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Category: Stroke Prevention

Stroke & Dementia Risk Grows with Intake of Artificial Sweeteners

Diet sodas are gaining negative attention yet again, and for good reason. A recent study found that consuming a daily can of sugar-free soda is associated with higher risks of suffering a stroke or developing dementia. Heavily sugared drinks already had a bad rap for causing a myriad of health issues such as weight gain, liver damage, kidney stones, diabetes, and heart disease. This study has refreshed the concern for disease risk in those that believe diet soda is a suitable replacement.

Researchers found that drinking one diet soda a day is associated with a 2.96 times more likely chance of suffering an ischaemic stroke and a 2.89 times higher chance of developing Alzheimer’s. While it would be irresponsible to imply that artificial sweeteners actually cause stroke or dementia (proving causation is very difficult in health studies) it is important to acknowledge the study’s warning. There is a correlation between artificial sweeteners and the increased risk of dementia and stroke that’s very concerning. It’s certainly an added consideration that keeps me far away from diet sodas.

Artificial sweeteners have also been associated with health concerns besides stroke and dementia. A 2009 study found that people who consumed diet drinks daily had a 67 percent higher risk for type 2 diabetes and a 36 percent higher risk of metabolic syndrome.

It has been found that artificial sweeteners can dangerously impact your gut microbiome. One study suggests that artificial sweeteners favor bacteria that pull energy from food and convert it into fat. Meaning, If you are consuming zero calorie sweeteners specifically to cut down on weight gain, you aren’t doing yourself any favors. Additionally, studies suggest that fake sugar can induce glucose intolerance, which can be a precursor of increased risk for liver and heart disease.

It has also been shown that artificial sweeteners can have a more potent taste and flood your sugar receptors. Meaning if you are regularly using artificial sweeteners you may find naturally sweet foods less appealing making it more difficult to satisfy your sweet craving. It can also contribute to making bitter foods such as vegetables taste downright disgusting. This can contribute to a vicious cycle of increased sugar intake, which can cause a cascading effect on your overall health.

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“Eat your breakfast! It’s the most important meal of the day!” -Your Mom (and Science).

First your mom told you, and now, science is nodding—your mom is always right.

A link between skipping breakfast and poor cardiovascular health has now been researched and proven.

A recent study1 consisted of 4,052 middle-aged female and male participants with no previous history of cardiovascular disease. The study researchers also collected information on the cholesterol levels, physical activity, body mass index, and smoking status of all study participants. All participants were told to take note of what they had eaten along with the specific times they had eaten these items.

Imaging techniques were used to study the buildup of fatty material in the arteries around the heart and neck. Compared to those participants who consumed more than 20% of their daily calories at breakfast time, the participants who had tiny breakfasts or who skipped breakfast altogether, were found to have a greater extent of artery buildup which means their risk of heart attacks and strokes is increased.

Sub-clinical atherosclerosis (the buildup of fat) was found in 75% of those who skip breakfast Even when high blood pressure, smoking or other factors were taken into account, the link between skipping breakfast and poor cardiovascular health was evident throughout the study results.

What was interesting aside from JUST skipping breakfast, the participants who were breakfast skippers were also more likely to lead a lifestyle that was unhealthy overall. These breakfast skippers also maintained a poor diet, were usually smokers, and found to drink alcohol frequently. “Perhaps skipping breakfast is not what is to blame for heart disease. It seems to be a poor lifestyle that is causing the heart disease; and simultaneously also making people MORE likely to skip out on breakfast.”

In conclusion, healthier people are more likely to actually eat breakfast.

What the researchers in this study found is that people who skipped breakfast were likely doing so in an unhealthy way in order to lose weight. This would explain why the rate of obesity was higher in those who skipped breakfast. Apparently, the breakfast skipping caused an odd consumption of calories at strange times during the day and disrupted a good “pattern of eating.”

The study participants will be followed for 10 more years in order to determine how arterial disease progresses, with the hope that we could glean a better idea of this link between poor cardiovascular health and skipping the first meal of the day.

The question is really not only about whether you are a breakfast eater or breakfast skipper. It is really about how that choice begins your path to other choices for healthy options during the rest of your 24 hours!

If you are trying to be healthy or to actually lose weight, you should keep an eye on your consumption but be diligent as to what food you are eating throughout your day; instead of trying to get rid of a meal (or calories) in the beginning of the day. It’s never a good idea for us to skip our meals, so do yourself a favor and eat at regular times. Listen to your mom!

Do you have patients that skip meals? Do YOU skip meals as a busy practitioner?
If you are interested in CME education on cardiovascular health and how to get YOUR patients some more help with their nutrition and lifestyles, visit us at CMHC West in May!

1Metro.co.uk. Scott, Ellen. http://metro.co.uk/2017/10/03/people-who-skip-breakfast-could-have-an-increased-risk-of-heart-disease-6972641/. October 3, 2017. Accessed October 26, 2017
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Breastfeeding May Lower Risk of Heart Disease & Stroke

While there is extensive research documenting the benefits of breastfeeding for babies, a new study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association indicates that the practice may lessen a mother’s risk of heart disease and stroke. Moreover, researchers found that a mother’s risk of cardiovascular disease further decreased with each additional 6 months of breastfeeding. Previous studies have suggested that women who breastfeed may experience short-term reductions in blood pressure, cholesterol, and weight loss, which likely benefit cardiovascular health.

The study, conducted in China, analyzed data from 289,754 Chinese women who were free of cardiovascular disease at the study’s baseline; almost all participants had children. The study required the women to provide information surrounding reproductive history, including whether or not they had breastfed children and the duration of breastfeeding.

The researchers assessed the incidence of heart disease and stroke among the women over an eight year follow-up, ultimately finding that women who had breastfed children were at a 9% lower risk of heart disease and an 8% lower risk of stroke, compared to those who had not breastfed. When looking at the results by breastfeeding duration, results revealed that women who had breastfed children for 2 years or longer were 18 percent less likely to develop heart disease and 17% less likely to have a stroke. For every 6 additional months of breastfeeding, risks of heart disease and stroke were respectively reduced by 4% and 3%.

Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women in the United States; statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that approximately 610,000 people die from heart disease each year, accounting for 1 in every 4 deaths. Likewise, stroke is one of the country’s leading causes of disability: there are more than 795,000 people in the U.S. who have a stroke annually.

Senior author Zhengming Chen of the University of Oxford states that “the findings should encourage more widespread breast-feeding for the benefit of the mother as well as the child.”

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Obesity Crisis Will Double Number of Stroke Victims

Fueled by the consistently worsening obesity crisis, cases of stroke victims are expected to almost double in the next two decades.

Experts note that the number of new strokes in the United Kingdom alone could jump by 44% by 2035; currently, more than one in four adults qualifies as obese or overweight—compared to one in thirty-five, a statistic from the 70s.

The Stroke Association has noted that poor lifestyles habits put people at a much greater risk of attacks, further commenting that the additional costs of skyrocketing cases could cripple public health service organizations.

While obesity significantly boosts the risk of stroke, some elementary lifestyle changes can be implemented in order to prevent cardiovascular disease: including eating healthier meals, and committing to an exercise routine. Statistics indicate that almost nine in ten strokes are due to long-term conditions like diet, lack of movement, and obesity.

Recent studies have also demonstrated that the risks for stroke also exist for younger people, not solely older adults. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, obesity has more than doubled in younger children and teens throughout the past three decades.

The findings highlight the need to recognize obesity as a risk factor for stroke in younger adults, and take steps to control related conditions like high blood pressure and hypertension.

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