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Mediterranean Diet Can Prevent Stroke, Study Finds

Mediterranean Diet Can Prevent Stroke, Study Finds

You have probably heard that the Mediterranean diet is great for weight loss and can also help you to keep your heart healthy. But did you know that following a regimen based on items like fresh vegetables and whole grains can also protect you from another serious health problem, namely stroke?

Read on to find out about the latest study.

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Why Stroke Awareness Is Important

Strokes might got get as much press coverage as heart attacks, but they are still a serious health issue. According to the American Stroke Association, strokes are the fifth leading cause of death in America, and they happen to 129,000 people every year in this country alone.

A stroke occurs when blood flow is cut off to the brain, usually due to a blood clot. When this happens, oxygen levels drop quickly, and without this, damage to the brain cells starts almost immediately. Even when blood flow is restored, the consequences can be long-lasting and include problems with speech, swallowing, and walking. Also, having a stroke puts someone at risk for having another in the future.

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The good news is that a proper diet can help reduce your chance of a stroke, and adopting the Mediterranean diet is one way to practice a healthier lifestyle.

What The Latest Study Finds

The latest study was led by Dr. Ayesha Sherzai, a neurologist at the Columbia University Medical Center in New York. The study looked at 104,000 teachers throughout the state of California (90% of them were Caucasian and the average age was 52). This long-term study divided the women up into 5 groups, based on how closely they followed the diet.

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What the study found was that—once smoking, levels of physical activity, caloric intake, and other lifestyle factors had been factored out—women who most closely followed the Mediterranean diet reduced their chances of a stroke by 20%. This is considered to be a significant reduction.

The Study In Context

Although this study is important, it is not the only one to link the Mediterranean diet to a reduced risk of stroke. The American Heart Association (AHA), another organization concerned with cardiovascular health, reports that their own research has also found that this style of eating is beneficial for both heart health and stroke. As a matter of fact, in their campaign to help reduce heart attacks and strokes by 20% by the year 2020, the AHA is specifically endorsing the Mediterranean diet as a way to keep both problems at bay.

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Why The Diet Works

The Mediterranean diet is based on fresh vegetables and fruits, whole grain products, fish, and healthy fats like those found in nuts and olive oils. These foods tend to be high in fiber and rich in antioxidants, minerals, vitamins, and monounsaturated fats, all of which have been shown to help promote the health of the heart—and the cardiovascular system as well. This eating regimen also avoids things like refined sugars and grains and unhealthy trans fats that have been implicated in the buildup of cholesterol in the arteries, a build-up which can lead to both heart attacks and strokes. Because of the wide variety of foods that it offers, the Mediterranean diet is also easier to stick with than your typical “fad” diets and has been recommended not only for heart health, but for those struggling with diabetes as well.

This recent study is yet another piece of evidence to show that healthy dietary choices—such as the avoidance of processed foods and the increase of fresh vegetables, nuts, and whole grain dishes—can help reduce an individual’s chances of developing serious chronic conditions—and keeping both strokes and heart attacks at bay.

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Brian Wu

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Last Updated on September 18, 2020

7 Simple Rules to Live by to Get in Shape in Two Weeks

7 Simple Rules to Live by to Get in Shape in Two Weeks

Learning how to get in shape and set goals is important if you’re looking to live a healthier lifestyle and get closer to your goal weight. While this does require changes to your daily routine, you’ll find that you are able to look and feel better in only two weeks.

Over the years, I’ve learned a lot about what it takes to get in shape. Although anyone can cover the basics (eat right and exercise), there are some things that I could only learn through trial and error. Let’s cover some of the most important points for how to get in shape in two weeks.

1. Exercise Daily

It is far easier to make exercise a habit if it is a daily one. If you aren’t exercising at all, I recommend starting by exercising a half hour every day. When you only exercise a couple times per week, it is much easier to turn one day off into three days off, a week off, or a month off.

If you are already used to exercising, switching to three or four times a week to fit your schedule may be preferable, but it is a lot harder to maintain a workout program you don’t do every day.

Be careful to not repeat the same exercise routine each day. If you do an intense ab workout one day, try switching it up to general cardio the next. You can also squeeze in a day of light walking to break up the intensity.

