A Cardiologist's Guide to Real Food, Real Living, and Real Happiness
How to Exercise without Getting Atrial Fibrillation (Podcast)
Recently I went on the Wise Athletes Podcast to discuss how to exercise without getting AFib. We covered all topics related to exercise, AFib, and why athletes seem to be particularly at risk for AFib. If you love to exercise as much as I do this is definitely a podcast you won't want to miss!
Thanks for listening!
Wise Athletes Podcast episode website
The 12 Best Ways to Fix Atrial Fibrillation with Sleep
The 12 Best Ways to Fix Atrial Fibrillation with Sleep
Whenever people try to get healthier, and no matter what the underlying reason for that effort, they almost always start with diet and exercise. Those are two very important factors, but without addressing a third factor—sleep—they are almost assuredly doomed to fail in their efforts to eat better and exercise more. In this article, I'm going to give you my 11 best ways to fix atrial fibrillation with sleep.
Most of Us Are Really Bad at Sleep
Let's face it, most of us are really bad at sleeping. And as a global community, it would appear, we’re actually getting worse at it, even as the science that demonstrates its importance to our lives has gotten more and more compelling. The World Health Organization has raised the possibility that sleep problems are an emerging global epidemic. In the United States, 70 percent of adults report insufficient sleep at least once a month, and 11 percent report insufficient sleep every night.
For a while, it did seem like we were getting the message about the importance of sleep to our health. After a century of consistently diminishing sleep, researchers who study the way we slumber noticed something promising. From 2004 to 2012, the number of people who were getting less than six hours of sleep each night finally started to level out.
Maybe, some thought, we were finally getting the message. Or maybe, others argued, we’d simple hit rock bottom. Either way, it seemed, we could finally start working to move the needle in the other direction. But when demographic sociologist Connor Sheehan and his collaborators dove into the subject in the late 2010s, they were dismayed by what they found. Yes, there had been a leveling out starting in 2004, but between 2013 and 2017 there was a significant shift. Far more people were reporting far less sleep. We hadn’t hit rock bottom after all.
What changed? Among the most important factors are the devices we increasingly carry in our pockets, purses, and person. Closely coinciding with the quickly falling rate of adequate sleep was the rapidly rising rate of smartphone ownership, which went from 35 percent in 2011 to 77 percent in 2016.
“Americans now spend more time looking at a screen,” Sheenan and his collaborators wrote, “and, due to the mobile nature of these devices, technology has increasingly entered the bedroom.” This isn’t just happening in the United States. More than 5 billion people around the world now have mobile devices, and more than half of those devices are a smartphone. Leading the way in the adoption of tiny, glowing screens is South Korea, where 95 percent of adults have a smartphone and where, perhaps not coincidentally, adults get nearly 40 minutes less sleep each night, on average, than their global counterparts.
Because smartphones may be a cause of poor sleep, and also because these devices are increasingly equipped to detect the health consequences that result from poor sleep, it should come as no surprise atrial fibrillation diagnoses have skyrocketed in Korea in recent years.
Why is Sleep so Critical for Atrial Fibrillation?
The impact of poor sleep on AFib has been well documented. Even small interruptions of sleep quality and duration can increase the risk of atrial fibrillation by 18 percent, and people who experience insomnia are 30 to 40 percent more likely to develop atrial fibrillation. People who do not reach deep levels of sleep—the sort of sleep that is key to recovery—have an 18 percent increased risk of atrial fibrillation, and it worsens each time they wake up at night.
It’s even worse for people with sleep disorders such as sleep apnea; they have a 200 to 400 percent increased risk of AFib over individuals without a sleep breathing disorder. And the problem is compounded once AFib actually develops; the presence of an abnormal rhythm c...
The 11 Worst Medications For Causing Atrial Fibrillation
The 11 Worst Medications Causing Atrial Fibrillation
Could one of your medications actually be causing your AFib? Over the years I've seen a number of patients either significantly decrease their AFib episodes or even put their AFib into remission for a few years just by getting off an AFib causing medication. For those who needed a particular medication, catheter ablation was very helpful in eliminating the AFib so that they could continue to take their necessary medication. Below are my 11 worst medications causing atrial fibrillation.
