Magazine article Nutrition Health Review

Nutritional Approaches for the Prevention of Stroke

Magazine article Nutrition Health Review

Nutritional Approaches for the Prevention of Stroke

Article excerpt

Stroke, a crippling malady afflicting hundreds of thousands of our citizens yearly, is an area in which the nutritional approach may present important benefits. At the outset, it should be stressed that the nutritional approaches mentioned in this article are tentative and anecdotal and have not been evaluated by governmental agencies. Nonetheless, many nutritionists believe that the methods outlined in this article present both general and specific health benefits and surely are worth a trial.

All adults should be evaluated for "stroke markers," especially those at higher risk of stroke. Such markers include high cholesterol and triglyceride levels, elevated blood pressure, obesity, and elevated levels of stress. Each person should implement special prevention stratagems suited for his or her own needs. These stratagems may include changes in the following:

1. Lifestyle

A healthy, relaxed, positive lifestyle is of benefit to everyone and every aspect of health. Although no direct correlation can be shown between stress and stroke, many anecdotal incidents indicate that people under excessive stress are more prone to stroke (and other ailments as well), for example, accountants before tax time, and those going through family crisis.

A positive and spiritual outlook on life, interesting and noble activities, and proper exercise all serve to make for a healthful personality.

2. Diet

Most nutritionists are of the opinion that a proper diet is a key factor in stroke prevention. Avoidance of excessive sources of cholesterol, such as fatty meat, is very important. The vegetable kingdom contains no cholesterol, but it does produce many sources of saturated fats, such as palm oil, coconut oil, and oils from certain fatty nuts. These fats, in general, should be a very small part of the diet. Linseed oil, canola oil, olive oil, and other sources of unsaturated fats are generally considered to be beneficial. (See Dietary Dilemma, page 10, for more information on oils.) In general, these oils should be part of everyone's diet unless medically prohibited.

Other foods typically recommended by nutritionists include fish, poultry, lean meat, most fruits and vegetables, seeds, and nuts. These should form the basis of a generally well-balanced diet. To reiterate, the avoidance of heavy cholesterol-laden items, which include animal products and animal by-products, such as whipped cream and cream cheese, is probably a basic line of defense against stroke.

In addition, it is of interest to note that vitamin K may contribute negatively to the stroke prevention picture. In general the body makes its own vitamin K and supplementation is not required unless medically indicated. Because vitamin K is a blood-thickening agent, excess amounts from supplementation possibly can result in thickening the blood beyond necessity, hence increasing chances of ischemic stroke. Although vitamin K is usually sold as a prescription medication, it also is available over the counter in low doses. Again, vitamin K supplementation is not recommended unless medically advised.

3. Specific Nutrients

Nutritionists recommend various nutrients as protective agents against stroke. Some of these nutrients include the following:

a. Potassium. The mineral potassium is a key

player in a stroke prevention program. It is

derived from such sources as orange juice and

bananas. For individuals unable to benefit

from natural food sources of potassium,

various supplemental approaches are available.

Among recommended potassium salts (all

minerals must come with a "base") are

potassium gluconate and potassium chelate. …

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