New Study: Mediterranean Diet and Exercise Eases Sleep Apnea Symptoms
Eating a Mediterranean diet, in addition to exercising regularly, can help improve sleep apnea symptoms, according to a new study by the University of Crete in Greece.
The study looked at obese people with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), and the impact a Mediterranean diet had on them, compared to a prudent diet. For the study, half of the patients (20) were asked to eat a prudent diet — one rich in vegetables, fruit, fish and poultry, and low in total fat, saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol and sodium.
The other 20 patients were put on a Mediterranean diet. The Mediterranean diet is named for the foods grown in the region, and are popular among its inhabitants. The diet emphasizes eating fish and poultry at least twice a week, and limiting red meat to no more than a few times a month. The Mediterranean diet also recommends eating fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes and nuts, and replacing butter with olive oil and canola oil, using herbs and spices instead of salt and drinking red wine in moderation, in addition to plenty of exercise. Both groups were also asked to increase their daily exercise by walking at least 30 minutes a day.
In addition, all the patients also received continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) therapy. CPAP, is a treatment that uses mild air pressure to keep the breathing passages open. The mild pressure from CPAP can prevent airways from collapsing or blocking, thus reducing or eliminating snoring and frequent waking during the night.
The patients were monitored while sleeping, and underwent polysomnography — a process that monitors OSA behavior and symptoms, including electrical brain activity , eye movements and snoring. The patients were examined at the start of the study and again six months later.
Results of the Study
The results of the study showed that the patients following the Mediterranean diet had a reduced number of sleep disturbances during the REM (rapid eye movement) sleep. The researchers also noted that the patients who ate a Mediterranean diet were better able to adhere to the restricted-calorie diet, showed an increase in regular physical activity and a greater decrease in abdominal fat.
While this is the first study that has examined the impact of a Mediterranean and exercise on OSA symptoms and behavior, the researchers feel more studies are needed with a larger sample of patients to more fully understand the benefits of this diet and its clinical significance — especially taking into account the anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties of a Mediterranean diet.
Read the full study, “Effect of Mediterranean Diet vs. Prudent Diet Combined with Physical Activity on OSAS: A Randomised Trial.”
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