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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 November 11, 2019

How to Improve Memory and Boost Your Brainpower

How to Improve Memory and Boost Your Brainpower

Have you ever noticed that some people are able to effortlessly remember even the most mundane details and quickly comprehend new things? Well, you can too!

To unlock the full potential of your brain, you need to keep it active and acute. Wasting time on your couch watching mindless television shows or scrolling through facebook is not going to help.

Besides getting out flashcards, what can you do to help remember things better and learn new things more quickly? Check out these 10 effective ways on how to improve memory:

1. Exercise and Get Your Body Moving

Exercising doesn’t just exercise the body, it also helps to exercise your brain. Obesity and the myriad of diseases that eventually set in as a result of being overweight can cause serious harm to the brain.

Furthermore, without regular exercise, plaque starts to build up in your arteries, and your blood vessels begin to lose the ability to effectively pump blood. Plaque buildup leads to heart attacks and it also reduces the amount of oxygen and nutrients that your blood carries to your brain. When the nutrients don’t make it there, the brain’s ability to function is compromised.

To prevent this from happening, make sure you get moving every day. Even if it’s just a brisk walk, it’ll help you maintain and increase your mental acuity. Brisk walking, swimming and dancing are all excellent activities. Take a look at these 5 Ways to Find Time for Exercise.

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2. Eliminate Stressors and Seek Help If You’re Depressed

Anything that causes you major stress, like anger or anxiety, will in time begin to eat away the parts of your brain that are responsible for memory. Amongst the most brain-damaging stressors is depression, which is actually often misdiagnosed a a memory problem since one of its primary symptoms is the inability to concentrate.

If you can’t concentrate, then you might feel like you are constantly forgetting things. Depression increases the levels of cortisol in your bloodstream which elevates the cortisol levels in the brain. Doctors have found that increased cortisol diminishes certain areas of the brain, especially the hippocampus which is where short-term memories are stored.

Prolonged depression can thus destroy your brain’s ability to remember anything new. Seek professional help to combat your depression – your brain will thank you.

3. Get a Good Night’s Sleep and Take Naps

Getting a consistent 7 to 8 hours of sleep each night will increase your memory. During sleep, the brain firms up memories of recently acquired information.

Getting enough sleep will help you get through the full spectrum of nocturnal cycles that are essential to optimal brain and body functioning during the waking hours. Taking a nap throughout the day, especially after learning something new, can also help you to retain those memories as well as recharge your brain and keep it sharper longer.

4. Feed Your Brain

Fifty to sixty percent of the brain’s overall weight is pure fat, which is used to insulate its billions of nerve cells. The better insulated a cell is, the faster it can send messages and the quicker you will be thinking.

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This is precisely why parents are advised to feed their young children whole milk and to restrict dieting – their brains’ need fat to grow and work properly. Skimping on fats can be devastating even to the adult brain.

Thus, eating foods that contain a healthy mix of fats is vital for long-term memory. Some excellent food choices include fish (especially anchovies, mackerel and wild salmon) and dark leafy green vegetables. Here’re more brain food choices: 12 Foods that Can Improve Your Brain Power

Deep-fried foods obviously contain fat but their lack of nutritional value is not going to help your brain or your body, so think healthy foods and fats.

5. Eat Breakfast and Make Sure It Includes an Egg

According to Larry McCleary, M.D., author of  The Brain Trust Program, an egg is the ideal breakfast. Eggs contain B vitamins which help nerve cells to burn glucose, antioxidants that protect neurons against damage; and omega-3 fatty acids that keep nerve cells firing at optimal speed.

Other foods to add to your breakfast include fruits, veggies and lean proteins. Avoid trans fats and high fructose corn syrup. Trans fats diminish the brain cells’ ability to communicate with each other and HFCS can actually shrink the brain by damaging cells.

Having a healthy breakfast in the morning has been shown to improve performance throughout the day. If you’re too busy to have a healthy breakfast, this maybe just right for you: 33 Quick And Healthy Breakfasts For Busy Mornings

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6. Write it Down

If there’s something you want to remember, writing it down can help.

It may sound like a no-brainer, but do you really know why? Writing it down creates oxygenated blood flow to areas of your brain that a responsible for your memories and literally exercises those parts of it. Here’s How Writing Things Down Can Change Your Life.

You can start a journal, write yourself emails or even start keeping a blog – all of these activities will help to improve your capacity to remember and memorize information.

7. Listen to Music

Research shows that certain types of music are very helpful in recalling memories. Information that is learned while listening to a particular song or collection can often be recalled by thinking of the song or “playing” it mentally. Songs and music can serve as cues for pulling up particular memories.

8. Visual Concepts

In order to remember things, many people need to visualize the information they are studying.

Pay attention to photographers, charts and other graphics that might appear in your textbook; or if you’re not studying a book, try to pull up a mental image of what it is you are trying to remember. It might also help to draw your own charts or figures, or utilize colors and highlighters to group related ideas in your notes.

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Here, you can learn How to Become a Person Who Can Visualize Results.

9. Teach Someone Else

Reading material out loud has been shown to significantly improve memory of the material. Expanding further upon this idea is the fact that psychologists and educators have found that by having students teach new concepts to others, it helps to enhance understanding and recall.

Teach new concepts and information to a friend or study partner, and you’ll find you remember the information a lot better.

10. Do Crossword Puzzles, Read or Play Cards

Studies have shown that doing crossword puzzles, read or play cards on a daily basis not only keep your brain active but also help to delay memory loss, especially in those who develop dementia.

So pick up the daily newspaper and work on that crossword puzzle, read a book or enjoy a game of solitaire.

Pick one to two of these tips first and start applying them to your everyday life. Very soon you’ll find yourself having better memories and a clearer head!

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Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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