Food and Nutrition for Your Healthiest Heart

Food and Nutrition for Your Healthiest Heart

Does the quality of my diet affect my AFib?

In some ways, the quality of our nutrition influences everything about our health, from immunity to ability to recover after a surgery to reversing many chronic conditions. There has also been research indicating that you can prevent AFib and lessen the impact of your AFib through maintaining a healthy weight.

Good nutrition can also reverse or improve many heart-related conditions that contribute to AFib-related stroke risks and may also reduce the need for additional medication. Problems like high blood pressure, vascular disease, and diabetes are all conditions that can improve with good nutrition. It’s important to understand how these conditions can increase your risk for stroke which, when combined with any risks due to AFib, provides a strong incentive to remain in the very best heart-healthy condition possible.

Changing our habits in a culture of poor nutrition

Each year, $33 billion in medical costs and $9 billion in lost productivity result from heart disease, cancer, stroke, and diabetes mellitus that are attributed to poor nutrition. Making the right food choices can seem daunting in the face of countless fad diets that claim to hold the secret to success.

There’s a lot more to eating right than just watching your weight.

If you regularly skip eating the key components of good nutrition – a variety of colorful fruits and veggies, fat-free, 1% fat or low-fat dairy products, fiber-rich whole grains, and lean meats, poultry and fish – your body is missing the basic building blocks for a healthy life. Healthy foods fuel our bodies to create new cells and the energy we need to thrive and fight diseases. If you’re on an anticoagulant medication, it’s also important to remember to pay attention to those foods that are high in vitamin K.

Educate Yourself - Track Your Nutrition

The first step to eating right is to figure out what you’re actually eating. In our last article, we discussed tracking your food using a food diary as a means of learning your average calorie intake.

Keeping a food diary, which means writing everything you eat for at least a week, can be very helpful. It also helps to use an activity tracker to know your activity level and what else may be happening in your life so you can start to understand what drives eating decisions. (Stress? Happiness? Sadness? Boredom?) Reviewing the diary on a regular basis may also help you learn how your eating may change depending on the situation, or whether it’s a workday or weekend.

How can I begin taking small steps toward healthier nutrition?

It’s a good idea to learn about nutrition recommendations that outline what a balanced diet means, and what is right for your age and activity level.

  • Get educated even if it’s just a little each day. Reading nutrition labels, and limiting saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol, sodium and added sugars also is important.
  • Make it easy. You can also look for the AHA’s Heart-Check mark to identify heart-healthy foods in the grocery store while shopping and also in restaurants when dining out.
  • Get professional guidance if you can. If you have access, meeting with a nutritionist or registered dietitian, even for just a few sessions, can help, too. The trained professional can work with you to create a nutrition plan that will put you on the right track.
  • Avoid portion distortion and change the ratio of high-calorie/low nutrition foods in your meal. Understanding portion size and what you need in a day is important for avoiding high-calorie foods, but also to avoid overeating “healthy” foods. Knowing the difference between a “serving” and “portion” can help you avoid portion distortion.
  • Don’t be fooled by misleading labels. “Just because something is fat-free or reduced-calorie doesn’t mean you can have unlimited quantities,” Platt said. Low fat also does not always mean it is the healthiest choice.

You’re planning for lifetime of healthy living, so keep working on your changes even if it takes a while to feel the rewards.

What are the key components for a heart- and brain-healthy diet?

Consume a dietary pattern that emphasizes intake of vegetables, fruits, and whole grains; includes low-fat dairy products, poultry, fish, legumes, nontropical vegetable oils and nuts; and limits intake of sodium, sweets, sugar-sweetened beverages and red meats

While the AHA recommends that most adults consume no more than 1500 mg of sodium per day, your healthcare provider may provide you with a different recommendation based on your medications and blood pressure.

Recent Discussions From The Nutrition & Dining Forum
CC354 avatar

ACCORDING TO DR SCOTT FREELAND AT THE 3 DAY CONFERENCE IN AUGUST, 2018, ARTIFICIAL SWEETNERS ARE A TRIGGER FOR aFIB BECAUSE THEY "EXCITE" AND "MAKE THE ELECTRICAL SYSTEM OF THE HEART HYPERACTIVE". THIS WAS THE FIRST I HAD HEARD ABOUT IT. AND, I HAVE BEEN USING ARTIFICIAL SWEETNERS FOR YEARS AND NEVER KNEW THIS!

SO NOW I WOULD LOVE TO STOP USING ALL ARTIFICIAL SWEETNERS(SWEET N LOW, SPLENDA, ETC) BUT DO NOT KNOW IF THERE IS AN ALTERNATIVE. MY EPISODES ARE INCREASING IN DURATION, AND I AM SCHEDULED FOR AN ABLATION IN DECEMBER.

DOES ANYONE KNOW IF THERE IS A SAFER NON CALORIE ALTERNATIVE FOR ARTIFICIAL SWEETNERS? 

 

joegee avatar

Skullcap is an herb that I discovered by doing a Google search for "afib herbs". I bought capsules made by Nature's Way. I take 2 at night before bed, 1 when I awaken, and 1 if symptoms arise. It has worked better than anything I have tried. For blood thinning I take an aspirin at night, and a 400iu vitamin e capsule in the morning. I've had a-fib since I was around 23; I'm 53 now. I wasn't officially diagnosed with a-fib until last year when I collapsed from 3 TIA's. I do not take any other medication for my condition, except for potassium supplements. As soon as the seeds arrive, I will grow the skullcap myself for tea or encapsulation. I think tea may be better for quick relief, while capsules may be best for overnight, or all day relief. I hope this helps someone.

KelliDoug avatar

Hello,


I'm looking for documentaries, support groups, healthy diet plans and life coaches with a dietitian background or specialization in AF.


 I am following my EP's advice and medication recommendations exactly, but I would like to take control of any of the triggers and do anything I can do to have a healthy heart.  I could use to lose about 25 pounds and up my exercise.  I am choosing to avoid alcohol, caffeine and any other potential triggers at this point.


I turn 50 on Tuesday and feel I must do all I can to improve my heath.  I was just diagnosed 3 weeks ago with p AFib.   I am an American living in the UK.


What did you find successful and motivating for you to take control of your health and reduce triggers?


 

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