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Southern cuisine increases stroke risk

Thursday, Feb. 7, 2013 4:14 PM
Last updated 9:49 PM
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Fried chicken, salty ham and sweet tea have long been staples of Southern cuisine but it could also be the reason the region has a much higher stroke rate, research released Thursday found.

In findings presented at the American Stroke Association’s International Stroke Conference, researchers at the University of Alabama at Birmingham found that those with the greatest adherence to a “Southern” diet had a 41 percent increased risk of stroke. Conversely, those who had a “plant-based” diet heavy in fruits, vegetables and beans had a 29 percent lower risk of stroke, according to the study.

Known as the Reasons for Geographic and Racial Differences in Stroke or the REGARDS study, researchers were trying to determine why Southerners have a 20 percent higher stroke risk and why stroke risk is higher among blacks.

“We thought diet was a likely target,” said Dr. Suzanne E. Judd, the lead researcher on the study and a nutritional epidemiologist at UAB.

Surveying more than 20,000 people nationwide about their eating habits, the analysis revealed five broad dietary patterns with one, the Southern diet, associated with higher risk of stroke and the plant-based with a lower risk of stroke. Blacks were much more likely to eat the Southern diet as well, which also adds to the racial disparity.

“It explains about 63 percent of the racial difference in stroke,” Judd said. “We’ve also looked at differences in hypertension because African Americans tend to have more hypertension than their white counterparts. Hypertension explains about 40-50 percent of the racial disparity and diet explains an additional 63 percent. The reason that those numbers overlap a little is obviously diet can lead to high blood pressure, which leads to a stroke.”

While fried food is a well-known dietary risk factor, the sweetened beverages should not be overlooked, she said.

“We’re hearing a lot more recently about the danger of sweetened beverages,” Judd said. “It’s important to minimize those as well.”

It is an eating pattern that Sunitha Zechariah sees often as clinical nutrition manager at University Hospital.

“That is the diet,” she said. “It is heavy with bacon and fried foods and sweets. That’s their everyday intake.”

And that is the problem – it is a steady dose of the diet, six or more times a week, that creates the problem where one or two times a month doesn’t seem to raise the risk, Judd said.

“It’s not a ‘never eat these foods,’ it’s just to minimize them,” she said.

That might be the next step, to try and persuade study participants to change.

“I definitely think it is a lifestyle intervention,” Judd said. “Because clearly we’re seeing from heart disease, we’re hearing it from cancer and now we’re hearing it from stroke that diet is an important factor in all of these diseases. So the big question becomes how do we get people to change their diet?”

That is easier said than done, Zechariah said.

“If someone is doing it six times a week, it is impossible to tell them, ‘Okay, tomorrow you’re not going to eat this any more,’ ” she said. Instead, the staff try to work with the patient to make small but meaningful changes to their lifestyle that they can live with.

“Instead of eating bacon five times a week, can you cut it down to two and add a fruit or a yogurt or oatmeal or some other healthier kind of breakfast?” she said.

It’s also important for patients to get active as well. Zechariah said.

“We emphasize exercise too,” she said. “That’s as important as this diet. It’s a package.”

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GiantsAllDay
8181
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GiantsAllDay 02/07/13 - 06:10 pm
6
6

Hard hitting journalism,

Hard hitting journalism, Augusta Chronicle! Stay on the cutting edge my friends!! What's in the headlines for tomorrow? The world is round? Galileo was right after all? I mean, GEEEZUS!!!

Riverman1
70678
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Riverman1 02/07/13 - 06:22 pm
6
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That's an observational study

That's an observational study that has no proof of causation. There are many reasons the incidence of stroke could be lower with someone following a non fried foods diets...including avoiding the flour on the chicken. Those following such a diet also tend to exercise more and keep their blood pressure under control. I contend someone on a high fat, low carb diet who exercised, etc. would have an even lower rate of strokes. Medical science is gradually learning carbs are the problem.

Jake
30388
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Jake 02/07/13 - 08:54 pm
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Observational Study

My observational study is that everyone dies sooner or later. I don't intend to live forever and probably eat, drink, and breathe things that are not conducive for bodily health. Not that I go hog-wild on anything in particular, just that I am not going to worry too much about it. The planet is getting very populated so if folks die because of their dietary habits then so be it.

