New research from an Australian University shows that a healthy, plant-based diet is associated with less risk of sleep apnoea by about a fifth. Sleep apnoea happens when the airways become too narrow while during sleep, preventing breathing properly. 

The study, titled “Plant-based and vegetarian diets are associated with reduced obstructive sleep apnoea risk” and published in ERJ Open Research by scientists from the College of Medicine and Public Health, Flinders University, South Australia, Adelaide, found that those consuming the most vegetables, fruits, whole grains and nuts were 19% less likely to have sleep apnoea than those who ate the least plant-based, healthy food. Differences in the risks for women and men were also found, with a bigger effect of a plant-based diet in men.

Other studies have shown that sleep apnoea increases the risk of cardiovascular disease, irregular heartbeat, stroke, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and depression, affecting about one billion people globally.

Dr Yohannes Melaku, who led the study, said to The Guardian: “These results highlight the importance of the quality of our diet in managing the risk of obstructive sleep apnoea. It’s important to note these sex differences because they underscore the need for personalised dietary interventions for people with obstructive sleep apnoea. This research doesn’t tell us why diet is important but it could be that a healthy plant-based diet reduces 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.”

Jordi Casamitjana
“Originally from Catalonia, but resident in the UK for several decades, Jordi is a vegan zoologist and author, who has been involved in different aspects of animal protection for many years. In addition to scientific research, he has worked mostly as an undercover investigator, animal welfare consultant, and animal protection campaigner. He has been an ethical vegan since 2002, and in 2020 he secured the legal protection of all ethical vegans in Great Britain from discrimination in a landmark employment tribunal case that was discussed all over the world. He is also the author of the book, ‘Ethical Vegan: a personal and political journey to change the world’.