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Stroke

Stroke

A stroke happens when the blood supply to part of your brain is interrupted, depriving the brain of oxygen. The bad news is that brain cells begin to die within minutes.  The good news is that immediate help and prompt treatment can minimize damage and complications.  The even-better news is that strokes can be treated and prevented, and many fewer Americans die of stroke now than even 15 years ago, according to the highly respected Mayo Clinic. You can read more here:  http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/stroke/DS00150

They say that better control of major risk factors, including high blood pressure, smoking and high cholesterol, and factor into the decline.  Some risk factors, like the ones above, are potentially treatable.

Other treatable factors include:

  •  Diabetes
  •  Being overweight or obese
  •  Physical inactivity
  •  Obstructive sleep apnea
  •  Cardiovascular disease – heart failure, defects, infection or abnormal rhythm.
  • Use of estrogen-based birth control pills or hormone therapies
  •  Heavy drinking
  • Use of certain illicit drugs such as cocaine and methamphetamines

Unfortunately there are certain risk factors that are beyond anyone’s control. These include:

  •  Being 55 or older
  •  Having had previous strokes or transient ischemic attacks (TIAs)
  •  Being African American
  •  Being male

The National Stroke Association believes that up to 80 percent of strokes are preventable. You can use their interactive risk factor assessment tool here:  http://www.stroke.org/site/PageServer?pagename=riskfactors

While none of this should substitute for actual medical advice, the worksheet can give you a good basis of topics to bring up with your doctor, should you be interested in finding out more about your stroke risk, and preventing this potentially devastating condition.

There are two major types of stroke: ischemic and hemorrhagic. An ischemic stroke happens when a blood vessel supplying the brain becomes blocked by a blood clot. Hemorrhagic strokes occur when a weakened blood vessel in the brain bursts, causing blood to leak into the brain.

Symptoms of stroke can vary, with some of the common signs including headache, weakness on the left side of the body, dizziness, trouble with movement, coordination and walking, mental confusion and vision problems.  Commonly people can experience difficulty with swallowing, speaking, walking, memory, emotional regulation and self-care following a stroke, but for many these problems improve with therapy in the weeks and months following a stroke, although there are others who will require full-time care indefinitely following a stroke.

Treatment depends on the cause of the stroke but usually includes blood thinners. In addition, many types of therapy -occupational, physical and speech therapy- can help ease the after effects of stroke.

Of course we all know that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, so any healthful habits – eating well, maintaining a healthy weight, having an active lifestyle, reducing stress – may help ward off risk of stroke.


Orange Pineapple Carrot Smoothie

Pineapple Orange Carrot Smoothie 

  •  1 cup fresh squeezed orange juice
  • 1/2 cup carrots (about 2 medium carrots, peeled and chopped)
  • 1 1/2 cups pineapple
  •  1/2 frozen banana
  •  1 handful of ice

Instructions: Add all the ingredients to a blender. Start on a low speed, slowly increasing to high. Blend until smooth, about 1 minute. Serves 5.

 

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Sun Tai Chi

Sun Tai Chi

By now you have probably heard of tai chi.

If not, you have probably at least seen people in parks practicing coordinated, slow, smooth, whole-body movements and wondered what they were doing.

Characterized by slow, smooth, circular motions, tai chi is an ancient Chinese martial art that has been practiced for health reasons for hundreds of years.

Sun style tai chi, or just simply Sun tai chi, is a style of tai chi which emphasizes flow of motion and gentle movements while building strength and flexibility – an ‘all gain, no pain’ approach to exercise.

It was founded by Sun Lutang, son of a poor Chinese farmer who lived from 1861 – 1932 and dedicated himself to the study of martial arts and their use in health. This form of tai chi is the most modern.

You can read more about the history of Sun tai chi at www.suntaichi.com.

Sun tai chi is a mindfulness practice, with a strong mind-body link and pays special attention to breath. Some consider it meditation through motion.

One of the many great attributes of tai chi is that is can be adapted for most anyone, from the most fit to those confined to wheelchairs and people recovering from surgery, notes this excellent article in Harvard Women’s Health Watch:

http://www.health.harvard.edu/newsletters/Harvard_Womens_Health_Watch/2009/May/The-health-benefits-of-tai-chi

It can be done indoors or out and requires no special equipment, just comfortable clothing that is easy to move in.

The Harvard article goes on to mention that tai chi has been linked to improvements in overall health in people with conditions including arthritis, heart disease, breast cancer, heart failure, osteoporosis, stroke, insomnia and Parkinson’s disease.

Even the world-renowned Mayo Clinic recommends tai chi: “When learned correctly and performed regularly, tai chi can be a positive part of an overall approach to improving your health. The benefits of tai chi include:

  • Decreased stress and anxiety
  • Increased aerobic capacity
  • Increased energy and stamina
  • Increased flexibility, balance and agility
  • Increased muscle strength and definition

Some evidence indicates that tai chi also may help:

  • Enhance quality of sleep
  • Enhance the immune system
  • Lower cholesterol levels and blood pressure
  • Improve joint pain
  • Improve symptoms of congestive heart failure
  • Improve overall well-being in older adults
  • Reduce risk of falls in older adults

You can read more here: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/tai-chi/SA00087

So if you are looking for something low-impact with a wide array of benefits, try searching the web for local Sun tai chi classes.

Apple and Beet Smoothie

Apple and Beet Smoothie

Ingredients:

  • ½ cup orange juice
  • 1 gala apple peeled and diced
  • ½ cup frozen mixed berries
  • ⅓ cup raw or roasted beets, diced
  • 1- inch piece ginger
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 1 teaspoon agave
  • ¼ cup coconut milk or soymilk
  • 2-3 ice cubes

Instructions:

Place all the ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.

http://citronlimette.com/recipe_archive/drinks-and-smoothies/apple-and-beet-smoothie/

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