Nutrition and Strokes

By Rumbidzai Manyange – Registered Dietitian
BSc Diet (NMU, SA), M Sc Dietetics (NMU, SA

Nutrition plays a vital role in supporting stroke recovery patients as well as preventing one from the risk of having a second stroke. Certain conditions such as high blood cholesterol, high blood pressure which are linked to diets that are high in fat and salt increase the risk of strokes in patients. Receiving proper nutrition post-stroke becomes essential as it ensures your body receives the nutrients it needs to support neurological and physical healing. Patients with stroke often have difficulties with swallowing (dysphagia), associated with certain textures. It is, therefore, important to involve your, dietitian and speech therapist in determining the suitable foods that a stroke patient can eat. Dysphagia can result in avoidable complications, such as malnutrition, dehydration, weight loss, poor physical recovery, pressure ulcers, reduced wound healing, infections, and mortality.

Soft food textures are usually preferred post-stroke, these can include:

•Pureed fruits and vegetables;

•Foods with a yoghurt or custard consistency which are easy to swallow.

In addition, you can:

•Add milk to porridge to achieve the desired consistency that would be easier to swallow;

•Soft scrambled eggs are usually easy to eat;

•Make use of oral nutrition supplements in place of whole foods if intake is poor. You can work with your dietitian in selecting a suitable feed that meets your nutrition goals.

How to Prevent a Stroke?

Healthy eating is a key component of this process in stroke prevention. This would also minimize the risk of having a second stroke. The following are some tips to reduce the recurrence of stroke:

  1. Limit Salt Intake.

Healthy eating is a key component of this process in stroke prevention. This would also minimize the risk of having a second stroke. The following are some tips to reduce the recurrence of stroke: Excessive salt intake can overwork body organs causing blood pressure to rise. Foods high in salt such as processed foods should be limited. Some examples of processed foods include prepared frozen meals, canned foods, soups, pickled foods, snack foods, lunch meats, cheese, condiments, sauces, dressings, etc. The sodium content of packaged, processed, and prepared foods can usually be determined by reading food labels. The figure above is an example of a food label. The following are some practical tips to help you lower your salt intake: •Eat fresh meat, poultry or pork, rather than processed meat like bacon, ham, or polony; •Choose fresh fruit and vegetables, rather than canned fruit and vegetables: •Use fresh herbs and spices to flavor food in place of adding salt; •Limit ready-made sauces and gravies or soup packets; •Use lemon or Lime juice to add flavor to food; •Limit the use of salt shakers on the table; •Read product labels. Watch out for words like low sodium, sodium-free, no salt added, sodium-reduced, or unsalted.

2. Balanced Meals

The best way to ensure that you obtain all the nutrients your body needs is to eat at least three balanced meals per day. No one food contains all the nutrients. We can ensure our meals are balanced by: •Enjoying a variety of foods; •Making starchy foods part of every meal; •Eating plenty of vegetables and fruit every day; •Eating dry beans, split peas, lentils and soya regularly. These can be included in the diet in place of meat as they provide a cheaper source of protein and other health benefits. •Having milk, amasi or yoghurt every day at least 500ml per day; •Fish, chicken, lean meat, or eggs can be eaten daily. Include oily fish at least 2 times a week. Examples of oily fish are pilchards, tuna, sardines; and •Drinking lots of clean, safe water at least 2 litres per day unless if the doctor has specified that you should drink less.

3. Limit Fat Intake

Fat is an essential nutrient in the body. The type of fat eaten and the amount is important. •Saturated fats and trans fats can raise cholesterol levels in the blood. Saturated fats are found in fatty and processed meats, chicken skin, full cream dairy products, butter, ghee, cream, hard cheese. •Trans fats are found in baked goods such as pastries, pies, pastries, biscuits, crackers, fast foods, deep-fried potato/ slap chips; •Replace these fats with healthier unsaturated fats such as sunflower oil, canola oil, olive oil, soft tub margarine, peanut butter, nuts and seeds, avocado or fatty fish; •Reduce a total of amount of fats used by using cooking methods that use less oil, for example, grilling, baking; •Choose oily fish (salmon, tuna, mackerel, sardines, pilchards) twice per week. They are rich in Omega 3 fats which are good for the heart and they prevent inflammation. Healthy eating can help in reducing the risk of having another stroke. Working with your doctor, speech pathologists, and dietitians will help in developing the right consistency of foods for you so you do not become malnourished.

For your nutrition and wellness needs contact; Rumbidzai Manyange – Registered Dietitian BSc Diet (NMU, SA), M Sc Dietetics (NMU, SA) ParkVilla Clinic Along 9th & Robert Mugabe Bulawayo Cell: +263773818601 Email:info@rumbiedietitian.com Web: www.rumbiedietitian.com.

Originally published in Bindu Med Issue 3

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