Sleep apnea itself is the stopping and starting of breathing while you are sleeping. It is thought to be caused by relaxing muscles in your throat that restricts airflow.
When your brain senses it is unable to get enough airflow, it will wake you up in order to fix the issue. People who suffer from sleep apnea may have a hard time resting for long periods.
Does plant based diet help sleep apnea? Switching to a plant based diet may positively affect your sleep apnea. It is important to know that sleep apnea is a medical condition and a switch to a plant based diet is not a cure, rather can be a helpful lifestyle change that may improve your condition.
A plant based diet can help you manage weight loss, which is one of the risk factors associated with sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is a serious medical condition where breathing stops and starts repeatedly when you sleep.
While the exact causes of sleep apnea are not known, doctors have identified common risk factors. If you have these risk factors, it does not mean you will have or get sleep apnea, but that people with sleep apnea commonly share them.
They include, excess weight, nasal congestion, family history, smoking, male gendered, or being older. A plant based diet can help you manage weight, ultimately lowering risk factors for sleep apnea.
This article seeks to explore the effects of plant based diet on sleep apnea. Answered below are frequently asked questions about sleep apnea and if a plant based diet can help.
Sleep apnea is a medical condition that must be treated by a doctor. Any dietary changes should be thoroughly consulted and done under the watchful care of a physician.
Can poor diet cause sleep apnea?
We think diet and sleep apnea are linked, but there has not been enough compelling scientific evidence to definitively say so. However, research does show that eating too little fiber, too much sugar, or too much saturated fat can cause lighter and less restorative sleep.
If you already have sleep apnea, a poor diet may be a contributing factor [1, 2, 3]. Other risk factors for sleep apnea include genetics, lifestyle behaviors like smoking, or high and consumption of alcohol .
Alcohol can be a large factor determining if you get restorative sleep. Studies have shown that frequent alcohol consumption interferes with your body’s natural resting processes and can be more detrimental to people who have sleep apnea [5, 6, 7, 8].
While there is no definitely answer if excess consumption of alcohol causes or triggers sleep apnea, it is commonly thought of as a risk factor to sleep apnea.
If you do have sleep apnea, consult your doctor to see if lifestyle or dietary changes are recommended to alleviate symptoms.
What foods should I avoid with sleep apnea?
There still needs to be more research on sleep apnea and what causes or triggers the disorder each night. We believe a healthy lifestyle and diet can contribute positively to those who suffer from sleep apnea.
We researched a few foods to see if there was any compelling evidence indicating an interaction with sleep apnea. You should consult your doctor if you think you might experience any interaction with these foods.
Bananas are a popular source of fiber and potassium, but it has been known to increase mucus production in the throat and mouth of some people.
Since sleep apnea is a disorder restricting the flow of air through the throat, and it might contribute more episodes. Perhaps you should avoid eating bananas late at night before bedtime.
We also don’t recommend eating lots of sugar before bed anyway!
Fatty Dairy Products
Similar to bananas, high-fat dairy items can result in higher mucus production in the body.
Consider some alternative milk options like soy milk, almond milk, or hemp milk to reduce total intake of dairy and to reduce the amount of saturate fat you have.
Fatty foods, including dairy, can contribute to excess weight gain and be a contributing factor to sleep apnea.
Meats like steak, bacon, burgers, pork, sausage, and lamb have high saturated fat contents. A high intake of saturated fats can lead to inflammation in the entire body, resulting in cardiovascular issues.
Long term consumption of fatty animal and dairy products might be a contributing factor to sleep apnea.
We think there needs to be more research on the topic and suggest you consult with a doctor or nutritional specialist to get their dietary recommendations for foods to avoid with sleep apnea.
Can diet help with sleep apnea?
We believe a healthy and balanced diet can help influence sleep apnea. Eating whole, plant based foods is known to help individuals maintain their weight in a long term and healthy way.
Here are some of our recommendations for healthy plant foods that may positively impact sleep apnea:
Whole grains are rich in fibers and nutrients that will help you feel fuller for longer. Some of our favorites include brown rice, oats, wheat breads, and sprouted barley.
Foods rich in Omega-3 fatty acids will help your body reduce overall inflammation and assist in producing melatonin. While melatonin might not directly affect sleep apnea, it is known to help enhance sleep and could help you fall asleep faster.
Vegetables and Fruits
Fruit and vegetables are key ingredients in a healthy diet for weight management. Many also contain melatonin, which enhances sleep.
Eating vegetables and fruits such as cucumbers, corn, grapes, spinach, broccoli, cherries, and asparagus will supply you with melatonin. Additionally, cherry juice is known to be a great source of melatonin.
Low-fat Dairy or Diary Alternatives
Milk or milk alternatives are rich in calcium, vitamin D, and many have complete proteins. These can help you feel fuller for longer to help reduce total calorie consumption.
We like lower fat options as they keep away additional sources of saturated fats. We recommend soy milk, almond milk, and hemp milk as tasty dairy free beverage options.
Do you sleep better on a plant-based diet?
We think so! There are many components to a plant based diet that are beneficial for sleep health and overall well-being.
Many plant-based food such as almonds, peanut butter, bananas, sweet potatoes, avocados, spinach, kale, squash, and cashew butter contains magnesium, tryptophan, and vitamin B6. These vitamins and minerals are all found to help people have healthy sleep cycles.
Fortunately, most plant-based protein sources contain a high level of tryptophan. We think a plant based diet could help you achieve a better night’s rest and should be considered if you are having difficulty sleeping.
Sleep Apnea and Plant Based Diet: Conclusion
Sleep is a vital part of overall health, and a lack of enough sleep can have a negative impact on day to day wellbeing. A plant based diet can help improve sleep, so consider increasing to more plant based options if you are looking to improve sleep.
If you have sleep apnea, focus on successful long-term change through lifestyle adjustments and permanent weight loss.
Managing your weight is a difficult task with our busy lifestyles. Switching to a plant based diet can help as many people have found a plant based diet keeps them feeling fuller for longer, reduces the total calories consumed to prevent overeating, and is an easier overarching decision than the many small decision you make at each meal.
Consider doing away with fatty foods and avoid consuming bananas right before sleeping. Furthermore, limit alcohol intake as this can have a significant impact on the disorder.
It is recommended to speak with a doctor or dietician to learn about other dietary or lifestyle changes you can make. Do not make any significant adjustments in diet or lifestyle without consulting with a physician beforehand.