A Mediterranean Diet Can Help Sufferers of Obstructive Sleep Apnea

Guest Post by Lisa Hunter

Obstructive sleep apnea is the most common form of sleep apnea, which causes people to stop breathing for short periods during the night and can lead to exhaustion during the day. When the muscles in the throat relax, they can block the airway, leading to this potentially serious condition. Your quality of life can be compromised by Obstructive sleep apnea, which is most common in middle-aged overweight men but can be hereditary.

Research reveals that there are ways to alleviate this problem and lifestyle changes such as losing weight are believed to help sufferers manage their sleep apnea. A Mediterranean diet and exercise is now cited as being able to effectively reduce this disorder and this is good news for sufferers everywhere.

Nutrition and Health

The University of Maryland’s Medical Center stresses how diet is important in controlling your sleep apnea. They suggest reducing foods such as bananas, which produce mucus in the diet for a period of 2 weeks or so, to see if the absence of such food makes a difference to the way you feel during the day and your symptoms at night.

Eating a healthy diet and exercising to lose weight are viewed as the most favourable ways of controlling your sleep apnea. Dealing with eating disorders is challenging for many people, however, and if you struggle to manage your diet alone, there are a wealth of eating disorder treatment facilities throughout the U.S to help you, such as the New York anorexia and bulimia help centers. These are available to local and national patients and offer you the peace of mind of knowing you are being supported through your struggle to manage your weight effectively.

There are a few simple facts to remember when dieting. Try to eat plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables as well as whole grain food and low fat dairy products. Using olive oil in your diet is a healthier option to saturated fat, which is present in processed food, in meat and butter.

Chromium is suggested as a good supplement for building lean muscle mass and for improving blood sugar, with a doctor’s supervision.

Exercise is ideal if you suffer from obstructive sleep apnea. You should begin slowly, working up to a regular routine of 20 to 30 minutes of exercise every day such as walking or swimming.

A Mediterranean Diet Helps, Says Research

The Europe Respiratory Journal published a study showing that sufferers of sleep apnea can reduce symptoms by eating a Mediterranean diet and exercising.

In the study, 40 obese sufferers of Obstructive sleep apnea were given different diets to follow, with 20 eating a prudent diet and 20 following a Mediterranean diet. The patients were monitored during their sleep cycles at the beginning and the end of the study, through electrical brain activity, their eye movements and snoring patterns. The research took place over a period of 6 months.

The findings showed that the 20 patients following the Mediterranean diet experienced less apneas (disturbances) during the REM stage of their sleep. They enjoyed their diet and found it easier to adhere to over a period of time and they increased their physical activity, which, in turn, decreased their body fat content. The study was the first of its kind in terms of exploring this diet’s impact on OSAS. Christopher Papandreou, author of the research, explained how the findings are interesting because REM sleep is shown in recent reports to be related to the most disturbances of OSAS.

Mediterranean food is naturally low in saturated fat because it relies on healthy oils such as olive oil, as well as combining delicious fruit and vegetable ideas.

A Mediterranean sandwich is healthy because of its red peppers, olives, zucchini and olive oil as well as provolone cheese and you can swapmayo for Greek yoghurt to make it even lighter. There are mouth-watering recipes for paninis to try that will really make a difference to how you enjoy your food.

Mediterranean shrimp and pasta is a low calorie option for a delicious meal, with added feta cheese, which is a low fat alternative to most other cheeses. If you cook whole grain pasta, this will give you the necessary fiber boost to keep you feeling fuller.

Mediterranean salmon burgers make an ideal change from higher fat counterparts. You can add feta cheese and cucumbers for a delicious feast and know that your lunch or dinner is packed with omega 3 rich food.

By choosing a Mediterranean diet to help you control the symptoms of your obstructive sleep apnea disorder, you will be eating your way to good health and lowering your body fat content the proper way. By combining this diet with regular exercise, you could effectively control your OSAS permanently and enjoy a better quality of life.


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7 thoughts on “A Mediterranean Diet Can Help Sufferers of Obstructive Sleep Apnea

  1. I think that the presence of Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) is a likely indicator that something is wrong with how we are taking care of our body. It may be bad fuel (diet). It may be “lack of load” (inactive life style). It may be pollution from various sources.

    I now know that caring for my body a bit better has reduced my OSA.

    I had and wish I still had the privilege of working with a great dietitian. With the knowledge gained in becoming a commercial cook and continued effort I have moved through several “diets” (Korean, Mexican, now study Indian) looking for dishes that contain the nutrients I know I need at my current training level.

    I think that everyone (skinny people too) with a diagnosis of OSA should be put in long term (at least every six weeks for a couple of years) contact with a dietitian. Learning to eat well is a life skill acquired over the long term. It comes by learning to prepare item after item, shopping list after shopping list, learning nutrient after nutrient, learning skill after skill. It should be a life long journey.

    So here I make a note that after my current study of Indian foods I will look into the Mediterranean Diet.

    I wish that a group of Personal Trainers would form the skills and understanding needed to move the American Couch Potato to become an Active Lifestyle American. I think the need is great!!

