Alternatives For Stroke Prevention
Nutrition And Diet
Eat a well-balanced diet with an emphasis on fresh vegetables and fruits; lean, clean protein foods. This diet is important for the health of the blood vessels. It also ensures that you receive an abundant supply of important vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients (antioxidant compounds in plants) that fight free-radical damage and help increase the oxygenation of tissues, including those of the brain.
Make sure that your diet includes the blue and purple fruits and vegetables, such as concord grapes, eggplant, and red cabbage. These foods contain pigments called anthocyanidins. The anthocyanidins in wine grapes are believed to help lower the risk of stroke (and heart attack).
Fruits and vegetables contain antioxidants that counteract/prevent the damage from free radicals. One British study found that those who eat the most fruit experience 32 percent fewer strokes. A diet high in antioxidants helps prevent hemorrhagic as well as ischemic stroke. This reduces the likelihood of bleeding in the brain.
Enjoy carrots often. In a study of 87,000 nurses conducted by Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard University, subjects who ate five or more servings of carrots every week had a 68-percent lower risk of suffering a stroke compared with those who ate one serving a month or less.
Avoid saturated and hydrogenated fats. Eliminate dairy products (except for raw dairy products). Do not eat red meat more than 3 times per week. Avoid margarine, shortening and all fried foods. Saturated and hydrogenated fats raise cholesterol levels, especially that of LDL ("bad cholesterol") and promote the buildup of fatty plaques in the arteries.
Eat Foods Rich in Vitamin B: Fruits and vegetables, in addition to being rich in antioxidants, also contain generous supplies of vitamin B6 and folic acid. These B vitamins reduce levels of homocysteine. Homocysteine has been shown to increase the risk for stroke (and heart disease).
Spinach, carrots, peas, walnuts, sunflower seeds, fish (especially wild salmon and herring), chicken, and eggs are good source for vitamin B6. Foods rich in folic acid include spinach and other dark green leafy vegetables, broccoli, and asparagus.
Eat Plenty of Fish. Cold-water fish such as salmon, mackerel, and herring are the richest sources of beneficial omega-3 fatty acids, but most other fish and seafood contain some as well. Dutch researchers tracked the health, diet, and lifestyles of people in the Netherlands, for many years. They found that those who eat fish regularly have a lower rate of stroke than those who don't.
Add Foods Containing Alpha-Linolenic Acid. Alpha-Linolenic acid is an essential fatty acid that is similar to the health-enhancing omega-3 fatty acids found in fish. Alpha-Linolenic and omega-3 fatty acids help prevent the internal blood clots that trigger stroke. You can obtain Alpha-Linolenic acid from walnuts.
Incorporate foods Containing Potassium. Dietary potassium is known to help prevent high blood pressure. Researchers have found that it might help prevent stroke. The higher your blood potassium level, the lower your risk of stroke. Good food sources of potassium include fruits, vegetables, beans, poultry and fish.
Nutritional Supplements For Stroke Prevention
- Coenzyme Q10 is noted for increasing the flow of oxygenated blood to the brain.
Dosage: Take 200 to 300 mg. three times daily.
- Essential Fatty Acids found in black currant seed, borage, evening primrose, fish, and have important antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
Dosage: Take 1,000 mg. three times daily.
Note: If you are taking a blood thinner, consult your physician before taking supplements. Have your clotting time checked regularly.
- Lecithin helps improve the digestion of fats.
Dosage: Take 1,200 mg. two or three times daily, with meals.
- Vitamin C & Bioflavonoids especially rutin, strengthen weak blood-vessel walls and help to initiate healing of the arterial system.
Dosage: Take 1,000 mg. of vitamin C and 1,000 mg. of mixed bioflavonoids three times daily.
