Mediterranean diet combined with physical activity can help reduce symptoms of sleep apnea, reveals a new study.
Obstructive sleep apnea syndrome (OSAS) causes frequent pauses of breathing to occur during sleep, which disrupts a person's normal sleeping pattern.
It is one of the most prevalent sleep-related breathing disorders with approximately 2-4percent of the adult population experiencing the condition.
This percentage increases up to 20-40 percent with obesity, and weight loss is often an essential part of the recommended treatment plan.
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, which involves wearing a mask that generates an air stream, keeping the upper airway open during sleep.
The results showed that people following the Mediterranean diet had a reduced number of disturbances, known as apneas, during the rapid eye movement (REM) stage of sleep, which usually accounts for approximately 25percent of total sleep during the night.
The findings also revealed that people following the Mediterranean diet also showed a greater adherence to the calorie restricted diet, an increase in physical activity and a greater decrease in abdominal fat.
The researchers suggested that further studies in a larger sample are required to fully understand the benefits of this diet.
The study has been published online in the European Respiratory Journal.