Diet and cerebrovascular disease

Find out why consuming foods such as fruits and vegetables is important to reduce the risk of developing cerebrovascular disease.

Diet and cerebrovascular disease
CVD can present as hemorrhagic or ischemic. Image and text: CIAD

Cerebral vascular disease (CVD) is caused by alterations in the supply of blood flow to or within the brain. CVD can present as hemorrhagic or ischemic. The former occurs when a medium- or large-caliber blood vessel ruptures, causing bleeding into the brain, usually as a result of trauma or uncontrolled arterial hypertension. The second is characterized by the interruption of blood flow, causing a localized or generalized cerebral infarction, and can be triggered by poor eating habits and lack of physical activity.

In 2019, it was estimated that the incidence of CVD in Mexico was fifty thousand people, according to data from Inegi and IMSS, while it was estimated that in 2020 at least thirty-seven thousand people died from this disease. In Sonora, an average of eight hundred deaths due to CVD have registered annually. However, these figures are expected to increase over the years due to the current lifestyle of the inhabitants of this entity, which is characterized by dietary patterns high in saturated fats, trans fats, and sugars, coupled with little physical activity, which results in seven out of ten adults in Sonora being overweight or obese.

An unbalanced diet and sedentary lifestyles are important causes of increased levels of cholesterol (a type of fat) in the blood and a decrease in the internal diameter of blood vessels due to a process of inflammation generated by the accumulation of fats. Public health studies have shown that there are factors that increase the risk of CVD, such as diabetes, overweight, physical inactivity, alcoholism, smoking, and high blood cholesterol levels, in addition to covid-19 (among other diseases). That is why consuming foods such as fruits and vegetables is important to reduce the risk of developing this type of disease. These foods contain a great variety of bioactive compounds, among which phenolic compounds stand out, with great biological activity in different organisms.

Different research, including several conducted at the Center for Research in Food and Development (CIAD), has shown that phenolic compounds present in foods of plant origin can participate in various activities of biological interest as a fundamental part of the intestine-brain axis, including anti-diabetic, anti-obesogenic and antioxidant effects, which together reduce the risk of diseases such as BSE. Therefore, the consumption of phenolic compounds present in fruits and vegetables potentially helps to maintain the integrity of blood vessels and favors cells to be in an optimal physiological state and blood cholesterol levels to decrease, avoiding the oxidation of lipoproteins associated with cholesterol and, thus, reducing oxidative stress of the cells that make up the veins and arteries.

Some names you may be familiar with when looking for phenolic compounds in your food are mainly phenolic and flavonoid acids; these are commonly found in fruits and vegetables, cereals, legumes, and nuts.

Authors: Francisco Jonathan Pérez Delgado, student of the PhD program at CIAD; Marcelino Montiel Herrera, researcher at the University of Sonora; J. Abraham Domínguez Ávila and Gustavo A. González, researchers of the Laboratory of Antioxidants and Functional Foods at CIAD.