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How Young People Can Escape Stroke

Fruits and vegetables offer considerable potentials in reducing risk of stroke

Angela Onwuzoo

Stroke is one health problem that has in recent times assumed a worrisome dimension globally as young people in their 20s, 30s and 40s are now coming down with the illness.

In developing countries like Nigeria with a high disease burden already, the situation is even more worrisome owing to late presentation and lack of access to treatment facilities.

In the past, stroke was associated with the elderly. But nowadays, a lot of young people now suffer the non-communicable disease which for now has no cure but can be managed when picked up early for treatment.

Expert say stroke is caused by blood clots or bleeds to the brain and can lead to long-lasting disability.

A report published last week by a British Stroke Association revealed that the number of men aged 40 to 54 and women aged 20 to 64 hospitalised after a stroke has increased enormously in the past 15 years. The report notes that the number of middle- aged people being affected has soared in recent years because of poor diet and lack of exercise.

Reacting to the report, Chief Executive of the Stroke Association, Jon Barrick, said there was an alarming increase in the numbers of people having a stroke in working age.

“These figures show that stroke can no longer be seen as a disease of older people. As the figures show, it can happen to anyone at any time”, he said.

According to him, the root How Young People Can Escape Stroke Fruits and vegetables offer considerable potentials in reducing risk of stroke cause appears to be the increasingly rate of unhealthy lifestyles, with smoking, lack of exercise, high blood pressure, and growing rates of obesity.

Adding that the best way to help prevent a stroke, was to eat a healthy diet, exercise regularly and avoid smoking and drinking too much alcohol.

“These simple lifestyle changes can reduce the risk of problems such as atherosclerosis (where arteries become clogged up by fatty substances), high blood pressure and high cholesterol levels – all of which are important risk factors for strokes”.

Going by this revelation, there is urgent need for young people to develop the culture of healthy lifestyle through regular exercise and consumption of plant based foods especially those foods rich in fibre. The consumption of vegetables is also very important.

Studies have shown that irrespective of age, people who eat healthful diet and follow healthy lifestyles have about 80 per cent reduction in the risk of stroke.

Researcher Diane Threapleton, of Leeds University’s School of Food Science and Nutrition, in one of her latest studies published in the American Heart Association journal Stroke said: “Greater intake of fibre-rich foods is important for everyone and especially for those with stroke risk factors like being overweight, smoking and having high blood pressure.”

Threapleton notes that previous research has shown that dietary fibre help to reduce risk factors for stroke, including high blood pressure and high levels of low- density lipoprotein or “bad” cholesterol.

“Eating foods with more fibre is linked to a lower risk of firsttime stroke. But, most people do not get the recommended level of fibre. We must educate consumers on the continued importance of increasing fibre intake”, she said.

According to her, the recommended daily fibre intake for adults is around 0.8oz – the equivalent of eating six to eight servings of grain and eight to 10 portions of fruit and vegetables.

She further added: “Upping the amount of fibre eaten each day could lead to at least 10,000 fewer strokes each year. Dietary fibre is the part of the plant that the body does not absorb during digestion. Fibre can be soluble or insoluble.”

Also, Dr Clare Walton of Stroke Association, said: “making healthy lifestyle changes are important to help reduce your risk of stroke and this research suggests that eating foods high in fibre is particularly beneficial.”

For Dr John Briffa of University College London School of Medicine, following the below simple steps would certainly beat stroke.

Eat bananas

Diet, particularly one rich in fruits and vegetables offer considerable potentials in reducing risk of a stroke. And it seems likely that these foods can benefit us in other ways.

For instance, they may help to control risk factors such as excess weight, high cholesterol and high blood pressure.

In addition, fruit and vegetables are rich in nutrients which have been linked with protection from strokes, including potassium and magnesium, which also reduce blood pressure.

Take B-vitamins

In recent years there has been growing recognition of the link between a substance called homocysteine and risk of stroke. Many studies show that the higher the level of homocysteine in the bloodstream, the greater the risk.

Certain nutrients, notably vitamins B6, B12 and folic acid, have the ability to reduce homocysteine levels. A good intake of these may therefore help reduce the risk of stroke.

Eat oily fish

Like alcohol, the oils found in fatty fish such as salmon, trout, tuna mackerel and herring may increase HDL cholesterol levels and reduce the tendency for the formation of thrombi.

Avoid salt

Salt can increase blood pressure in certain individuals and high blood pressure is thought to be the major risk factor for stroke.

A study published this month in the Journal for the American College of Cardiology showed that, when tested on a group of women, salt restriction was four times more effective than regular activity in bringing down blood pressure.

If you want to minimise your risk of stroke you should avoid adding salt during cooking or at the table, and also cut down on processed and fast foods.

Drink mineral water

At least two studies have found that magnesium intake from water appears to reduce the risk of stroke, so there is every possibility that drinking magnesium-rich mineral water may help to protect us in the long-term.


As we have seen, certain factors such as high blood pressure, excess weight, and high levels of sugar and/or harmful cholesterol in the blood are known to increase the risk of a stroke.

Exercise has been shown by several studies to help control all these factors. About 30 minutes of aerobic exercise such as brisk walking, stretching or cycling on most days should bring significant benefit.

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