Nutrition and Sleep Apnea

At Duke Sleep Wellness, there are many methods to deal with sleep apnea: Oral Appliance Therapy, Myofunctional Therapy, and CPAP Machines. All of which involve the medical knowledge of a doctor, but what can a patient do to assist in the treatment?
One attribution to sleep apnea can be a patient’s weight and doctor’s often recommend losing weight in order to treat the disorder. That is all well and good, but how? Exercise is helpful and a great way to stay in shape although it is surprising to find that what is put into one’s body has a bigger impact on weight than the amount of physical activity.
Before exploring this particular area, it should be noted to consult a nutrition specialist or physician before making any drastic changes to your diet.
How can weight be lost through nutrition? Here are some ways to shed a few pounds in conjunction with sleep apnea treatment:

  1. Drink water – Many drinks, diet or not, have sugar and other ingredients that contribute to obesity. Water does not contain the ingredients above and has many other benefits as well. Eight cups of eight ounces of water a day is recommended; more if you are physically active. Drinking water first thing in the morning kickstarts your metabolism which can help with fat loss (Tip: add cucumbers to your water to provide flavor and electrolytes).
  2. Control your caffeine – A lot of people will say that drinking coffee black is not exciting or tasty, but adding sugar and milk is not doing you favors in the long run. Just like in category one, above, you want to limit the amount of sugar and extra ingredients in your drinks. If you want to provide some flavor to your cup of morning joe, try putting cinnamon in with the grounds or in the cup. Other additives that are worth looking into are grass-fed butter and coconut oil. The fats in both are enough to satiate hunger and great alternatives for creamer, milk, or sugar.
  3. Snack healthily – Most times, limiting meals to breakfast, lunch, and dinner are ideal. The idea of small meals throughout the day are scientifically unfounded. However, if you can’t wait for the next meal, try to stick with snacks like almonds or carrots instead of those Peanut M&M’s in the commissary. Food with high fiber content can quell the hunger pangs.
  4. Foodlog – Keep track of what you eat throughout your days. Note which foods make you feel good or bad. By maintaining the good foods in your daily diet and regulating the bad ones, you will notice a physical difference in how you feel. The old adage that “We are what we eat” is not far off.

Like many health issues in life, there is no one miracle that fixes everything. Often times, solutions require the involvement of both the doctor and the patient. To start on the path of wellness, schedule an appointment with Duke Wellness for an initial consultation and nutrition advice.

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