With the exception of spironolactone (Aldactone) and triamterene, diuretics can be problematic for atrial fibrillation patients. The reason is that most diuretics are well-known to cause mineral depletion in the body. Depletion of those key minerals, especially potassium and magnesium, is often enough to trigger atrial fibrillation.
Non-steroid anti-inflammatory drugs, or NSAIDs, can also induce AFib. NSAIDs are relatively common drugs like ibuprofen and naproxen that are often used to fight pain. NSAIDs are particularly troublesome for AFib patients because they also increase the risk of heart and kidney failure. For those who are also on a blood thinner, NSAIDs increase the risk of an emergency room visit for a life-threatening gastrointestinal bleed.
3. Proton Pump Inhibitors
Proton pump inhibitors, which suppress stomach acid, can also atrial fibrillation by blocking magnesium absorption or possibly by changing a person’s gut microbiome. These drugs include omeprazole, lansoprazole and pantoprazole, which are often sold under the brand names Prilosec, Prevacid, and Nexium, respectively.
Steroids, like prednisone and Solu-medrol, can cause atrial fibrillation, too, by raising blood glucose levels to very high levels and increasing blood pressure through fluid retention and weight gain. Over my career, I've even seen many cases of steroid injections triggering AFib.
5. Any Stimulant
Cardiac stimulant medications, like albuterol inhalers or theophylline for asthma, have long been associated with AFib. Even over-the-counter decongestants such as pseudoephedrine, which is sold as Sudafed, or medications for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder can trigger an AFib attack. The bottom line is that anything that revs up the cardiovascular system has a risk of causing AFib.
6. Digoxin, Diltiazem, Verapamil, and Beta-Blockers
Perhaps a bit counterintuitively, some if the classic drugs used to treat abnormal heart rhythms such as digoxin, calcium-channel blockers such as verapamil and diltiazem, and beta-blockers have all been associated with an increased risk of AFib. While the exact mechanisms whereby these drugs may increase the AFib risk aren't entirely clear, plenty of cases have been documented in the medical literature. We’ve even seen beta-blockers, which are often used to treat AFib, linked to AFib episodes due to associated weight gain, particularly with women.
7. Fish Oil
As many readers know, there is prescription-strength fish oil, like Lovaza, as well as the over-the-counter fish oil. Prescription-strength fish oil is used to treat high triglycerides whereas the over-the-counter version is used to treat a myriad of complaints. Regardless of which form it is, fish oil has now been implicated as a potential cause of AFib.
If fish oil has been particularly helpful for you, try keeping the dose under 1 gram per day to minimize the risk of AFib. Or, alternatively, you can do what I've done and go back to eating wild-caught fish high in omega 3s instead of taking a supplement. Interestingly, since stopping fish oil for myself, I've noticed a lot fewer palpitations.
8. Antiarrhythmics like Amiodarone, Flecainide, and Propafenone
Another surprise to many readers is that the antiarrhythmic drugs,
The 7 Most Important AFib Triggers to Avoid
The 7 Most Important AFib Triggers to Avoid
A new study was just published identifying the most important AFib triggers to avoid. Avoiding AFib triggers is incredibly important for AFib patients and something we covered in our best-selling book, The AFib Cure. In this article, I discuss the 7 most important AFib triggers to avoid based on published medical studies and my 30 years of experience caring for AFib patients.
What are your AFib triggers?
While most of my patients can identify at least one specific AFib trigger, many cannot. For some of my patients, AFib attacks are 100% random events so they don't have any clearly identifiable triggers. If you can identify one or more AFib triggers, then avoiding these triggers can be a very effective way of putting your AFib into remission naturally.
At the top of every published study of AFib triggers is alcohol. Sadly, there is no safe dose of alcohol for AFib patients. And that shouldn’t come as a big surprise as any emergency room doctor can share many stories of high school or college students who have presented with AFib after binge drinking.
Exercise is the most natural way in the world to shift our hearts into a higher gear, so it’s no shock that, if your heart is already prone to beating erratically, a quick burst of exercise could push it over the edge. But avoiding exercise is simply not an option as not exercising at all dramatically increases your risk of AFib and an early death.
For those suffering from exercise-induced AFib, many of my patients have found that simply decreasing the intensity or duration of their exercise can help tremendously. For others, they can still exercise vigorously without AFib provided they have slept well, are well hydrated, and have their electrolytes in check.
