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A Plant-Based Approach to Managing Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA)

A Plant-Based Approach to Managing Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA)

Sleep Apnea has become a widespread issue nowadays, disturbing your health and wellness. Not only is your sleep quality affected, but it also has a substantial impact on your day-to-day routine lives. Several different factors cause sleep Apnea. Yet many people fall short of words when advised to see a sleep apnea dentist. You’d be surprised to know that your oral cavity has a direct relation to your sleeping patterns. In addition, the actual design of your oral cavity can dictate how you breathe with it. Both of these practices play an essential role in OSA.¹. Let’s start by covering the basics of Sleep Apnea or OSA before we jump to any conclusions.

What’s Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA)?

Obstructive sleep apnea, shortly termed OSA, is a sleeping disorder in which patients experience a breathing blockage in their upper respiratory tract. The smooth muscles of your respiratory tract are supposed to work effectively no matter if you’re sleeping or awake. But during sleep apnea, the muscles undergo a repetitive collapse. Due to unnecessary muscle relaxation, the airway passage narrows down, causing you to experience force breathing.² Sometimes, the muscle lapse is momentary, and people don’t pay much attention to it. While some patients suffer a continuous or recurrent apneic episode of OSA in which their breathing airflow repeatedly stops multiple times throughout the night.¹

Causes of Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA)

OSA has been growing to manifest more and more people’s sleep every day, developing a the common concern of unhealthy sleep routines. Research has shown that OSA can be caused by several factors, including your age and gender playing a significant role.¹ Males and older adults are more prone to get affected by OSA, but it is not limited. Women and Children may also experience apneic episodes depending upon the following reasons:³

• Obesity/Malnutrition
• Hypoventilation syndrome
• Disturbed Endocrine Hormones
• Thyroid issues, i.e., hypothyroidism
• Acromegaly
• Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)
• Pulmonary fibrosis
• Neuromuscular conditions
• Kidney failure
• Heart Problems
• Pregnancy/Menopause
• Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (POS)³

Symptoms that You Have Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA)

If you’re someone who has just started to experience difficulty breathing or excessive snoring, you may have OSA. It’s time that you start looking for other symptoms to confirm your hunch. Snoring is a prevalent symptom that is very easily and quickly noticeable. Some of the other OSA symptoms may include:

• Gasping for air
• Choking middle of the night
• Snorting
• Feeling breathing interruptions while sleeping.
• Multiple sleep breaks
• Slight headache after waking up
• Bad/Grumpy moods
• Usual drowsiness
• Heavy head or forgetfulness
• Worsening Depression
• Lack of concentration
• Poor working performance
• Sometimes, loss of libido as well.¹

Complications or Risk Factors of OSA

Since obstructive sleep apnea is caused by blocking your airway passage, it’s not a good sign. The reduced breathing capability or ongoing recurrent airway blockage may hurt your respiration in the long run. Starting merely from snoring, it may worsen and pose a severe threat to your chronic health. The complications arising from OSA can vary as under:

• Improper rest
• Daytime drowsiness
• Heavy head/Severe headache
• Dull mood
• Sluggish attitude
• High B.P.
• Disruptive cognitive function
• Disturbed glucose levels
• Anxious behavior
• Cardiovascular diseases (CVD)
• In severe cases, OSA may lead to impotence and loss of libido.
• If sleep apnea remains untreated, it may prove to be fatal at the end involving other complications.⁵

Treatment of Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA)

Since OSA is not caused by any specific disease but a few different lifestyle choices, it can be treated by changing some life patterns, undergoing surgery, or using dental sleep medicine. Sleep apnea dentist suggests that the most effective form of treatment is the use best oral appliance for sleep apnea.⁶

Here is a list of available treatment options for OSA.

1, Weight loss

weight loss
Since obesity and obesity-related hyper-ventilation disease is the leading causative factor of OSA, weight loss seems like the wise option. Plus, losing some extra pounds that put your health at risk is never a wrong choice. A little work on your health by following a proper weight management protocol and doing some practical weight-reducing exercises helps treat sleep apnea issues.⁴

2, Using Mandibular Repositioning Appliances (MAD)

sleep apnea appliance
Mad’s are the oral appliances used for treating OSA. MAD devices are an advanced type of dental sleep medicine that focuses on unblocking the airway passage. Oral appliances effectively treat various breathing issues to cure obstructive sleep apnea (OSA).⁹ It works by temporarily moving the jaw and tongue forward, reducing throat constriction, and preventing sleep apnea and snoring. Moving the tongue forward increases airway space. Several different oral appliances are available, varying in design and function. They’re reliable and effortless to use. Mandibular advancement device (MAD) is the best dental appliance for sleep apnea, as recommended by a sleep apnea dentist.⁹

3, Positive Airway Pressure Therapy

Another form of OSA treatment effectively uses positive airway pressure to unblock the respiratory passage. Positive airway pressure therapy is done by several methods, including continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) or Bilevel positive airway pressure (BPAP). The therapy involves wearing a face mask during sleeping that helps to deliver the necessary amount of air required for normal breathing. CPAP therapy proves to be very effective, but it is not suitable for long-term use because of poor patient compliance.⁷ As for the Bilevel positive airway pressure (BPAP), therapy works on the exact mechanism, with the only difference being variable air pressure for inhalation and exhalation. The BPAP machines can deliver air pressure as per your breathing rate.⁷

4, Surgery

surgery for osa
When nothing works out, the last option that remains is to perform surgery. OSA patients who fail to find relief with either PAP therapies or dental sleep medicine are left with nothing but surgery options. Surgery can correct the narrow airway by removing the obstructing lesion in the upper respiratory tract. Sometimes enlarged tonsils or adenoids need to be removed surgically by an ENT physician. So that the breathable rate can go back to its usual pace allowing the patient to sleep peacefully during the night.¹⁰ Although surgical procedures are used to treat OSA, many healthcare physicians do not recommend it, including your sleep apnea dentist. Due to the long list of complications and risks involved in surgical procedures, many doctors recommend using dental sleep medicine rather than surgeries.

