If you’re on medications to treat your AFib, it’s important to be informed about food interactions that can interfere with your medications.
For example, anticoagulants, commonly called “blood thinners,” such as warfarin (Coumadin), help to prevent blood clots that occur due to AFib. But Vitamin K in your diet can interact with warfarin and reduce its effectiveness. Vitamin K is found in leafy, dark green vegetables such as spinach and kale, and is also found in cauliflower, parsley, green tea, and calf’s liver. See Anticoagulation and Healthy Nutrition to understand more about eating while on warfarin (Coumadin).
What if certain foods seem to trigger my AFib?
The science on “AFib triggers” has been somewhat mixed. One study published in May 2008 in the AHA’s journal "Circulation" indicates that consuming caffeinated and alcoholic beverages may trigger atrial fibrillation. It goes on to advise individuals with AFib to avoid them. However, a more recent study had a very different finding and indicated that beverages like coffee are not likely to induce AFib.
Finding what works for you
Even if the broad studies do not confirm a definitive link between certain substances like caffeine and atrial fibrillation, many people feel that certain foods and drinks are definitely “triggers” for their individual AFib symptoms. If you believe that coffee and AFib symptoms seem to go hand in hand, you may want to avoid the possible “trigger” for several weeks and chart your symptoms while you do.
What if something in my diet is a “trigger” and I haven’t discovered it yet?
Although there is some value in becoming a “food detective” in order to help your AFib, try not to become too obsessive about possible cause-and-effect ingredients. Stay informed about the latest AFib science as much as you can, and see what you learn through some basic tracking of what you eat.
Perhaps rather than expending energy to identify certain food “culprits” in your diet, you may have better success by putting your efforts toward finding ways to establish and maintain a healthy and balanced diet so that episodes of atrial fibrillation are as non-disruptive as possible to your healthy eating habits.
What about energy drinks and other stimulants?
With the increasing popularity of energy drinks among young people, it will be important that you talk with your doctor about your safety if you use these products. The level of danger to an AFib patient has not been widely studied, but there are incidents in which people have seen a cause-and-effect spike in their symptoms of AFib in response to consuming these beverages.
Your AFib experience can be enhanced by eating a well-balanced diet, tracking what you eat a couple of times each year or for a period of self-study, and doing what you can to avoid those substances that seem to have a clear link with your AFib symptoms.
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