- Vitamin E is a potent antioxidant that appears to reduce the likelihood of the internal blood clots that trigger ischemic stroke. However, it may increase your risk of hemorrhagic stroke. Consult your doctor before starting Vitamin E therapy. Several large population studies have demonstrated that blood levels of vitamin E may be better predictors of future stroke than total cholesterol levels. Vitamin E speeds the breakdown of LDL (or "bad") cholesterol while simultaneously increasing the levels of HDL ("good") cholesterol.
Dosage: Start by taking 200 international units (IU) daily. After one week, increase the dosage until you are taking 400 international units.
Note: If you are taking a blood thinner, consult your physician before taking supplemental vitamin E.
- Vitamin B6 and Folic Acid help prevent homocysteine, a known risk factor for stroke.
Vitamin B-6 - 300 mg./day
Folic Acid - 800 mcg./day
Note: You should be under the supervision of a qualified health professional when you take therapeutic doses of these supplements.
Exercise For Stroke
Research shows that physical activity helps prevent ischemic stroke. In one study, researchers found that people who engaged in moderate to high levels of exercise had less than half the stroke risk of people who engaged in low levels of exercise.
Evidence suggests that heavy workouts aren't necessary to get risk-reducing benefits for stroke. Walking, riding a bike, gardening, dancing, bowling, and working in the yard are just a few examples of activities that can produce an adequate workout. Studies have shown that the regularity of moderate physical activity is more important in controlling stroke than the intensity of the activity.
Several body-work techniques can help restore mobility, promote circulation, and ease muscle tension and stiffness associated with stroke. Among these are Qigong, Shiatsu, Massage, Yoga, Tai Chi, etc. Swimming in a heated pool is particularly useful for restoring lost motor function and keeping muscles loose.
Herbal Medicine For Stroke
- Ginkgo Biloba is used both to prevent and treat stroke. It helps to prevent blood clots from developing and increases blood flow to the brain. This herb has also been shown to inhibit free-radical formation. Ginkgo is widely used in Europe to treat complications of stroke, including memory and balance problems, vertigo and disturbed thought processes. Many studies show that this herb increases blood flow to the brain. Ginkgo also helps reduce fragility of the capillaries, and this can help prevent hemorrhagic stroke.
- Garlic helps prevent ischemic stroke in three ways:
Garlic reduces blood pressure
Garlic lowers cholesterol levels
Garlic is an anticoagulant
Dosage: Take 500 milligrams three times daily.
Caution: If you have hemorrhagic stroke, stay away from garlic and its other anti-clotting herbal relatives. Seek your doctors advice if you have ischemic or hemorrhagic stroke.
- Ginger is a cardiac tonic, as it decreases cholesterol and helps poor circulation. Ginger prevents blood from clotting excessively. In one Indian study, taking about two teaspoons of ginger a day for a week neutralized the blood-clotting effect of 100 grams of butter. You can use ginger in cooking, or you can brew ginger tea using one to two teaspoons of fresh grated root per cup of boiling water. Steep until cool. You can also sprinkle it in salads as it is a versatile herb.
- Turmeric Many studies show that the compound curcumin, which is found in turmeric, helps prevent the formation of blood clots. Turmeric is an important herb in Ayurveda. It is also a key ingredient in Indian cooking and can be found in most curry spice blends. You might consider eating more curry dishes. You can find several recipes in our Healthy Recipes Section.
- Carrot In a Harvard study of 87,245 female nurses, consumption of carrots significantly reduced stroke risk. Women who ate five servings of carrots a week suffered 68 percent fewer strokes than those who ate carrots less than twice a month.
- Pigweed A six-year Harvard study of more than 40,000 health professionals showed that compared with those who consumed the least calcium, those who got the most had just one-third the risk of succumbing to heart attack. Many experts think that this also applies to stroke because of the biological similarities between ischemic strokes and heart attack.
- Spinach Studies at Tufts University in Boston and the University of Alabama in Birmingham have demonstrated that folate can help prevent both heart disease and stroke. Compared with people who consumed little folate, those who ingested the most were only half as likely to show narrowing of the carotid artery, the artery that leads to the brain. Spinach, cabbage, endive, asparagus, papaya, okra and pigweed have folate.
