Carbohydrate connection to AF: There is... - AF Association

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Carbohydrate connection to AF

Mejulie69 profile image

There is growing evidence that suggests that the modern human diet is responsible for many of our modern disease epidemics (obesity, diabetes etc). The hypothesis states that we evolved to eat largely meat and vegetables and a small amount of carbohydrate. Modern agriculture has turned that on its head - nowadays, carbohydrate makes up the bulk of our diet because it is cheap, delicious and addictive.

One observation which seems to back up this theory is that the only species on the planet that has a problem with obesity is the human being (and some of our domesticated animals which we have forced our diet upon). Animals that eat the diet that they evolved to eat don’t get overweight, indeed their body weight self regulates.

If you accept the above (which I am sure many will not*), then it is logical to say that carbohydrate intake is an INDIRECT cause of some people’s AF. But perhaps we can go a step further…. could carbohydrate be a DIRECT cause of AFib? Is it possible that the reason that athletes are 5 times more likely to get AFib is because they eat even more carbs than normal people?

My question to you - has anyone removed carbohydrate from their diet and seen an effect on their AFib?

*see a film called The Magic Pill (2018), if you would like to see the evidence.

17 Replies

An interesting theory and await the replies with interest. Could it not just be the massive pressure the exertion places on the heart in the same way that atheletes often require joint replacements.

Perhaps a low carb. diet reduces weight and therefore reduces the likelihood of 'bad' Afib.

or lesser symptoms?

I am slim but wanted to lessen my food intake a couple of years ago due to advancing age and therefore lesser activity. My GP was all in favour of this.My Afib. symptoms although never 'bad do not stop me from doing anything I want to do and there was a lessening of Afib. problems after I reduced a normal carb. intake.

About 2 years ago we had a talk from a well regarded Cardiologist about how changes in lifestyle impacted on AF. He demonstrated the difference between the extent of AF in so called wealthy countries (UK, Europe, USA etc) and poor, third world countries where AF is rare. I do not know, but I wonder if carbohydrates feature quite highly in these countries.

Buffafly profile image
Buffafly in reply to FlapJack

Poor people generally eat a diet high in carbs and vegetables because they can't afford to eat meat! My little theory is that carnivores (hunters) don't eat meat every day. I find red meat hard to digest and need a 'rest' for a day or two before I eat it again.

Mejulie69 profile image
Mejulie69 in reply to FlapJack

Very good point

BobD profile image

Just to blow you theory out of the water. primitive tribes do NOT eat mainly meat. Many of them eat berries and fruits . roots etc out of the rain forest with honey from wild bees. Now and again they will hunt down a monkey to kill as they do know that some meat is essential for them. In other words a hunter gatherer existence. (Not sure what the carb value of the roots etc may be).

Recent research (in Canada) has shown that a diet low in meat products and processed food and high in organic vegetables etc is beneficial to those with AF so I suspect it is the amount of chemicals in our modern diet which is to blame.

Great theory if it worked mind.

Mejulie69 profile image
Mejulie69 in reply to BobD

Hi Bob, good observation. I hope that the scientists behind this theory have looked at this example and ruled it out for good reason. I personally believe this “carb theory” with one modification – I think it is more likely that the cause of modern disease is due to a lack of nutrients if you eat the extreme “American” diet i.e. chicken nuggets and Doritos for 3 meals a day. The tribes that you mention probably get sufficient nourishment from their fruits & roots & monkeys. Another theory which is worth considering is this one - “there are no such thing as bad calories, only too many calories” – when you compound this with our sedentary lifestyle, you end up with disease. I don’t know what the truth is, but we are on the way to finding out.

One day we will have to accept that it is not about what we eat, but about how much we eat. Animals function fully automatically - they stop feeding when they are no longer hungry and feed again only when they get the sensation of hunger again. We, humans, eat for the pleasure, we have made a kind of sport out of it, and we get punished through being overweight. Most of modern diseases and syndromes are in tight relation to being overweight. Personally, I consume quite a lot of carbs and fat, but keep the weight strictly under control and feel fantastic for my 65 years of age. The only health issues I have are poorer sight than before (glasses + 1,25) and AF at night, but almost without any symptoms, believe mostly thanks to not being overweight.

Mejulie69 profile image
Mejulie69 in reply to

Indeed Baraba. My question to you is – why is it that humans overeat? The “carb theory” has a good explanation – when we eat carbohydrate our body produces insulin to moderate sugar level in our blood. The insulin spike has a habit of overshooting and causing a sugar crash. So then our hunger kicks in and drives us to eat more carbs. We live our day on a rollercoaster of carbohydrate addiction. If you remove the carbohydrate from our diet, you get off the rollercoaster.

in reply to Mejulie69

To be honest, we, humans, are a pleasure hunters - cigarettes, alcohol, drugs, sex, food... Our conscience is a parasite process, developed on the biologic basis of our bodies. It is so selfish, that it is able to destroy its own carrier (suicide, unnecessary exposing to dangers for adrenalin, overeating,...). In the future, we will have to seriously question our own attitude towards life... and towards this space ship, we are riding on...

Mejulie69 profile image
Mejulie69 in reply to

Good point. Whilst we don’t know what goes through an animal’s mind, I have to assume that they “enjoy” eating and having sex (otherwise why would they do it?). Monkeys and a few other animals are known to deliberately eat and get drunk on fermented fruit. So I don’t think we are unique in hunting pleasure. Perhaps our over-developed brains have taken it to a dangerous extreme, though.

in reply to Mejulie69

Entirely agreed. Dolphins and love-parrots also enjoy sex purely for pleasure, like us. Animals also have a consciousness like our own. If you look into a dogs eyes, it is very clear that what it is missing, are only the words. Of course, we have an overdeveloped consciousness and are paying the fine to the level of technology development. For that reason, the most developed countries have the greatest number of overweight people (USA, UK - unbelievable 67%!!!).

