Reduce Your Risk of Stroke without Breaking a Sweat

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You can reduce your risk of stroke in a number of ways, and a new study about fiber reveals one of them. Details on the study from the University of Leeds, as well as other ways to help prevent a stroke without breaking a sweat, are provided here.

Do you know easy ways to reduce risk of stroke?

Let’s face it: when given a choice, most people like to do things the easy way rather than take a difficult route. So when it comes to ways to reduce your risk of stroke, you probably don’t want to hear that exercise (which probably involves sweating) is one of the recommended steps.

That’s why here the discussion is about other ways to reduce the risk of stroke, beginning with the results of a new meta-analysis of 8 studies conducted by researchers at the University of Leeds. They report that including more fiber in your diet, such as fresh fruits, vegetables, legumes, and whole grains, may modestly reduce the risk of stroke.

By adding just 7 more grams of fiber to your diet, you might appreciate a 7 percent lower risk of stroke, and that includes both hemorrhagic and ischemic stroke, which are the two main types of this brain event. To get that amount of fiber, you could eat 1 cup of raspberries, 1 cup of bran flakes, or 6 cups of air-popped pop corn (but skip the butter).

However, like most Americans, you are likely not getting all the dietary fiber you should: 21 to 25 grams for women and 30 to 38 grams for men. On average, women consume just 13 grams and men, just 17 grams.

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According to one of the study’s authors, Diane Threapleton, MSc, of the University of Leeds, the finding “supports current guidelines to increase fiber consumption,” although the researchers did not identify the types or sources of fiber that would be most protective against stroke.

It should be noted, however, that foods typically contain both types of fiber—soluble (dissolves in water, increases the feeling of fullness and helps with weight loss) and nonsoluble (doesn’t dissolve in water, has laxative effect). Dietary fiber also helps with regularity and may help prevent colorectal and stomach cancers.

So in addition to adding more fiber to your diet, what else can you do to reduce your risk of stroke?

Tips on how to reduce risk of stroke

  • Don’t smoke. Smoking damages your blood vessels, raises blood pressure, and places strain on your heart.
  • Know your risk factors. The National Stroke Association has a convenient online, interactive risk factor tool for stroke. Be sure to check it out; and no sweating involved.
  • Know your blood pressure. Did you know the most common symptom of high blood pressure is no symptom? You could have high blood pressure—a significant risk factor for stroke—and not know it. Have your blood pressure checked if you don’t know it, and have it rechecked even if you do.
  • Know your cholesterol levels. Cholesterol is another indicator of risk for stroke. Have your low-density lipoprotein (LDL), high-density lipoprotein (HDL), and total cholesterol levels checked and discuss the findings with your healthcare provider.
  • Limit alcohol use. You don’t need to avoid alcohol, but keep it moderate: one drink for women and two drinks for men per day is the recommended limit.
  • De-stress. Tai chi, yoga, meditation, deep breathing? All of these and more are effective ways to manage stress (and without breaking a sweat).
  • Practice healthy eating. This means food choices that keep saturated and trans fat levels to less than 10 percent of calories, eating lots of fruits and vegetables, watching your cholesterol intake, and limiting salt and sugar. The Mediterranean diet is an excellent approach for preventing stroke.
  • Control diabetes. If you have diabetes, be sure to manage your blood sugar levels. Diabetes is a risk factor for stroke.
  • Check for atrial fibrillation (Afib). People who have an abnormal heartbeat known as Afib are at significantly higher risk for stroke. You must see your healthcare provider for this diagnosis. Although Afib may have no symptoms, fainting, palpitations, and chest pain are indications of this serious heart condition.
  • Maintain a healthy weight. If you can find a way to achieve this goal without breaking a sweat, great! However, it’s important to note that carrying excess pounds places significant strain on the heart and circulatory system, increasing the risk of stroke.

Also read: Marijuana and Stroke, May Be Dangerous to Toke
Three Inexpensive Drugs Reduce Heart Attack, Stroke Risks
Stroke Can Occur in Teens and Young Adults

SOURCES:
National Stroke Association
Threapleton DE et al. Dietary fiber intake and risk of first stroke: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Stroke 2013; DOI:10.1161/strokeaha.111.000151

Image: Morguefile

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