By Dr. Pummy Virmani, Dietitian/Nutritionist
Unhealthy eating and sedentary lifestyle increases your cholesterol level which is one of the main triggers for a stroke. Strokes can recur and hence if you’ve experienced a stroke, you must make a few lifestyle changes to ensure that you don’t experience another stroke. Eating a healthy, balanced diet is one of the most important lifestyle changes to consider. Here are a few tips:
- Eat less salt - Your salt intake is directly related to high blood pressure. Thus reducing or avoiding salt can help stabilize blood pressure. Instead of salt, try flavoring your food with herbs, spices and fruit juices.
- Cut down on fats - Calories from the fat intake in your meals should account for less than 30% of the total daily calorific intake. Only a maximum of 8-10% of calorific intake should come from saturated fats. Pick leaner cuts of fish and meat instead of fatty cuts and avoid meat with skin on it. Try alternative ways of cooking such as steaming or baking instead of frying food. Also, keep an eye on your portion size.
- Lower your cholesterol - Keep an eye on your cholesterol intake if you’ve suffered from a stroke. While it is not feasible to completely eradicate cholesterol from your diet, you should try and keep it below 300 milligrams a day. To do this, cut back on meats, eggs and dairy products and instead increase your intake of fruits, vegetables and whole grains.
- Avoid added sugars - Added sugar refers to sweeteners in the form of sugar cubes, crystals or powdered sugar and does not include natural sweeteners in fruits. Added sugars are responsible for half the discretionary calories in a person’s daily intake. Avoiding added sugars can thus significantly lower the calorie intake for the day and keep you healthier.
- Eat a fiber rich diet - Fiber can help keep your heart healthy and prevent a stroke in the future. Fiber can help lower cholesterol and aid the digestion process. It also lowers blood pressure and encourages the person to maintain a healthy body weight. Losing weight itself can reduce the risk of a stroke as it will reduce pressure on the heart.
- Avoid heavy drinking - If you like the taste of alcohol, drink in moderation. Heavy drinking can increase your blood pressure levels while having more than 6 drinks a day can increase your chances of suffering from a stroke. Also, avoid tobacco. If you smoke, quit and also keep away passive smoking.