Hi Mejulie69,

As some of you know - 'cos I bang on about it from time to time - I diet. I diet NOT to loose weight, NOT 'cos of my BMI, NOT for any other reason but to control my AF. I don't understand nor do I care particularly that my diet is high or low or indifferent with carbs. I wouldn't know a carb if I fell over one or a bunch of carbs.

My objective is to stop bloating .... if bloating gets out of control and puts pain and pressure on and around the heart I'll almost certainly trip into AF. So, gluten, wheat and oats are forbidden. And those ingredients also extend to the contents of beers, particularly traditional English Ales.

Another issue is that I am on Warfarin ( averaging 5.5 mg per day for me to stay in INR theraputic range). And ingredients themselves are an issue themselves. Todays mass produced food industry mixes a range of ingredients in any given product. Well, I'm not convinced that these mixes of ingredients are doing anybody any good - certainly they were never part of humans original diet - which in times past we were either hunter gatherers or foragers.

I was told what my diet should and shouldn't be and right from the beginning (of AF) the only concession I made to Warfarin was no Cranberry products at all and no Grapefruit.

I do not have an Apple a day, don't like apples - I do have a Banana a day however. Occasionally I have green seedless grapes. Occasionally stewed plums and not with standing the no grapefruit, I do occasionally have some. Raspberries are no good, strawberries are fine, so are Gooseberries, blueberries, blackberries and (when I can source them) - red currents. I do have my bog standard full range of greens, all the stuff I like and all the stuff I shouldn't have with Warfarin. So, spinach, cabbage, broccoli, brussels, cauliflower, broad beans are a regular, consistent part of my diet ... and because I self test I increase or decrease these greens when needed to keep my INR stable. I do not have peas or runner beans or anything in the 'pulse' food group. I have no added sugar either. I prefer to monitor my INR by adjusting my greens intake as opposed to adjusting my Warfarin dose.

I hate .... and hate with a vengence ..... all root veggies and about the only stuff in this group that I have are small (child size) helpings of baby carrots.

I have some red meat but keep it balanced with white meat (except pork and duck) and fish. No processed meat at all.

Until 15 Feb 2018 I had been AF free for nearly 3 years. In the early hours of the morning of 15 Feb, sleeping on my left side - I tripped into AF for around 5 hours. It ceased itself. I have changed my sleeping habits and (touch wood) no more AF. At no time have I changed my diet - it remains as described.

But, as I say - the idea is to stop bloating !

If someone in the community knows all about carbs I won't be offended if you make comments about my 'diet' :-).


Mejulie69 profile image
Mejulie69 in reply to carneuny

Carbs are predominantly potatoes, rice and wheat and all good things made from them (bread, pasta, chips etc). Your diet strikes me as very healthy regardless of any scientific theory. But here we get into the muddy territory of types of AF. Your AF is highly sensitive to your diet, whereas mine, I could argue, didn’t give a monkeys about diet. I have (or had, hopefully) hard-wired pathways in my heart which could be cured only by zapping them with a red hot poker. This is all hypothetical, by the way!

carneuny profile image
carneuny in reply to Mejulie69

My AF , unlike some who seem to take forever in having it diagnosed (and treated) was diagnosed in 9 hours from onset, and was initially brought about by my sitting and bending over a household shredding machine for about half hour. (Posture).

My return of AF on 15 Feb was a sleeping position (Posture).

Over many years I changed my diet, as discussed. So I have no problem in stating that my AF is clearly Vagal Nerve related, i.e. digestive system and posture - with the digestive system being the more significant. My unscientific theory is - calm the vagal nerve = calm the heart.

Potatoes are a regular feature of my diet, rice too - wheat no way. Chips yes with occasional fish and chips, otherwise the occasional fries. Pasta, occasionally but gluten free, bread - no!

All very theoretical ........ but generally it works for me.

Thank you for the post and all the comments, useful. I'm convinced modern food is the problem behind the NHS crisis and when this becomes widely accepted the Food Companies are going to get more heat than tobacco or any other past scandal. In the meantime, our household spends a fortune on very high quality (biodynamic organic from a couple of trusted sources) food and follow my mothers advice of 'a little bit of everything' and 'a bit of what you fancy does you good'.

This is a huge subject and many books and research has been carried out on the effect of food on the human body.

Being a coach for the last 20 years I have had a particular interest in sports nutrition and it’s relationship to performance it’s easy to see in a finely tuned athlete the direct effect of food on the human system the effect is exactly the same on a non athlete but it may not happen as quickly.

The bottom line without boring everyone to death with pages and pages of scientific data etc is as humans we were only ever supposed to live on natural food provided by Mother Nature.

The next time you go shopping take a look at the contents of the food groups you are buying even the so called healthy food contains a load of crap.

A lot of research Into food allergies suggests we were never intended to eat or drink the foods we do in the first place, two common food/drink that come to mind are bread (gluten intolerance) and animal milk (lactose intolerance) both cause bloating which is a common trigger for AF.

We were also never intended to eat big meals snacking or grazing on small quantities of food has always been the best way forward...little and often I guess is the saying.

Excuse the pun but there is a lot of food for thought there 😂

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