Rhythm and Diet/Way of Eating: Curious if... - AF Association

AF Association

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Rhythm and Diet/Way of Eating


Curious if your diet/woe has had an impact either positive or negative on your heart rhythm? There is so much diet/nutrition information out there in the form of summits, books, classes, blogs, et. that range from eat high fats to eat high carbs to who knows what...the jelly Donut diet!? Anyway, I have researched so much and I am just plain tired of the information as it all seems to conflict and is generally not individualized. Every diet - even the really bad ones - will parade beautiful and fit people in front of the masses to show them just how well their piece of the pie is better than everyone else's! I have dropped lots of weight on low carb diets, which did a great job of controlling my appetite, but always gained it back and more. I cannot seem to stick to a high carb as there is no appetite control. Has anyone stuck to the Dr. John Day afib diet? Just looking for your experiences in an attempt to see if there are patterns that may help out our community.

14 Replies

My understanding is that diets do not work whilst genuine lifestyle changes can. There is science behind this . I was told that fat cells can be produced in our bodies but never disposed of. As a result when we eat more than we need any surplus is stored as fat. If we then cut down our energy intake below out energy requirements then those fat cells start to empty but never go away so as soon as there is any surplus . Bang! Back it goes in the fat cells.

We know from research that a reduced reliance on meat and a move to a more plant based diet and avoiding processed foods has a great affect on AF burden as well as improving QOL and weight loss. One does not need to be a zealot about this, just sensible and little steps.

Jafib in reply to BobD

Hey Bob. I have come to the same conclusion after all of my research - diets do not work. That is why I added the “way of eating” term as most people associate that with a lifestyle rather than a diet. I have also heard the same thing about fat cells - once you have them you have them but I’m not entirely convinced that means you are more likely to gain weight the next time around...maybe comes back on a little faster though. A great deal of what I eat would be considered whole food plant based but my weight has continued to increase over the years. The doc told me that as long as I was on the meds (flec, metoprolol and atorvastatin) I would likely never win the battle. So, as of two days ago I am now off of the flecainide and metoprolol - hoping for good things.

I agree with Bob about lifestyle changes over diets. We’ve always eaten plenty of fruit and veggies and had a reasonably good diet but over the past 12 months I’ve really focused on reducing sugar, processed foods and refined carbohydrates. Along the lines of a lower carb, healthy fats. I use full fat milk, yogurt and butter. We eat fish (my husband loves his fishing) and have a small amount of red meat once or twice a week. My husband has grown to love vegetarian meals which is great. I don’t focus on calories so much but I do keep track (thanks to an app) of the macro nutrients I have (protein, fat, fibre, carbohydrates, sugars). Fibre is one of the most important things. I’m not obsessive - over Easter I ate hot cross buns and Easter Eggs and birthday cake (it was my daughter’s birthday). I also have at least 12 hours between dinner and breakfast and enjoy a peppermint tea in the evening rather than a regular tea.

I have lost most of my excess weight (still a few kilos to go) and since my last ablation 4 weeks ago I’m feeling better than I have in years. I think getting my body in better shape has really helped.

I listen to a lot of podcasts and have read a lot of books with this being one of my favourites:


Jafib in reply to Kaz747

Sounds like you are on the right track! I eat in a similar way as you. Some call it the flexitarian way of eating which just means eat mostly plant based with a little meat here and there. How many ablation have you had?

Kaz747 in reply to Jafib

Yep, I often say I’m a flexitarian. I’ve had 4 ablations - 2 for SVT, 1 for atrial flutter and AF and the last one a month ago was again for AF. Feeling better now than I have in the past 3 years.

Jafib in reply to Kaz747

That is awesome that you are feeling better!

Hi Jafib,

One mans meat is another mans poison ..... an old adage from way back when ! It simply reflects all that needs to be known about food and diet.

I never bothered with all these text books and fads.

I simply paid a few quid and consulted a qualified, registered Nutritionist. Followed her advice and have only had one AF event in a bit over 4 years. And that was lying on my left side in the early hours.

