Can You Prevent Strokes – Reduce Your Stroke Risk

Hard Work

Can you prevent strokes? Yes! We’re not talking about stopping a stroke while it’s happening, rather this is a discussion on how to reduce your risk of ever having a stroke.

Fat Cat

Let’s Have a Real Talk about What Factor’s Contribute to Strokes

Here are the most common factors that may contribute to a stroke:

  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • Obesity
  • Carotid Artery Disease (narrowing of the arteries)
  • Diabetes
  • Arrhythmia or AFIB
  • Prior stroke
  • Age
  • Family history
  • Heart attack
  • Amount of exercise
  • Diet
  • Smoking
  • Drinking

That is a long list, but there are other things that could have been added to it. Don’t get discouraged about how big the list is, rather be encouraged at how many things are on the list that are within your control.

My Stroke Education

I never really cared much about strokes until I was laying in the hospital after my stroke in 2013. I have been educated many times over things that lead to strokes since then but it wasn’t until recently that I really started asking the hard questions.Education

  • Why does my doctor seem so concerned about my blood pressure?
  • Why does it matter if I have bacon in the morning and cheeseburgers at lunch?
  • What does my family history have to do with anything?

It seems like I never “really” listened to the doctor and nurses after I had the stroke but now things have changed and I guess I’m fearful that another stroke is in my future.

So, How Can We Prevent a Stroke or Reduce Our Risk?

Let’s keep things simple and out of the lofty world of medical jargon.

Look at the list above and consider all the things we can do immediately to prevent a stroke or reduce the risk of a stroke.

  1. Reduce your blood pressure
    1. Eat healthy – Mediterranean Diet for example, but there are many other types
    2. Reduce salt intake
    3. Exercise regularly
    4. Reach a healthy weight
    5. Limit the amount of alcohol consumed
  2. Reduce your cholesterol
    1. Cook with low fat oils or healthy oils like olive oil
    2. Eliminate trans fats
    3. Eat more foods with omega-3 fatty acids (salmon, walnuts, spinach, etc.)
    4. Increase fiber intake
  3. Increase your physical activity (walking is something easy everyone can do)
  4. Reduce your weight to a healthy level
  5. Stop smoking or cut back
  6. Stop drinking or have only one drink per day

These are six extremely important steps all of us can take to prevent strokes or reduce the risk of a stroke. Some of these are hard for us to do but they can be done and should be done.

Exercise
Think hard about this. What is the alternative? We can ignore the simple things in front of us that all of us can control, or we face the possible future of being physically incapacitated and most likely in a nursing home some day when we all know that we would not bet cared for as well as we would like.

There are several things on the list above we have no control over but my advice is to forget about those things we can’t control and focus on what we can control.

What’s in Your Future?

Hard WorkDo you and I want to take the easy way out, for a short period of time, and live life as we please? That’s a pleasant thought right now sitting in our comfortable chair while we still have the ability to feed ourself, bath ourself and use the bathroom without having someone there to watch us in such a private matter. This is serious.

We need to take the hard road now so that we can live a better life now and in the future.

It’s your decision and my decision. I have made my mind up to take the hard road and live a longer, healthier life.

 

 

 

 

Stroke Prevention Nutrition – Where Do I Start?

Moving Forward

My focus in researching strokes is learning how to reduce or eliminate strokes, starting with all natural methods available to all of us. During the initial searches I have done, I have found several primary steps anyone can take without even stepping into a doctor’s office and considering medication. The main things we can do to reduce the risk of strokes are:

  • Stay active or increase your physical activityWalking
  • Maintain your healthy weight or lose unwanted excess weight
  • Continue eating healthy or improve your eating habits

Today I would like to focus on Stroke Prevention Nutrition. This is big topic to cover so I will just introduce some basic ideas in this article and delve deeper in future articles.

Stroke Prevention Nutrition

One of the first things I heard while in the hospital after my stroke was “you have to change your diet.” It was a little foggy while trying to concentrate on the words coming out of the doctor’s mouth but I definitely heard words, like

  • Vegetables
  • Fruit
  • Lean Proteins
  • Mediterranean Diet
  • …….(the rest of what he said got a little foggy)

The question you all are asking is, did I follow what the doctor said (after my wife repeated it to me at home many more times)? The answer is a resounding no. I have tried to change my diet but the truth is I have gained additional weight and have not changed my diet permanently.

