Do you ever feel like your heart skips a beat or starts racing for no apparent reason? Heart palpitations are surprisingly common and, while they have multiple causes, are often the result of electrolyte imbalances in the body—which is not surprising because the heartbeat is electrical in nature.
Electrolytes are four minerals that include: calcium, potassium, magnesium and sodium that help to conduct electrical currents to ensure the heart beats properly, but also allows the brain to communicate with all parts of the body through the nervous system. We need to get enough of these minerals, in the right balance, to maintain a healthy heart rhythm. Of these minerals, people are most commonly deficient in potassium, but before I explain more, let’s look at some of the main causes of heart palpitations.
WHAT CAUSES HEART PALPITATIONS
There are many possible factors for heart palpitations, so be sure to check with your doctor if you’re experiencing them.
The most common causes include:
Excess caffeine from coffee, tea, soda or chocolate can cause heart palpitations. And, in some people it doesn’t take much to trigger the response. So, if you’re experiencing palpitations you’ll want to start by cutting back on caffeine.
Cigarettes and Other Nicotine Products
Cigarettes, e-cigarettes, patches and nicotine chewing gum can all cause heart palpitations, so it’s best to give up the habit altogether.
Some food additives can cause heart palpitations. They typically include: monosodium glutamate (MSG), nitrates, excessive salt or sugar. Research shows that MSG can cause reduce the rate of heart beat and a rapid, irregular heartbeat which can be lethal among animals with a history of heart attacks. Reduce your intake of most of these additives by simply cutting out the 3 Ps: processed, packaged and prepared foods.
Cocaine, amphetamines and other illicit drugs can cause heart palpitations and are, obviously, best avoided.
Some medications including: decongestants, asthma inhalers, birth control pills, some blood pressure medications, some mental health drugs and some thyroid medications
Electrolyte imbalances can cause heart palpitations. Electrolytes are the minerals responsible for regulating electrical impulses throughout your body, including your heart and brain. The electrolytes include: calcium, magnesium, potassium and sodium.
Some Health Conditions
Some health conditions can cause heart palpitations, including: coronary artery disease, prior heart attack, heart failure, heart valve problems and heart muscle problems, among others, so be sure to consult your physician if you have heart palpitations.
ADDRESSING NUTRITIONAL IMBALANCES
Correcting nutritional imbalances is an easy way to address heart palpitations, in many cases.
Potassium is one of the essential minerals that helps to regulate heartbeat and nerve signals and is one of the most common nutrient deficiencies in America, with some estimates around 98 percent of the population being deficient in this critical nutrient. It’s not surprising when you consider that sodium and potassium work together to counter-balance each other, like a teeter-totter: when one goes up, the other goes down. So, with the high sodium diets so many people eat, potassium levels can drop to seriously low levels. Additionally, few people eat sufficient fruits and vegetables, which are the main sources of these nutrients.
Most adults need 4700 mg of potassium, which is fairly easy to get in a healthy, well-rounded diet, yet the average man gets only 3200 mg and the average woman gets only 2400 mg daily.
There are many foods rich in potassium, including almonds and bananas. I encourage people to also get what I call “the 3 Bs”: beets (and beet greens), broccoli (and broccoli sprouts) and Brussels sprouts, all of which are high in potassium.
Again, there are many causes of heart palpitations, so be sure to consult with your doctor to rule out more serious conditions.