I have seen over 30,000 patients in my career. If there is ONE thing they are scared about, it is having a stroke. Every adult has seen the devastation that a stroke can cause. The good news is that YOU can prevent a stroke by following our blog information and that in my book, The Paleo Cardiologist.
But what if you or a loved one HAD a stroke already? We can help too. Read on.
A stroke occurs when the blood vessels that carry blood (along with oxygen and nutrients) to the brain becomes blocked or ruptured. As a result of this, regions of the brain are not able to get the blood and oxygen they need. If flow is not restored quickly, the brain cells and areas of the brain begin to die.
A stroke is either caused by a blood clot (called an ischemic stroke) or by a ruptured blood vessel (called a hemorrhagic stroke). If stroke symptoms last less than 24 hours, we call that a TIA (transient ischemic attack).
When a stroke occurs, blood flow is blocked from certain brain regions and this blockage shuts down the function of those brain regions and corresponding body parts controlled by the brain regions.
The process of stroke recovery can be a long road filled with ups and downs and twists and turns.
Follow these top tips to recover from a stroke:
One of the best things you can do for your brain post-stroke is to eat an anti-inflammatory diet. Inflammation of the brain, or neuroinflammation, is often at the root cause of a stroke and other neurodegenerative disorders. The Paleo diet is one of the most anti-inflammatory diets out there. The diet limits processed foods and toxins, which can damage blood vessel lining and lead to stroke. Load up on nitrate-rich foods such as leafy greens and beets found abundantly on a Paleo diet. Eat more wild-caught salmon or sardines to boost omega 3 intake, a nutrient needed for brain function. Omega 3 fats, antioxidants and nutrients like vitamin B12 can help to increase neurogenesis (creation of new neurons in the brain) after a stroke.
To speed up brain recovery, it is imperative to let your brain rest for at least 8-9 hours every night. Ensure that your brain and your body get quality sleep. Sleep is a reset for the brain and the most important thing it needs to heal. Good quality sleep is also key to restoring mental health and cellular energy. Furthermore, the deep REM sleep you get at night is essential to helping the brain process motor information and eliminate toxins.
The best way to rewire the brain after a stroke is to actively engage it. Doing brain activities regularly keeps the mind active and increases synaptic plasticity (communication between brain cells). Read books, do crossword puzzles, or play card games to keep the brain active. This is how you help your brain recover from a stroke and also how you can prevent neurodegenerative disorders like Alzheimer’s disease.
There are stroke support groups as well that you should join.
Many stroke survivors struggle with movement and balance after a stroke. The best way to improvement movement after a stroke is to get moving. Try going for a walk each day and gradually increase your time. Better yet, try walking outside in nature in sunshine. Other exercises that will also help include strength exercises for your legs and core (think yoga).
Impaired blood flow is both a risk factor and a consequence of a stroke. It is vital to restore blood flow during stroke recovery. It is known that after a stroke, you can reduce neural damage by improving blood flow. Cerebral vascular insufficiency (lack of blood flow to the brain) is a major cause of stroke and neurological death. This lack of blood flow to the brain is usually caused by atherosclerosis of the arteries that impedes blood flow to the cerebrovascular system. One technique to naturally improve blood flow is to increase nitric oxide. Nitric oxide is a molecule responsible for vasodilation, meaning it keeps the arteries relaxed and open while promoting blood flow. Check out our top two supplements for increasing nitric oxide (and preventing its breakdown) here.
Recently, we found a NEW product for blood flow that is sure to help with stroke recovery. Go to Arterosil.com for more information and use code WOLFSON to order.
Try a daily meditation or yoga as tools for stress management. Developing habits that will calm the mind and activate the parasympathetic system (rest and digest mode) are invaluable for stroke recovery. Stress releases the cortisol hormone into the body, which promotes inflammation and depletes the immune system. Inflammation and depleted immunity cause other health issues to arise. Stress-reducing activities like meditation have also been shown to reduce depression and fatigue. They also help to improve attention, regulate mood and improve information processing within your brain, all of which are important as you recover.
The heat of an infrared sauna has the ability to open capillaries (small blood vessels that connect arteries to veins) up and improve blood flow. In this way, they help to combat strokes as well as speed up stroke recovery. Another thing infrared sauna’s can do is significantly lower blood pressure, one of the main risk factors for stroke. Sunlighten saunas are our favorite and they are the only company with clinical research that provides evidence for why their saunas lower both systolic and diastolic blood pressure the best.
Sunshine helps to heal just about everything. The energy from the sun coming into your eyes and your brain are just what the doctor SHOULD order, but doesn’t. I do.
Stay in the sun and off technology like mobile devices and computers. Very damaging to the healing brain.
One of the most important things you can do to recover and prevent future strokes is to take care of your cardiovascular health. You want your blood vessels to be dilated and blood to flow well. High blood pressure, elevated triglycerides, oxidized cholesterol and high blood sugar all impede blood flow to the brain, increase neuroinflammation and increase the risk for neurodegeneration. Atherosclerosis of the heart is a significant risk factor for an ischemic stroke or brain damage. Take care of your heart to take care of your brain.
After you have had a stroke, you are at a significantly increased risk for experiencing another stroke. Therefore, it is important to talk to a doctor of cause to get to the root of why your stroke occurred in the first place. Stroke survivors who have damaged blood vessels from the stroke event are also at risk for vascular dementia. Additionally, cardiovascular risk factors such as blood pressure, blood lipids, blood sugar and hormones must be adequately managed in order to ensure good blood flow throughout the body and prevent future strokes. Managing these other factors can help to prevent or reduce the incidence of a stroke, vascular dementia and other complications. We recommend advanced blood testing and analysis of the whole body for diagnosis, prevention and treatment.
PS…DC stands for Doctor of Chiropractic who are Doctors of Cause. Find a good one near you.
If you want help for you or a loved one, please contact us. Dr. Wolfson is available for consultation and his health coaches are also a great place to start. Give us a call at 480-535-6844.
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