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Can diet cause narcolepsy?

Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease)
People with narcolepsy often tell me they feel overly sleepy after meals. What and how much you're eating may be a contributing factor. Some doctors don't believe diet has any impact on narcolepsy symptoms, but some studies—and definitely patient stories—say otherwise. Evaluating your diet and giving it a good healthy boost certainly couldn't hurt right?

Let's give it a try.

1. Start by journaling your food for two weeks. Don't change your diet at all, but write everything down. I mean everything: food, snacks, beverages, candy.

2. Note how you feel up to 30 minutes after eating.

3. Highlight or underline all the simple carbohydrates you're eating with each meal. Simple carbs break down into glucose very easily, which may be messing with your system, or even causing you to gain weight. Examples of simple carbs are: white bread, crackers, low fiber cereals, cookies, sweets, juice, white pasta, soda, cake.

4. Replace simple carbs with complex carbs, like brown rice, multi-grain breads, oats, vegetables, beans, whole fruit, soy, yams, potatoes, yogurt, and peas.

5. Clean out your kitchen and go shopping!

6. Switch to eating high-fiber meals rich in complex carbs and lean proteins.

7. Note how you feel up to 30 minutes after eating. Do you see a difference?

What about that lean protein? Try limiting your protein to beans, fish, and poultry during the day and see how you feel. If you're inclined to eat red meat, limit the quantity to the size of a deck of cards, and eat it at dinnertime. If you're sleepy afterward—that's okay, it's bedtime. Right?

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.