AF and food triggers

Hi guys and gals,

Thought I'd just post a bit on here - for information purposes - following on various recent conversations on food/triggers and AF.

Yesterday I had a bad day following some food I'd eaten. Can't be sure but I think both food stuffs were to blame. On Wednesday I'd eaten a reputable brand of what I think are called Yum Yums, a very doughy, sugar coated cake .

Jane Rainey in the Telegraph describes it as follows - "Drenched in sugary icing, its sponge filling twisted into a long plait, the yum yum is a glorified doughnut. It’s lip-smackingly sweet, gooey enough to stick your fingers together and possibly the most heart attack-inducing snack on the high street. But I bet your mouth is watering at the very thought of one. That heavenly sensation of sinking your teeth into the fluffy centre, the crack of the syrupy glaze, the wonderful stodginess of every mouthful. Yum yums may be nothing more than fancy sticks of fried dough, but they’re devilishly delicious. "

From <>

Then went to neighbours on Saturday night for fish and chips with mushy peas. Not wanting to offend I did have a sampling of mushy peas, but left more than I consumed - with embarrassed apologies to my host ! I knew peas were likely to give me a digestive problem but - my neighbour forgot about my diet.

Sunday, about 10.30 I began to feel unwell, went very cold, ice cold, and heart rate dropped suddenly and rapidly from its pretty normal 70 ish beats per minute down to 49 which is where it bottomed out. Blood pressure remained normal. Just the HR took a dive. I went to bed with a mug of hot, strong and sweet coffee and nursed a hot water bottle to my chest and fell into a weird sleep. Up to the point of falling asleep I kept checking my pulse, absolutely no sign of any malfunction with heart rate, all nice and regular. Woke up close to 3 pm - feeling so crap it was unbelievable. By early evening back to normal, well pretty much normal. Just washed out.

Immediately after having the Yum Yums I developed loud gurgling in my lower abdomen - sounded more like a drain gurgling (well I suppose it was in a sense). A lot of discomfort bordering pain with the gurgling. This lasted through to Saturday morning.

On Sunday, after my Saturday night of fish/chips and mushy peas, gurgling started in upper abdomen, on left, roughly around the area of the Spleen - again much gurgling but no pain/discomfort. This continued until I fell asleep. Checked blood pressure when I woke up mainly to see if there was any sign of AF - no thank goodness, but my blood pressure at this time had jumped and my heart rate had returned to normal.

This is a new take on food aggravating the vagal nerve. In the past my heart rate has stayed the same and my BP seriously gone through the roof.

No more Yum Yums, and no more mushy peas - even at the risk of offending any host who dishes them up.


11 Replies

  • Morning John - Well after reading your symptoms and what you thought set off your strange heart rate and stomach gurgling, my first guess would be that you have a wheat allergy! I too had all the symptoms that you mention when eating wheat and have now gone totally wheat free and can tell you the difference I've felt has been amazing.

    At first I did it all a bit half hearted, who can risk the odd bit of cake!! However, I soon noticed that after that piece of cake I would become aware of my heart bouncing around and even giving me AF.

    Yummy, yum-yums are just a distant and wonderful memory for me now, but honestly it's worth it.


    PS - I still have fish and chips, but ask for gluten free batter now.

  • Good morning Jean,

    Thanks for your thoughts ..... yeah, well I was a silly sod really. I am already gluten free and wheat free and oats free too, and this even extends to beer I drink. I love the traditional English pub real ales but I just can't deal with them now. About the only beer I can drink is Peroni or Tiger beer.

    I just shouldn't have eaten the Yum Yums. I weakened !!! And nor should I have even nibbled the Mushy peas - peas do it too, much the same effect as wheat, as do runner beans and baked beans. Its all so weird isn't it ?

    Blood pressure this morning is pretty much right on, struggling to get the heart rate above 59. Heart still a bit bouncy but checking pulse it nice 'n strong 'n real regular and my BP monitor which can pick up AF is NOT picking up AF. Mustn't grumble !

    You are so right - its the half heartedness that does it, isn't it ! :-(

    Nice to get your comments, I don't feel such an idiot now !


