Eating a Mediterranean diet combined with physical activity can help to improve some of the symptoms of sleep apnea, according to new research.
The study, which is published online in the European Respiratory Journal, looked at the impact a Mediterranean diet can have on obese people with sleep apnea, compared to those on a prudent diet.
The researchers, from the University of Crete in Greece, examined 40 obese patients suffering from OSAS. Twenty patients were given a prudent diet to follow, while the other 20 followed a Mediterranean diet. Both groups were also encouraged to increase their physical activity, mainly involving walking for at least 30 minutes each day. In both groups, the patients also received continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) therapy.
The researchers monitored the patients using polysomnography. The patients were examined at the start of the study and again 6 months later.
The results showed that people following the Mediterranean diet had a reduced number of apneas during the rapid eye movement (REM) stage of sleep.
The findings also revealed that people following the Mediterranean diet showed a greater adherence to the calorie restricted diet, an increase in physical activity, and a greater decrease in abdominal fat.
The results of this small sample did show an improvement during one stage of sleep for people with sleep apnea; however, it did not show an overall improvement in severity of the condition. The authors suggest that further studies in a larger sample are required to fully understand the benefits of this diet.