A small study has generated some big claims about bananas and obstructive sleep apnea.
One news outlet proclaims that the “banana may prove to be a life saver” for people with sleep apnea. Another article states that bananas “may help cure sleep disorders and snoring.”
It sounds too good to be true. Is it fact, or online fiction?
The source of the buzz is a study from Australia. The results were presented last week at a scientific meeting. The study abstract (#TP231) is available online.
The study examined the “surface active phospholipids” of bananas. It sought to determine how long the surface tissue of the mouth might retain these oily compounds.
Initial tissue cells were swiped from the inside of the subjects’ cheeks. Analysis found that these cells showed no evidence of phospholipids.
Then participants drank a 200 ml “aqueous suspension” – a fruit smoothie. The drink contained 130 grams of ripe banana. Tissue samples were taken one, two, four and six hours after consuming the drink.
Analysis determined that the majority of these cells showed signs of phospholipids. The intensity was “largely retained” six hours after drinking the banana smoothie.
The authors suggest that a coating of phospholipids on the throat may help prevent the collapse of the airway during sleep. They conclude that this could have value in the treatment of sleep apnea and snoring.
It is important to note that the study involved only eight healthy women with an average age of 20.1 years; none of the subjects had sleep apnea.
The study did not measure any kind of treatment effect. So there is no need to rush to the grocery store just yet. It is far too early to proclaim that bananas have any role in the treatment of sleep apnea.
Although you won’t find it at a fruit stand, CPAP is still the most effective treatment for sleep apnea. And oral appliances are another effective option.