  • I agree with Jean - I also have now gone completely wheat free - quite difficult to follow as wheat is in SO much and eating outside of the house either gets you the reputation of 'awkward' so you don't get invited anywhere or you suffer the reactions. The drop in HR and lack of temperature control sound like autonomic dysfunction.

    I forgot and ate fish & chips out in restaurant - well posh ones - Italian Fritta Misto - and had same reaction.

  • John, I think we all have to learn the hard way!! I buy myself a pack of mixed nuts (have discovered Sainsburys taste the best - in orange pack) to nibble on when I must have something. So I am still the greedy person I have always been. I also treat myself to any type of fruit that I want. I've discovered that the gluten free biscuits and cakes sold in shops still set my heart off. I sometimes treat myself to a bag of Sainsburys butter mints, but get cross with myself for the way I eat the lot over two days! However they don't have any effect on my heart, so I'm jolly well going to have them.

    Now listen here (wags finger), no more yum-yums or fish in batter (unless the batter is gluten free, most chip shops offer that now).

    I understand how hard it is, but avoid gluten and feel well


  • I had mushy peas on Saturday night. That's why I feel so rotten now. I knew it wasn't the red wine.

  • Hi Jean and CDreamer,

    Your combined comments are really interesting. Yes CD .... I understand your comments about being regarded as 'awkward', so we either don't go to those sort of places or we go to food intolerance friendly places. :-)

    Must say the sudden drops in heart rate and the coldness have always been a feature of my AF right from the beginning, 7 years ago. When it happens now I know intuitively what I must do, hot sweet coffee to give the heart a caffeine hit, accompanied by a hot water bottle hugged to the chest to try and mitigate the coldness. Hasn't failed yet, but, my GP probably wouldn't approve. But hell, it works !

    Jean - now your comfort foods, if I may call them that - would send me into permanent residency of the bath room. They would upset me too much. Nuts - I can just tolerate salted cashews or salted peanuts - anything else is banished. If I followed the health mantra - 5 or 7 fruit and veg a day - I'd be a total cot case. Although I can handle grapes OK. Interesting that strawberries are Ok but not raspberries. Red currents and gooseberries are also fine.

    The really interesting bit about this vagal nerve stuff is that with some foods I bloat massively - like I was on an air line at a garage (pumping up my tyres). Accompanying the bloating is the massive increase in blood pressure but no increase in HR -- all of which takes some 5 days for everything to return to normal.

    On the other hand, as happened in the last week, my heart rate drops (has been known to go as low as 46 bpm) but blood pressure stays pretty much normal. In this case that I posted today it was the latter that occurred - no bloating at all. Weird innit ? As I type I'm feeling fine, normal all within 24 hours of feeling ill.

    Heavens, wagging finger lady ... did I say normal ..... what's normal with AF.

    May the force be with you.


  • Not so good my friend..Could be the sugar, icing sugar that is, I have been told to keep well away from icing sugar along with no wheat, the sugars listed in the fodmap diet can give you a clue its open to all on the internet, do check it out, but I know you usually take care of what you eat and we are all different.

  • I'd blame the fat! Chips, fried fish, Yumyums - don't blame the poor old peas!

  • Hi there Buffafly,

    I certainly over did it and definitely the Yum Yums were a big factor - but over the last 6 and half years since I've identified some foods and AF as being bedmates, pulses have raised their heads time and time again. In fact the only pulse I can safely eat, with confidence is Broad beans.

    Weirdly, I can go to Macdonalds or KFC and totally 'pig out' on junk food, with no side effects at all. Yet eat something apparently healthy and it becomes the meal from hell, be it something my partner makes or whether I eat out in a restaurant.

    But, hey ho, mustn't grumble. :-)


  • Have you tried digestive enzymes, probiotics and possibly betaine hydrochloride (stomach acid) all from a health food shop?

  • Hi Polski,

    When I first identified the link between food and the onset of an AF event I consulted a Nutritionist who put me on a course of probiotics, then on a different food intake plan. Every now and then I innocently or mistakenly deviate from the plan. That's what happened on this occasion - and I paid the price.

    The only way I can avoid suffering is to avoid certain foods completely. It would seem some foods inflame or in some way aggravate the vagal nerve which then can trigger an AF event.


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