When nothing prevents exercise-induced AFib, it is time to consider an ablation. Indeed, I have countless patients, including elite world-class athletes, who have all successfully returned to high levels of exercise free of AFib with an ablation procedure.
3. Dehydration/Electrolyte Depletion
It always amazes me how so many of my patients' AFib attacks come from when they aren't drinking enough water. Indeed, many of my patients fail to realize that their fatigue, dry skin, headaches, muscle cramps, urinary tract infections, constipation, dizziness, brain fog, or their AFib all happen because they aren't drinking enough water. And proper hydration is especially important for AFib patients before exercising.
In addition to adequate hydration, optimization of electrolytes is also necessary to keep the heart beating right in sinus rhythm. For example, potassium and magnesium depletion are well documented AFib triggers in the medical literature. Fortunately, both can easily be replenished with a diet high in vegetables, fruit, nuts, seeds, legumes, etc. Indeed, many of my patients report that magnesium supplementation has been essential to keeping their AFib in remission.
When it comes to optimizing your electrolytes, please don't turn to sports drinks. Sport drinks are nothing more than sugar water or artificial sweetener water with chemical dyes and a trace amount of electrolytes. If your goal is to optimize for sinus rhythm and longevity, get all the electrolytes your body needs from natural food sources like vegetables, fruit, nuts, seeds, legumes, etc.
4. Poor Sleep
A bad night of sleep is another big AFib trigger. Bad sleep could be from sleep deprivation or sleep apnea. Indeed, studies show that a bad night of sleep increases your risk of AFib 3x the next day and sleep apnea quadruples your AFib risk. Make restorative sleep a priority!
While sleeping on your left side is often uncomfortable for AFib patients, a recent study did not show an increased risk. So, while you may feel more palpitations when sleep...
Is Caloric Density the Secret to Eating as Much as You Want without Gaining Weight?
Is Caloric Density the Secret to Eating as Much as You Want without Gaining Weight?
By Kate Clemens with John Day
Is there a way to never feel hungry again and not gain weight? One answer is to mostly eat only those foods with the absolute lowest caloric density. In other words, a low caloric density means you want the most food you can get on your plate with the least amount of calories. And in this article, we'll teach you everything you need to know about the low caloric density eating approach.
Dr. Day's Experience with Low Caloric Density Eating
Focussing primarily on foods with the lowest caloric density has been something Dr. Day has done for the last 10 years to maintain his 30-pound weight loss. For him, pilling up his plate high with food not only fills his belly but also psychologically convinces his brain that he is full.
As vegetables have the lowest caloric density this is what fills up most of his plate. And because oils have the highest caloric density, he avoids them whenever possible. For example, when making a salad he puts berries, beans, nuts, and seeds on his salad, rather than salad dressing, because berries, beans, nuts, and seeds have a much lower caloric density (see chart).
In general, Dr. Day keeps his caloric density below 780 calories per pound unless he is eating nuts, seeds, or some very dark chocolate (>70% cacao and usually stevia-sweetened). Of note, his wild salmon measures in at about 780 calories per pound. On rare occasions, he will just put a small taste of salad dressing on a fork (he never puts the dressing on the salad) if berries, beans, nuts, or seeds are not available to flavor his salad.
Caloric Density Works
Caloric density is a straightforward approach to weight management that works. The idea is to increase the amount of food on your plate while decreasing your total caloric intake. You do this by paying attention to the calories per pound in the food you choose to eat. The best part of it is that you eat for satiety and optimize the amount of nutrients you take in at each meal.
5 Key Findings from Weight Loss and Caloric Density Research
What does research tell us about the caloric density eating approach? Below is a summary of the best studies:
1. People can eat freely foods that are about 300 calories per pound or less and not gain weight.
2. People can consume relatively large portions of foods that are between 400 and 800 calories per pound and still lose or maintain their weight depending on their individual activity levels and metabolism.
3. Foods with a calorie density of 800-1,800 should be limited as these can contribute to weight gain and interfere with efforts to lose weight.
4. Foods over 1,800 calories per pound should be extremely limited as these foods can very easily contribute to weight gain and obesity and can also greatly interfere with efforts to lose weight.
5. In 2007, the American Cancer Institute and the World Cancer Research Fund published a report which recommended the average calorie density of the American diet be lowered to 567 calories per pound. This can easily be achieved if one eats freely of unrefined, unprocessed fruits, veggies, starchy veggies, and intact whole grains and legumes. It is important to note that this means without the addition of salt, sugar and/or fat/oil to them.
