Research confirms that cutting out certain foods can reduce your snoring at night considerably. According to the National Sleep Foundation, noisy breathing during sleep is widespread among all ages and genders. It affects nearly 90 million Americans.
Almost everybody snores at some point. For most people, it occurs more frequently resulting in pillows over the ears, late-night jabs, and just poor sleep. Whether you’re the bed partner of a loud snorer, or you’re the snorer yourself, it is an issue that can affect your overall sleep quality, causing lethargy, irritability, and lack of productivity the next day.
Snoring takes place when the muscles in your throat relax, causing your tongue to fall back and your throat to become narrower. Therefore, the walls in your throat begin to vibrate, particularly when you breathe in and more occasionally while breathing out, creating a snoring sound. Earplugs can block out the sound of snoring, but you also need a long-term solution to the problem.
Which Foods Cause You to Snore Loudly?
Numerous factors can trigger snoring, including your diet. Restricting the number of foods that are high in inflammatory compounds and stimulate swelling of the tissues in your throat can reduce snoring, and your risk of sleep apnea.
To avoid sleeping in separate rooms from your partner, we’ve come up with the foods you should avoid to prevent snoring, along with some tips that can be highly beneficial.
1) Red Meat
Red meat causes inflammation of the muscles in our body, causing our airways to become inflamed as well, thus resulting in snoring. Inflammation is a complex reaction where the cells and chemicals in your body fight pathogens, infections and other potential threats.
The inflammation can be acute or long-term. If your immune system detects a threat, it sends out chemicals, such as histamines to dilate your blood vessels and allow the passage of white blood cells to resolve the issue.
During an acute response, such as after you stub your toe, inflammation is a protective mechanism. However, chronic inflammation is entirely different and is linked to a wide range of medical illnesses resulting from the prolonged stimulation of your inflammatory pathways. Some examples include acne, asthma, celiac disease, arthritis and heart disease.
Over half of our immune system defenses arise from our gut, continually keeping check of what we eat. Certain foods can be anti-inflammatory, causing inflammation to subside. However, many are pro-inflammatory, which means they lead to a chronic response when consumed regularly.
How Does Red Meat Trigger Inflammation?
If you eat red meat on regularly and have a snoring problem, consuming it less frequently could be a good option for you. To convince you, we’ve compiled some data that shows how red meat causes inflammation and why you should consider reducing how much of it you eat.
Boosts C-Reactive Protein
A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition shows that meat consumption is tied to increased C-reactive Protein (hs-CRP). A rise in hs-CRP is a warning sign for severe illnesses such as cardiovascular disease.
Another study published in the Journal of Cell Physiology shows that amino acid called methionine found in high amounts in meat may be linked to oxidative stress and inflammation. Red meat intake is also associated with increased levels of arachidonic acid, a facilitator for promoting aging, inflammation and oxidative damage.
Increases IGF-1 Levels
IGF-1 is a hormone that promotes cell growth. However, it may also increase your risk for breast or prostate cancer. People who eat meat have higher levels of IGF-1 in general than vegans or vegetarians. A temporary plant-based diet has been shown to reduce IGF-1 levels.
Advanced Glycation End-Products (AGEs)
These are found naturally in food (especially in meat) and their levels can be increased by cooking a grill or other dry heat surfaces. Regular consumption of AGEs may lead to diabetes, brain inflammation, heart disease, cancer, and premature aging.
People who eat meat frequently are shown to produce metabolites called TMAO that cause inflammation and heart disease. More surprisingly, a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that when vegans were asked to consume a meal containing animal meat, their TMAO levels did not go up.
Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs)
POPs, such as dioxins, PCBs and DDT are toxic synthetic compounds that build up in fat. PCBs are found in much higher levels in animal meat than in plant-based foods. Regular intake of meat increases the accumulation of POPs in the body, disrupting endocrine pathways and increasing risk for obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and cancer.
Although the quality of the meat, such as conventional or grass-fed meat may have slight differences in inflammation, most researchers agree that meat will trigger an inflammatory response. Therefore, regardless of what you choose to consume, you should be sure to make more space for vegetables, which are proven to have anti-inflammatory effects on the body.
