A new study that was published in the American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine has found that processed meat and other animal-based foods can exacerbate the symptoms of obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA).
The NHS website describes OSA as “a relatively common condition where the walls of the throat relax and narrow during sleep, interrupting normal breathing. This may lead to regularly interrupted sleep, which can have a big impact on quality of life and increases the risk of developing certain conditions.”
Researchers found that people with OSA that had diets high in fat, with a high processed meat and dairy consumption had worse symptoms than those with low fat diets who ate less processed meat and dairy.
However, it is believed that a more plant based diet can help with better sleep, regardless of if you have sleep apnoea. Dr Neal Barnard, president of the Physician’s Committee for Responsible Medicine, said: “What makes plant based foods so beneficial for sleep? Complex carbohydrates stimulate the release of serotonin – a neurotransmitter that calms your brain and helps you sleep. So building your dinner around starchy foods, like pasta, rice, and potatoes, will help you doze off and stay asleep through the night.
“High-protein plant based foods, like tofu, beans, and lentils, are very nutritious. But if you’re having trouble sleeping, try eating these foods earlier in the day. You’ll feel more alert during the day while favouring carbohydrates later on can help you rest at night.”