Done the rest myself. no added salt, no added sugar, no processed foods and all the green vegs that they say I mustn't have when on warfarin. No 7 or 8 fruit a veg a day - if I did I'd have permanent occupancy of the bathroom all day. Never bothered about loosing weight - my food plan was to calm the vagal nerve NOT, NOT to loose weight.

I get enough exercise in my 4 days a week job to maintain a reasonable body shape.

A calm vagal nerve for me = a calm heart and no AF. :-)


Jafib in reply to carneuny

I told my doctor I thought my af was triggered by how much and what I ate and he said it was probably not that... I really believe it is a vagal nerve issue like yours.

I agree with all the above. I had gut problems from teenage years which developed into Colitis so I did a lot of experimenting and research with food and found what suited me and managed to eliminate my gut problems - almost. I found a correlation with stress, certain foods, especially dairy and gluten so eliminated them entirely for several years and then found I could tolerate them, if taken in moderation.

Then AF plus autoimmune diseases - known to be triggered by leaky gut so off I go again! No gluten, no dairy but this time I found that food and nutrition is much better understood nowadays and that everyone is individual. I saw a nutritionist, did a lot of testing and found I had some really bad gut flora, lots of good flora but it was the bad flora which had been causing a lot of problems. I manage them with food - they are known to not like garlic and tannin - so lots of garlicky food which I love anyway - and tea - which I hate as I hate the taste of tannin so I took a supplement. 12 months of sticking to the eating plan - much, much better.

The vagal nerve connection is important but so is leaky gut. You can eat well and still be undernourished as much of our food lacks essential minerals. I have to watch my B12 and am always low on iron so also have that monitored. I have just done a D3 test because living in Northern Europe it is more than likely I am deficient. I hope you are getting the drift?

You are correct - too much general information out there - too many people trying to make money out of vulnerable people. I have simple rules which I stick by which are:-

Never eat processed foods unless there really is no alternative and then don’t eat anything with more than 5 ingredients or with any ingredient you don’t recognize as food.

Eliminate ALL sugary foods and added sugar in any form including all cakes, biscuits and confectionery. Yes it’s tough and yes you will get sugar withdrawal symptoms but it IS worth it.

Limit fruit intake, especially fruit juices & commercially produced smoothies. More sugar. The exception is berries - small handful every day.

Eat the rainbow - literally. Eat some of every different coloured vegetable you possibly can. Variation is key.

Eat a small portion of fats in the form of - avocado, eggs, olive oil, nuts and seeds, butter or ghee with every meal. Add at least 1 portion of oily fish and 1 of white fish per week.

Limit or eliminate all your ‘white’ starch foods such as bread, potatoes, rice etc. Substitute with whole grains, sweet potatoes, red/brown rice or bulgar wheat etc. If you do eat some potatoes make them starch resistant by cooking, cooling and reheating - same for pasta and white rice.

Think less about what you WANT to eat and far more about what is good for your body.

Keep BMI to 27 or under if you can.

Get individual nutritional advice/testing if you can afford it.

In the meantime - bant.org.uk/about-nutrition...


Hope that was useful.

Best wishes CD.

irene75359 in reply to CDreamer

My daughter makes her own smoothies, and especially for her toddler son. Kale, avocado, berries, whole oats, some peanut butter, cinnamon, any of the green veg he won't eat on a plate gets thrown in. She found him downstairs in the middle of the night looking for his morning smoothie.

carneuny in reply to CDreamer

Well said CD, put much better than I could.😊


I have been a vegetarian for over 20 years. Even so i have always struggled with being overweight mainly due to bread and potatoes. I have been in permenant AF since May 2016 and taking Bisoprolol seems to make weight loss a challenge. I recently started the 5/2 diet were I fast for two days and eat normally but with reduced intake of bread and potatoes. All i can say is it is working for me. The weight loss is gradual but consistent. The diet change as not changed my PAF but over time you never know. We are all so different.

CDreamer in reply to RoyM

IF was the only thing that triggered my weight loss - I can’t do 5/2 but make sure I go 14-16 hours in every 24 without eating and skip the occasional meal, usually breakfast, or just have a smoothie as I need some food to take my meds otherwise I get stomach upsets.

Some pretty good advice here jafib - what do you think? Are going to make any changes?

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