As for your snoring issue, try avoiding meat for dinner. Either replace red meat with anti-inflammatory kidney beans for your protein or choose fresh fish, which contain essential fatty acids that fight inflammation.
A glass of warm milk may feel comforting before bedtime, but consuming dairy at any time of the day may be the cause of your snoring problem. Many individuals have trouble digesting cow’s milk and other dairy products – whether they’re lactose intolerant or not.
Dairy leads to a significant production of mucus in the throat. The mucus lines your airway, obstructing your airflow. As you breathe in, this narrowing of your airways causes tissues in your throat to vibrate, creating a snoring sound. Consumption of dairy, such as milk, cheese, ice cream, yogurt, sour cream, forms a residual mucus layer every time you swallow, playing a massive role in your snoring issue.
Depending on the type of dairy and level of consumption, the mucus produced can become thick enough to form in your nose and airways. This blocks the flow of air through your nasal passages while you sleep, also resulting in snoring.
Furthermore, milk does not only lead to mucus buildup in your throat, but it can also cause inflammation in the mouth and throat, obstructing airflow through these passages.
Therefore, if you have a nighttime habit of consuming dairy, try steering clear from ice cream, yogurt, milk, cheese and any other dairy products in the p.m. – especially before you hit the bed. If you experience severe snoring or continue to snore despite eliminating dairy in the night, try going cold turkey for one week.
What Are the Benefits of Going Dairy-Free?
It’s estimated that over 70% of the world’s population has some degree of lactose intolerance. Lactose intolerance causes a plethora of digestive issues, including bloating, stomach pain, flatulence, cramps, nausea, and diarrhea. Some of us experience these symptoms to some extent on a day-to-day basis, without realizing that dairy may be the cause.
After weaning, since humans no longer have to digest milk, they begin losing their lactase, an enzyme that digests lactose from dairy. The ability to digest milk is a relatively novel phenomenon in our evolutionary heritage. Frequent consumption of dairy is, therefore, a key contributor to various digestive problems, such as irritable bowel syndrome and constipation.
Antibiotics and hormones are rampant in cow’s milk to prevent infections in cows. Apart from antibiotic resistance, the hormones in cow’s milk increase serum level of IGF-1 by 10%. Higher levels of IGF-1 are linked to increased risk of prostate, lung, colon and breast cancers.
Ditching dairy can get rid of the dreaded bumps on your face and get clearer skin. Dairy is the only source of D-galactose, which causes inflammation and oxidative stress. This may manifest in the form of acne and premature skin aging.
What Are the Alternatives to Dairy?
We get it, cutting out dairy from your diet, whether it’s just for a specific time of the day, or for a whole week can be tough. However, doing so can have a huge impact on your snoring issue and sleep pattern. Milk can be hidden in some processed foods, so be sure always to check the ingredients and look for dairy-free alternatives.
According to a study by the University of Messina, almond milk makes an effective substitute for dairy.
Almond is rich in unsaturated fatty acids, low in saturated fatty acids, and contains plant-based protein and fiber, making it a lower calorie and healthier alternative to cow’s milk.
A unique feature of almond milk is that it contains phytosterol antioxidants that fight oxidative stress. It also contains probiotics that promote healthy bacterial growth in your gut flora, thus helping in the digestion and assimilation of nutrients from food.
Coconut milk is among the best alternatives to dairy. It is the liquid derived from mature coconuts, by blending and straining coconut meat. Although coconut doesn’t contain as much protein and calcium as dairy, you can make up for it by consuming more beans, nuts, and seeds, as well as calcium-rich foods such as broccoli, kale, and bok choy.
Coconut milk is also rich in magnesium, manganese, iron, potassium, phosphorus, and copper. Note that coconut milk is higher in calories, so opt for the lite version if you’re controlling your calorie intake.
But what about cheese? Enter Nutritional Yeast. Nutritional Yeast may be the superfood you didn’t know about but needed all this time to kick your cheese cravings, eliminate snoring and optimize your health. Those who are in the know may refer to it as nooch, and while the name doesn’t sound too appealing, it’s just an inactive form of yeast made from beet molasses and sugar cane.
