, soft-tissue mobilization, and joint mobilization can be used to relax muscles and reduce tenderness. It is important to us at Thrive to develop a specialized treatment plan that is unique and works for you, whether you need to implement it during your workday or at home.
Remember, your journey to optimal health starts with nourishing your body from within. Thrive Physical Therapy and Claire Lalande are dedicated to empower you with the tools and knowledge you need to thrive in all aspects of your life.
Thrive Physical Therapy now offers complimentary 20-minute wellness consultations to patients through Claire Lalande, Thrive Nutrition Coach, available virtually or in-person at Thrive Crowley.
Thrive Physical Therapy is located at 4141 Common St. in Lake Charles and 502 N. Parkerson Ave. in Crowley. To learn more, visit www.thriveptla.com.
A Healthier Tomorrow: How Bariatric Surgery is Bringing Total Wellness to Patients
By Taylor Trahan Henry
Obesity is a prevalent health concern affecting millions worldwide, with adverse effects on physical health, mental well-being, and overall quality of life. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 41.9% of adults in the United States are obese. Obesity increases the risk of developing more than forty other diseases and health conditions including type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and certain cancers. It also has a significant impact on quality of life, mobility, and mental health. Fortunately, obesity does not have to be a permanent state. Of course, a healthy diet and exercise routine can help many people lose weight and keep it off. But what happens when traditional avenues are not working despite adherence and consistency?
Bariatric surgery offers a glimmer of hope to those seeking an effective solution to their weight struggles. Weight loss (bariatric) surgery has been shown to be the most effective and long-lasting treatment for severe obesity and could be a solution for anyone that has struggled with obesity when traditional weight loss methods have not worked. Bariatric surgery promotes significant weight loss which can lead to improvement of weight related health conditions and emotional well-being, increased energy and self-confidence, and overall better health, making it easier to perform specific tasks and participate in certain activities.
The CHRISTUS Ochsner Bariatric Center of SWLA and Dr. Matias Nauts offer a premiere choice for patients seeking weight loss surgery, featuring a team-based treatment program designed to help patients navigate pre-operative preparation and support post-operative recovery. The Center offers comprehensive education, follow-up care, and monthly support group sessions to assist in maintaining healthier habits.
“This surgery is a safe and effective option for patients who meet the criteria,” says Dr. Nauts. “The reason it’s so well-regarded is because it is increasing life expectancy, reducing the dependency on prescription medications to manage disease, and giving people back their quality of life.”
Unlike traditional open surgery, robotic bariatric procedures involve smaller incisions, leading to reduced scarring, shorter hospital stays, less risk of infection, and quicker recovery times. Patients can return to their daily routines faster, armed with renewed energy and determination. “Most patients go home the next day,” says Dr. Nauts. “At the three-month mark, most are looking at 60 to 70 pounds lost.” The robotic system enables Dr. Nauts to perform surgery with enhanced precision and control. This translates to improved safety during the procedure, minimizing the risk of complications and promoting better long-term outcomes.
Patients who undergo bariatric surgery often experience significant and sustainable weight loss. “Of course, we all want to look and feel great,” says Dr. Nauts. “But this procedure isn’t cosmetic, it’s medical. Patients are regaining control of their health and overall wellness.” Weight reduction, combined with lifestyle changes, can lead to a range of health benefits, such as improved blood pressure, better blood sugar control, and reduced risk of obesity-related diseases.
Beyond the physical changes, many patients report improved mental and emotional well-being following successful bariatric surgery. Increased self-confidence, reduced depression, and enhanced social interactions contribute to a newfound zest for life.
While bariatric surgery offers transformative benefits, it is essential to ensure that the right candidates undergo the procedure. Eligibility for this surgery is typically determined based on various factors, including:
- Body Mass Index (BMI): Candidates with a BMI of 40 or higher, or those with a BMI of 35 or higher with obesity-related health issues, may qualify for surgery.
- Past Weight Loss Efforts: Patients should have previously attempted weight loss through non-surgical methods without achieving sustained results.
- Age: Patients must be between 18 and 65 years of age.
- Commitment to Lifestyle Changes: Prospective patients must demonstrate a willingness to adopt healthier lifestyle habits, including dietary modifications and regular physical activity, to ensure the long-term success of the procedure. Additionally, patients must be willing and able to participate in lifelong follow up.
- Overall Health: Candidates must be in generally good health to undergo the surgical procedure safely.
At CHRISTUS Ochsner Bariatric Center of SWLA, patients can rest assured that their health and well-being are in the hands of experts. The center’s commitment to providing top-notch care starts from the initial consultation and extends long after the surgery is complete.
Dr. Naut’s commitment to excellence, combined with the wonders of robotic bariatric surgery, has transformed lives. “The stories of patient success are plenty, but one stands out in mind,” says Dr. Nauts. “This particular patient was a woman in her 60s. After bariatric surgery she is down over 65 pounds, takes no medications for chronic diseases, runs, and boxes. It’s incredible.” With a focus on safety, efficacy, and personalized care, CHRISTUS Ochsner Bariatric Center of SWLA has become a beacon of hope for those seeking a healthier and happier tomorrow.
For more information or to schedule a consultation call 337-475-4170 or visit https://www.christushealth.org/locations/southwestern-louisiana-bariatric-center online.