If you have AFib, your doctor probably gave you a pill to take. However, if the father of medicine were your doctor, he would tell you to take a closer look at your nutritional intake. Over 2,000 years ago, Hippocrates understood the value of diet, stating, “Let food be thy medicine, and let medicine be thy food.”
It might be shocking to learn that atrial fibrillation is influenced by food. And it’s not just the food you eat, but it’s also the food you don’t eat. Many nutritional deficiencies are linked to arrhythmia development. Taking a close look at the nutrients you consume may help get to the root cause of your AFib.
Cellular nutrition made easy
When thinking of nutrition, we often think of the body as a whole. For example, we might eat an orange when we feel a tickle in our throat or at the hint of an oncoming cold. Alternatively, we might eat fish for dinner because we’ve heard that it’s helpful for the brain. Or, perhaps, we reach for yogurt when we feel that our tummies are out of sorts. And these foods might accomplish what we had hoped. However, there’s more going on than we realize.
Much like turning on a switch and seeing the light, so much happens in the wiring behind the wall. The actual nutritional magic occurs at the microscopic level of the cell. Our bodies contain trillions of cells, and every single one has nutritional needs. On any given day, cardiac cells may crave different nutrients than brain cells. By providing various nutrients to the cells, they can decide what is needed at any moment.
When provided with the right nutrients, cells work together for optimal health. Unfortunately, our cells are not as efficient at absorbing vitamins, nutrients, and minerals as we age. Additionally, a lifetime of poor diet, toxin exposure, and stress all hinder cell performance.
Whole foods vs. supplements
There will never be a perfect replacement for what nature produces. In fact, scientists have not even touched the surface of all the active components in food. There is still so much to discover about the power of food, including how nutrients work together. For example, while vitamin D is helpful for the body, it works best when combined with vitamin K. Therefore, eating a healthy, balanced, and organic diet is always the first choice.
Research has found that food is the best way to obtain essential cellular nutrients. The 100 Year Heart Diet lowers inflammation and controls key cardiovascular risk factors with essential nutrients, thus lowering the risk for arrhythmias such as AFib.
However, our food is not what it once was. Years of poor farming practices and soil depletion have made our food less and less nutrient-dense. Additionally, pollution makes its way to food through rain, further depleting nutritional value.
It may not be possible for many of us to obtain all of the nutrients we need directly from food. High-quality supplements are required to provide the cell with all the nutrients it needs to function. The best solution is to combine supplements with the nutrient-dense, organic 100 Year Heart Diet.
Top 5 nutrients to help with AFib
The following nutrients are beneficial for lowering the risk of AFib and even treating it.
Nitrates lower AFib risk
Wait a second. Aren’t we supposed to avoid nitrates? After all, hot dog and bacon packages often proudly exclaim, “Contains no nitrates!” If you are confused, you aren’t alone.
Nitrates are natural chemicals found in food, soil, and water. When consumed, they get converted into nitric oxide or nitrosamines. A few studies have linked nitrosamines with cancer. For example, when nitrate-rich processed meat, such as bacon, is fried at high temperatures, it can form nitrosamines.
Nitric oxide, on the other hand, is good for the heart. It widens blood vessels, increases blood flow, boosts circulation, and heals blood vessels. As a result, nitric oxide lowers blood pressure. Science has shown that patients with AFib often have lower levels of this vital nutrient. What’s more, research reveals that the loss of nitric oxide is responsible for blood clots associated with AFib.
- Best supplement: Heart Beet organic beetroot-based powder. This unique blend of beetroot, spinach leaf, kale sprout concentrate, and beet and carrot juices is sourced from organic farms. Simply add one to two teaspoons to your daily smoothie or water.
- Best food sources: Beets, celery, radishes, and dark leafy greens such as arugula and spinach
Omega-3 Fatty Acids are great nutrients for AFib
No, we are not referring to your college fraternity. Omega-3 fatty acids are essential fats, meaning that the body does not make them. Instead, you must obtain them from food.
Omega-3s, including EPA and DHA, are some of the best nutrients for the heart. These fats help keep the heartbeat steady and lower the risk of AFib. Additionally, omega-3 fatty acids reduce cellular inflammation, a significant trigger for irregular heart rhythms. New research has found that a receptor activated by omega-3s helps to prevent inflammation and reduce plaque formation in the blood vessels.
Omega-3 supplementation has been controversial lately, thanks to a recent study suggesting that high doses of omega-3 supplements may contribute to AFib. Dr. Jack Wolfson responded to the research stating,
“The problems with fish oil studies are many. For one, they often conducted on sickly people. Additionally, fish oil needs to be taken with a multivitamin. The best source of omega-3s is always seafood first.”
- Best supplement: Cardiomega is a high-concentration DHA fish oil supplement sourced from waters off the Chilean coast. Take two to three capsules with food daily.
- Best food sources: Wild-caught fatty fish, including salmon, sardines, herring, and mackerel. We love Lummi Island Wild for our seafood!
Potassium improves heart health
Potassium is a key mineral that plays a role in every beat of the heart. One of the main controllers of the heart’s electrical signals, potassium helps regulate the rate and rhythm of your heartbeat. Additionally, potassium assists with a proper heart rhythm through relaxation and contraction in heart muscle cells.
If potassium levels get to be too high or too low, then an irregular heart rhythm, like AFib, can result. Studies have found that low potassium levels in the blood are associated with higher rates of AFib.
- Best supplement: Potassium Boost is a high potency supplement that combines potassium citrate with elemental magnesium. As a bonus, this supplement helps to reduce stress and anxiety. Simply take half to one scoop per day, depending on the need.
- Best food sources: Avocados, sweet potatoes, butternut squash, leafy greens, and bananas
Magnesium regulates heart rhythm
Magnesium is a crucial mineral for regulating heart rhythm through relaxation and contraction of the heart muscle, supporting a normal heart rhythm by acting as a transporter. It is responsible for shuttling other electrolytes, such as potassium and calcium, into cells to allow proper heartbeats.
A 2019 study found that low magnesium levels were associated with higher rates of atrial fibrillation. Since magnesium is depleted in our soil and food, and since absorption decreases with age, many people are significantly deficient in this vital mineral.
- Best supplement: Magne 5 contains five different types of magnesium to optimize heart health; Individuals should take two to four capsules before bed.
- Best food sources: Avocados, leafy greens, nuts, and fatty fish.
Acetyl L-Carnitine protects against AFib
Acetyl-L-carnitine is an amino acid naturally produced by the body. A powerful antioxidant, this nutrient is anti-inflammatory and heart-protective. As a result, it boosts heart muscle cell function and eradicates free radicals and oxidative stress.
When it comes to AFib, Acetyl L-carnitine is an essential nutrient as it stabilizes cell membranes and can aid in reducing arrhythmias. Studies have found that acetyl L-carnitine protects against the development of AFib.
- Best supplement: Acetyl-L-Carnitine helps shuttle nutrients into the powerhouse of the cell, helping with energy production. Take one capsule three times daily with food.
- Best food sources: Animal products such as grass-fed beef are the best sources (the redder the meat, the more carnitine typically).
While pharmaceuticals serve a purpose, they should be a last resort. Instead, it’s best to be proactive with your health, supplying your body with the nutritional fuel it needs from food and trusted supplements. By addressing health at the cellular level, the entire body benefits, and you will be on the path to your 100 Year Heart.
Eat Well · Live Well · Think Well
Medical Review 2022: Dr. Lauren Lattanza NMD