World Stroke Day: A stroke typically occurs when blood supply to a part of the brain is interrupted or reduced which may damage the brain tissues. There are many lifestyle factors that could increase your risk of stroke from unhealthy food habits, obesity, to lack of exercise or sedentary lifestyle.
It is possible to reduce the risk of a stroke by managing certain health conditions like blood pressure, cardiac diseases, diabetes, cholesterol, obesity, refraining from tobacco, staying away from alcohol and reducing stress. Regular exercise and balanced diet could also help.
“Stroke is the leading cause of morbidity and mortality in the world. Various lifestyle habits can increase the risk of stroke. Food habits are not far behind so let’s look at food stuff that we may eat routinely that increases our risk of stroke,” says Dr Praveen Gupta, Principal Director & Head, Department of Neurology, Fortis Memorial Research Institute, Gurugram.
Here are five foods you should avoid to prevent risk of stroke:
1. Processed foods
If you begin and end your day with junk food and look for excuses to indulge in trans-fat laden food, you should be very careful as you are increasing your risk of getting a stroke. “Processed foods or junk foods, such as crackers, chips, store-bought goods and fried foods, typically contain a lot of trans fat, which generates bad cholesterol called LDL which deposits in the wall of arteries leading to blockage. It also leads to inflammation in the body. It is this increase in the inflammation of the body that is a foundation of many diseases like stroke and heart attacks,” says Dr Gupta.
2. Smoked and processed meats
There are certain preservatives in smoked and processed meats like sodium nitrite that can damage the blood vessels and thus increase stroke risk. They cause oxidative stress leading to vessel wall damage and tissue injury. Examples of smoked and processed meats include hot dogs, bacon and salami. Ideally, you should limit smoked and processed meats completely from your diet.
3. Table salt
Salt here refers to processed salt found in packaged foods and table salt. Natural, unrefined salt, such as Himalayan salt, is not associated with increased stroke risk and can be used to flavour food. Salt elevates blood pressure giving rise to injuries of arteries, brain and the heart. In fact, reducing salt by 5 gm a day can significantly lower blood pressure and hence stroke risk.
4. Diet soft drinks
“Diet drinks are misleadingly attractive. Many people think because a soda is labeled “diet” it’s a better choice, but studies have linked diet soft drink consumption with an increased risk of stroke and vascular disease. In a nine-year study of more than 2,500 people, those who drank diet soda daily were 48 per cent more likely to have a heart attack or stroke or die from those events, compared with those who rarely or never drank soda,” says Dr Gupta. Thus avoiding certain foods can decrease stroke risk and set stage for a long healthy life.