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Preventing Dysphagia Generally Requires a Healthy Lifestyle

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  • It’s estimated that 795,000 Americans suffer from a stroke each year, and 142,000 of these individuals pass away
  • Preventing GERD entails a change in your diet and eating habits to help reduce acid reflux episodes

Swallowing difficulties may appear every now and then due to certain diseases that you may develop. To fully prevent dysphagia, it’s important to follow a healthy lifestyle that minimizes the risk of the underlying causes from happening in the first place.

Follow These 4 Tenets to Lower Your Risk of Stroke

Statistics from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) show that at least 795,000 Americans suffer from a stroke each year, and 142,000 of these individuals pass away.1,2 What makes it very dangerous is that it can occur to anyone at any age. Those who are above the age of 65 have a higher risk, and 70 percent of all strokes occur at this age.3

Stroke can be prevented by examining any risk factors you currently have and adjusting them appropriately. The National Stroke Association highlights four ways you can lower your overall risk of stroke:4

Eat a healthy diet — Your diet plays a big role in the development of chronic diseases that can contribute to stroke. Constantly eating unhealthy foods can cause weight gain, which can put a strain on your circulatory system. The onset of diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol levels also dramatically increase your chances of getting a stroke. According to the CDC, 1 in 3 U.S. adults today suffer from at least one of these risk factors.5

It’s important that you replace unhealthy foods with whole, organic vegetables rich in antioxidants to help your body fight inflammation. Fruits are also preferred because they contain a rich mixture of vitamins plus fiber. Healthy fats from coconuts, cheese and raw grass fed milk may help optimize your health as well.

Get regular exercise — Exercise is a crucial activity that many people don’t get enough of. Research has shown that those who work out several times a week may reduce their risk of stroke.6 Depending on your schedule, there are several ways you can go about it.

A study notes that people who engaged in at least two hours of moderate exercise or four hours of light workout per week had a reduced stroke risk compared to sedentary individuals.7 Dr. Katharina Stibrant Sunnerhagen, a co-author of the study, notes that:

"Even quite light physical activity — such as walking for at least half an hour a day — enhances the chances of having a milder stroke compared to inactive persons."8

Quit smoking — A 2016 report from the World Health Organization (WHO) notes that people who smoke tobacco regularly have a two- to fourfold risk of getting a stroke compared to nonsmokers.9 Cigarettes increase clot formation by thickening your blood and intensifying the amount of plaque buildup in your arteries.10 Quitting right now is one of the best things you can do to help regain a healthy body.

If you’re having trouble quitting, practicing cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) with a with a medical professional or licensed counselor can help you recognize actions or triggers that cause you to smoke. Once you’ve identified these thoughts, the counselor will teach you how to deal with them in a positive manner.11

One especially effective technique that may help you stop smoking is the Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT), a form of psychological acupressure based on the same energy meridians used in traditional acupuncture to treat physical and emotional ailments for over 5,000 years, but without the invasiveness of needles.

Instead, simple tapping with the fingertips is used to input kinetic energy onto specific meridians on the head and chest while you think about your specific problem.

Give up alcohol — Similar to smoking cigarettes, drinking alcoholic beverages increases your risk of having a stroke because it increases your blood pressure levels.12 It’s important that you avoid excessive alcohol consumption to prevent damaging your health.

You can talk to a therapist to help address issues that prevent you from overcoming alcohol abuse. Alcoholism is often connected with mental health problems such as anxiety, depression or bipolar disorder. Addressing the root cause can help you start on the path to recovery.13 EFT can help with this, as well.

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Prevent Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) by Practicing These Habits

Preventing GERD entails a change in your diet and eating habits to help reduce acid reflux episodes. The following practices can be adopted to help improve your condition:14

  • Lose weight — Obesity is the leading cause of GERD.15 It is believed that extra fat surrounding your stomach places pressure on the abdomen, causing acids to flow back up the esophagus.16 Getting regular exercise and consuming a healthy diet may help you lose weight.
  • Eat smaller meals — Larger meals fill up the stomach quicker and increase your chances of acid reflux. Split your meals throughout the day so you can still meet your daily caloric needs.
  • Don’t lie down after eating — Lying flat on your bed after a meal can cause stomach acids to trickle into your esophagus.
  • Quit smoking and drinking — Cigarettes and alcohol can cause your lower esophageal sphincter to relax, which increases the risk of acid reflux.
  • Avoid certain foods — GERD may occur as a reaction to fatty, spicy and acidic dishes.

Scleroderma and Achalasia May Be Prevented by Being Aware of Risk Factors

Since scleroderma is an autoimmune disease, it does not have a cure and there is no way to prevent the disease from occurring. However, there are several steps you can take to manage the symptoms when they do appear:17

  • Eat small, frequent meals to help reduce heartburn.
  • Exercise regularly to help the skin and joints remain flexible.
  • Stop smoking because the nicotine can worsen scleroderma.
  • Avoid exposure to cold temperatures and find ways to reduce stress because both can affect blood circulation.
  • Apply natural creams or oils to help reduce skin inflammation.

Similar to scleroderma, preventing achalasia requires healthy lifestyle changes. Stopping smoking, plus avoiding GERD trigger foods and beverages may help prevent symptoms. Chewing your food well and drinking plenty of water can help, too.18

MORE ABOUT DYSPHAGIA

Dysphagia: Introduction

What Is Dysphagia?

Dysphagia Symptoms

Dysphagia Causes

Dysphagia Treatment

Dysphagia Prevention

Dysphagia Diet

Dysphagia FAQ


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