Nutritional yeast, unlike traditional yeast, has no leavening properties, but it tastes very similar to cheese. Vegans love it as a dairy-free alternative and for its somewhat umami flavor. The best part is you can sub nutritional yeast for cheese for any recipe that calls for the latter.
The most significant benefit of using nutritional yeast is that it is packed with B vitamins. One tablespoon contains 30 to 180% of the RDI for vitamin B. B vitamins regulate the production of tryptophan, an amino acid that boosts sleep quality, and helps improve sleep among people suffering from insomnia and depression. You should avoid taking vitamin B complex before bed.
- Coconut oil or coconut butter for butter
- Coconut cream ice cream for regular milk-based ice creams
- Coconut cream for whipped cream
- Soy or nut-based yogurt, or silken tofu for regular yogurt (you can also make a plant-based yogurt using coconut milk and probiotics)
Just like milk, sugar also promotes the production of phlegm in your airways, causing them to narrow and lead to heavy snoring in the night. Numerous animal studies show that a diet rich in sugar is linked to insulin resistance, low-grade inflammation and increased permeability of the gut. Here’s a summary of the changes our body goes through when we consume sugar:
Like red meat, sugar leads to the production of AGEs which, in excess, can cause inflammation and oxidative damage in the body.
Increases LDL Cholesterol Levels
A diet high in sugar increases the production of bad LDL cholesterol that is linked with elevated levels of C-reactive protein (hs-CRP).
Increased Gut Permeability
Consuming high-sugar foods causes toxins, bacteria, and undigested food to leave the digestive tract and enter the bloodstream more easily. This increases your risk for inflammation.
A diet high in refined carbs and sugar can lead to inflammation and insulin resistance, which are both linked to weight gain.
How to Eliminate Sugar and Reduce Snoring
Our cravings for sugar peak in the night but cutting out refined sugar and anything containing it can have a huge impact on your snoring problem. While the jury is still out on whether artificial sweeteners such as aspartame has a similar effect, but we recommend avoiding all types of sweets until you figure out the cause of your issue.
To curb your nightly cravings, try filling your plate with more protein and vegetables. Protein and vegetables are slower-digesting than refined carbs, which means they won’t spike your insulin levels and cause unexpected cravings following your meal. Nighttime cravings can also be prevented by having a set sleep routine and getting to bed earlier, making room for more rest and less for grazing.
4) Wheat and Gluten
People with food allergies may want to steer clear of wheat and gluten-containing foods, such as bread, to eliminate snoring. Having a food allergy means that exposure to any allergen food will cause inflammation in your body, making your airways narrower.
Gluten is linked to celiac disease and gluten-sensitivity. Celiac disease is a condition that causes an immune system reaction to eating anything containing gluten. Gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye, and barley. People with celiac disease have must follow a gluten-free diet to avoid getting sick.
What Are the Symptoms of Celiac Disease?
- Abdominal pain
- Poor appetite and weight loss
- Feeling of fullness and bloating
- Itchy rashes
- Growth delay in children
People who are gluten-sensitive may show negative (normal) results while being diagnosed with celiac disease but they suffer the same symptoms whenever they consume anything containing gluten. One reason could be that they have a wheat allergy, which can be diagnosed using skin testing.
If you suspect you’re gluten sensitive or have celiac disease, schedule an appointment with your doctor and follow a gluten-free plan. Fortunately, with increasing awareness of gluten sensitivity, there are plenty of wheat-free and gluten-free alternatives in the market, including gluten-free bread and pasta.
Coffee, tea, sports drinks, energy drinks and fizzy drinks can all contribute to snoring and keep you and your partner up at night. Caffeine is a stimulant that doesn’t only keep you up but also causes inflammation in your body – including your throat and mouth tissues. Your best bet would be to avoid caffeinated beverages after 3 pm to reduce the effects of caffeine by the time you get to bed.
