Atrial fibrillation (AFib) is the most common form of irregular heartbeat (arrhythmia). According to the Atrial Fibrillation Association, it affects approximately two-and-a-half million people in the United States and five million in Europe.
People who suffer from AFib have many medicinal and procedural treatments options. Taking proper care of your body, learning about your specific triggers, and taking a more holistic approach to heart health can help you better control your condition.
Read on to learn more about how small adjustments to your lifestyle can lead to large improvements in your health.
Caffeine is a stimulant that energizes the central nervous system and increases your heart rate. Many studies—including one published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition—have concluded that there isn’t necessarily a link between caffeine consumption and AFib. However, every body is different.
Lower your intake or steer clear of caffeinated beverages and chocolate if you feel it’s in your best personal interest. Energy drinks and over-the-counter (OTC) weight loss medications are especially unpredictable, as they also contain ingredients that act as cardiac stimulants.
Cigarettes also impact AFib. One study conducted over a thirteen-year period found that people who smoke cigarettes are twice as likely to develop AFib. Those who quit smoking after being diagnosed experienced a lower incidence of AFib than those who continued. So quit while you’re ahead: your heart will thank you.
Turn from Wine to Water
A study in the Journal of American Cardiology and many other studies have concluded that the more alcohol you drink, the higher your risk of developing AFib. Not only can alcohol increase your heart rate, it also dehydrates you.
It’s very important to stay well hydrated. Water is the obvious choice, but you also might enjoy coconut water. This alternative is high in magnesium and potassium and low in sodium, an ideal combination for those with AFib.
Animals, Vegetables, and Minerals
When it comes to the heart, you need to be especially careful about what you eat. Make sure that you’re getting enough potassium, magnesium, and calcium. Fruits and veggies should be a central part of your diet: for instance, spinach, carrots, and broccoli are especially heart-healthy. For extra protein and less saturated fat, try substituting red meats for salmon or tuna. In addition, avoid consuming too much sodium.
Though you should consult your doctor first, you may consider taking natural supplements to boost your cardiac health. Fish oil has received much attention for its supposed antiarrhythmic effects. Other supplements to look into for heart rhythm difficulties include taurine, coenzyme Q10, and hawthorn berry.
A study published in early 2012 investigated claims that the Chinese herb Wenxin Keli was effective in suppressing AFib. It now holds the title of the first state-sanctioned traditional Chinese medicine-based antiarrhythmic drug.
Are You Gluten Sensitive?
A study conducted in Sweden concluded that there’s a link between celiac disease and AFib. This suggests an association between inflammation and AFib, which potentially can be avoided by striking gluten from your diet.
Not all who are allergic to gluten have celiac disease, so it may be beneficial to experiment with eliminating gluten-rich foods from your diet. Though the idea of giving up bread and pasta may terrify you, a simple internet search proves that plenty of alternative options are available.
Exercise (But Not Too Much!)
What you do with your body is just as important as what you put into it. Some form of exercise is critical for everyone, but in the case of AF, it’s possible to have too much of a good thing. Find a routine that doesn’t push your heart rate through the roof, but still offers a good workout. Make sure you take care of yourself by resting when you need to.
Emotional health affects your physical health in strange and varied ways. Try to reduce stress wherever you can. Coupled with your tailored exercise routine, getting enough sleep every night should help with this.
Consider taking yoga classes as a way to de-stress. This can also serve as your workout regimen. The focus of this practice is on the breath, which can be linked to heart rate. The yogi culture also promotes healthy eating habits and encourages continued practice.
Treat AFib Naturally
AFib is quite common, and there are many resources for those who have it. Whether you end up opting for medicinal or procedural treatments, your condition will likely improve with some basic lifestyle changes—and perhaps with some “medicine” brought to you by nature.