At Health First Family Medicine, your trusted Hillsboro family medical practice, we believe that an individual’s diet can play a major role in lowering their risk of disease. What we eat matter, especially when trying to lower our risk of heart disease, diabetes and even stroke.
Stroke ranks as the third most common cause of death in the U.S., resulting in over 140,000 deaths a year. When a clot obstructs a blood vessel to the brain, or when a blood vessel begins to bleed into the brain, a stroke occurs. Each year, roughly 795,000 people suffer a stroke, 600,000 of which do so for the first time. While approximately 75 percent of all stroke victims are over the age of 65, anyone can suffer a stroke regardless of their age.
However, according to the results of a recent study, researchers may have found a new way for people to reduce their risk of suffering a stroke- by eating more food high in fiber.
For every seven additional grams of fiber added to an individual’s diet reduces the risk of suffering a stroke by seven percent, according to researchers at the United Kingdom based University of Leed’s Center for Epidemiology & Biostatistics.
This study could have a profound impact on diet, especially in the U.S. where the majority of the population fails to receive enough fiber through their diet. While the daily recommended intake of fiber falls somewhere between 25 to 30 grams, the majority of people in the U.S. fail to receive half that amount, according to studies conducted the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention.
The results of this study were published in the journal Stroke.
A Change of Diet
For most people in the U.S., adding seven grams of fiber a day to their diet would present little trouble. A wide variety of foods most people already eat daily, such as fruit, vegetables, or a serving of whole-wheat pasta for example, would allow people to reach this goal without needing to make wholesale changes to their diet.
The findings of this study builds on previous research that has found a link to the consumption of dietary fiber- whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and nuts – and a decreased risk of potential factors that can raise a person’s risk of suffering a stroke, such as elevated LDL levels (so-called bad cholesterol) and high blood pressure.
An increase of daily fiber intake could make a dramatic impact to those who already have an elevated risk of suffering a stroke, such as individuals with high blood pressure, smokers, and obese individuals. Researchers stressed that individuals who fall into one of these categories need to make whatever efforts possible to reduce their risk of suffering a stroke, and that by eating just one additional serving of tomatoes, for example, a day could save their life.
The Benefits of Fiber
As part of the study, researchers reviewed the data collected from previous studies that were conducted in Australia, Europe, Japan, and the United States. After examining this data, researchers concluded that the more dieter fiber a person ate, the lower his or her risk of suffer a first stroke became.
Unfortunately, researchers were not able to determine which, if any, specific type of foods high in fiber might offer the biggest benefit to lowering the risk of stroke. The research also only examined the benefit of fiber derived from foods, and not whether fiber from dietary supplements offered the same protection against stroke.
As a result, researchers caution that this study shouldn’t be interpreted as a reason to run out a purchase a product like say Metamucil in order to increase daily fiber intake. Researcher stress that the study should serve as one more reason why people need to make healthier food choices regarding their diet, and start eating more fruits and vegetables.
If you have any questions about how your diet can impact you and your family’s long-term health, feel free to ask during your next appointment to your trusted Hillsboro family medical practice.