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Comment prévenir les accidents vasculaires cérébraux?

The risk of having a stroke, more commonly known as a "stroke" or simply "attack", increases with age. Foods that help prevent unwanted clots, limit hardening or clogging of the arteries and/or regulate blood pressure are very valuable allies. Just adding an extra serving of a protective food to your daily diet can reduce your risk of suffering and possibly dying from this type of accident by an astonishing 40-60%, and sometimes more in some cases.


- The beta-carotene: a natural substance that protects your brain. Eating carrots five or more times a week would reduce the risk of a stroke by 68%, according to the findings of a large study conducted a few years ago by Harvard researchers over an eight-year period. Spinach would also be extremely effective in this type of problem. The protective role of these vegetables is attributed to beta-carotene, also known as plant vitamin A, because it is a precursor of this vitamin (it changes into vitamin A in the body). An extra dose of beta-carotene equal to the amount in one and a half carrots or three quarters of a cup of mashed sweet potatoes, or three cups of cooked spinach, would reduce the number of strokes by 40%. The decrease is particularly evident in those consuming 15 to 20 mg of beta-carotene per day. Dr. JoAnn E. Manson of Harvard Medical School believes that the antioxidant activity of beta-carotene-rich foods would explain their property. In fact, according to her, carotene would prevent cholesterol from being transformed into a toxic compound that could be deposited in the arteries and promote the formation of thrombi (coagulated blood masses that form in the vessels). There is more ink! Experiments in Belgium have shown that a blood supply of beta-carotene and other sources of vitamin A is a key survival requirement for those who have already suffered a stroke. The vital prognosis, the degree of severity of the functional repercussions of the neurological lesions suffered and the recovery of the patient would even be directly related to a high concentration of vitamin A in the blood.

By what mechanism of action does this occur? When the brain is deprived of oxygen, the cells start to function in an anarchic way, giving rise to all sorts of phenomena, including the oxidation of nerve cells; if the victim's blood is well supplied with vitamin A, his or her body will be better able to cope with these disturbances, thus limiting brain damage and the risk of a fatal outcome.

Foods rich in beta-carotene include carrots, dark green leafy vegetables such as spinach, collards and kale, and dark orange vegetables such as sweet potatoes, pumpkins or peppers.


- Adding an extra serving of potassium-rich foods to your daily diet should reduce your risk of stroke by 40%. A correlation seems to be established from this study between the consumption of foods rich in potassium and the prevention of this pathology.

Don't you think that, in view of the serious and often irreversible functional consequences of a stroke, it is worth adding an extra portion of a food rich in potassium to your menu, whether it is a quarter of a cantaloupe (melon) or half an avocado, a small cooked potato or ten dried apricots, half a cup of cooked dried beans or a small can of sardines? These foods help both to reduce blood pressure, regardless of an individual's blood pressure, and to prevent strokes, says Louis Tobian Jr., a hypertension specialist and researcher at the University of Minnesota.


- Another way to help blood flow to your brain is to eat fatty fish regularly. The omega-3 acids present in fish have prodigious effects on the blood. It is now established that the wonderful omega-3 contained in fish can modify the blood, make it less coagulant, and thus, prevent the obstruction of cerebral arteries.

If you are at an age where you have reason to worry that your capillaries have shrunk due to the accumulation of fatty deposits (plaque), here is an image to keep in mind: when you absorb fish oil, it settles into the membranes of your cells; thus, your cells are less hard, softer, more flexible and can more easily slip through the constricted vessels to supply oxygen to the brain and heart. This malleability of the cells is of utmost importance: it can even save your life, especially if your arteries do not have the same diameter and flexibility as they had in your "young years".

Remember that saturated fats of animal origin tend to harden cell membranes.


- A recent four-year study of 6,000 Japanese women over the age of 40 at Tohoku University School of Medicine suggests that women who drink at least five cups of green tea a day are half as likely to have a stroke as those who drink less, even if they consume a lot of salt. The beneficial effects of green tea are explained by the fact that it contains a large quantity of antioxidants, which are more effective than those of vitamins E and C, two vitamins that are known for their powerful antioxidant properties.


- Although salt does not raise blood pressure, excessive use of this seasoning can nevertheless be harmful to brain tissue and therefore promote stroke.


- Light to moderate alcohol consumption can help prevent stroke; however, heavy drinking can have dramatic consequences, according to the latest evidence.

IN BRIEF: A glass or two of alcohol a day, if you are already accustomed to it, as starting to drink alcohol specifically to prevent stroke cannot be recommended, may be beneficial. As for the inveterate drinkers, it is necessary to remind them that they must reduce their alcohol consumption a lot if they want to protect themselves against the stroke, always so tragic.



Many circulation problems can be influenced by your diet (frostbite, cold extremities, Raynaud's disease, hardening of the arteries, atheroma...).

Above all, make sure you do not eat a diet that thickens the blood, avoid alcohol and add spices (cayenne pepper, ginger, mustard, horseradish and cinnamon...) to food or drinks.

Help yourself with infusions of yarrow, elderflower, rosemary, matricaria, peppermint and chamomile flowers.

Carol Panne
6 October, 2017
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