 

I want to place my stroke disclosure here for everyone. I am not in the medical profession and I have not reduced my stroke risks yet. All I am is a stroke victim (and it seems to run in my family) and I am still working every day to make positive changes and along the way, I hope to help you make changes to keep far away from this horrible health problem.

How Do I Start Eating Healthy

Let me just start with the simple answer. We need to stop eating fast food, processed foods (at home or a restaurant), and high calorie drinks. I am not going to hit you with a lot of industry labels here. I just want for all of us to hear it put simply, including myself. It is more difficult but we need to make more of our own food at home and concentrate on fruits and vegetable way more than we have in the past.

Strawberries

Without even going into high fat, low carb, high fiber……. I think we can all understand the simple stuff. Take some time at first without even making major changes to your diet and list what you are eating every day and be honest with yourself. No one has to see your list. You (we) just need to know what we are shoving into our mouths. You will be horrified on how much junk and how many calories you are eating every day and over time that just adds to more weight, higher blood pressure, and a higher risk of stroke.

Note BookThere are some great resources on the web, in the store, and on your smart phone that will make it extremely easy to do some basic tracking. Do your best to track what time of the day you eat, what you eat and how much of it you eat. What is going to happen is you will understand quickly why you have gained weight and why it is so hard to get it off. Once you have tracked your food for a few days to a week then it’s time to start thinking about easy changes to start improving your diet.

Diet is Not a Bad Word

Everyone thinks that “going on a diet” is a bad word. Well, it is if “going on a diet” is just something you do once in a while and there is no long term benefit for the changes or if the changes are not sustainable.

Diet Definition: The kinds of food that a person, animal, or community habitually eats. (Definition found on Google)

The word diet is primarily used to describe how you commonly eat. Most of us fall into the “See Food” diet category. If we see it, then we eat it. So let’s start changing our diet without going on a diet. There are many good diet programs available and here are a few of them:

  • Weight Watchers
  • Nutrisystem
    South Beach Diet
  • Mayo Clinic Diet

And the list goes on and on and on. These are some great places to start but let’s wrap up here by just making some easy changes that all of us can do.

Put One Foot in Front of the Other

Difficult changes in life are always best to do one step at a time.Walking on a Beach

  1. Stop or reduce bad habits. This could be drinking to many sodas, eating out to often, cooking with high fat oil or butter.
  2. Start exercising or increase your physical activity. You don’t have to join a gym or do things that feel like you are killing yourself. Start by taking a nice walk. I don’t care if anyone thinks that walking is for old people. Even young people like to go for walks along a lake or in a park, especially if it is with someone they like.
  3. Begin adding one fruit or vegetable a day into your new “sustainable” diet.

These are just a few simple things we can all start with.

Let me tell you a few things I have done which have been easy to sustain. I immediately slowed down on the number of Mountain Dews I was downing each day. I started taking my dogs for a walk, especially on beautiful days. I added some natural applesauce and bananas each day as I like these and it’s not hard to tell myself to keep eating them. I also found a great pasta dish that my entire family enjoys that is actually pretty healthy. It has a reasonable amount of pasta (it’s not mostly pasta), grilled chicken breast and several types of vegetables that we all like. Put all of that together with about a half of a cup of light Alfredo sauce and you have a great tasting dish and no one even realizes they are eating a lot of vegetables.

It’s really that easy to start making changes.

How About We Start this Together

It does not matter if a healthy diet is all new to you or if you have already started working on it. Let’s decide on a few new things to do differently this week. I have been working on this a long time and here are a few things I am going to do differently this coming week:

  • Re-focus on eating more healthy for the entire week.
  • Add boiled eggs to a few meals.
  • Go for a walk at least three times next week.
  • Buy a lunch cooler to take some healthy snacks or lunch to work.

That’s more than a few things but I have been working on this for some time so I may have a head start on you. If you’re new to this than try these few things:

  • Only have one soda per day and try switching to a low calorie version.
  • Go for one walk if you have been a couch potato.
  • Pick up a fruit you like at the store. Maybe even try the small fruit snacks with no sugar added.

This is easy to start and it doesn’t even cost money by joining a diet program or paying for a gym membership.
It all starts with one step and that is for us to make the decision to start.

Young Friends Walking