Instead of going for tea or coffee, try hot chocolate made with melted dark chocolate or raw cocoa powder and almond milk. Chocolate is packed with antioxidants, especially flavanols which have potent anti-inflammatory effects in your body.
For the most anti-inflammatory impact from your chocolate, find one that is at least 70% cocoa (the more, the better). Regular milk chocolate is packed with saturated fat and sugar, which can outweigh the positive effects of chocolate.
The following caffeine-free drinks are also known to elevate your energy and mood, minus the side effects.
- Peppermint herbal tea
- Coconut water
- Green juices
- Dandelion root tea
How Can Snoring Be Prevented?
How severe your regular snoring depends on a variety of factors, which include the anatomy of your throat, whether you smoke and what you eat and drink in the night. At times, just making simple changes in your lifestyle and routine can have a monumental impact on your snoring problem. If you are a routine snorer, consult with your doctor first to ensure there are no underlying health conditions that may be causing your snoring.
In the meantime, try following these steps to keep your snoring under control.
1) Avoid Alcohol in the Night
Although you may feel a couple of beers relax you in the night, they have an opposite effect in your body. Not only does alcohol cause frequent awakenings in the night, but it can also be a significant contributor to snoring. Alcohol relaxes throat muscles, causing them to collapse while you sleep.
2) Quit Smoking
Smoking and exposure to second-hand smoke can inflame tissues in your throat and also relax them. This causes congestion in your airway, causing loud snoring. Smoking also causes poor sleep and insomnia.
3) Cut Out Antihistamines
If you’re suffering from a stuffy nose in the night, try natural alternatives to antihistamines. Inhaling steam infused with eucalyptus or peppermint is an old-fashioned remedy for clearing a stuffy nose, and it works fantastically. Fill a pot with water, bring it to a boil and add eucalyptus or peppermint oil to it. Remove from flame and let it sit for a couple of minutes before inhaling.
4) Avoid Sleeping Pills
Sleeping pills and antidepressants can cause muscles in your throat to relax, causing snoring. If you are having trouble falling asleep, try natural techniques such as meditation, aromatherapy, drinking chamomile tea, keeping away from the blue light emitting devices such as your phone, and sleeping in a cool, dark room.
5) Sleep on Your Side
If you snore when you sleep on your back, consider sleeping on your side. If this feels difficult, try sewing a sock to the back of the top you’re sleeping in. Place a tennis ball in the sock and go to sleep. Every time you try to sleep on your back, the pressure from the ball will wake you up, causing you to sleep on your side naturally.
You can stop using the tennis ball as soon as you create a habit of sleeping on your side.
6) Use a Firm Pillow
Sleeping on soft pillows doesn’t support your head and increases your neck’s angle. This forces your jaw and tongue to fall backward, obstructing your airway. A firm pillow can provide greater support for your neck, preventing any blockages in your throat.
7) Avoid Heavy Dinners
Having heavy meals late in the night prolongs your digestion, causing muscles in your throat and tongue to relax. Have a light dinner with plenty of leafy greens at least 4 hours before bedtime and keep away from dairy, red meat and high-sugar foods in the night. It also helps to avoid spicy foods in the night as they tend to trigger indigestion and subsequent snoring.
8) Play a Wind Instrument
Playing wind instruments strengthens your upper airways and the roof of your mouth. This may sound silly, but learning to play a wind instrument can improve respiratory problems and reduce snoring.
9) Exercise More Regularly
Having poor overall muscle tone can contribute to relaxed muscles in your airways, worsening your snoring issues. Furthermore, having excess fat around your neck area can also narrow your airways, resulting in regular snoring. Exercising at least five times a week, with a solid muscle strengthening routine can help increase your overall muscle tone and reduce excess fat. Just be sure to avoid exercising in late evening hours as it can keep you up.
Snoring is a surprisingly common issue that affects your sleep quality and even contributes to insomnia. The issue can also cause problems in the bedroom, leading to couples sleeping apart. Luckily, if you or your partner has a snoring problem, there are plenty of solutions that you can practice at home, such as reducing inflammatory foods and working out more regularly.