Wmoan with pillow over her head in bed whilst partner snores

Snoring and gut health: how the two are linked and what you can do to help

It’s National Stop Snoring Week this month, highlighting a common but disruptive problem.  Although we sometimes make light of it, it can be a sign of underlying health conditions.

Clinical nutritionist, Suzie Sawyer, looks at possible causes including some which are less well-known.

As with all health issues, it’s always important to find the root cause rather than putting a ‘sticking plaster’ on problems.  Clearly, there are obvious triggers to snoring such as high alcohol intake, overeating late at night, poor sleep positions or being overweight.  However, gut health can also be a factor.

The gut microbiome

Torso of a woman in white t-shirt making the shape of a heart with her hands, over her stomach.

Think of the gut microbiome (often referred to as friendly bacteria) as a garden that needs to be loved and nurtured.  Good gut health underpins everything that happens inside the body which is why it’s often referred to as the second brain.  The gut microbiome fulfils so many different roles including supporting the immune system, hormone function, detoxification, the brain and skin and general digestive function.

One of the best ways of nurturing the gut microbiome is by eating a colour-rich diet.  In short, plenty of brightly coloured fruits and vegetables is key, and including foods rich in fibre such as wholegrains and legumes.

What’s the connection with snoring?

Close up of middle aged woman in bed struggling to sleep

A healthy gut helps to modulate inflammation within the body generally.  And it is inflammation which is at the root of most of our health issues, inside and out. If there is something in the gut that shouldn’t be there, it will trigger an inflammatory effect[1]. Over time, the integrity of the gut is disturbed which can lead to allergies, joint pain, headaches, and many other issues.

There has been a link found between snoring and a yeast overgrowth in the gut, called candida.  A yeast infection can also manifest itself as thrush in the mouth which can cause white patches on the tongue and is very unpleasant.

There are many causes of a candida infection, and it can also be difficult to eradicate completely.  Steroidal medication, high intake of alcohol, excessive sugar or stimulants, lack of fibre in the diet and other illnesses can trigger the problem. Symptoms often include bloating, especially after eating carbohydrates, brain fog, general fatigue, vaginal thrush and many other conditions you might think are unrelated.  And snoring is another issue, potentially related to candida.

Treating candida

No sugar written out in letters within sugar

Yeast feeds on sugar and sufferers tend to develop cravings for sugar, carbs and foods containing yeast, especially bread.  Unfortunately, this just exacerbates the problem.  The yeast has to be starved out by cutting sugar from the diet completely.  This includes all refined sugars, fizzy drinks, caffeine, and alcohol.  Try to cut down on the amount of fruit you’re eating and go for berry fruits.  However, do eat plenty of colourful vegetables as often as possible as this encourages production of the good bacteria.

Certain herbs such as oregano, garlic and ginger have natural anti-fungal effects so include these in your cooking as much as possible. Coconut oil is also great for treating candida overgrowth and can also be used topically for any skin rashes or dry and sore patches.

Support your liver

A rnage of prebiotic foods

The liver is the body’s main organ of detoxification and plays a key role in helping to eliminate any unwanted invaders.  Foods such as Jerusalem artichokes, asparagus, leeks, onions, and green vegetables feed the prebiotic fibre in the gut which also encourages a healthier ‘garden’.  Equally drinking green tea and dandelion coffee is incredibly beneficial.

Once sufferers can get on top of candida, weight can also become easier to control, which also helps to stop snoring.

If you’ve tried everything to alleviate snoring (either for yourself or others), then do look to your gut health for answers.  Poor digestion, constipation, bloating and flatulence are all signs that things are not as they should be.  There is always an answer if you know what you’re looking for.

[1] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32845474/

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