Cliff Styles, a 66-year-old man living in Huntington Beach, commented that his sleep got much better after he stopped eating wheat. I asked him why he gave up wheat. He replied:
I had a morning cough that was very nasty, I didn’t smoke, but had read a fair amount about food allergies and that reading suggested an allergic reaction as the cause. I tried several things, over a period of years, including eliminating alcohol for several months of the year (modest help to allergies and depression), reducing sugar consumption (big help to mood swings), with some success. I had been reluctant to eliminate wheat because it seemed benign and I loved all the wheat products, but at one point in reading about food allergies I came across the idea that we develop allergic addictions to foods we eat regularly — and I was probably eating wheat more than three times a day, seven days a week. I made no connection to the sleep apnea and snoring in the allergy research, in fact I took the sleep apnea and snoring for granted, and thought the nightmares were the product of psychological problems.
I decided to experiment with eliminating wheat. Well, it was like I imagine going off of heroin might be like — chills, body aches, flu-like symptoms for four or five days, then all the symptoms cleared up — and the cough went away. My wife was skeptical, so after a few weeks, I went back to eating wheat, the cough promptly came back, she was convinced, I was more certain, went off wheat permanently. I will once in a while indulge, but the quick return of the cough gets me back to the wheat-free diet. The wheat reaction is so pronounced that many friends have noticed my reaction, since I tend to indulge at social occasions.
The sleep benefit happened quite unexpectedly. After quitting wheat, my snoring eased a bit, and the sleep apnea went away, though now I do not remember how quickly, but I think it was pretty fast. Another side benefit is that I lost about 15 pounds of belly fat, and it stayed off for years. My wife notices that when I indulge in wheat now, my snoring gets worse that night, whereas I won’t necessarily notice this myself.
So what was the impetus and chain of causation? A symptom (a nasty cough, you’d think I was a pack a day smoker, especially in the morning), reading about food allergies, self-testing and seeing a result on the cough, and only then getting the benefit to sleep. At no time did I undertake the test of eliminating wheat in order to cure a sleep problem, that was just a very, very fortunate side effect.
How much sleep apnea is due to food allergy? Sleep doctors do not consider this possibility. Here is an example where the food allergy was dairy. Here is another example. Here someone claims “The commonest causes of obstruction sleep apnoea are allergy . . . and being overweight.”