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News Dreaming of better sleep? Plant-based eating could help!

Nutrition

Author: Lisa Published: March 12, 2024

Read the full article at The Guardian 21/02/24

Could a plate full of veggies, legumes, and whole grains be the recipe for a better night’s sleep?

Recent research has found that a healthy plant-based diet is associated with about a 19% reduction in the risk of sleep apnoea – potentially life-changing news for the 1 billion people globally who are estimated to be affected by the condition.

The study, published in ERJ Open Research, examined data from 14,210 people and showed that those who ate the most vegetables, fruits, and whole grains were up to 19% less likely to have sleep apnoea compared to those whose diet tended towards animal-based foods, like dairy, eggs, seafood, and meat.

These results highlight the importance of the quality of our diet in managing the risk of obstructive sleep apnoea.

Dr Yohannes Melaku, Flinders University (study leader)

Interestingly, results also showed that a plant-based diet could have a bigger effect in terms of reducing sleep apnoea risk for men compared to women. 

If you or anyone you know experiences sleep apnoea, perhaps this hopeful intel could help you breathe easier – literally! 

Armed with compelling scientific findings like this, as well as nutritional tips and practical advice for transitioning our eating habits, every meal can be a step towards healthier sleep patterns and improved wellbeing. 

(We here at VegKit often hear from people who’ve made the switch to plant-based and feel all the better for it! 🧡)

What is sleep apnoea?

Woman asleep in bed using a CPAP machine to provide therapy for sleep apnoea.

Sleep apnoea is a disruptive sleep condition in which breathing repeatedly stops and starts due to the airways becoming too narrow. Sufferers often snore loudly and wake up gasping or choking due to breathing difficulties. 

You may have heard people joke about how ‘annoying’ sleep apnoea is to live with – whether they suffer from it themselves, or the person they sleep next to does – but the reality is that it can be a very serious disorder, with potentially life-threatening health consequences.

Studies have shown that obstructive sleep apnoea significantly increases the risk of heart failure, arrhythmia, stroke, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, and depression. Treatment of the condition often involves weight loss and other lifestyle changes. 

How does eating plant-based help protect against sleep apnoea?

Vegan lunch salad with kale, baked sweet potato, tofu, buckwheat and avocado in a white bowl.

Dr Yohannes Melaku, who led the study, says the research doesn’t tell us exactly why diet is important – but it could be that incorporating more wholesome plant-foods into our meals helps reduce both inflammation and obesity.

“These are key factors in obstructive sleep apnoea risk. Diets rich in anti-inflammatory components and antioxidants, and low in harmful dietary elements, can influence fat mass, inflammation, and even muscle tone, all of which are relevant to risk.” 

So by embracing a plant-based diet, you’re not only nourishing your body, you’re also potentially reducing the risk of sleep apnoea and other associated conditions, paving the way for more rejuvenating nights and energised days.

Professor Sophia Schiza, head of the European Respiratory Society’s assembly on sleep disordered breathing, underscored this point, while also highlighting the fact that we could all benefit from packing more plant-based goodness into our meals: 

Incorporating a wide variety of vegetables, fruits, and whole grains into our diet – while minimising the consumption of unhealthy foods and sugary drinks – can greatly improve our overall health.

 

Is it any wonder a recent UK study concluded that going vegan could be a powerful preventative health measure? Clearly if there’s one thing we shouldn’t be sleeping on, it’s the all-round benefits of a plant-based diet.

Keen to take charge of your health and enjoy delicious veg meals in the process? 😋 Grab your free Starter Kit today! 

Meet Lisa!

Lisa’s love of food is only trounced by her love of animals. So when she announced she’d gone veg, her Hungarian grandmother exclaimed with exasperation, ‘oh Lisa, I knew this day would come’ … before promptly frying up a plate of cauliflower schnitzels. It turns out – from Goulash to Paprikás to the family’s favourite Hungarian sweet treats – plants really can be the centrepiece of any meal!

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