Why is maintaining a healthy gut so important?
If you think that you may have sleep apnea yet are delaying treatment, you may be negatively impacting your gut health. Various studies have shown that people with untreated sleep apnea are far more likely to develop dysbiosis – a term that refers to an unhealthy gut microbiome. Since the diversity of the microorganisms present in your gut greatly impacts your quality of sleep and overall health, dysbiosis can lead to other serious complications such as obesity, celiac disease, and type 2 diabetes.
Your gut health may increase your likelihood of developing celiac disease and type 2 diabetes because of the close relationship that researchers have found between gut health and your “genes, environment, and immune system.” As scientists continue to study this relationship, they emphasize the importance of maintaining good gut health, because “metabolic imbalance leads to immune imbalance.” To demonstrate this idea further, researchers point to examples of “starvation and immunosuppression” often appearing together, as do “obesity and inflammatory diseases.” Therefore, if you have poor gut health, you are more likely to develop poor immune and metabolic health, which may increase your susceptibility to harmful sleep disorders such as sleep apnea. Researches are still learning about causality, but there does appear to be a clear relationship between sleep and gut health.
Dysbiosis is also linked to skin disorders such as atopic eczema, and even neurodegenerative disorders like Parkinson’s Disease. An imbalance in your gut microbiome can also lead to gastrointestinal complications such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Leaving OSA untreated can not only lead to gastrointestinal issues, but if you have IBD or IBS you may also be more likely to develop sleep apnea in the first place. If you have symptoms of sleep apnea, one might consider addressing OSA at the earliest possible stage, to abate the negative effects of dysbiosis and subsequent medical conditions.
In September of 2020, Dr. Gozal conducted a study at the University of Missouri-Columbia in which he demonstrated that transplanting gut bacteria between mice can “cause changes to sleep patterns in the recipient mice.” The mice who received transplanted gut bacteria from healthy mice “slept longer and slept more often during their normal period of wakefulness.” The study illuminates the importance of maintaining a healthy gut microbiome in hopes to decrease the possibility of developing sleep disorders, as well as the importance of treating sleep apnea so that it may not lead to an unhealthy change in your gut microbiota and overall health.
So what are the benefits of treating sleep apnea, and therefore positively impacting your gut microbiome?
A healthy gut microbiome can benefit your body’s immune system, your body’s ability to digest fibers, and your brain health (central nervous system health), among other benefits. In addition, keeping your gut microbiome balanced by treating sleep apnea can benefit cognitive function, brain development, and mental health. You can use Ognomy’s services, including a face-to-face visit with a sleep medicine specialist, today to start your journey to a healthier gut, better sleep, and overall improved quality of life.
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- https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5508502/ (IBS and sleep apnea) and https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3995194/ (IBD and sleep apnea)