Bizkit
21954
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Bizkit 02/07/13 - 09:14 pm
3
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Good golly. This sounds like

Good golly. This sounds like a very valid study but I'll look it up in the peer-reviewed joural to tell. I always thought that secular humanism and atheist really believed in science. Medicine has moved into the molecular age and no more trial and error than compared to just 15 years ago. It explains something that I've studied myself. I also have an interest in health disparaties which this touches on. So many anti-science folks and now the atheist are shunning their science god they alway tout and accuse the Rep of being anti-science. I've seen it all now. Other smaller studies have also indicated diet. 20,000 is an OK (n) but I'm curious why not a larger population. Trying to demonstrate cause and effect is very difficult(the bar is so high its ridiculous-look how long it took to convince people HIV caused AIDS and not some tuberculosis-like bacteria like that nutty Duesberg hypothesis, but that doesn't negate the significance to the study. Science is a process. Likely a significant fraction displayed metabolic syndrome, or separately obesity, hypertension, or poor lipid profiles. Heart disease, diabetes, and stroke.

Willow Bailey
20252
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Willow Bailey 02/07/13 - 09:20 pm
5
0

Thanks for the laugh, GAD.

Thanks for the laugh, GAD.

dichotomy
26690
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dichotomy 02/07/13 - 10:41 pm
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1

No fried chicken bacon,

No fried chicken bacon, country ham, and sweet tea. Might as well take me now.

Bizkit
21954
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Bizkit 02/07/13 - 10:57 pm
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Hee, hee. I know I grew up

Hee, hee. I know I grew up eating eggs and bacon everyday for breakfast and fried foods every evening. Now it is just a treat. But I'm not over weight, no hypertension, high HDL and low HDL, still got my hair, no grey, still have good muscle tone, got the coronaries of an 18 year old, crap I could live to be 90. By then everyone I know will be dead and all our youth that have been indoctrinated into socialism in our colleges will be running the show. Just shoot me now. Dang on second thought I'm having fried chicken for breakfast. Just call me Mr. Chicken.

itsanotherday1
34762
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itsanotherday1 02/08/13 - 12:58 am
2
0

I don't fear dying; I just

I don't fear dying; I just fear being helpless from a stroke or the like, and lying in my own poop waiting for someone to wipe me. That alone is enough to make me try to do things to avoid it.

Techfan
6461
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Techfan 02/08/13 - 09:27 am
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In a 36 year long study

In a 36 year long study conducted by my camping buddies and myself, we can now release the findings that beer will make you drunk. Only one of the many hardships we go through in the name of science.

soapy_725
43306
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soapy_725 02/08/13 - 10:29 am
1
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Once quoted:

Unpublished

Everything I enjoy is either illegal, immoral or fattening.

We have to find ways to justify all of these research positions. Studies generate a lot of revenue. The outcome is just fluff. Like Mars Rovers and Moon Landings.

Some worthwhile studies would be cures for murder, rape, stealing and crime in general. It is not like we do not have enough candidates for both the control portion and the affected portion. And at least about 7000 years of historical evidence.

soapy_725
43306
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soapy_725 02/08/13 - 10:34 am
1
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Its Paula Dean's fault. Y'all

Unpublished

Y'all fall for that southern drawl. Makes my bank account bring in a hawl.

Now that I feed y'all all that fat, I'm on a new diet and selling that.

Tammy Bakker's got nothing on me, I too was born to be on TV.

GiantsAllDay
8181
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GiantsAllDay 02/08/13 - 10:56 am
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Keep up the research,

Keep up the research, Techfan. Your country needs you.

shrimp for breakfast
5011
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shrimp for breakfast 02/08/13 - 11:29 am
0
0

I guess I'm going to die of a stroke.

I'm not about to give up my southern cusine!

grinder48
1357
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grinder48 02/08/13 - 04:09 pm
0
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Obamacare

Unpublished

Next will be government death squads sayin' if you ate fried chicken, ham and sweet tea, we may as well let you die!

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