Opinion

Millions of people lose sleep every night because of sleep apnea, which causes chronic nighttime breathing interruptions.

But a growing body of research suggests that you can improve your eating habits by cutting back Highly processed foodsReduce alcohol and Increase your daily steps It can reduce or even eliminate sleep apnea symptoms.

The findings are important because sleep apnea is one of the most common causes of poor sleep, which affects approx 1 out of 5 people around the world . The condition occurs when the muscles in your throat relax and block your airway while you sleep, causing you to stop breathing. These episodes of apnea last longer than 10 seconds and often occur at night, resulting in gasping, snoring, and frequent sudden awakenings as your body struggles for air.

Sleep apnea can occur due to the stress on your body Raise your blood pressure And increase your risk Developing diabetes and heart disease.

Obesity is especially strong The cause of the accident Because the excess tissue in the mouth and throat can block the airway at night. The new study shows that lifestyle and dietary changes can reduce sleep apnea, even if weight isn’t lost.

In a recent study Published in JAMA Network Open, researchers in Spain recruited 89 overweight and obese men with moderate to severe sleep apnea and divided them into two groups. A person has a simple diet, exercise and lifestyle interventions. Participants were advised to eat healthy foods such as fruits, vegetables, beans, olive oil, seafood, poultry, eggs and herbs. They are also encouraged to avoid highly processed foods, processed meats, salty snacks and sugar-sweetened beverages.

“It wasn’t a restrictive, low-calorie diet,” said Almudena Carneiro-Barrera, a researcher at Loyola University AndalucĂ­a in Spain, who led the study. “We taught them how to eat a healthy diet.”

Participants were encouraged to limit their evening alcohol intake and smokers were urged to quit. They are also advised to increase their action count each week.

A second group of participants served as a control: they did not receive the lifestyle intervention.

Participants in both groups used a medical device called a CPAP machine, which delivers a gentle and steady flow of air through a tube and mask worn by users while they sleep. CPAP is the standard treatment for sleep apnea. It prevents episodes of apnea, but it can be uncomfortable, and Many people stop using it Or struggle to keep up at night.

After eight weeks, the group that adopted healthy habits had a 51 percent reduction in the number of sleep apnea patients experienced each hour. About 15 percent had complete remission of sleep apnea, and 45 percent no longer needed their CPAP machines.

On average, the healthy habits group lost about 16 pounds—roughly 7 percent of their body weight. At six months, their weight continued to decrease, and the number of participants whose sleep apnea went into remission doubled. 62 percent of them do not need their CPAP machines.

They were also able to significantly lower their blood pressure, which according to the researchers reduced their risk of dying from a stroke or heart attack by more than 30 percent.

In comparison, the control group lost an average of less than a pound of body weight and showed little or no improvement in sleep apnea severity.

“The results were the best of our expectations,” carnro-Brearerah said. She and her colleagues are now recruiting 500 women with sleep apnea for a larger, follow-up study.

Improvements without losing weight

Carreno-Barrera noted that even people who didn’t lose a lot of weight on the lifestyle program saw a reduction in the severity of their sleep apnea.

There may be many reasons for this. Sleep apnea connected with To chronic high inflammation. But a healthy diet and exercise can reduce the amount of stimulants circulating in your bloodstream, says Susan Redline, MD, a senior physician at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and professor of sleep medicine at Harvard Medical School. Who studied Diet and his Relationship with sleep apnea.

Research shows that different foods can work. In a recent studyObese men and women in a group improved sleep apnea and experienced insomnia and daytime sleepiness following a Mediterranean diet rich in fish, whole grains, plants, and unsaturated fats. The study found that the participants lost weight, but saw improvements in their sleep apnea.

A randomized trial Published in July A Paleo diet rich in lean meats, fish, eggs, fruits, vegetables, berries, nuts, avocados, and olive oil has helped obese women lose weight and reduce the severity of sleep apnea. The diet they follow limits dairy products, grains and foods with added salt or sugar, and fats such as corn and soybean oil.

Reducing how much alcohol you drink in the evening can improve your sleep because alcohol reduces muscle tone in the throat, making your airway more likely to collapse while you sleep. A meta-analysis Heavy alcohol consumption increased the risk of developing sleep apnea by 25 percent.

Studies show Regular exercise can ease the symptoms of sleep apnea because it prevents fluid from pooling in your neck and narrowing your airways at night.

So how do you know if you have sleep apnea? Some telltale signs are loud snoring, sudden awakenings at night, and waking up in the morning with a dry mouth, sore throat, or headache. If you have a bed partner, you may notice breathing or choking in your sleep. Fatigue, irritability and daytime sleepiness are also common symptoms.

If you suspect you have sleep apnea, talk to a doctor or sleep medicine specialist. They may schedule you for a sleep test that can be done at home or in a lab. “Unfortunately, untreated sleep apnea is very common in the general population,” Redline said.

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