The third leading cause of death in the US, a stroke is a serious medical emergency. It occurs when the blood supply to the brain gets disturbed because of a blockage or bursting of a blood vessel. When the brain is deprived of oxygen, its cells begin to die which can cause long term disability and even death. Seeking immediate and timely medical attention to restore blood flow can help in minimizing long term damage. How much a stroke victim is affected by the stroke depends on the severity of the stroke, which part of the brain the stroke has occurred in and the extend of brain cell damage.
For stroke recovery and rehabilitation, physical therapy, speech therapy coupled with lifestyle changes and proper diet are essential. If you have a stroke victim in your family, then drawing up a diet plan to suit his/her needs is crucial. A proper diet will help the body to recover and regain most of the body's abilities.
Best Foods for Stroke Victims
To draw up an ideal diet for a stroke victim, you need to first speak to the concerned doctor to find out what kind of dietary restrictions that the patient is placed under. Some victims of stroke have trouble swallowing food which will limit the kind of solid food that they can have. In such a case, mashed and pureed food are given to the patient. Given below are some dietary dos and don'ts for stroke victims.
Add Whole Grains
Eating whole grains like millet, buckwheat, oats and barley are safe food items for stroke victims. These whole grains helps in lowering cholesterol levels in the body, thus lowering the risk of having a second stroke. Whole grains contain a dietary fiber that can significantly reduce cholesterol, which will help in reducing the risk of another stroke. Whole grains like oat and barley can be made into porridge with skimmed milk and a bit of sugar and given to stroke patients. As people have low energy levels following a stroke, eating soft foods like whole wheat porridge will help in regaining health and energy.
Limit Intake of Sodium
When drawing up a diet for a stroke patient, the aim should be to prevent another stroke and to make the body regain its lost strength. Maintaining ideal blood pressure is one of the main ways in which you can cut down the risk of another stroke. High blood pressure can be controlled by limiting sodium intake and eating low sodium food. Processed foods that contain high amount of salt should be strictly avoided. A stroke victims diet should be as free from salt as possible and food can be flavored with the use of seaweed and fresh and dried herbs instead.
Increase Fruits and Vegetables Intake
Fresh seasonal fruits and vegetables are to be incorporated in a diet designed for stroke victim. Since most stroke victims have trouble chewing and swallowing solid food, therefore pureed fruits and vegetables can be given. If the patient finds pureed fruits and vegetables unpalatable, then a better option would be to make smoothies with seasonal fruits and soups with vegetables. Soups can be lightly flavored with fresh herbs to make it more palatable. A minimum of five servings of fruit is necessary for recovering from a stroke.
Limit Intake of Saturated Fats
Saturated fats in high fat foods and red meat increases the level of cholesterol in the body. This causes the plaque formation in the blood vessels, leading to narrowing of the blood vessels which causes blood clots. This can cause a second incidence of stroke. To avoid such a scenario, stroke victims should restrict their intake of saturated fats. The amount of saturated fats is high in processed and fried foods and they are to be strictly avoided.
Incorporate Lean Protein
Proteins are an important component of a stroke victims diet that leads to a speedy recovery. Lean cuts of meat and white meat should be incorporated into the diet. Fish containing omega 3 essential fatty acids should also form a part of a stroke patients diet. Skinless chicken and turkey breasts are some of the best sources of lean protein and they can prepare by steaming and broiling to reduce its fat content.
Healthy and nutritious food that is high in essential vitamins and minerals, and low in fats and cholesterol constitutes a diet for a stroke victim. Such a diet might seem limiting and restrictive, but it is up to of the family members to help the patient stick to this diet for a speedy recovery.