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Just Breathe. Can the Breath Improve Your Health?

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Breathe Through The Nose, Not The Mouth. Your Body and Mind Will Thank You!

The effects of proper breathing habits were first noted in observations of early Native Americans, who were known for their chiseled jaws and beautiful teeth. These physical attributes were thought to be directly related to the fact that Native Americans had learned from childhood to breathe through their nose.This theory was scientifically proven more recently in tests using monkeys. Monkeys that had their noses plugged and had to breathe through their months began to show changes in their facial development. While that is a terrible way to treat an animal, we gained a valuable, yet often overlooked piece of wisdom; breathing through the nose can keep you healthy and strong.

Just by changing the way we breathe we can tap into the amazing benefits that the breath has to offer, like:

  • Relieving stress

  • Improve energy levels

  • Reduces anxiety and can help fight off chronic depression

  • Improve sleep patterns

  • Can improve the mood and build confidence.

  • Can help improve our digestion

  • Regulate body temperature

  • Can even help you lose weight!!

  • Control our state of mind!!

  • Good Health in just a few breaths

We take about 21,600 breaths a day and we are completely oblivious to most of them. For most people, the breath is something they just never really think about until they are holding their breath under water or have an issue breathing in some way. Just like any other autonomic function in the body, we usually only notice it when something is wrong, but the breath can actually be used to communicate with the unconscious functions of the autonomic nervous system. The breath is a powerful tool that can also help to keep our immune system strong and effective and this one simple little fix can dramatically improve the way you breathe, as well as how you live your life! So I'm sure you are asking yourself right now, how can breathing improve your immune system?? It is going to sound to simple but the answer might just be breathing through the nose.

Can breathing help me lose weight?

Every molecule in the universe has some sort of mass to it, some sort of weight. Oxygen and Carbon Dioxide are no different. Carbon dioxide, it turns out, weighs just a little bit more than just oxygen alone! This difference isn't going to melt the pounds off of you just by breathing differently, but we do breathe about 21,600 breaths a day! By consciously making our exhalations longer than our inhalations we can make sure that we are releasing more weight than we are taking in.

Breathing through the nose can improve circulation... and even your sex life!

“The nose is the silent warrior, the gatekeeper of our bodies, pharmacist to our minds and weather vane to our emotions.” -Dr Jayakar Nayak

The air mixes with nitric bacteria which joins with oxygen to create NO2. Nitric Oxide is a powerful vasodiallator that keeps the blood vessels open so more blood can flow through the body. When we breathe through the nose, bacteria from deep in the nostrils mixes with the oxygen we breathe in and creates Nitric Oxide. Nitric Oxide increases blood flow, relaxes smooth muscle, low blood pressure and increase energy levels. Nitric oxide also relaxes the erectile tissue in the penis which allows more blood flow, which results in penile erection. Viagra, a common medicine used to treat erectile dysfunction, works based on this idea, it works by enhancing the action and effectiveness of nitric oxide. There are supplements and cremes and other products that claim to cure erectile dysfunction, but what if I told you that breathing through your nose could be the very remedy you were looking for!? Sounds to good to be true right?? Maybe not such a crazy idea...

Breathing through the Nose can cure snoring and sleep apnea

Nitric oxide also relaxes the smooth muscle in trachea and bronchioles which make the act of breathing easier to accomplish. This smooth muscle, when slack, can partly or completely block the airway, causing snoring and sleep apnea.

Breathing can Improve your Immune System

NO can boost the immune system by increasing blood flow to the immune organs, such as the spleen, lymph nodes, and bone marrow. This increased blood flow can help to deliver more immune cells to these organs, where they can be activated and mobilized to fight off infections. NO can also help to activate immune cells, such as macrophages and natural killer cells, which can help to fight off infections and other threats to the body.

NO can also help to reduce inflammation, which is a key part of the body's imune response. Inflammation is a normal response to injury or infection, but chronic inflammation can be harmful to the body. NO can help to regulate inflammation and prevent it from becoming

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The Dangers of Mouth Breathing

Several health conditions and risk factors can lead to mouth breathing. Examples include the following: Things like allergies, asthma, chronic cold or respiratory sickness, finger or thumb sucking, gum disease and gingivitis, problems sleeping and even can cause birth abnormalities (choanal atresia, cleft palate or Pierre-Robin syndrome.

