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Can a Diet Change Cure my Sleep Apnea?

Daisy Rogozinsky
October 6, 2023


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For sufferers of sleep apnea - over 100 million people worldwide - taking proper care of yourself can be crucial to your health. CPAP machines are a great intervention to help prevent some of the many possible outcomes of sleep apnea including high blood pressure, chronic heart failure, atrial fibrillation, stroke, and other cardiovascular problems. However, using these machines is not the only thing that individuals can do to help their sleep apnea. Diet can also play a factor. 

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If you or a loved one were harmed by a Philips Respironics CPAP or BiPAP machine, you may be entitled to compensation.


In this article, we’ll share what kind of dietary interventions can help with sleep apnea. Please note, however, that we are not medical professionals and these are only suggestions. For any real, personalized medical advice, please speak to a doctor.

What Is Sleep Apnea?

Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder in which one’s breathing repeatedly stops and starts throughout the night. Two signs that you might have sleep apnea are if you snore loudly or if you often feel tired after a full night’s sleep. 

There are three types of sleep apnea.

1. Obstructive sleep apnea

This type of sleep apnea occurs when the throat muscles become relaxed. Factors that increase the risk of OSA include obesity, thicker neck, narrow throat, age, family history, the use of sedatives, smoking, nasal congestion, and certain medical conditions such as:

  • Congestive heart failure
  • High blood pressure
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Parkinson's disease
  • Polycystic ovary syndrome
  • Hormonal disorders
  • Stroke
  • Chronic lung diseases such as asthma

These conditions can lead to the relaxing of the throat or soft palate that leads to the “obstruction” part of OSA, usually caused by the the airway narrowing or tightening and restricting the flow of oxygen.

2. Central sleep apnea

This type of sleep apnea occurs when the brain doesn't send the right signals to the muscles that control breathing. Risk factors include age, heart disorders, narcotic pain medications, and stroke.

3. Complex sleep apnea syndrome

Also called treatment-emergent central sleep apnea, this occurs when someone has both obstructive sleep apnea and central sleep apnea.

Sleep apnea is not always but can be quite serious, leading to complications such as fatigue, high blood pressure, heart problems, type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, isuses with medications and surgery, and liver problems. It can also be quite inconvenient for the partners of sufferers of sleep apnea, who often snore loudly enough to disrupt the sleep of others nearby.

The Link Between Diet and Sleep Apnea

Much of the time, one of the recommended approaches to help treat sleep apnea is dietary modifications. This is largely because being overweight and especially obese are very often associated with sleep apnea. Anybody who is overweight is at risk of sleep apnea, and 40% of overweight men develop it. And, indeed, lifestyle changes that lead to losing weight can help with sleep apnea: a 10%-15% reduction in body weight results in a 30%-50% reduction in sleep apnea severity. 

Further, because sleep apnea is often associated with other conditions such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease, which overweight and obese individuals are at higher risk of, eating a healthier diet can improve one’s overall health in addition to one’s sleep apnea. 

Foods to Avoid

Sleep apnea fatty foods to avoid

Generally speaking, a diet plan that is good for sleep apnea is one that helps prevent risk factors of sleep apnea including cardiovascular disease, acid reflux, heartburn, and increased mucus production, in addition to keeping the weight down. It is recommended to avoid consuming the following:

  • Foods high in saturated fats, such as butter, fatty meat, cured meat, and full-fat dairy products
  • Bananas and high-fat dairy, which can increase mucus production in the throat
  • Rich and spicy foods, which may cause heartburn
  • Alcohol, which can relax the throat muscles, leading to OSA
  • Refined carbohydrates such as white sugar, white rice, white bread, etc., which are high in calories and can cause weight gain

Foods to Eat

A big issue for individuals with sleep apnea is difficulty getting a good night’s rest. For this, it may be helpful to eat foods known to enhance sleep. These include:

  • Natural sources of melatonin, a hormone that regulates sleep, including asparagus, corn, cherries, grapes, broccoli, and cucumbers
  • Foods high in omega-3 fatty acids, which can help your body produce melatonin. These include salmon, mackerel, tuna, herring, sardines, nuts, seeds, and plant oils.
  • Foods high in tryptophan, which aids sleep. This includes milk, tuna, turkey chicken, oats, nuts, and seeds.

It is also advised to eat a variety of whole plant foods such as vegetables, fruits, legumes, and whole grains, all known to be part of a healthy diet that supports healthy weight.

Have You Experienced Health Problems as a Result of Using CPAP Machines for Treating Sleep Apnea?

As we mentioned above, an incredibly common medical intervention for treating sleep apnea is the use of CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) machines. These work by delivering a stream of oxygenated air into the airways through a mask connected to a tube. 

When they function properly, CPAP machines can make a big difference in the lives of individuals with sleep apnea. For example, it is a risk for over-tired sleep apnea sufferers to get into motor accidents due to drowsiness while driving. CPAP users, however, have a 70% lower chance of being in a traffic accident. 

Unfortunately, not all CPAP machines function as they should. In June 2021, prominent electrical company and manufacturer of CPAP machines, Philips, recalled millions of breathing devices including CPAP machines after concerns that they might cause serious health problems like cancer and respiratory diseases. These health conditions were allegedly caused by a breakdown of sound-dampening foam that then leaked into the airway of the user. If you believe that you or a loved one may have been negatively affected by Philips sleep apnea machines, you could be entitled to compensation. Contact Select Justice today for a free case evaluation to see if you may be eligible.

Free Case Evaluation

If you or a loved one were harmed by a Philips Respironics CPAP or BiPAP machine, you may be entitled to compensation.


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We are here to help you and loved ones advocate for justice. Feel free to send us any questions you might have, either about an injury or the process for pursuing justice so we can help you exercise your rights.

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