5 Steps to Slash Your Stroke Risk in Half


The benefits of eating a balanced diet, working out and minimizing poor health habits like smoking are so well-known that they aren't considered "newsworthy." But new research published in the journal "Neurology" highlights just how powerfully positive these interventions can be when it comes to preventing the fourth leading cause of death among American adults: stroke.

The study, conducted by researchers from the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, Sweden, found that women who adopted five simple lifestyle behaviors saw a 54 percent drop in their risk for experiencing any kind of stroke, and a 64 percent decrease in their risk for cerebral infarction—a type of ischemic stroke caused by a blocked blood vessel to the brain. Cerebral infarctions are by far the most common types of strokes.

Analysts compared the self-reported lifestyle habits of nearly 32,000 Swedish women with an average age of 60. Shockingly, only 589 of these women were able to adhere to risk-reducing health habits.

5 Risk-Reducing Health Habits

  1. Eating healthy: A healthy diet involves consuming more fruits, vegetables, fish, whole grains and low-fat dairy products, and little or no red meat, processed meat, full-fat dairy, sugary foods, baked goods, white flour-based foods or fried starches. Learn about the Benefits of Mediterranean Diet Foods.
  2. Working out regularly: Forty or more minutes per day of moderate physical activity, combined with an hour or more per week of intense activity is the exercise ideal. Discover 6 Fun Activities that Count as Exercise.
  3. Abstaining from smoking: People who've never smoked are the best-off.
  4. Drinking moderately: Three to nine alcoholic drinks per week is the acceptable range for moderate consumption.
  5. Building a better body: A Body Mass Index (BMI) below 25 is the goal.

"Because the consequences of stroke are usually devastating and irreversible, primary prevention is of great importance," remarks lead study author Susanna Larsson, Ph.D., a researcher at the Karolinska Institutet, whose previous research studies found that moderate chocolate and coffee consumption could also slash stroke risk.

Why you should care

In addition to a top-five ranking on the list of leading causes of death, strokes are also the primary cause of long-term disability among Americans. Depending on where in the brain a stroke strikes, a survivor may be left with partial paralysis, irreversible memory loss, vision problems, and speech/language issues. There are also several other unexpected stroke side effects that can dramatically alter an individual's behavior and energy levels.

The good news is that your risk of encountering these catastrophic consequences can be significantly reduced by following the aforementioned lifestyle guidelines. "Because the consequences of stroke are usually devastating and irreversible, prevention is of great importance," says study author Susanna Larson, Ph.D., of the Karolinska Instituet. Even adhering to just one of the steps—healthy eating, for instance—may reduce stroke risk by as much as 13 percent.

So, while you may not have the time or energy to tackle all five healthy behaviors at once, it's important to keep in mind that even seemingly small steps can have a huge impact on your health and wellbeing.

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Good point about adequate sleep, and I would add to that list #7: Drink plenty of pure water.

Mostly good advice in this article, but I have to contest the red meat and dairy myth! The problem with the meat in this country---aside from the antibiotics and hormones the poor animals are dosed with---is the grain and corn diet. That's what makes beef and dairy unhealthy, and to make things worse the feed is genetically modified.

The hysteria over butter, cheese and marbled beef has caused many people to turn from eating the healthy, necessary fats to using junk like margarine (hydrogenated vegetable oil), canola oil, corn oil and that fake whipped "creme" crap. Children, who need the fats the most, are being raised on low-fat or non-fat milk. Hasn't helped the obesity epidemic, has it? In fact, obesity in children as well as adults has skyrocketed since the craze for fat-free took off back in the 80s. Your body needs fat (and vitamin D) to process calcium, something to think about when dealing with osteoporosis and fragile bones.

Eat GRASS-FED beef in moderation and dairy from PASTURED cows and you'll enjoy better health. Not only will you be helping to protect your brain from the ravages of dementia, but you'll also have the satisfaction of knowing that the animals are not being subjected to the living hell that is "factory farming." I took my mom off the hardened vegetable oil spread she was in the habit of using ever since the medical pundits (aka "doctors") told her that butter was bad, and started buying Kerry Gold Irish butter in tubs. Too late to help with her dementia at 93, but she loves the stuff. I do too!
A low-fat diet starves the brain! We need plenty of quality fats in our diet. Quality fats come from the grass-fed animals (including butter), organic coconut oil, extra virgin cold-pressed olive oil, raw nuts and seeds. Avoid fats that come out of a laboratory, such as trans fats.
It's the usual out-dated propaganda that has destroyed the health of so many people. The most important health food is organic saturated fat, for heart, brain, joints, etc.
Low-fat is a con where it's then sold back to nutrition-starved people in other forms.

Why are these lies still being promoted?

Organic red meat is excellent food. High carb grains and too much fruit are not. Fish would be nice, but it's heavily contaminated.

Please learn the truth about what is good to eat and stop recycling the myths that are killing and maiming so many people.

Intensive workouts also can be harmful. Ask all those people with knee and hip replacements how much the used to jog and do other stressful exercise. Not overdoing is as important as is regular non-stressful exercise like walking in nature.