People who follow plant-based diet have lower risk of obstructive sleep apnea: Study

People who consume a plant-based diet rich in vegetables, fruits, whole grains and nuts are less likely to suffer from obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), according to a study published in ERJ Open Research. People who consume an unhealthy plant-based diet rich in refined carbohydrates, sugary drinks, and high-sugar, high-salt foods are more likely to develop OSA. People with OSA often snore loudly, their breathing starts and ends throughout the night, and they may wake up multiple times. This not only causes fatigue, but can also increase the risk of high blood pressure, stroke, heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

The new study is one of the first large-scale analyzes to examine the association between a plant-based diet and OSA risk. The researchers said the findings suggest that eating a healthy, plant-based diet may help prevent or treat OSA. The research was led by Dr. Johannes Melaku of Flinders University in Adelaide, Australia. He added, “Risk factors for obstructive sleep apnea may arise from genetics or behavior, including diet. Previous research has focused primarily on the effects of calorie restriction, specific dietary elements, and weight loss on overall dietary patterns. “There is a gap in our knowledge about how factors influence OSA risk. With this study, we wanted to address that gap and explore the association between different types of plant-based diets and OSA risk.”

The research included data from 14,210 people who were participating in the US National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. Participants were asked to explain everything they had eaten in the previous 24 hours. The researchers categorized this information based on whether people were eating a healthy plant-based diet (including whole grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts, legumes, tea and coffee) or high in animal foods (animal fats, dairy, eggs. , including fish) were eating. or seafood and meat). They also looked at whether people were eating an unhealthy, plant-based diet (including refined grains, potatoes, sugar-sweetened beverages, sweets, desserts, and salty foods).

Participants also answered a questionnaire designed to find out whether they were likely to suffer from OSA. People with diets highest in plant-based foods were 19% less likely to suffer from OSA than those with diets lowest in plant-based foods. Those who ate a largely vegetarian diet also had a lower risk. However, people who consumed high amounts of unhealthy plant-based foods had a 22 percent higher risk than those who ate low amounts of these foods.

The researchers also found differences in risks for women and men, with a plant-based diet having a stronger association with OSA risk for men and an unhealthy plant-based diet leading to a larger increase in risk for women. Dr. Melaku said, “These results highlight the importance of the quality of our diets in managing the risk of OSA. It is important to note these gender differences because they emphasize the need for individualized dietary interventions for people with OSA. “This research doesn’t tell us why diet is important, but it may be that a healthy plant-based diet reduces inflammation and obesity. These are major OSA risk factors. “A diet rich in anti-inflammatory components and antioxidants and low in harmful dietary elements can affect fat mass, inflammation, and even muscle tone, all of which are relevant to OSA risk.”

The researchers now plan to examine the relationship between eating ultra-processed foods and OSA risk in the same group of people. They also intend to study the interaction between diet and OSA risk over the long term. Professor Sophia Schiza, head of the European Respiratory Society’s assembly on sleep-disordered breathing, is based at the University of Crete, Greece, and was not involved in the research. He said, “Obstructive sleep apnea is a frequently occurring condition, and a large number of people remain unaware of its diagnosis despite the associated risks. There are treatments available for OSA, and patients can also take some steps to improve their condition. This includes avoiding smoking, maintaining a healthy weight, and staying physically active.

“The findings of this study suggest that modifying our diet may be beneficial in managing or avoiding OSA. Being aware of how to improve our diet while reducing consumption of unhealthy foods and sugary drinks “Including a variety of vegetables, fruits and whole grains can be greatly beneficial in improving our overall health. We need to make it as easy as possible for everyone to adopt a healthy diet.”

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