Plant-based diet may help you stop snoring research shows

A healthy plant-based diet can stop people from snoring, according to a new study.

People who eat minimally processed vegan and vegetarian food are less likely to suffer from dangerous obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA). 

People with OSA often snore loudly, their breathing stops during the night, and they may wake up several times during the night. As a result they often feel tired on the next day. Doctors say OSA can also increase the risk of high blood pressure, stroke, heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

The researchers from Flinders University in Australia conducted one of the first large scale analysis of the link between plant-based diets and apnoea risk.

The research team found that a diet high in vegetables, fruits, nuts, dried fruits, seeds and whole grains may help reduce the symptoms of OSA. 

The study included data on 14,210 people who were taking part in the U.S. National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. Participants were asked to explain everything they had eaten over the last 24 hours.

The study participants were asked to explain everything they had eaten over the last 24 hours. The research team analysed this information according to whether people were eating a healthy plant-based diet (diet that includes vegetables, fruits, whole grains, nuts, legumes, tea and coffee) or a diet high in animal-based foods like meat and dairy. They also analysed if the participants were eating unhealthy plant-based foods made with added sugar, refined grains, rich in salt and fats. 

Researchers concluded that people with diets highest in healthy plant-based food were 19 per cent less likely to be suffering with OSA, compared with those eating diets lowest in plant-based food. Those eating a mainly vegetarian diet were also seen to be at a lower risk, while unhealthy diets increased the risk of OSA. 

Not all the plant-based diets are equal. People eating an unhealthy plant-based diet, high in refined carbohydrates, soft drinks packed with sugar, sweets, and high-salt foods, are also at a 22% higher risk of OSA, compared to those eating less of these foods.

The research was led by Dr. Yohannes Melaku from Flinders University in Adelaide, Australia was published on February 20th in ERJ Open Research

Dr. Melaku said: "Risk factors for obstructive sleep apnea may stem from genetics or behavior, including diet. Previous research has primarily focused on the impact of calorie restriction, specific dietary elements and weight loss. There's a gap in our knowledge of how overall dietary patterns affect OSA risk.

"With this study, we wanted to address that gap and explore the association between different types of plant-based diets and the risk of OSA."

The researchers also found differences in the risks for women and men. Healthy plant-based diet had a strongly related with OSA risk for men and the unhealthy plan-based diet had a bigger increase on OSA risk for women.

Dr. Melaku added: "These results highlight the importance of the quality of our diet in managing the risk of OSA. It's important to note these sex differences because they underscore the need for personalized dietary interventions for people with OSA.

"This research doesn't tell us why diet is important, but it could be that a healthy plant-based diet reduces inflammation and obesity. These are key factors in OSA risk. Diets rich in anti-inflammatory components and antioxidants, and low in harmful dietary elements, can influence fat mass, inflammation, and even muscle tone, all of which are relevant to OSA risk."

The researchers are now planning to investigate the link between eating ultra-processed food and OSA risk over the longer term.


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