- English Pea Nearly all legumes contain genistein, a cancer-preventive nutrient. In addition to guarding against cancer, genistein also appears to have a significant anti-clotting effect. So, it may also help prevent ischemic stroke and heart attack.
- Willow Willow bark is herbal aspirin, and a low-dose aspirin has been shown in several studies to reduce the risk of ischemic stroke by about 18 percent. Instead of taking aspirin, you can take a tea made from willow bark, meadowsweet or wintergreen. Add 1 or 2 teaspoons of any of these dried herbs to either hot herbal teas or cold lemonade. Drink two to three cups a day. Caution: Willow bark and the other aspirin-like herbs should only be used to prevent and treat ischemic stroke. They are powerful anticoagulants. Hence, they may increase risk of hemorrhage, including hemorrhagic stroke. If you're at risk for this type of stroke, consult your doctor before taking aspirin or any aspirin-like herbs. Avoid these if you're allergic to aspirin.
- Pineapple Pineapple contains an enzyme known as bromelain that is best known for its ability to break down proteins. It's a key ingredient in meat tenderizers. But bromelain also has an anti-clotting action that might help prevent ischemic stroke and heart attack.
- Bilberry Blueberries and Huckleberries contain compounds known as anthocyanidins. European studies show that these compounds help prevent blood clots and also break down plaque deposits lining the arteries. Bilberries are also shown to help to maintain capillaries. Bilberries and their relatives might help prevent ischemic stroke without increasing the risk of hemorrhagic stroke. One glass of huckleberry juice taken twice a week may help prevent stroke, according to herbalists.
- Evening Primrose Oil is rich in gamma-linolenic acid (GLA), which has potent anti-clotting and blood pressure-lowering actions. It is believed to be useful in the prevention of stroke and heart disease. Borage oil is also rich in GLA.
- Astragalus improves tissue oxygenation.
Dosage: Take 250 milligrams of standardized extract four times a day.
- Calamus helps restore brain tissue damaged by stroke.
Dosage: Standard infusion 3-9 g; Tincture - 10-30 drops.
- Cayenne Pepper improves circulation and heart function without raising blood pressure. It also enhances the power of other herbs taken at the same time.
Dosage: Take 100 milligrams twice daily, with meals.
- Green Tea may act as one of the most potent free-radical scavengers to protect against the peroxidation of lipids, a contributing factor in atherosclerosis. Choose a decaffeinated standardized extract containing at least 50 percent catechins and 90 percent total polyphenols.
Dosage:300 to 500 milligrams daily.
- Hawthorn has been reported to prevent or slow the progression of arteriosclerosis.
Dosage: Choose a standardized extract containing 1.8 percent vitexin-2 rhamnosides and take 100 to 200 milligrams two or three times a day.
- Horsetail The silica in horsetail maintains the elastic connective tissue of the arteries. It promotes arterial impermeability to harmful lipids, preventing deposits.
Dosage: Take 1 cup of horsetail tea or 1 tbsp. of horsetail juice three times daily.
- Kava Kava helps to protect the brain against oxygen deprivation.
Dosage: Choose a standardized extract containing 30 percent kavalactones and take 250 milligrams twice a day.
Note: In excess amounts, this herb can cause drowsiness. Do not exceed the recommended dose. Do not use kava kava if you are pregnant or nursing, if you have Parkinson's disease, or if you are taking a prescription medication for depression or anxiety.
- Pine-Bark and Grape-Seed Extract are high in proanthocyanidins (also known as OPCs) that increase the structural strength of weakened blood vessels.
Dosage: Take 25 to 50 milligrams of either two or three times daily.
If You Suspect A Person Had A Stroke:
- Ask The Person To Smile
- Ask The Person To Talk
- Ask The Person To Raise Both Arms
- Ask The Person To Stick Out Their Tongue
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