Last week a front page story in our local paper caught my attention: Strokes Striking More Young People. Since my dad’s stroke two months ago I have learned a lot about causes and affects of strokes and when I read the article it made me very worried about how we take care of ourselves. Check out these findings quoted from the article:
In data comparing 2003-2004 to 2011-2012 in the nine-county Finger Lakes region, the rate of stroke increased dramatically per 100,000 population in some age groups, according to Common Ground Health.
• The largest increase was among 45-to 54-year-olds. Rates went up 43 percent over the decade.
• Stroke in the 18-to-34 age group went up 36 percent. The lowest increase was in the 55-to-64 group, which had a 12 percent increase.
• Rates among men ages 45 to 54 increased 47 percent. 35-to 44-year-olds, had an 11 percent increase.
• Rates among 35-to 44-year-old women increased 46 percent and in the 45-to 54-year-old group, the rate went up 38 percent.
While it’s difficult to equate local with national data, the rates are in line with a study in JAMA Neurology published online in April.
The big question is why is this happening? While there are risk factors associated with genetics and individual health defects, doctors are noticing many young people have multiple conditions that are preventable if not addressed. These include high blood pressure, obesity, lack of exercise, poor eating habits, diabetes, smoking and high cholesterol. The perception that strokes only happen to older people leads many young adults to ignore warning signs and to continue leading a life that could result in a stroke. There are many reasons that could be explored as to why. Too much time in front of screens, major food companies that are more interested in their bottom line than in their customers’ bottoms, too many meals eaten at restaurants, eating for convenience rather than nutrition and a lack of exercise are all contributing factors that can be controlled. And yet, people continue to live as if it could never happen to them.
I have spent a lot of time in rehab facilities and have seen people, including my father, who are fighting to get back use of their bodies. My dad looked at me one day and said, “Do everything you can to prevent this happening to you.” A couple of years ago I wrote a blog titled What’s Your Plan? If you have read my blog for any length of time you know I often say, if you aren't planning to age and be healthy, what are you planning? I see the alternative every time I visit my dad. If you do not want to be reliant on people to help you do everything, including going to the bathroom, getting dressed, getting put of bed, dialing a phone, cutting your food, getting a glass of water, etc., you need to have a plan that will keep you healthy. You might not think it can happen to you, until it does, and then it is too late. If you think you are too busy to cook, exercise, go to the doctor and take care of yourself, think about how a medical condition such as stroke will affect you and your family. Take the time now to figure out how to find the balance between being busy and healthy in order to prevent a major medical event making the decision for you.
To show how easy it is to make better choices, this week’s recipe is for cornbread, but I replaced the butter and most of the oil with applesauce, used whole wheat flour and cut back on the sugar. While it is still something to eat in moderation, as is most food, you will probably not notice any lack in taste. It is moist and delicious and tasted wonderful with my chili.
1/2 cup cornmeal (I use organic course or medium grind for more of a corn crunch)
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
Scant 1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons oil (I use coconut or avocado oil)
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 tablespoon honey
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 1/4 cups unsweetened cashew milk (or milk of choice)