Creative Eldering: What You (Probably) Didn’T Know About Strokes
You have probably read quite a few articles about strokes, stroke symptoms, and stroke risks. Probably several interesting stroke related facts have escaped your attention, and it is likely that you have not read much about stroke prevention. One sadly interesting fact is that 34% of people hospitalized for strokes were below 65 years in age. Of course, the flipside of that statistic is that two thirds or 66% of individuals who suffer from strokes are 65 years or older.
More and more information is coming to light about the importance of sufficient functional B12 levels being correlated with all aspects of brain health. This includes not only dementia prevention but stroke prevention. Now here is the tricky part: a simple reading of your serum vitamin B12 level does not equate with your vitamin B 12 functional ability. In other words, you may show a high level of B12 that is not functioning or doing its job. In this case the serum B12 reading gives you a false sense of security that all is well. The way to measure the functionality of your B12 is to test your level of methylmalonic acid (MMA) and/or to test your blood level of homocysteine (HC). This is not a do-it-yourself situation and you will need to consult your holistic doctor, your primary care doctor, or your well-educated nutrition consultant. In short, you want to know if you have a sufficient level of functional vitamin B12, and its associated work partners, typically vitamin B6, and folate. By these measures a recent study indicates that 13% of individuals aged 50 to 71 years are metabolically impaired as to vitamin B 12 functionality. This problem more than doubles to 30% for those over 71 years old. This population often has no idea that their vitamin B 12 is not functioning correctly to diminish the biotoxins methylmalonic acid and homocysteine which leaves them prone to developing dementia, heart attacks, and strokes.
Dietary fiber is one of the most neglected stroke prevention tools you can access. Fiber is considered a non-digestible component of plant foods. Most plant-based fiber helps feed your normal digestive tract bacteria which also supports your immunity and your elimination process. Raw nuts and seeds can contribute to your fiber intake particularly almonds, flax seeds, and Chia seeds. These can be soaked for several hours or overnight to make them more digestible. Psyllium seed husk powder is another good fiber source. Be sure the one you select has no added sugar or chemicals. These fiber sources can be added to whole-grain cereals or smoothies.
All berries are high in fiber which helps negate the effect of their inherent natural sugar content. Many vegetables are quite fibrous including broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and cauliflower. Cauliflower has the extra benefit of being rich (as far as vegetables go) in omega-3 oils. Numerous root vegetables have healthy fiber. Sweet potatoes, onion, Jerusalem artichoke, and radishes are wonderful fibrous roots. Look to green beans, cooked dried beans, peas, and leafy greens for fiber as well. Recent studies by Harvard researchers showed that each serving of leafy greens resulted in a 20% reduced rate of strokes and heart disease. Some nutrition experts indicate that the average American should increase their fiber intake by 7 grams a day. They suggest a fiber intake of between 21 and 25 grams for women. Between 30 and 38 grams of fiber per day is currently suggested for adult men.
One study published in the Journal STROKE studied a group of women for 14 years and found a 19% reduced risk of stroke in the women who consumed the highest levels of citrus fruit flavonoids during that time period.
Potassium rich foods (most vegetables and fruits) as well as magnesium rich foods (these are typically green) are both credited with lowering the risk of stroke. The phytonutrient lycopene, found in tomatoes, pink grapefruit, and cantaloupe is credited with reducing the risk of stroke. A Finnish study that was analyzed in the American Journal NEUROLOGY, indicated a 55% reduction in stroke risk in men aged 46 to 55 years old with a high intake of lycopene.
Green tea intake and frequent use of garlic are other dietary measures considered to diminish the risk of stroke. Eating two raw carrots per day is correlated with a reduced risk of having a second stroke and those who’ve already suffered one stroke.
According to the Journal of GENERAL INTERNAL MEDICINE in 2012, “Diet soft drink consumption is associated with an increased risk of vascular events in the northern Manhattan study.” This seems like a good enough reason to avoid diet soft drinks, not even considering the harmful liver, kidney and other brain effects noted with this product consumption. Regular intake of diet soda can triple your risk of developing stroke or dementia.
Here are a few last thoughts on stroke avoidance measures. Avoiding tobacco smoke highly correlates with a reduced risk of stroke. Walk away from stroke. Research indicates that simply walking one hour five days a week helps put a distance between yourself and the occurrence of stroke. Reducing your weight if you are overweight, assuring that you get optimal restorative sleep, and being out in the sun to naturally improve your vitamin D level are all proven methods to reduce stroke. Avoiding or treating depression, having a positive outlook, and an optimistic viewpoint are highly correlated with a lessened likelihood of stroke.
Remember to actively strive to be happy and to actively incorporate stroke avoidance techniques into your daily life.
Article by Susan L. Levy, D. C.
Author of “Your Body Can Talk, 2nd Edition” and “Your Aging Body Can Talk”
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