A new review in the January issue of The Lancet Neurology finds that being either over or under nourished can increase the odds of a stroke.
However some of the claims made in the study are a bit harder to accept, especially in the face of evidence to the contrary.
Graeme J. Hankey, M.B.B.S., M.D., from the Royal Perth Hospital in Australia reviewed existing, published studies to investigate the association of nutrition and diet with the risk of stroke.
Hankey found that poor nutrition at all stages of life (in utero, infancy, childhood, and adulthood) predisposed a person to stroke later in life. Over-nutrition was also associated with an elevated risk of stroke.
These findings are easy enough to accept. The claim that, “Overnutrition also increases the risk of stroke, probably by accelerating the development of obesity, hypertension, hyperlipidaemia, and diabetes,” certainly lines up with plenty of existing research. And it stands to reason that malnourishment would have a negative effect too.
The problem comes from what Hankey says next. “Reliable evidence suggests that dietary supplementation with antioxidant vitamins, B vitamins, and calcium does not reduce the risk of stroke.”
Huh? Apparently Hickey hasn’t read the recent study that found, specifically, “Antioxidants lead to lower stroke risk.” It only, after all, appeared in a journal entitled Stroke. Maybe Hickey didn’t think it was relevant.
Or perhaps the last line in several articles written on this review offers a better clue: “The study author disclosed financial ties to the pharmaceutical industry.”
Well there you go. If anyone has a stake in downplaying the effect of natural supplements, it would be the pharmaceutical industry.
So the takeaway? Eat healthy – not too much and not too little. But don’t give up the antioxidants just yet – they’ve still got a lot of nutritional clout.