Go Greek: How a Mediterranean Diet Can Help Your Sleep Apnea

Mediterranean FoodsSome of the oldest written texts ever discovered contain specific guidelines for healthy eating. A compilation of ancient Greek texts known collectively as the Hippocratus Corpus promotes a diet based on the seasons. In the summer, the text recommends a simpler, lighter diet of barley cakes, vegetables and fruit, boiled meat, and watered wine, while a heartier menu of fatty fish, wheat bread, and undiluted wine was best for the winter months. The ancient Greeks must have been on to something since current research suggests that adopting a Mediterranean diet (which features fruits and veggies, whole grains, fish, healthy fats, and, yes, even wine) can reduce your risk for heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and a host of other health problems. New research published in the European Respiratory Journal

suggests that switching to a Mediterranean way of eating can also reduce sleep apnea symptoms.

What Does the Research Say?

The study, conducted by researchers at Greece’s University of Crete, sought to determine how a Mediterranean diet and how a prudent (calorie restricted) diet impacted sleep apnea severity. Forty test subjects were divided into two groups and given a diet to follow. In addition, study participants were instructed to walk at least thirty minutes every day and were prescribed CPAP machines to wear during sleep. Somnographic (sleep study) readings from the beginning of the study and the end of the study revealed some big surprises: not only did the Mediterranean diet group experiences fewer deep sleep disturbances, but they also reported better diet adherence, increased movement throughout the day, and greater fat loss in the abdominal area.
Researchers were excited to find that a Mediterranean diet could play a role in mitigating sleep apnea severity, but insist that further research is needed to determine the nature of diet’s role in treating this serious sleep disorder.

The Role of Clinical Treatment

Weight loss, aided by a combination of healthy diet and plenty of physical activity, can help people with mild sleep apnea experience a reduction and even cessation of the disorder without having to opt for clinical treatment. However, if you have trouble losing weight, have moderate sleep apnea, or suffer from sleep apnea due to an anatomical obstruction, you should seek clinical treatment. While CPAP is one option, your dentist can provide an easy-to-wear oral appliance that repositions the jaw to help you breathe throughout the night.

About Dr. Marco Cueva

Marco Cueva, DDS, MS is a board-certified periodontist with extensive training and experience providing a full range of advanced dental care services, including advanced treatments for obstructive sleep apnea. New patients can schedule an appointment or consultation with Periodontic Excellence at our Allen, TX dental office by calling 972-390-9944.

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