Your lifestyle has a direct impact on your stroke risk, and even small changes can make a difference.
Tips To lower your risk:
Exercise will go a long way toward improving your insulin and leptin receptor signaling, thereby normalizing your blood pressure and reducing your stroke risk. I recommend a comprehensive program that includes Peak Fitness high-intensity interval exercises along with super slow strength training, Active Isolated Stretching, and core work. If you’ve had a stroke, exercise is also very important, as research shows it can significantly improve both your mental and physical recovery.
Processed meats: Certain preservatives, such as sodium nitrate and nitrite found in smoked and processed meats have been shown to damage your blood vessels, which could increase your risk of stroke. I recommend avoiding all forms of processed meats, opting instead for organic, grass-fed or pastured meats.
Diet soda. Research presented at the American Stroke Association’s International Stroke Conference in 2011 showed that drinking just one diet soda a day may increase your risk of stroke by 48 percent. Ideally, strive to eliminate all soda from your diet, as just one can of regular soda contains nearly twice my recommended daily allowance for fructose in order to maintain good health and prevent disease.
Stress. The more stressed you are, the greater your risk of suffering a stroke. Research has found that for every notch lower a person scored on their well-being scale, their risk of stroke increased by 11 percent.14 Not surprisingly, the relationship between psychological distress and stroke was most pronounced when the stroke was fatal. My favorite overall tool to manage stress is EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique). Other common stress-reduction tools with a high success rate include prayer, meditation, laughter and yoga, for example. For more tips, see my article “10 Simple Steps to Help De-Stress.”
Vitamin D: According to research presented at the American Heart Association’s (AHA) Annual Scientific Sessions in 2010, low levels of vitamin D—the essential nutrient obtained from sun exposure—doubles the risk of stroke in Caucasians.15 While many opt for vitamin D3 supplements to raise their vitamin D level, I strongly recommend optimizing your levels through appropriate sun exposure or by using a safe tanning bed (i.e. one with electronic ballasts rather than magnetic ballasts, to avoid unnecessary exposure to EMF fields). Ideally, you’ll want to maintain your vitamin D level within the range of 50-70 ng/ml year-round.
Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) and birth control pills. If you’re on one of the hormonal birth control methods (whether it’s the pill, patch, vaginal ring, or implant), it is important to understand that you are taking synthetic progesterone and synthetic estrogen — something that is clearly not advantageous if you want to maintain optimal health. These contraceptives contain the same synthetic hormones as those used in hormone replacement therapy (HRT), which has well-documented risks, including an increased risk of blood clots, stroke, heart attack, and breast cancer.
Statins. Statin drugs are frequently prescribed to reduce your risk of heart disease and stroke. However, research shows that these cholesterol-lowering drugs actually increase your risk of a second stroke if you’ve already had one. There are two reasons why this might happen: the drugs may either lower cholesterol too much, to the point that it increases your risk of brain bleeding, or they may affect clotting factors in your blood, increasing the bleeding risk.
Grounding. Walking baref aka “grounding,” has a potent antioxidant effect that helps alleviate inflammation throughout your body. The human body appears to be finely tuned to “work” with the earth in the sense that there’s a constant flow of energy between our bodies and the earth. When you put your feet on the ground, you absorb large amounts of negative electrons through the soles of your feet. Grounding helps thin your blood by improving its zeta potential. This gives each blood cell more negative charge which helps them repel each other to keep your blood thin and less likely to clot. This can significantly reduce your risk of stroke.
Synthetic hormones have for some time been linked to an increased risk of heart disease and strokes, but bioidentical hormones carry no such risk and progesterone in particular is known to be supportive of heart health.