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Strokes and recovery


Healthy food for recovery from strokes

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Stroke can affect your life at any age and change it permanently in many ways. Often recovery can be a lifelong healing process. One main factor in assisting your recovery is a healthy diet. It is important that you have all the facts when it comes to what you should eat after having a stroke so that you can be empowered in your recovery program.

After a stroke you may find you feel weak and debilitated. This is normal. You can soon increase your energy levels and your stamina with a healthy diet and it is important to have a health practitioner guide you as to what are the right foods and supplements. Poor nutrition and poor absorption of the food you eat will only keep you feeling ill much longer.

Poor absorption of foods after a stroke can also cause you to lose weight so if this happens do not become frightened. It can also be normal. Some of the weight loss after a stroke can be due to problems swallowing, memory problems in that you forget to eat three proper meals a day and a mid-morning and afternoon snack, problems in feeding yourself and loss of appetite. In all instances, remember to ask for help and remember there are many places that can assist you, especially if you live alone.

After a stroke you may find you need to change the type of foods you eat and drink because some are difficult to swallow. Your doctor will be able to refer you to a speech pathologist who will assist you with leaning how to swallow properly again and asses how much damage has actually been done. If you have troubles feeding yourself after a stroke don’t be afraid to ask your family for assistance. Alternatively there are many community organisations that offer assistance. Loss of appetite can also be treated by supplements to make up temporarily for your poor nutrition while you are recovering. Vitamins, minerals and protein powders can make up for what you may not be getting from your food.

Remember also that you need to watch your diet and eat foods that are low in cholesterol, foods that will assist in keeping your blood pressure down and foods that will help you to control your weight and glucose levels, as these can all lead to subsequent strokes in the future.

Remember also that you need to watch your diet and eat foods that are low in cholesterol, foods that will assist in keeping your blood pressure down and foods that will help you to control your weight and glucose levels, as these can all lead to subsequent strokes in the future. Fruit and vegetables are essential to keep your body healthy and alkaline. This will assist in lower levels of inflammation in your body and make sure that the chances of stroke recurring are less.

It is important if you have had a stroke to eat a diet low in fat and salt and to make sure you have two fruits and three different coloured vegetables daily. If you have swallowing problems, then you can always blend and make juices. Always drink half juice and half water so that the sugar content of the juice is not too high. Fruit and vegetables are important as they are high in fibre which acts to lower cholesterol, high in antioxidants which can reduce damage to blood vessels and inflammation, high in potassium which can assist in lowering blood pressure, and contain folates which assist in reducing the risk of more strokes.

Also of importance are wholegrains in the form of bread and cereals (but in moderation). It is important for fibre intake and to make sure you empty your bowels daily. Good wholegrains are brown rice, porridge and breads that are low in wheat and yeast, which can often just bloat your system and irritate your digestion.

Remember also to monitor your fluid intake if you have had a stroke. It is important to have at least 8 cups of water a day. Warm, boiled water is great and filtered water is important as it is purer and better for your health. Fluoride in our water supply is not good for your body and often water can contain other heavy metals etc if it is not filtered. Water filters are inexpensive these days, easy to install and, in some cases, to carry. I saw a water bottle in Woollies the other day which was a filter and carrier all in one, in glass so no worries about plastic toxins leaching into the water.

Oily fish has been linked to reducing risk of strokes and it’s a good idea to have fish a few times a week as an alternative to meat meals.

If you have had a stroke and you are overweight, then it is a sign you must learn to eat in moderation. Choose lean cuts of meat, chicken and fish regularly. Portion sizes are best to be the size of the palm of your hand and make sure you take the fat away before you cook. I would opt for organic meat or “heart smart” if you can’t buy organic. Organic is not really that much more costly than other meats. Oily fish has been linked to reducing risk of strokes and it’s a good idea to have fish a few times a week as an alternative to meat meals. Remember also lentils and beans will provide adequate protein as a variety to your diet.

One major factor to watch in the prevention of further strokes is the intake of dairy in the diet. Although it is important to keep up your calcium and potassium intake, you need to limit your milk, yoghurt and cheese. Opt for lactose-free milk, yoghurt and cheese as it is better for your digestion. Attempt to keep these foods to a minimum in your diet as milky substances are not good for you in general, especially if you have sinus issues.

If you have had a stroke however you can still eat limited amounts of healthy fats such as nuts, seeds, avocados and just a little rice bran oil. Rice bran is one of the healthiest oils to use however it is best to cook without any oils if you can. Fats that need to be limited are saturated or trans fats such as butter, full cream dairy products, chips, cakes, fatty meat. These can increase cholesterol and that is the last thing you need if you have had a stroke.

Salt should go on your no list. There are some foods that it may be hard to eat without salt such as scrambled eggs or mashed potato. If you must have salt, then use just a sprinkle and never cook with salt, especially if you have had a stroke. When you buy products, attempt to buy ones that are labelled “reduced salt” or “no added salt”, and always check the labels as to exactly how much salt is in the product. Soft drinks are often laden with salt so take them out of your eating plan. Also cut out salty foods like processed meats, packaged meals, sauces, pretzels, crisps.

Last, watch your intake of alcohol if you have had a stroke. In fact you would be best to cut it out completely. Alcohol may also interact with some of the stroke medications you are taking as well as have a bad effect on your blood pressure so best to give it away.

Careful planning of your diet can assist you to get healthier quickly after a stroke and keep you that way. Your lifestyle may change and you may feel restricted in some way but that is a small price to pay for a long life with some quality in it. Look after yourself and ultimately your body will do some healing and life will take a turn for the better.



 

Jenetta Haim | WELLBEING COMMUNITY BLOGGER

Jenetta Haim runs Stressfree Management at 36 Gipps Road, Greystanes, and specialises in assisting your health and lifestyle in all areas by developing programs on either a corporate or personal level to suit your needs. Jenetta has just published a book called Stress-Free Health Management, A Natural Solution for Your Health available from your favourite bookstore or online. For more information and to get in touch, visit her website.