    I have found the pursuit of an average of 10,000 steps a day beneficial. This summer I bought a new pedometer and, as always it seems, the silly gadget got me off my bottom to come within apparently seven percent of my goal last month. This fall and winter I will use the lack of TV in my home coupled with TV being available at my gym to be on a treadmill or cycle for at least an hour a day (usually more like two). I believe it will make the winter time, which is my hardest time, go better as it did last winter.

    Perhaps if I had learned to fuel my body well and had an active lifestyle since childhood I would never have seen OSA. I believe that my health would have been better and my life happier and more productive.

  2. Good information, however, this is how I do eat, and it has no effect on my UARS. I still have macroglossia, and a recessed chin. My microarousals are still over 50+ an hour. I feel better eating a healthy diet and exercising but I do not wake up refreshed.

  3. exactly. I was stick thin and still sick as a dog. I was eating an organic vegan diet. no effect. if someone comes into the ER with difficulty breathing from a narrowed airway, do we put them on a diet? no, we go straight to the ABCs, and Airway is first. same principle must be applied in OSA.

    I tried everything, over years. I had asthma. my adrenals were shot. I had intracranial hypertension with daily symptoms. PAP helped only a little. I am finally better now, after jaw surgery to change my anatomy. no asthma meds, off hydrocortisone, only rare headaches.

    different people have different anatomies, some are more narrow, others not so much but they collapse more. I suspect in UARS we are just narrow and no amount of weight loss makes any change in this. in those who are more collapsible, perhaps weight gain and loss makes more of a difference.

  4. The changes that I have seen from diet and exercise come from very long term diligent effort.

    Learning how to eat well is a life long journey. It is not a sprint. I think you really can benefit from professional help while learning to do it well. Most simply read a book or two, try the trend for a time, and give up when that does not work. What I have found that does work is a bit of effort every day and using the feedback of the scale, morning feel, and productivity to find what works well. Since motivation is a big part of this I am always seeking new flavors of good food to keep my healthy interest going so I am glad to hear about the Mediterranean Diet in which I will likely find new healthy foods to love that work for me.

    As for exercise I made less than 50% of 10,000 steps a day my first year slowly growing that to over 90% last month over a period of some five years. This year I added a bit of resistance training and yoga. I know I have a long way to go and very well intend to keep on going. “Keep it moving” seems to be a motto I hear amongst those my age so inclined to take care of themselves.

    I suppose there are those whose battle for air has so damaged their lungs, circulatory system, breathing reflexes, and anatomy that a surgical solution is the best course of action and I am glad there are doctors who can step up to the challenge.

    In this thread – which is about diet and exercise – I would hope to encourage those who would – to take the better care of their own body – over the many years – that may well epigenetically inspire their body to develop a circulatory system, breathing reflexes, and finally full airway that will keep them from needing to develop a battle for air and so require the very seriously invasive surgery to help correct the current life challenging issues.

    Yes you can have your pollution, your cake, and your couch and apparently your surgery too.

    If you want to truly get well and stay well I think you will have to bite the bullet and seriously stay to the task of taking good care of your body.

  5. Thanks for all your thoughtful comments. The important point here from all of you is that obstructive sleep apnea and upper airway resistance syndrome are lifelong, chronic conditions that needs to be managed from multiple angles. If you have narrowed jaw structures, the best diet in the world and exercise regimen won’t help your narrowed airways. However, eating a healthy diet may help to mitigate the detrimental effects of obstructive sleep apnea. However, this will work to various degrees in different people. Some of my patients do remarkably better just by not eating close to bedtime or just by using Breathe Right Strips. Others do well with CPAP or dental appliances and some will ultimately need surgical intervention.

  6. I eat 0% processed foods, a large percentage organic, and now have gone ‘Gluten-Free’. I’ve even have had a palatal expansion with a ‘DNA appliance’, along with two septoplasties.

    So, why can I not rid myself of Sleep Apnea ? This Mediterranean diet sounds pretty balanced, but it’s really nothing new under the Sun.


  7. I have made some progress away from OSA (less pressure needed, better quality sleep) through the use of the following:

    Carefully managed CPAP therapy (look at the data several times a week and respond to AHI and breathing stability issues, use of EERS when breathing stability is compromised and other efforts fail).

    Pursuit of an active lifestyle (I am about 80% there starting my journey about five years ago).

    Learning how to eat well and doing so (worked with a dietitian for several years, ongoing studies, cooking classes, ect …). This includes microbiome management as well as the usual stay away from GMOs, processed foods, the dirty dozen – – pursue the clean 15, good flavonoids …

    Using eucapnic breathing to deal with breathing stability issues during the day. These became notable after a serious assault which resulted in post traumatic stress. I use a pulse oximeter to be safe and establish the minimum heart rates for a given level of exertion.

    This is not an exhaustive list.

    Things I have recently discovered and hope will help as I try them:

    Acupuncture, acupressure, foot reflexology.

    Managing my D hormone (A.K.A. Vitamin D) levels.

    Various kinds of meditation and yoga.

    Seriously limiting my intake of sugar, especially fructose, and making sure that when I do eat sugar it is done in a manner which limits how fast it can enter my system.

    Again, not an exhaustive list.

    I think that my OSA is simply an indicator of how little I have cared for my body and how little I know about how to take care of my body. So I am endeavoring to do better at that.