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If you’re a morning person, check out these morning exercises that will start your day off right.

2. Duration Doesn’t Substitute for Intensity

Once you get into the habit of regular exercise, where do you go if you still aren’t reaching your goals? Most people will solve the problem by exercising for longer periods of time, turning forty-minute workouts into two hour stretches. Not only does this drain your time, but it doesn’t work particularly well.

One study shows that “exercising for a whole hour instead of a half does not provide any additional loss in either body weight or fat”[1].

This is great news for both your schedule and your levels of motivation. You’ll likely find it much easier to exercise for 30 minutes a day instead of an hour. In those 30 minutes, do your best to up the intensity to your appropriate edge to get the most out of the time.

3. Acknowledge Your Limits

Many people get frustrated when they plateau in their weight loss or muscle gaining goals as they’re learning how to get in shape. Everyone has an equilibrium and genetic set point where their body wants to remain. This doesn’t mean that you can’t achieve your fitness goals, but don’t be too hard on yourself if you are struggling to lose weight or put on muscle.

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Acknowledging a set point doesn’t mean giving up, but it does mean realizing the obstacles you face.

Expect to hit a plateau in your own fitness results[2]. When you expect a plateau, you can manage around it so you can continue your progress at a more realistic rate. When expectations meet reality, you can avoid dietary crashes.

4. Eat Healthy, Not Just Food That Looks Healthy

Know what you eat. Don’t fuss over minutia like whether you’re getting enough Omega 3’s or tryptophan, but be aware of the big things. Look at the foods you eat regularly and figure out whether they are healthy or not. Don’t get fooled by the deceptively healthy snacks just pretending to be good for you.

The basic nutritional advice includes:

  • Eat unprocessed foods
  • Eat more veggies
  • Use meat as a side dish, not a main course
  • Eat whole grains, not refined grains[3]

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Eat whole grains when you want to learn how to get in shape.

    5. Watch Out for Travel

    Don’t let a four-day holiday interfere with your attempts when you’re learning how to get in shape. I don’t mean that you need to follow your diet and exercise plan without any excursion, but when you are in the first few weeks, still forming habits, be careful that a week long break doesn’t terminate your progress.

    This is also true of schedule changes that leave you suddenly busy or make it difficult to exercise. Have a backup plan so you can be consistent, at least for the first month when you are forming habits.

    If travel is on your schedule and can’t be avoided, make an exercise plan before you go[4], and make sure to pack exercise clothes and an exercise mat as motivation to keep you on track.

    6. Start Slow

    Ever start an exercise plan by running ten miles and then puking your guts out? Maybe you aren’t that extreme, but burnout is common early on when learning how to get in shape. You have a lifetime to be healthy, so don’t try to go from couch potato to athletic superstar in a week.

    If you are starting a running regime, for example, run less than you can to start. Starting strength training? Work with less weight than you could theoretically lift. Increasing intensity and pushing yourself can come later when your body becomes comfortable with regular exercise.

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    7. Be Careful When Choosing a Workout Partner

    Should you have a workout partner? That depends. Workout partners can help you stay motivated and make exercising more fun. But they can also stop you from reaching your goals.

    My suggestion would be to have a workout partner, but when you start to plateau (either in physical ability, weight loss/gain, or overall health) and you haven’t reached your goals, consider mixing things up a bit.

    If you plateau, you may need to make changes to continue improving. In this case it’s important to talk to your workout partner about the changes you want to make, and if they don’t seem motivated to continue, offer a thirty day break where you both try different activities.

    I notice that guys working out together tend to match strength after a brief adjustment phase. Even if both are trying to improve, something seems to stall improvement once they reach a certain point. I found that I was able to lift as much as 30-50% more after taking a short break from my regular workout partner.

    Final Thoughts

    Learning how to get in shape in as little as two weeks sounds daunting, but if you’re motivated and have the time and energy to devote to it, it’s certainly possible.

    Find an exercise routine that works for you, eat healthy, drink lots of water, and watch as the transformation begins.

    More Tips on Getting in Shape

    Featured photo credit: Alexander Redl via unsplash.com

    Reference

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