Dietary Advice For Sleep Apnea Patients

Sleep apnea is a common and significant sleep disorder that causes patients to suddenly stop breathing while they are sleeping and start again. Many individuals who snore have sleep apnea. The condition can lead to fatigue even when a patient has slept for eight hours. Obstructive sleep apnea happens when an individual's throat muscles become relaxed. Central apnea happens when there is a problem with an individual's central nervous system that keeps their brain from telling their muscles to breathe.

There is a variety of ways to treat sleep apnea. CPAP for central sleep apnea seems to be quite popular. Obstructive sleep apnea remedies include these machines as well. Some individuals also want to treat sleep apnea with no CPAP machine. This is something that they have to discuss with a doctor. Sleep apnea natural remedies also include making smart choices when it comes to a diet for sleep apnea. Understanding them is key.

Unsaturated Plant-Based Oils

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Many sleep apnea patients are overweight, and losing weight is often one of the first treatments recommended. Individuals who are overweight tend to have extra tissue in the back of their throats, which can collapse in their sleep and obstruct their breathing. Individuals with sleep apnea can use plant-based oils as a way of reducing the saturated fat in their diet. They are a decent substitute when a recipe calls for margarine or butter. These oils are high in unsaturated fats that add the same texture and nutritional components to an individual's diet. However, they lack the unhealthy aspects of saturated fats. 

Some of the best plant-based oils to use as substitutions are olive, sunflower, safflower, flaxseed, and canola oil. There is a decent chance that individuals have some of these in their pantry already. Thus, they should already be ready to add them to meals. Individuals can use the oils as they cook dishes, or use them to add flavor and texture to salads.

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Low-Fat Dairy Products

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Dairy products low in fat are another great choice for sleep apnea patients. There are many benefits to eating dairy products, especially if individuals do not eat much meat. However, the fat content in dairy products can lead to issues with cholesterol and weight. If sleep apnea patients are taking in too much fat, their symptoms may worsen. Many doctors recommend switching to low-fat products instead of getting whole milk or heavy cream. They do not, however, tend to recommend cutting dairy out entirely. This is because dairy is a valuable source of calcium, vitamin D, and protein.

If individuals are cutting back on meats and other high-calorie foods, it is more vital than ever to ensure that they have enough protein in their diet. Another benefit of dairy products is that many of them increase satiation. Thus, individuals should feel fuller having coffee with milk or drinking a glass of milk with dinner than if they cut out dairy products entirely.

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Whole Grains

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Whole grains are often recommended as part of a healthy sleep apnea diet. The ones that work best will vary depending on individual needs. Brown rice is a popular diet staple in dozens of countries all over the world. It provides significant energy and nourishment, and it can often be bought in bulk for a low price. If individuals are shopping on a budget, brown rice and whole-wheat pasta are some of the best meal staples. 

Whole grains are filled with fiber. This helps regulate the digestive system. They also have many other nutrients that provide energy and keep the body working properly. Oats are an old-fashioned grain that is still popular today, especially in breakfast cereals. One benefit of oats is that they have a soluble fiber called beta-glucan. This fiber has additional health benefits on top of regulating digestion.

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Fruits And Vegetables

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A diet that is rich in fruits and vegetables is healthy for almost everyone it seems, including individuals with sleep apnea. Fruits and vegetables are high in nutrition, high in fiber, and low in calories. They are highly recommended for individuals who are trying to lose weight. Eating fruits and vegetables is an excellent method for individuals to take in many of the nutrients that the body requires to function on a daily basis. The large amount of fiber in these ingredients helps individuals feel fuller for longer periods of time. Since individuals feel full, they have a lower likelihood of overeating. 

If individuals have trouble digesting foods with high fiber content, it is best to start with soft fruits and cooked vegetables. These are easier on the digestive system because they have less harsh plant matter to break down. As an individual's body gets used to the new foods, they can slowly begin introducing more fiber-dense foods.

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Seafood

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Seafood may be helpful for individuals with sleep apnea. The omega-3 fatty acids in fish have surprising benefits for sleep. Even though they do not stop the apnea itself, they may help individuals feel more refreshed after a full eight hours of rest. Individuals have to get omega-3 fatty acids from their diet because their body does not produce them itself. The inflammation-fighting benefits of omega-3s are key for obstructive sleep apnea patients. Researchers have found that when individuals have low omega-3 levels, their sleep apnea tends to be more severe. More research is being conducted to determine precisely how omega-3 fatty acids affect sleep apnea symptoms and if an omega-3 deficiency might add to the condition's onset.

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    Katherine MacAulay