Plant-Based Remedies for Managing Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA)

Obstructive Sleep Apnea or OSA is a condition that can be treated at home. Following a few old-school concepts of using herbal remedies, a plant-based approach helps manage OSA in the long run. Whether you’re suffering a form of OSA or you’re having severe recurrent apneic episodes, a few diet changes can help you treat your condition at home.⁴ Although it’s a great way to keep your health in check, losing weight is the key to treating OSA. Even plant-based diet work by reducing weight by controlling your diet. Natural food resources are used, and processed food items must be avoided.⁸

1, Fruits and Vegetables

plant-based diet
Eating a diet rich in fruits and veggies is an excellent start for treating OSA. It’s not a surprise the fruits are a great source of healthy fibers and essential vitamins that help to boost your metabolic digestion and keep your body fit. While vegetables rich in minerals and easily-digestible carbs have low caloric content. Therefore, both fruits and vegetables don’t pose a threat to your weight and thus, are considered ideal diet options.⁸

2, Plant-based oils:

plant-based oils
Don’t forget to intake valuable plant-based oils as they’re essential for hydration and keeping low cholesterol. Unfortunately, using saturated fats can cause fat deposition leading to airway obstruction. Still, plant-based unsaturated fats (edible oils) such as coconut, canola, sunflowers, or olive oil helps to keep your body fat-free and healthy. ⁸ Anyway you slice it, oils have the highest caloric density of any food and should be restricted to initiate weight loss.

3, Grains and Cereals

grains and legumes
Whole grains and cereals such as brown rice, maize, corn, pearled barley, and the good oldfashioned oats are perfect for health. Mix your diet with more citrus fruits, legumes, dry fruits, and cereals like pulses, corn, or maize. These nutrients can give you more energy and low-fat content, so you’re less likely to develop airway obstruction.⁸ Note: Things You Should Avoid in OSA Try avoiding greater fat content such as dairy products including poultry items, cream, whole milk, or cheese. Also, avoid beef or pork and replace it with fish because it is easy to digest.⁹Try not to consume caffeine or alcohol.


Obstructive Sleep Apnea is the ultimate result of your respiratory pathway being affected by your poor life choices. OSA in itself is a symptom that indicates it’s high time you start paying attention to your diet. Therefore, your primary focus should lower your fat intake and reduce your weight. Meanwhile, you can treat the ongoing sleep apnea issues by using dental sleep medicine and other available options such as the MAD. For long-term OSA treatment, it’s best to make some healthy lifestyle changes starting from opting for a healthy diet based on plant-based food regimens good for inducing weight loss with a sleep apnea dentist near me.

1. WP Potsic et al. 1989 Dec. Obstructive sleep apnea, Pediatr Clin North Am, 1989 Dec;36(6):1435-42. DOI: 10.1016/s0031-3955(16)36798-0
2. Wojciech Kukwa et al., 2015, Obstructive sleep apnea and cancer: effects of intermittent hypoxia?, Future Oncol. 2015;11(24):3285-98, DOI: 10.2217/fon.15.216. Epub 2015 Nov 12
3. Frank Ralls et al. 2019 Nov. A contemporary review of obstructive sleep apnea, Curr Opin Pulm Med. 2019 Nov;25(6):578-593. DOI: 10.1097/MCP.0000000000000623
4. Anna Mohammadieh et al. I. 2017 Nov. Sleep-disordered breathing: management update, Intern Med J. 2017 Nov;47(11):1241-1247. DOI: 10.1111/imj.13606
5. Bhavesh Mehta et al. 2020 Apr. Sleep-disordered breathing (SDB) in neonates and implications for its long-term impact, Paediatr Respir Rev. 2020 Apr;34:3-8. DOI: 10.1016/j.prrv.2019.10.003. Epub 2019 Oct 30
6. D W Hugel. J Fam Pract. 1981 June, Diagnosis and therapy of sleep apnea, Jun;12(6):1001-7
7. Jessie P Bakker et al. 2019 June, Adherence to CPAP: What Should We Be Aiming For, and How Can We Get Their Chest. 2019 Jun;155(6):1272-1287. DOI: 10.1016/j.chest.2019.01.012. Epub 2019 Jan 23.
8. Eur Respir Rev. et al, 2017 Aug 17. 2017 June 30; 26(144): 160110. doi: 10.1183/16000617.0110-2016
9. Francis Emma Verburg et al. 2018 Jun. The effectiveness of two types of MADS for OSA therapy, Clin Oral Investig. 2018 Jun;22(5):1995-2003. DOI: 10.1007/s00784-017-2290-0. Epub 2017 Dec 6.
10. David F Smith et al. Surgical management of OSA in adults. 2015 Jun. Chest. 2015,Jun;147(6):1681-1690. DOI: 10.1378/chest.14-2078

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