Mediterranean diet and obstructive sleep apnoea syndrome (OSAS): the results of a clinical trial

Obstructive sleep apnoea syndrome (OSAS) is a respiratory disorder characterized by frequent pauses in breathing during sleep. Each pause, or apnoea, can last from a few seconds to a few minutes and can occur 5 to 30 times or more in an hour. OSAS is one of the most common sleep-related breathing disorders and affects 24% of the middle-aged male population and 9% of the middle-aged female population, rates that increase up to 40% in overweight or obese people. Healthy lifestyle and weight maintenance are two important factors that influence the development and progression of the disease.
A new study published in the journal Clinical Nutrition assessed the impact of the Mediterranean diet on sleep apnoea in overweight or obese people, comparing this dietary pattern to a standard control diet. The researchers, from the University of Athens in Greece, involved 187 patients with OSAS. These were randomly divided into 3 groups: 62 participants were assigned to a Mediterranean diet, 60 received indications to follow a Mediterranean lifestyle and 65 participants received a standard control diet. During the 6 months of intervention all the participants were prescribed with CPAP, the first-line treatment for OSAS.

Both at the beginning and at the end of the study, participants were monitored by polysomnography, a system that measures several markers for OSAS, including brain electrical activity and eye movements. The data collected and analysed by Dr. Georgoulis and colleagues showed that patients belonging to the “Mediterranean diet” and “Mediterranean lifestyle” groups had benefited from a greater improvement in OSAS severity and symptomatology compared to the standard care group, regardless of CPAP use and weight loss.

In conclusion, this is one of the first studies to examine the impact of the Mediterranean diet on OSAS and lays the foundations for future research to better investigate the effects of this dietary pattern on such a frequent syndrome.

Source: Georgoulis M, Yiannakouris N, Kechribari I, et al. The effectiveness of a weight-loss Mediterranean diet/lifestyle intervention in the management of obstructive sleep apnea: Results of the “MIMOSA” randomized clinical trial. Clin Nutr. 2020:S0261-5614(20)30453-2.