What is sleep apnea?
Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a condition that causes your upper airways to collapse while you sleep. When the airways open up you are able to breath but when breathing is interrupted it manifests as a loud snore. OSA is a serious problem as the interruptions in breathing wake you during the night and prevent you from having a night of good continuous sleep. This causes tiredness and fatigue throughout the day.
How is metabolic syndrome related to sleep apnea?
When the levels of oxygen in the blood fall, your blood vessels are put under pressure to supply more oxygen through the body. This is what is known as high blood pressure.
Obese patients are nearly twice as likely to suffer from OSA than patients that fall within the normal weight range. OSA is also more common among men than women as they have a greater tendency toward central fat deposition. The correlation between OSA and obesity does not apply only to adults but also to children. In particular, visceral obesity is what is considered an independent risk factor for sleep apnea. Visceral obesity refers to the concentration of fat around the abdomen. This can lead to trouble with breathing due to the increase in fat tissue deposits surrounding the upper airways. Obesity may not just be a cause for sleep apnea but could also be a consequence.
Why is weight loss difficult with OSA?
It can be hard for patients with sleep apnea to lose weight with poor sleep habits and increased fatigue reducing the motivation to exercise and also increasing resistance to leptin. Leptin is the hormone responsible for controlling appetite. This, along with fatigue contributes to poor food choices, increased calorie intake and hence, weight gain.
Can diet changes help with sleep apnea?
There is no specific diet that can help with OSA but positive lifestyle changes can help manage it. An example of a lifestyle change is reducing alcohol intake. Alcohol is a contributor to sleep apnea as it relaxes your throat muscles causing obstructions in the airways. Another positive lifestyle change is to cease or decrease smoking as smoking causes swelling of the airways.
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This article was written by our dietitian and nutritionist Juhi Bhambhaney. If you have any questions regarding health and nutrition, make an appointment with one of our dietitians. We‘ll provide you with a simple and effective routine targeted to your concerns. Contact us today.