Stroke happens when blood clot blocks blood flow to the brain or when blood vessel bleeds into the brain. Eating well after a stroke is important in preventing further stroke attack and also helping with recovery.

The best nutrition plan is to follow MyPlate , the new food guideline:

  • Carbohydrate – Eat from whole grains, beans and legumes and fruits and vegetables
  • Protein – Eat from lean meat, beans, peas, nuts and seeds
  • Fats – Eat from low fat dairy, seeds, nuts and olive oil and walnut oil.

Ultimately, you should choose food that help control blood pressure, blood sugar, cholesterol and body weight.

In the American Stroke Association International Stroke Conference 2008, a preliminary observation study reported by Angela Besanger, RD, a nutritionist at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, that a fiber-rich diet raise the chance of stroke recovery.

In the study, 50 participants were asked to recall how much fiber they consume in a 24 hours period. The total consumption of total fiber, soluble fiber and insoluble fiber was correlated with stroke severity and recovery. The results showed that total fiber intake and insoluble fiber intake were linked to less severe strokes and better recovery. No such association was observed for soluble fiber.

Therefore, a fiber-rich diet is important. The World Health Organization recommends 25-30 g of total fiber a day and that can come from 5-7 servings of fruits and vegetables plus whole grains.

Soluble fibers are fibers that attract water to form a gel and delay stomach emptying and ultimately slow down digestion. Great source of soluble fiber are oatmeal, lentil, most fruits.

Insoluble fibers are fibers that don’t dissolve in water. They add bulk to the diet, give a laxative effect and prevent constipation. A good source of insoluble fiber is whole grains, brown rice, green leafy vegetables, seeds and nuts.

Here are 5 tips to eat well to enhance recovery of stroke:

1) High fiber food.

Eat 5-7 servings of fruits, vegetables ,whole grains, nuts and seeds. Eat from a wide variety and in as many colours as possible.  Strategies to increase fiber in your diet could be replacing chicken soup with lentil soup. Instead of drinking apple juice, eat an apple. Replace potato chips with popcorn. Choose raisin bran muffins over chocolate chip muffins.

2) Avoid processed food and trans fat

Processed foods are generally high in salt, sugar, saturated and trans fat.  Trans fat increase the risk of further stroke and heart disease. The high salt content contributes to high blood pressure.

3) Cut saturated fat

Reduce intake of saturated fat from butter, margarine, fatty meat and fried food. Get good fats of Omega-3 from nuts, seeds and olive oil.

Take lean protein or better still plant-based protein. Remove skin from poultry and all visible fat from the meat.

4) Read food labels

Learn how to read food labels. Watch out for the total dietary fiber, the nutritional facts and ingredients such as trans fat, saturated fats.

5) Antioxidants

Several researches showed that food high in antioxidants help to counter the free radicals that damage the brain cells in a stroke and helps with the healing and recovery. Fruits and vegetables provide natural source of antioxidants. Supplementation of antioxidants extract from super foods such as pomegranate, green tea, grape seeds and Marine pine bark can also provide a concentrated source.

Having a stroke is devastating and long process of recovery is expected. Take care to eat well to prevent malnutrition and enhance recovery of stroke.

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