When we dream of the future, most of us don’t imagine a life with a disability. No. We’re usually thinking: “I’ll just be me in the future. I’ll be older, but I’ll have more time to read, go for walks, play tennis, travel. I will live my life!” Unfortunately, due to the widespread prevalence of strokes, our future may not look like what we picture.
But guess what! You have the power to lower your risk of having a stroke.
What is a stroke?
Stroke occurs when blood flow to a certain part of the brain is cut off. Since blood carries oxygen around the body, the cells in the affected part of the brain become oxygen-deprived and die off. Disabilities occur when a stroke damages areas of the brain that control parts of your body and other functions.
Lowering your risk
According to the National Stroke Association, you can reduce your risk of stroke by creating good, common sense health habits in three parts of your life: diet and nutrition, exercise, and tobacco and alcohol use.
Diet and nutrition
Aim to eat a variety of vegetables as often as possible. Think about color. Make your plate your palette—dark green, red, orange, a spectrum of legumes and starches. Eat whole fruits. Grains should be mostly whole grains. Go for a little bit of dairy and a variety of lean protein like nuts, seeds, poultry and seafood. Whenever possible cut out added sugar. Packaged food almost always has more sugar than you need.
The National Stroke Association shows that eating healthy will cut your risk of obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and carotid artery disease, all of which contribute to risk of stroke.
Another way to control those risks is to maintain a physically active lifestyle. Even just 150 minutes per week of moderate activity, like brisk walking and two days of muscle-strengthening activities will help.
Quit smoking, and keep a lid on alcohol use
Finally, tobacco and alcohol use have an enormous impact on your risk for stroke. According to the National Stroke Association, smoking doubles the risk of stroke when compared to a nonsmoker. This is because smoking increases clot formation, thickens blood and increases the amount of plaque buildup in your arteries. If you smoke, find a way to quit. It’s that simple.
When it comes to alcohol, a bit of moderation can do the trick; the National Stroke Association recommends keeping it to two drinks per day for men and one drink per day for women.
Make the most of your future by keeping your lifestyle in check today. Come join the conversation in our nutrition conversation board, or post your comments below.