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Preventive Care: Small steps can prevent big health problems

Dr. Jason Wallace and his family recently relocated from Colorado to Nevada County. Wallace looks forward to bringing his passion for preventive health care to patients in our community.
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Meet Dr. Jason Wallace

Dr. Wallace began seeing patients in Grass Valley this month, after practicing the past five years in Pagoso Springs, Colorado. Having grown up in Nevada City, Dr. Wallace says opening his medical practice here is really a homecoming for him.

“My wife and I are happy to be in this beautiful small town and to be close to family,” Wallace says. “My mom is here, and my brother and his family are here — being able to raise our kids close to family will create wonderful relationships and lasting memories!”

Wallace is also excited about the opportunities this region presents to him professionally, as well. “I’m really looking forward to having access to incredible specialists and highly respected physicians — both here in our community and also in Sacramento, through the Dignity Health network. Our patients are so fortunate to have great medical care so close to home.”

To hear from Dr. Wallace and learn more about his background and what led him home to Grass Valley, tune in to KNCO’s “On the Town” on Monday, Jan. 28.

We’ve all heard the saying, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Experts say that rings very true when it comes to our health.

However according to the Centers for Disease Control, Americans continue to fall short when it comes to preventive health care. In fact, when it comes to preventive items like screenings and vaccines, the CDC says Americans are only accessing these services at about half the recommended rate.

That number is alarming, especially considering that chronic diseases such as heart disease, cancer and diabetes, are responsible for seven out of every 10 deaths among Americans, according to the CDC.

These chronic diseases can be largely prevented through close partnership with your health care team. One local doctor wants to help spread the message of preventive health care to Nevada County residents.

“Preventive medicine is so important,” Jason Wallace, DO, Family Practice physician at Dignity Health Medical Group – Sierra Nevada explains. “For patients of all ages, that begins with getting regular check-ups; staying up to date on your routine screenings; and getting any vaccinations that are recommended by your physician.”

One example Wallace feels strongly about is the pneumonia vaccination. He recommends that anyone 65 and older talk to their doctor about getting both versions of the vaccines to protect themselves against pneumonia and its complications.

For screenings, Wallace says recommendations vary by age and by personal medical history, but all women should talk to their doctor about when to get a mammogram and when to get a colonoscopy. For men, they should ask about prostate exams and colonoscopies.

“Early detection for diseases like breast cancer, colon cancer and prostate cancer makes such a big difference in terms of our ability to treat the disease successfully,” Wallace says. “Regular screening dramatically increases the chances of finding disease early.”

Another important component of preventive health care, according to Wallace, is eating a good diet and getting regular exercise.

“What I encourage my patients to do is really look at the portions of what they are eating. The vast majority of restaurant meals, in particular, are much bigger than the recommended serving size. Cut a meal in half and give half to your spouse or eat the rest the next day. It’s a great way to save money while also consuming fewer unnecessary calories.”

Wallace also reminds patients to eat a variety of foods and focus as much of their meal as possible on vegetables, fruits and healthy grains. For protein, small portions of lean meat are ideal.

Finally, Wallace points to regular activity as a critical component of preventive care. “You don’t need to run a marathon, but try to be active every day. If you are sedentary now, try walking around the block. Add a little more time every day. Ideally, aim to hit your target heart rate for 20 minutes every day.”

The CDC says that even short, regular bursts of exercise can provide benefits, including making people feel better, function better, sleep better, and reduce the risk of a large number of chronic diseases.

And as Wallace points out, that should be the goal for all of us. “I hope to help all my patients see that there are small steps they can take every day that can have a big impact on how they feel.”

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