Post-stroke Dietary Changes

It may not be one of the first considerations that comes to mind, but your diet can change significantly after you experience a stroke. For example, physical changes resulting from the stroke can affect your chewing capacity, and you may decide to pursue a healthier diet as a stroke prevention tool.

How Stroke Impairments Affect Nutrition

Stroke survivors can experience dysphagia, which affects their ability to swallow properly. This condition can lead to serious concerns like aspiration, in which food enters the lungs. Impairments to the chewing muscles can exacerbate this problem by limiting the stroke survivor’s ability to process food thoroughly before swallowing. As such, dietary accommodations for any chewing or swallowing limitations may be needed for stroke survivors. These accommodations might include:

  • Incorporating softer foods, such as cooked vegetables vs. fresh
  • Drinking thickened liquids to reduce the risk of aspiration
  • Using adaptive utensils that make up for impairments.

Stroke survivors can work with a speech therapist to regain chewing and/or swallowing function, and this therapy will be important part of your stroke rehabilitation if you have experienced this effect of stroke.

Revamping Your Diet After A Stroke

The foods that you eat can either increase or reduce your risk of subsequent strokes, so you may want to do a post-stroke reset on your diet. Start by making healthy additions of nutritious foods that support stroke recovery and general overall health, such as:

  • Omega-3 fats (high in salmon and walnuts)
  • Fiber (plentiful in fruits, veggies and whole grains)
  • Magnesium (high in pumpkin seeds, cashews and spinach)
  • Potassium (found in bananas, oranges and apples, sweet potatoes, spinach)
  • Micronutrients, such as the polyphenols and antioxidants found in berries

Additionally, inflammation plays a role in stroke risk, so stroke survivors should reduce their intake of inflammatory foods, like highly processed foods, sweets and alcohol. Connecting with a nutritionist who specializes in working with stroke survivors can help you to make sure that you are getting all of the nutrients your body needs to be as healthy as possible. Talk to your doctor to see what resources might be available to you.