What You Eat, May Affect How You Sleep

If you are suffering from Obstructive Sleep Apnea, what you eat can either alleviate or worsen the symptoms you endure. Here are a few “To Eat or Not to Eat” diet options that sleep apnea dentists say will either reduce or increase your OSA symptoms.

What To Eat

In addition to the sleep apnea treatment your doctor prescribes you, adding Omega 3 fatty acids (EPA, DHA, ALA) to your diet can help treat your OSA symptoms as well. Omega 3s are not naturally produced by your body. These essential fats can only be added to your body by food or supplement consumption.

  • Fish that are rich in EPA and DHA include: Anchovies, Tuna, Sardines, Salmon & Bluefish

Researchers say consuming fish may boost your sleep quality, help you fall asleep more quickly, and improve your daytime performance. The DHA in these types of fish stimulates melatonin which is the key hormone that prepares the body for sleep. Research has also shown that people with low levels of DHA are associated with a greater severity of OSA.

Daily consumption of these Omega 3s can also minimize inflammation which may help to improve cardiovascular problems in people with Obstructive Sleep Apnea. It’s imperative to know that cardiovascular disease is a serious risk associated with OSA and sudden death of OSA. Try to consume at least 250-500mg of Omega 3s a day to get its anti-inflammatory benefits and its OSA-symptom-reducing -abilities.

These types of fatty fishes are also a good source of Vitamin D. Recent studies have linked Vitamin D deficiency to abnormal sleep patterns.

  • Turkey is loaded with tryptophan, which is an amino acid that turns into the neurotransmitter serotonin and eventually converts into melatonin. Tryptophan is present in a lot of foods, including poultry, seafood, beans and nuts, veggies and even grains – including wheat, barley, oats, and rice.
  • Cherries, Fruits, Veggies, Nuts, Seeds and some Oils such as: Flaxseed, Chia seeds, Walnuts, Soybeans and Canola Oils are rich in ALA and melatonin. Other melatonin rich foods include: corn, asparagus, tomatoes, pomegranate, grapes, broccoli, olives and cucumbers all have noticeable amounts of melatonin.

…Or Not to Eat

There are many foods out there that can worsen your OSA and its symptoms. Bananas, Dairy-Foods and Fatty meats are just a few examples.

  • Bananas: This fruit can increase mucus and phlegm production which can cause breathing problems and snoring. If you have been recently diagnosed with OSA it is best to try eliminating bananas from your diet for a month or so just to ensure that it is not the fruit that is influencing to your symptoms.
  • Dairy-Foods: Ice cream, whole milk and heavy cheese can also lead to mucus production as well as weight gain, and heart issues connected to OSA.
  • Fatty Meats: Steer clear of burgers, bacon, pork chops, lamb, sausage and steaks. They each cause inflammation in the body and as already mentioned puts you at a higher risk of having heart issues.

Although what you eat is just a small fragment of your overall sleep apnea treatment; Not avoiding these foods can delay your progress and increase your OSA symptoms. Small changes in your diet can help improve your overall health. Incorporating the “To Eat foods” above will not only help you with your sleep apnea symptoms but decrease your chances of being at risk of a heart attack, stroke and death from heart disease. As with any major diet change, make sure you have a discussion with your primary care physician first.

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