Mouth-breathing can make you sick

When you breathe through the mouth whatever is floating in the air is brought into the body and down into the lungs without filtering anything. Bacteria and viruses get caught in the throat or make their way into the lungs and end up making us sick.

Breathing in through the mouth doesn't allow the temperature of the air to rise up to the body temperature, which makes it difficult for the lungs to take in. That's why when we take a deep breath of cold air we end up coughing our lungs out. When breathing through the mouth, we end up taking faster and shorter breaths, which causes a build up of old air in the lungs, which can throw off the ratio of oxygen to carbon dioxide in the blood. Levels of carbon dioxide in the body actually cue the cell to open up and accept oxygen and release carbon dioxide. When the old air can't leave the body fully, the cells hold onto the carbon dioxide too long which keeps the cell from absorbing oxygen and creating energy.

Mouth breathing and Over-breathing

Mouth breathing may cause over-breathing because the air is quickly rushed in the body and quickly back out of the body making it difficult to absorb the goodies and release the waste. Imagine trying to fill a water balloon by trying to catch water from quick little waves that rush by. It would be difficult, and completely inefficient compared to trying to fill a water balloon using the concentrated stream of a hose. The hose directs the water right to where you want it to go, which is super effective and simple. When we mouth breath, our exhalations are usually incomplete, which traps air from the previous breath in the lungs and gets in the way of the incoming fresh inhalation.

Mouth-breathing can change the shape of your face!

Breathing through the mouth causes the mouth to grow forward and drop down, which creates a long, narrow face with a small chin and defined cheekbones. Breathing through the mouth can also affect your body posture. Mouth-breathing causes the head to tilt backward, so the weight of the head shifts toward the back of the skull.

So how can we fix our breathing patterns and experience this secret to good health that most people miss?

Here are a few quick fixes you that might help you breathe through your nose slowly and consciously:

Mouth Taping- It is just what it sounds like, taping your mouth shut so that you are forced to breath through your nose. This can be helpful for people with asthma (as long as it isn't severe) because they tend to breathe through their mouths anytime they aren't paying attention to their breath. What kind of tape should you use to tape your mouth? Well I certainly wouldn't use duct-tape! I have read that scotched tape, painters tape, and maybe packing tape work well and aren't to rough on your lips. Scotched tape should be enough to keep your mouth closed. This is a great way to break the habit of breathing through your mouth.

Practice Pranayama (breathing exercises)- This is a way to take control of a normally unconscious function of the body. Breathing is part of the autonomic nervous system, which unconsciously controls many functions of the body. The ANS controls our heart rate, blood flow, breathing and digestion and is also in charge of our fight or flight response. When we are stressed or anxious, our body goes into fight or flight mode, which raises the blood pressure which increases the heart rate, tenses up the muscles, shuts down secondary systems all in an effort to prepare us to fight. When we can't shut this signal down it can create all kinds of negative side effects in the body, so switching on that rest and restore response is crucial for maintaining a balance in the body. Nadi Shodhana is a perfect practice to open up the nasal passages.

Nasal strips and neti pot- these keep the nasal passages open and clear so that it is easy to breathe through the nose. You can also use peppermint, spearmint, lemongrass, eucalyptus essential oils to clear the nostrils throughout the day.

Mindfulness practice- Every time you notice that you are breathing through the mouth, close it and begin to breathe through the nose. Make sure to allow yourself to fail a few times, it is just a practice. Every time you notice you are mouth-breathing, kindly remind yourself to breathe through the nose. Repeat throughout the day and eventually you will be breathing through the nose primarily.

If you think about it for a minute, it makes sense that you would need to breathe through your nose to keep your body alive. Oxygen is the most important component for all living things, and without it we can't live. The liver, the heart, the entire nervous system and even the brain depend on oxygen. When we breathe through our nose, we take in much more oxygen than if we were breathing through our mouth. The air goes directly into the lungs where the oxygen is absorbed by our blood. It then takes up carbon dioxide in the same way it normally would. Unlike when we breathe through the mouth, the air doesn't filter out any bacteria as it passes through. All in all, breathing through your nose is a much healthier option than breathing through your mouth!


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