The fact that stroke can strike suddenly without warning is most frighting. There is often no sign or anything, just a fraction of a second sense that something went wrong. Although the stroke itself comes out of the blue, the problems that causes it usually develop over years. When the blood, that contains oxygen and nutrients, can't reach parts of the brain, stroke occurs, or when an artery ruptures and blood is lost. |
The risk of a stroke will be present by high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, and a dangerous prediabetic condition called metabolic syndrome - and all these factors can be reduced by choosing the right food and a healthy lifestyle. "Your diet plays a critical role in preventing stroke", says Thomas Pearson, M.D. PhD, professor of epidemiology and chairman of the department of community and preventive medicine at the University of Rochester in New York.
A study involving more than 87,000 nurses at the Harvard School of Public Health showed that women who ate the most fruits and vegetables had a 40% less change of having a stroke than those who ate the least. Another study conducted at the University of California, San Diego, discovered that people who ate a single serving of potassium-rich fruits and vegetables a day where also able to cut there risk of stroke by 40%.
The following six strategies offer powerful protection: Calm high blood pressure with dairy and potassium. High blood pressure (135/85 or higher) doubles your risk for a stroke. Here is why. Pressured by high-speed blood flow, arteries in the brain thicken and can eventually squeeze shut. Small arteries may rupture under pressure. The risk for developing clot-producing plaque on the artery walls due to high blood pressure. More than 300,000 strokes annually could be prevented if everyone in the US brought it under control. Your diet should include low-fat dairy products and plenty of potassium-rich foods. Not only does potassium fight high blood pressure, it also appears to make blood less likely to clot, which can reduce the risk of stroke even more. Potassium rich foods are fat-free milk, low-fat yogurt, vegetable juice cocktail, baby limas, kidney beans, lentils, baked potatoes, prune juice and died peaches.
Reverse metabolic syndrome with smart meal combo's. Metabolic syndrome is a combination of prediabetic conditions including insulin resistance which occur when your cells stop responding quickly to insulin's command to absorb blood sugar - plus slightly high blood pressure, blood sugar, and triglycerides, plus low levels of good high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol. Nearly everyone with this condition is overweight. There are at least 40 million Americans at risk for metabolic syndrome. People with metabolic syndrome doubles their risk of stroke.
You can prevent this condition by eating high-fiber, low-sugar foods, lean protein, good fats such as nuts, oily cold-water fish, and flaxseed. Fruits, vegetables and grain products low on the Glycemic Index, also keeps blood sugar and insulin levels lower. This will cut cravings and help you lose weight and can almost instantly make your body cells more sensitive to insulin's signals. Avoid foods like doughnuts, sugary soft drinks, and white bread, which send sugar levels soaring, fast. You can also slow the rise in blood sugar after a meal by combining a high-fiber or high- protein food with a refined carbohydrate - for example, with some navy beans with instant rice,
Lose weight Not only what you eat but also how much you eat can play a role in controlling stroke. Overweight can raise a woman's stroke risk by 75%. Obesity raises it by 100%. When researchers at Harvard University compared body weight and stroke risk in 116,759 nurses, they found that overweight women were two to four times more likely to have high blood pressure, diabetes, and high cholesterol. Being overweight is perhaps the leading cause of high blood pressure, which rapidly increases stroke risk. As a matter of fact, people with high blood pressure are five times more likely to have a stroke than those who's blood pressure are normal. Also, being overweight increase your risk of developing diabetes and the risk of stroke.
Treat diabetes with slow carbs Having diabetes in women seems to be a bigger threat for a stroke than for men, because of raising blood pressure and brain-threatening blood clots, and makes her risk for stroke two to four times higher than normal.
The best food strategy for keeping diabetes under control is choosing "good", "slow" complex carbohydrates like fruits, vegetables and whole grains. These keep blood sugar levels lower and steadier and also help control levels of insulin in your body. Experts theorize that surges of insulin after a meal heavy loaded with refined carbs advance biochemical changes in the body that promote high blood pressure and blood clot formation - which are two big stroke risks.
Rebalance your cholesterol profile with good fats High levels of bad low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol and low levels of good (HDL) cholesterol increase the risk of stroke. When the level of good cholesterol is low, your body is unable to haul away the bad cholesterol , giving it free entry inside the lining of your artery walls and start the process that leads to clogged arteries. To get lower LDL and higher HDL levels you should eat less saturated fats and more good fats. Choose olive oil or canola oil for cooking to maintain healthy HDL levels. By adding plenty of exercise you give them a boost.
Also, skip full-fat milk, cheese, sour cream, and ice cream....and turn down that fat-marbled prime rib. What you don't eat can be just as important as what you do eat. Research has shown that people who get the most fat in their diet - especially the saturated fat in meats and other animal foods - have a bigger change of having a stroke than those who eat healthier foods. This is because a diet that is high in saturated fat raises cholesterol levels. Cholesterol which is known for clogging arteries in the heart, can also block blood vessels in and leading to the brain.
"Reducing saturated fat intake is the most powerful dietary maneuver you can make"' according to John Crouse, MD, professor of medicine and public health sciences and associate director of the Wake Forest University School of Medicine General Clinical Research Center.
Limiting meat servings to 3 to 4 ounces a day, using little or no butter, switching to low-fat dairy foods, and avoiding high-fat snacks is all what's necessary for most people to keep healthy cholesterol levels.
Choose lots of produce as well. When researchers from the well-known Framingham Heart Study Group scrutinized the diets of 830 men, they found that for every three servings of fruits and vegetables people ate every day, their risk of stroke declined 22%.
There are several reasons that fruits and vegetables are so beneficial for preventing stroke. Most of all, they are high in fiber, which has been shown to lower bad cholesterol. These foods also contain powerful antioxidants, according to epidemiologist Michael Hertog, PhD, of the National Institute of Public Health and Environmental protection in the Netherlands. They help prevent the harmful LDL cholesterol from sticking to your artery walls and blocking blood flow to the brain. Foods that contain a large quantity of antioxidants are: garlic,onions, kale, carrots, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, blueberries, plums, cherries, oranges and red grapes.
You don't need a lot of antioxidant-rich food to get the benefits. In the Nurses' Health Study, for example, Harvard researchers discovered that women who get as little as 15 milligrams of beta-carotene daily, which is the amount in a large carrot, reduced their risk of stroke.
Except fruits and vegetables, tea (both green and black tea) is also an excellent source of flavonoids.When Dr. Hartog studied more than 550 men aged 50 to 69, he found that those who got most of their flavonoids from tea were able to reduce their risk of stroke by 73%, compared with those who got the least of these healthful compounds. He found that those men who drink at least 5 cups of tea daily can reduce their stroke risk by more than two-thirds, compared with those drink who less than 3 cups a day.
Dropping just a few pounds can cut stroke risk. You don't have to be model-thin to stay healthy, says Thomas A Pearson, MD. PhD, of the University of Rochester. Losing 10 to 20 pounds is often sufficient to lower blood pressure and with it, the risk of having a stroke.
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