Never Diet Again by Following the Caloric Density Eating Approach
Using the caloric density approach is one that is truly simple and based on common sense. Better yet, it is easy to stick with which allows you to manage your weight for the rest of your life without dieting. Because you essentially end up eating more food with fewer calories, you will feel satiated and happy.
In a nutshell, by having a rough idea of how many calories there are in a given weight of food,...
Dr. Day’s 8 Scientifically Proven Ways to Lower Your Blood Pressure Naturally
8 Scientifically Proven Ways to Lower Your Blood Pressure Naturally
Studies show that up to 90% of all Americans will have high blood pressure by age 50! But yet isolated groups of people cut off from our modern lifestyles have normal blood pressures in the range of 110/70 mmHg throughout their lives without the need for medications.
If your goal is to optimize for normal sinus rhythm, a heart free of disease, and a long healthy life, you have to maintain a healthy blood pressure throughout your life. In this article, I will share my 8 scientifically proven ways to lower your blood pressure naturally.
My Struggle with High Blood Pressure
Ten years ago my blood pressure typically ran 140/90 mmHg. And as a cardiologist knowing of the cardiac dangers of high blood pressure, I put myself on a blood pressure-lowering medication.
However, as I lived among the centenarians in the remote Longevity Village area of China, my goal was to naturally reverse all of my medical conditions, including high blood pressure. And by adopting a 99% natural plant-based diet, including a 30-pound weight loss, in conjunction with regular daily exercise, time with my family, and optimization of my sleep and stress levels, my unmedicated blood pressures now consistently run 110/90 mmHg!
Below are the 8 scientifically proven ways I lowered my blood pressure. But if you are currently taking high blood pressure medications, please speak with your doctor first before trying anything in this article.
My concern is that on one hand stopping blood pressure medications could be life-threatening. But yet, on the other hand, getting super healthy while taking blood pressure medications could drop your blood pressure to dangerously low levels. If your goal is to get off blood pressure medications, it will take exceedingly close monitoring while at the same time working with your doctor as you wean off medications.
1. Cut the Sodium
First, you’re going to need to eat a low-sodium diet. This can offer a 4-point reduction in your systolic blood pressure, an effect equivalent to about half a typical blood pressure-lowering medication.
2. Eliminate any Added Sugars
Second, you’ll need to eliminate any added sugars. That’s generally worth a 7-point reduction.
3. Commit to a Daily Workout
Next, it’s time to commit to a daily workout for a 6 to 7 point reduction.
4. Drop Some Weight
The fourth thing is really hard to do by itself, but a ton easier if you’ve done the first three things: You’ve got to drop some weight. How much? Broadly speaking, for every 2 pounds you lose you could expect a 1 point reduction. So, dropping 20 pounds could get you a 10 point reduction.
5. Embrace a High Fiber Diet
Next, you’ll want to embrace a high-fiber diet. And to get there you'll need to eat a lot of vegetables, legumes, and high fiber fruit like berries. My personal goal is 100 grams of fiber daily but something much less than that could still be worth another 6 point reduction.
6. Learn to Eat Plant-Based
Sixth, eating a mostly natural plant-based diet that is high in potassium and magnesium with limited saturated fats has been shown to drop your blood pressure by 6 points.
7. Get More Nitric Oxide from Greens and Root Vegetables
Next, you need to get some more nitric oxide from greens and root vegetables. Eat enough of that molecule, the intake of which causes blood vessels to relax and dilate, and you could enjoy a 5 point reduction in your systolic blood pressure.
8. Lower the Stress Levels
Finally, you’ve got to do something about your stress, which you already know is a key driver of high blood pressure. That can help drive a 5 point reduction in your systolic blood pressure.
If your goal is to maintain a healthy blood pressure,
Finished All Episodes
This is a great podcast. I listened to all episodes and only regret there are not anymore but I have added The Longevity Plan to my booklist to continue getting more anti-aging insights from Dr. Day.
So much great information!
Dr John has so much great and verifiable information in such a short podcast. And he applies it to everyday life so that I know what I can do to implement it right now.
Informative & Interesting!
Great information provided in a clear way the layperson can understand! I finally understand the connection between NMN & NAD! Yay!