Well known strategies for preventing stroke include exercising regularly, eating plenty of vegetables, minimizing stress, and keeping inflammation down. Another critical habit that lowers stroke risk is taking good care of teeth and gums.
Oral bacteria has been strongly linked with a stroke in a new study of 75 ischemic stroke patients. Analyzing blood clots revealed that almost 80 percent of them had oral bacteria DNA concentrated in the blood clots that weren’t found in other blood samples from the same patient.
The presence of oral bacteria in blood clots contributes to mounting data from other studies which show the role gum disease and oral bacteria play in cardiovascular and neurological health.
According to this same research team, oral bacteria in blood clots can cause heart attacks, brain aneurysms, thromboses in the leg veins, and heart infection.
Still more research connects oral bacteria from gum disease with an increased risk of Alzheimer’s. The bacteria produce toxins in the brain that give rise to the misfolding of proteins in the brain, a hallmark of Alzheimer’s.
An ischemic stroke occurs when a blood clot starves part of the brain of blood flow and vital oxygen which causes massive tissue damage. Commonly, this is caused by the narrowing and hardening of the arteries from atherosclerosis, or a build-up of plaque.
There is evidence that oral bacteria activate platelets and speed up the development of atherosclerosis and blood clotting.
Here’s a tip to motivate you to floss
For most of us, flossing is a tedious and annoying task. It’s too easy to just brush your teeth and be done.
If you need some motivation to floss and brush more regularly, try smelling your floss after you’ve run it through a couple of teeth. A foul order can be a sign that oral bacteria is accumulating on your teeth and gums. Chances are this is causing your breath to stink as well! Smell checking your floss after each section of teeth will reveal areas that need extra attention.
A water flossing device uses water to deliver extra cleaning power to the teeth and to stimulate gum tissue to keep it healthy. Please keep in mind, using a water flosser is not a substitute for flossing as it is not as effective as using dental floss. However, it can be a helpful addition toy our daily oral care routine.
Use functional medicine to prevent strokes
A healthy diet and lifestyle promote healthy teeth and gums. These are also key stroke prevention strategies as 90 percent of strokes are caused by dietary and lifestyle habits.
Strokes are the third leading cause of death in the United States and the leading cause of disability.
The most common causes of strokes that research studies have identified include the following:
- High blood pressure
- Poor diet
- Lack of exercise
- Excess alcohol
- Stress and depression
- Excess abdominal fat
- Heart disorders
As research continues, poor oral hygiene may find its own place on this list.
Functional medicine strategies to prevent stroke
Eat plenty of whole foods, lots of vegetables, and healthy fats. Eliminate the sodas, desserts, sweet coffee drinks, and processed foods. Though it might be hard at first, you’ll start feeling so much better.
Stabilize blood sugar
High blood sugar from eating too many sweets and processed carbohydrates causes chronic inflammation. Inflammation damages and thickens arterial walls and promotes the formation of arterial plaques and blood clots. Type 2 diabetes and insulin resistance, or prediabetes, increase your risk of stroke by two to four times.
Regular exercise prevents strokes and makes you feel amazing
Exercise is a magic bullet when it comes to preventing strokes and promoting a healthy brain. Regular physical activity keeps blood vessels strong, improves oxygenation of the brain, and increases your metabolism. Exercising after a stroke also significantly reduces the severity of the repercussions and improves recovery.
Contact my office to learn more about lowering your risk of stroke and supporting your brain health.
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