If you’re like most Americans, your New Year’s resolution is probably a variation on going on a diet, losing weight, or living healthier. For people with sleep apnea, this is more than just self improvement. It may be self-preservation. Sleep apnea is a life-threatening condition, and lifestyle changes can literally mean the difference between life and death.
But how do you choose the right diet for reducing your sleep apnea? One diet has scientific proof that it can help with sleep apnea, but that doesn’t mean it’s the best choice for you.
The Mediterranean Diet Has Scientific Backing
When heart doctors are asked to rate the healthiest diet, they consistently recommend the Mediterranean diet. It has a lot of benefits: it’s popular, easy to implement, and doesn’t require you to buy books or special meals, so it’s relatively inexpensive. It’s also effective for weight loss and heart health. And it’s the only diet that’s been specifically shown to help with sleep apnea control.
In the supporting study, sleep apnea sufferers were divided into two groups. Both groups were told to exercise, were prescribed CPAP, and were told to follow a diet. One diet was a generic “prudent diet,” which is high in fruits, vegetables, legumes, and poultry. The other group was told to follow the Mediterranean diet. People who were on the Mediterranean diet saw more improvement in their sleep apnea–as well as greater reductions in their waist circumference.
Although just one study, it’s the only evidence we have that one diet might be better for sleep apnea than others.
The True Best Diet for You
Although the Mediterranean diet comes highly recommended and has this one study in support of it, that’s not a guarantee that it’s the best diet for you (or your sleep apnea). There are many factors to consider. First, although most people find the diet easy to follow, not everyone does. And second, it’s important to be cautious about the alcohol (wine) that’s considered a normal part of the diet. One or at most two glasses of wine with dinner is reasonable, but more than that can interfere with your sleep and actually worsen your sleep apnea.
But the best diet for you is the one that you’ll actually stick to. Finding that diet may take a few iterations, and it might require the use of external support, either in the form of a professional group or just informal support from family and friends.
Sometimes Sleep Apnea Treatment Must Come First
However, if you have sleep apnea, you have to remember that you have the cards stacked against you for dieting, exercise, and weight loss. Poor sleep can make it hard to stick to a diet, and can make it even harder to lose weight. With poor sleep, you’re more likely to crave sweets, snack unconsciously, rely on caffeinated drinks, and more likely to store calories as fat. This can make it hard to be successful with any diet or weight loss.
But treating sleep apnea first can give you a significant boost to your efforts. With better sleep, you’ll be able to control your temptations and will be less likely to rely on caffeine drinks in the afternoon.
If you are looking for the health benefits that come with sleep apnea treatment, we can help. Please call (402) 493-4175 today for an appointment with an Omaha sleep dentist at the Advanced Dental Sleep Treatment Center.