Apr 15, 2013

Hey! Can Fast Foods in Abundance Really Cause a Stroke? No Kidding!

Here's news from across the pond. For all my foreign readers, "across the pond" is a standing idiom, or expression, between the United States and Great Britain. We laugh harder because we won the American Revolutionary War lasting from 1775 to 1783. For Britain, that's a touchy subject--still. But back to the news.

Late last year, the American Academy of Neurology published a study about an increasing number of younger people having strokes. I don't want you to get all nuts, my dear reader. But while the stroke rate has declined among all age groups, the average age of stroke survivors--and non-survivors--is also diminishing. And do you know what that means? The elderly aren't the only ones who could have strokes.

The researchers, Dr. Brett Kissela from the University of Cincinnati and his collaborators, conducted a study of a sample population that examined the number of new stroke cases at three intervals: only 12.9 percent of all new cases of stroke in 1993 were found to be in people under 55, in 1999, using the same under-55 criteria, this percentage elevated to 13.3 percent, and  2005, 18.6 percent of all new stroke cases were found in the under-55 crowd, representing about a 50 percent increase over the first figure.

A spokesman for the Stroke Association, Dr. Clare Walton, said, "With the number of younger people having strokes increasing, greater strain will be placed on health services to support them with their recovery." She went on to say that stroke risk could be reduced by healthy lifestyle changes.

According to the National Health Service in Great Britain, this rise in strokes among younger people is partially due to "poor diet and excessive junk food consumption." Dr. Kissella remarked that risk factors such as obesity (calories) leading to high cholesterol (fat), high blood pressure (salt), and/or  diabetes (sugar) are also factors.

Thus, enter the fast food. Let's take a look at the list presented by a men's online health magazine.

McDonald’s Big Breakfast with Large Biscuit, Hotcakes, Margarine, and Syrup :

1,370 calories, 64.5 g fat (21.5 g saturated), 2,335 mg sodium, 49 g sugar

Wow! Two-thirds the calories you should eat in a day.

KFC Half Spicy Crispy Chicken Meal with Macaroni and Cheese, Potato Wedges, and Biscuit:

1,610 calories, 98 g fat (25.5 g saturated), 4,340 mg sodium

This meal has close to 85 percent of your day’s calories and more sodium and fat than you should eat in a day's worth.

Burger King Large Triple Whopper with Cheese Value Meal with Fries and Coke:

2,110 calories, 104 g fat (35.5 g saturated, 2 g trans), 2,270 mg sodium

Eat one a week for a year and you’ll be toting on more than 30 pounds.

Quiznos Tuna Melt (Large) with Cheetos:

1,620 calories, 111 g fat (25 g saturated, 1.5 g trans), 2,070 mg sodium

A mountain of mayonnaise doesn't help.

Wendy's Dave's Hot 'n Juicy 3/4 lb. Triple with Bacon with Small Fries and Small Coke :

1,540 calories, 83 g fat (33 g saturated, 4 g trans), 2,370 mg sodium

See the problem yet?

And this from the ever-popular Subway where you can lose weight, according to Subway's health-conscious spokesman, Jared:

The 6" Double Meatball Marinara with Cheese sandwich is a fat-laden choice better-known for its healthy choices and its weight-conscious spokesperson.

860 calories, 42 g fat, (18 g saturated fat), 2,480 mg sodium.

And the occasionally advertised foot long? Multiply all the numbers by 2. Yikes!

I had most of those items before the stroke, but only, at most, once a year. Now, since my stroke, I wouldn't eat them because, by my observation, a heavy person with a stroke tends to sit around more than a thin person with a stroke. Repeat: that's only my perspective.

So what do you do for meals if you had a stroke and want to avoid the fast food? The antioxidants found in many fruits, vegetables, and "superfoods;" like blueberries, quinoa, and red pepper, the omega-3 fatty acids found in fish, and the nutrients found in walnuts, almonds, and various other nuts, are all great options for keeping you as healthy as possible.

But if clotting is in your genes, as it was in mine, there's nothing much you can do to prevent it. The stroke just may happen sooner to a junk food addict. Or the stroke wouldn't happen at all if you're lucky. With low cholesterol, low blood pressure, and no diabetes, I shouldn't have been prone to a stroke. But like I said, it was already fated.

This post is dedicated to my old buddy because his mother had a stroke. He didn't even want a copy of my new book, "The Tales of a Stroke Patient." Strokes suck, he said. He loved his mother and, with no quality of life left in her, the family literally pulled the plug. And that should be, my dear friend, your impetus to eating healthier foods. Capish? (Of course, you capish).