Feedback from TappMD Expert
Erin Palinski, RD, CDE, LDN Sleep Apnea
Sleep apnea is a dangerous disease that causes the airway to collapse while asleep. A new study shows that changing your lifestyle by adding exercise and eating a healthier diet can reduce the progression of the disease. Weight loss can be the leading treatment for sleep apnea because of these benefits. Try incorporating more whole grains less saturated fat, and more greens in your diet to prevent the progression of sleep apnea.
Losing weight through exercise and healthier eating may have long-term benefits for people with mild sleep apnea, a new study suggests.
Researchers found obese study participants who went through a one-year lifestyle intervention were about half as likely to see their sleep apnea progress to more severe disease, compared to those who received little extra help.
People who have sleep apnea stop breathing for short spurts when their airway collapses or gets blocked while they’re asleep. The condition is most common among heavy, middle-aged adults and in its advanced form has been tied to a range of cardiovascular problems.
“It usually takes at least a few years to progress from mild disease to the more severe disease, and mostly it’s due to weight gain,” said Dr. Henri Tuomilehto, who led the new study at the Oivauni Sleep Clinic in Kuopio, Finland.
“With these results, we can say that if we change our lifestyle… we really can stop the progression of sleep apnea,” he said. But, “Nobody has really paid any attention to preventing the progression.”
Tuomilehto and his colleagues randomly assigned 81 obese adults with mild sleep apnea to a one-year intervention, which started with a very low-calorie meal plan and included diet and exercise counseling, or to a comparison group that received only a few general diet and physical activity information sessions.
That study initially showed health benefits tied to the intervention, Tuomilehto said. But whether the effects would persist after the program had ended was unclear.
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