How to increase your chances of having a stroke

Odd title eh? But this is what so many thousands of people are doing right at this moment. Someone has a stroke every five minutes in the UK.

Stroke is a major cause of premature death and is set to be right up there with cancer as our unhealthy lifestyles make stroke more likely. Diet and exercise are key to prevention of stroke, yet as a society we have appalling levels of overweight, obesity and sedentary living.

It seems like a simple enough job to eat healthily and take some exercise but people are generally complacent, thinking that something like a stroke will never happen to them. When you’re young it seems you’re invincible so why worry about eating junk food, smoking, drinking to excess and not taking any exercise, after all you’re going to live forever, right? Wrong. The likelihood is that your life will be cut short by a major killer such as stroke. It’s never too early in life to think seriously about  how to avoid a stroke.

Stroke is one of the terrible health consequences of carrying too much body fat and not taking any exercise.

Whilst stroke affects mainly older people a significant number of younger people have strokes too, and that number is set to grow as the prevalence of obesity rises in the younger population. A study by Oxford University showed that being overweight or obese in childhood raises that child’s chances of having a stroke in adulthood by forty per cent.

Stroke doesn’t always kill, it often just disables the person.

What exactly is a stroke?

It’s a blockage or rupture of a blood vessel supplying the brain. It comes in varying degrees, a transient ischaemic attack is a milder form of stroke but can still cause major disability.

What causes the vessel to block or rupture?

High blood pressure is a big cause. Think of a hosepipe continually having water forced through it at high pressure. Eventually it can’t take it any more, so it bursts.

Build up of plaque on the walls of blood vessels narrows those vessels; it can be caused by poor diet, inflammation, smoking and lack of exercise. Let’s think of that hosepipe again, imagine it has hard water pumped through it over a prolonged period. Hard water causes limescale, the limescale builds up on the inside of the hosepipe then the water has less space to get through so it moves at higher pressure. That high pressure knocks a bit of the limescale off, the hosepipe gets completely blocked. No water comes out. The plants die…. Your blood vessels are that hose, the hard water is the rubbish in your diet, the limescale is your plaque, you are the plants. Obesity, overweight, diet, lack of exercise are at the root of this narrowing, along with smoking which fills the water in your hosepipe with added corrosive nasties.

There are other causes of stroke, such as head trauma and genetic predispositions but a vast number of strokes are preventable.

Over 50% of strokes are caused by atherosclerosis in the arteries.

What can fitnaturally do about stroke?

We provide people with healthy eating and exercise advice and plans. We work with people to change their health habits for life, not just for a couple of months. We follow people up to check that they are still on track once they’ve left us. We raise awareness of the diseases of obesity, overweight and lack of activity.

We partnered with InterAct Stroke Support, who offer rehab services to people who have had a stroke. They do this by sending professional actors to read to patients, which helps the brain to repair its connections. It is our aim to offer these people advice about how to change their lifestyle  and embark on a diet to prevent further, possibly fatal, strokes. Through our annual event, Every Day in May, we will raise thousands of pounds for interventions which will help people to transform their lives post-stroke, along with helping people to prevent stroke happening in the first place.

Update: in 2014 we raised over £15,000 for InterAct.

How to avoid a stroke.

Adopt a healthy lifestyle, forever. Control your body fat, keep it at a healthy level, don’t smoke, avoid drinking more than the recommended amount of alcohol, take regular exercise. Seems like the same ol same ol advice eh? Well it is, it’s not rocket science but it’s a no brainer, or it could be. Don’t let it happen to you or anyone you care about.

If you would like to start your journey to a healthier lifestyle check our eatnaturally plans. They start at just £18 for four weeks. That’s less than £5 a week for a nutrient packed diet that gives you steady fat loss and transforms your eating style for life. Alongside our nutrition plans we provide exercise plans to help you adopt a regular exercise habit which fits in with your life, and which you enjoy!

Get a weekly meal plan and simple advice for a healthy life with the eatnaturally plan.

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