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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 January 21, 2020

The Best Way to Create a Vision for the Life You Want

The Best Way to Create a Vision for the Life You Want

Creating a vision for your life might seem like a frivolous, fantastical waste of time, but it’s not: creating a compelling vision of the life you want is actually one of the most effective strategies for achieving the life of your dreams. Perhaps the best way to look at the concept of a life vision is as a compass to help guide you to take the best actions and make the right choices that help propel you toward your best life.

your vision of where or who you want to be is the greatest asset you have

    Why You Need a Vision

    Experts and life success stories support the idea that with a vision in mind, you are more likely to succeed far beyond what you could otherwise achieve without a clear vision. Think of crafting your life vision as mapping a path to your personal and professional dreams. Life satisfaction and personal happiness are within reach. The harsh reality is that if you don’t develop your own vision, you’ll allow other people and circumstances to direct the course of your life.

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    How to Create Your Life Vision

    Don’t expect a clear and well-defined vision overnight—envisioning your life and determining the course you will follow requires time, and reflection. You need to cultivate vision and perspective, and you also need to apply logic and planning for the practical application of your vision. Your best vision blossoms from your dreams, hopes, and aspirations. It will resonate with your values and ideals, and will generate energy and enthusiasm to help strengthen your commitment to explore the possibilities of your life.

    What Do You Want?

    The question sounds deceptively simple, but it’s often the most difficult to answer. Allowing yourself to explore your deepest desires can be very frightening. You may also not think you have the time to consider something as fanciful as what you want out of life, but it’s important to remind yourself that a life of fulfillment does not usually happen by chance, but by design.

    It’s helpful to ask some thought-provoking questions to help you discover the possibilities of what you want out of life. Consider every aspect of your life, personal and professional, tangible and intangible. Contemplate all the important areas, family and friends, career and success, health and quality of life, spiritual connection and personal growth, and don’t forget about fun and enjoyment.

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    Some tips to guide you:

    • Remember to ask why you want certain things
    • Think about what you want, not on what you don’t want.
    • Give yourself permission to dream.
    • Be creative. Consider ideas that you never thought possible.
    • Focus on your wishes, not what others expect of you.

    Some questions to start your exploration:

    • What really matters to you in life? Not what should matter, what does matter.
    • What would you like to have more of in your life?
    • Set aside money for a moment; what do you want in your career?
    • What are your secret passions and dreams?
    • What would bring more joy and happiness into your life?
    • What do you want your relationships to be like?
    • What qualities would you like to develop?
    • What are your values? What issues do you care about?
    • What are your talents? What’s special about you?
    • What would you most like to accomplish?
    • What would legacy would you like to leave behind?

    It may be helpful to write your thoughts down in a journal or creative vision board if you’re the creative type. Add your own questions, and ask others what they want out of life. Relax and make this exercise fun. You may want to set your answers aside for a while and come back to them later to see if any have changed or if you have anything to add.

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    What Would Your Best Life Look Like?

    Describe your ideal life in detail. Allow yourself to dream and imagine, and create a vivid picture. If you can’t visualize a picture, focus on how your best life would feel. If you find it difficult to envision your life 20 or 30 years from now, start with five years—even a few years into the future will give you a place to start. What you see may surprise you. Set aside preconceived notions. This is your chance to dream and fantasize.

    A few prompts to get you started:

    • What will you have accomplished already?
    • How will you feel about yourself?
    • What kind of people are in your life? How do you feel about them?
    • What does your ideal day look like?
    • Where are you? Where do you live? Think specifics, what city, state, or country, type of community, house or an apartment, style and atmosphere.
    • What would you be doing?
    • Are you with another person, a group of people, or are you by yourself?
    • How are you dressed?
    • What’s your state of mind? Happy or sad? Contented or frustrated?
    • What does your physical body look like? How do you feel about that?
    • Does your best life make you smile and make your heart sing? If it doesn’t, dig deeper, dream bigger.

    It’s important to focus on the result, or at least a way-point in your life. Don’t think about the process for getting there yet—that’s the next stepGive yourself permission to revisit this vision every day, even if only for a few minutes. Keep your vision alive and in the front of your mind.

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    Plan Backwards

    It may sound counter-intuitive to plan backwards rather than forwards, but when you’re planning your life from the end result, it’s often more useful to consider the last step and work your way back to the first. This is actually a valuable and practical strategy for making your vision a reality.

    • What’s the last thing that would’ve had to happen to achieve your best life?
    • What’s the most important choice you would’ve had to make?
    • What would you have needed to learn along the way?
    • What important actions would you have had to take?
    • What beliefs would you have needed to change?
    • What habits or behaviors would you have had to cultivate?
    • What type of support would you have had to enlist?
    • How long will it have taken you to realize your best life?
    • What steps or milestones would you have needed to reach along the way?

    Now it’s time to think about your first step, and the next step after that. Ponder the gap between where you are now and where you want to be in the future. It may seem impossible, but it’s quite achievable if you take it step-by-step.

    It’s important to revisit this vision from time to time. Don’t be surprised if your answers to the questions, your technicolor vision, and the resulting plans change. That can actually be a very good thing; as you change in unforeseeable ways, the best life you envision will change as well. For now, it’s important to use the process, create your vision, and take the first step towards making that vision a reality.

    Featured photo credit: Matt Noble via unsplash.com

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