Sleep apnea is a condition that affects over 22 million Americans, depriving them of the full benefits of nightly rest. In many cases, making the right lifestyle changes helps to overcome the condition. If you’re suffering from sleep apnea, the foods you’re eating could be making matters worse. Here are 4 items you should avoid, along with some better alternatives.
#1 – Bananas
Typically, fruits are considered to be sleep apnea friendly. However, bananas are the exception. They can increase mucus production, which can make it harder to breathe while you sleep. The softer, overly ripe bananas are especially problematic.
#2 – High-Fat Dairy Products
The primary issue with high-fat dairy products is that they tend to contribute to weight gain and fat storage. Obesity was one of the leading catalysts of sleep apnea, so it’s best to avoid items like heavy crème, whole milk, cheddar cheese and butter.
#3 – High-Fat Meats
Certain meats are higher in fat and could worsen sleep apnea symptoms. Thus, beef, pork and fried chicken and fish should be eaten sparingly. When not fried, fish is a healthy option, full of fat-reducing Omega-3 acids.
#4 – Refined Carbohydrates
You’ll find an abundance of sugar in refined carbohydrates (found in certain types of bread and other processed foods). In addition to compromising your dental health, foods in this category can lead to weight gain and exacerbate any struggles with sleep apnea.
Making Better Choices
If you’re dealing with sleep apnea, eating the right foods can help to prevent mucus buildup. It will also aid in controlling your weight. This is important because obesity translates into increased neck girth, which can make it harder to breathe at night.
Here are some healthier alternatives:
- Fruits and vegetables – Instead of snacking on cookies and candy, fruits and vegetables provide a delicious jolt to your tastebuds without compromising your health and encouraging weight gain.
- Low-fat dairy products – You can replace high-fat dairy products with such items as skim or low-fat milk and part-skim mozzarella cheese.
- Plant-based oils – In addition to expanding your waistline, saturated fats aren’t considered to be heart-health friendly. You can replace unhealthy options like butter and margarine with olive oil.
- Whole grains – Like fruits and vegetables, whole grains are rich in nutrients and fiber. They leave you satiated and healthier, while still fulfilling a desire for carbohydrates.
The Importance of Seeking Treatment
While making better diet choices certainly helps with recovering from sleep apnea, it’s not enough on its own. To be on the safe side, you still need to be treated by a sleep dentist. The combination of healthy eating and professional care will ensure you more restful nights and improved total wellness.
About the Author
Dr. Keith Hollinger earned his dental degree from Tufts University. For over 23 years, he has provided exceptional dental care. Dr. Hollinger has received advanced training in sleep treatment and sleep disorders, and he maintains membership with the American Academy of Sleep Medicine. He helps patients rest better at his private practice, and he can be reached for more information or to schedule a visit through his website.