Strokes are considered to be the third most common killer. But did you know that the risk factors can be improved with simple dietary and lifestyle changes?
WHAT CAUSES A STROKE?
A stroke is caused by a disturbance in the brain’s blood supply, starving the brain cells of oxygen leading to cell death and brain function loss. The damage from strokes is believed to result from the activation of various enzymes which affect phospholipids and essential fats, which are key components of brain cell membranes, and through the generation of oxidants which promote the death of brain cells.
STROKE RECOVERY ADVICE
Below see Patrick’s nutritional advice and suggested supplement routine for stroke sufferers in order to aid their recovery.
- Phospholipids: These play a vital part in the construction of the membranes surrounding the brain, and have strong protective effects, especially in acute ischaemic stroke. The essential nutrient in phospholipids is choline, and this nutrient may reduce cell damage. Choline also forms the brain chemical acetylcholine, which is involved in many functions including muscle control and memory. Take at least 2000mg of cdp-choline or hi-pc choline a day, in order to reduce cell death and cognitive function decline. To include more phospholipids and choline in your diet, eat wheat germ, beef liver, egg yolks, and cauliflower. Lecithin is another nutrient you should include in your supplement regimen says Patrick, as it supplies your body with phosphatidylcholine, phosphatidylinositol as linoleic acid and helps with processing cholesterol. 1,000mg of phosphatidyl choline daily is recommended.
- Antioxidants: The most common antioxidants we can get from our diet are vitamins A, C and E. A stroke causes the body to create larger amounts of oxidants, which leads to brain cell death. Antioxidant rich diets may help with neuro-protection and in reducing the area of the brain affected. Vitamin C helps to heal your blood vessels and dealing with cognitive changes. It may even protect you from having another stroke. Vitamin E can improve your memory and reduce your risk of having a second stroke. Vitamin E has also been shown to have anti-atherosclerotic and anti-platelet effects – meaning they help to break up clots in the blood – as well as contributing to eye health and immune functioning. Patrick recommends taking a daily supplement which contains ALA, glutathione, Vitamin E, the potent plant antioxidant resveratrol and CoQ10 – in conjunction with Vitamin C.
- Fish Oils and fish: Fish contain omega 3 essential fats known as EPA and DHA, which are crucial for brain development. These essential fats also lower triglycerides, blood pressure and arrhythmias and contribute to heart health. Omega 3s also aid in overcoming depression, which is common during recovery. Irritability and restlessness, frequent crying episodes, sleep disturbances, fatigue and an overwhelming sense of hopelessness are some symptoms of post-stroke depression (PSD). Try to include oily fish – salmon, mackerel, or sardines – in your diet, two to three times a week. The best seeds with omega 3 are chia and flax seeds.
- B Vitamins and Methylation: B Vitamins support the methylation process within the body, as well as reduce homocysteine levels. Elderly people often have a Vitamin B12 deficiency because the body’s ability to absorb nutrients declines with age. It is recommended to supplement folic acid, B12 and B6, with TMG and zinc as homocysteine levels return to their original values without supplementation. Folic acid, B6 and B12 supplements showed signs of lowering homocysteine levels and the risk of stroke occurrence. It is important to test your homocysteine levels and, if they are high, take a supplement of 500mcg of folic acid, 40mg of B6, 500mcg of B12, plus 1,000mg of TMG, 10mg of zinc and 500mg of NAC.
It is important to manage your cholesterol levels in order to reduce stroke risk, but cholesterol also plays a role in stroke recovery. Cholesterol helps to transport essential fats which repair damaged cells and create nerve pathways. Remember this is if you have been given cholesterol-lowering medication after having a stroke.
A stroke can affect everyone differently, and the recovery level cannot be predicted. Much of the recovery happens while the patient is in hospital during the first weeks after the stroke, but improvement may occur over a number of years as well.
For many people, recovering from a stroke can mean relearning old skills and gaining new ones while learning to adapt to new limitations. It also means that they need and receive emotional, practical and social support.
Recovering from a stroke will take time, as the brain is a complicated and delicate organ. Tailor your recovery program to your individual needs and try not to worry about the speed of your recovery.