A study of nearly 2.3 million people concluded that obesity (BMI of 30 or greater) significantly increased the risk of an ischemic stroke (stroke caused by blocked blood vessel to the brain). These strokes may cause permanent disability, are associated with reduced life expectancy and are the #2 cause of death in North America.
The report reviewed 25 studies that had follow-up for at least four years and examined the relationship between the incidence of strokes and obesity as measured via the body mass index (BMI). Out of the 2.3 million study cohort, some 30,700 developed strokes.
They found that overweight (a BMI between 25-30) increased the risk in patients for an ischemic stroke by 22% when compared to those at normal weight. An astonishing 64% increase in risk was found among those who were obese. In addition, the study found that obesity increased the risk for hemorrhagic stroke (stroke caused by bleeding in the brain) by 24%. Of course, it is well known that extra pounds contribute to high blood pressure – another risk factor for stroke.
What’s the take home lesson: Avoid extra pounds by moving towards eating more whole foods, such as fresh fruits, whole grains, vegetables, and beans. Unlike processed foods, and animal products, whole foods are high in fiber, low in fat and calories, devoid of cholesterol and rich in nutrient density. And it is the fiber that gives you that pleasant “feeling full” message so that you are less likely to eat too many calories- thus helping you to become a winner in the losing game while reducing the risk for stroke and many other chronic illnesses.