Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea is a disorder characterized by periods of apnea where there is a cessation of breathing for short periods of time during the sleep cycle. There are two types of sleep apnea: central and obstructive. Central sleep apnea occurs when the brain does not send the correct signals to initiate breathing. Obstructive sleep apnea is more common and refers to the cessation of breathing due to narrowing or closing of the throat. Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) will be discussed here.

  • Overview
  • Action Plan
  • Ask The Doctor
  • Success Stories
  • See Also


OSA affects 10-17% of men and 3-9% of women in the general population.1 As obesity rates continue to rise, the prevalence of OSA will continue to rise. In OSA, because of the insufficient breathing, the patient’s oxygen levels decrease and carbon dioxide levels increase. This results in he/she awakening to activate the upper airway muscles in order to open the obstructed airway. This leads to poor sleep quality with frequent awakenings leading to other medical conditions, such as high blood pressure and heart disease.

Symptoms of OSA include:

  • snoring, choking or gasping for breath while sleeping
  • waking up to urinate during the night
  • daytime sleepiness, fatigue, and lack of energy
  • poor memory or brain fog
  • morning headaches
  • dry mouth
  • sore throat

The risk factors /causes of OSA include:

  • age
  • male gender
  • obesity
  • upper airway abnormalities
  • enlarged tonsils
  • menopause
  • tobacco use
  • alcohol use
  • medical conditions, such as pregnancy, heart failure, hypothyroidism, and chronic lung disease
  1. Peppard PE, Young T, Barnet JH, et al. Increased prevalence of sleep-disordered breathing in adults. Am J Epidemiol 2013, 177:1006-1014.

Action Plan


  • Obesity is a major cause of OSA. A Nutritarian diet will aid in weight loss, supplying the body with micronutrients while avoiding the weight-inducing and addicting foods of the Standard American Diet. A Nutritarian diet includes a wide variety vegetables, fruits, beans, nuts, and seeds and minimizes the use of processed foods and animal products. It is designed to be creative, tasty, and filling, while allowing the body to reverse high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol, heart disease, and obesity.
  • Avoid alcohol, which can worsen sleep apnea.


A continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine may be necessary initially until the patient adheres to a Nutritarian diet and loses weight. Pressures can be titrated by your physician.

Find additional help

ONLINE: All members of can search the Ask the Doctor archives for discussions on this topic. Platinum and Diamond members can connect with Dr. Fuhrman by posting questions in the forum. Not a member? Join now.

IN PERSON: Book a stay at Dr. Fuhrman’s Eat to Live Retreat in San Diego, California. With options ranging from one, two and three months (and sometimes longer) you will be under Dr. Fuhrman’s direct medical supervision as you hit the “reset” button on your health. For more information: (949) 432-6295 or [email protected]

EVENTS: Join Dr. Fuhrman for an online boot camp, detox or other event. During these immersive online events, you’ll attend zoom lectures, follow a special meal plan, and have access to a special, live Q&A session with Dr. Fuhrman. Learn more about events.


Ask The Doctor

The following are sample questions from the Ask the Doctor Community Platinum and higher members can post their health questions directly to Dr. Fuhrman. (All members can browse questions and answers.)


What is the cause and cure of sleep apnea?


It is related to a toxic diet and being overweight. You need to get yourself in great health at a healthy (thin) weight, and your sleep apnea can resolve. We see symptoms of sleep apnea improve with weight loss and nutritional excellence.